Are Marriage and Family A Woman’s Highest Calling? by Marcia Wolf – and other links that address the Christian fallacy that a woman’s most godly or only proper role is as wife and mother
- by Marcia Wolf
Does every woman in the church need to be married with children in order to lead a happy, fulfilling life?
But many single women may feel pressure to comply with what the church often upholds as an ideal state of womanhood.
Kate Wallace is a single woman with a budding career as cofounder of the Junia Project, an organization that advocates for women in leadership at all levels of the church.
A devout Christian, Wallace believes the church tends to overlook single women in favor of married women with kids.
… Marriage and family, for example, are often portrayed as the ideal states to become one’s best self. “I’ve been told that the best place to learn forgiveness is in marriage and that having children is the best way to learn about God’s love,” says Wallace.
“I have problems with the word ‘best,’” says Wallace. “Jesus wasn’t married, so did he not know the ‘best’ way to forgive? No. He simply forgave. Jesus didn’t have kids so did he not know the best way to love? No. He gave his life for us.
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RELATED POSTS – OFF SITE:
- I have heard many Christians state that motherhood is the highest calling for women. The people who say this are typically the Christians who believe that men and women, simply on the basis of gender, have different roles and functions in society, in the church, and in the home. (It intrigues me that many of these same Christians do not assert that fatherhood is the highest calling for men.)
… What about those people who do not have a family? When churches make marriage and motherhood the pinnacle and priority of Christian womanhood, women who remain unmarried or childless may view themselves as lonely failures. Churches need to make efforts to ensure that single or childess men and women feel welcome, included and valued in church communities.
… It seems to me that many of the Christians who claim that motherhood is the highest calling for women, say this merely in an attempt to placate housewives and dissuade them from fulfilling God’s call outside the home. (No one argues that fatherhood and ministry are incompatible.)
The author of this makes a bit of an anti-virginity stance about half way down the page, but other than that, I agree with some of her other remarks:
(Link): A Woman Is More Than A Womb by Kendall Davis
- Understand that I have never looked down on any woman’s decision to be a mom. And I don’t hate kids. I do not feel that any woman gives up a better or more meaningful life in order to be a full-time mom. All I’m saying is that I am not called to motherhood, and I hope others in the Christian community can accept that. I don’t criticize your enthusiasm for having children. I would hope you would respect me for accepting the role to which I have been called.
I do, however, question the terminology. When Christians say motherhood is a woman’s highest calling, they locate a woman’s worth squarely in the functionality of her womb.
Written by a mother:
(Link): Motherhood is Not My Highest Calling
- Maybe what I’m really objecting to is the common practice within contemporary Christian culture of placing a “highest/lowest” value judgment on just one portion the female existence. We’ve elevated the vocation of motherhood to The Holiest of Them Allllllllllll.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s a sacred vocation for sure. But the way Christians talk, it’s like a woman hasn’t FULLY LIVED unless she’s given birth. She is viewed almost suspiciously, as if she is only half-matured and perhaps a little broken/damaged.
There is very little value placed on the single or childless woman.
(Link): The “highest calling” of a woman
While the tradition of Judaism for thousands of years had been that motherhood was the highest calling of woman, Jesus subverts this mindset and offers something different:
Faithful discipleship, not biological motherhood, is the highest calling of women.
And, in the Kingdom of God, the discipleship community of Jesus constitutes a new family, one in which there is only One Father.
Although we are not in first-century Palestine or laboring under the mores of ancient Judaism, I think the words of Jesus in Luke 11:28 are just as challenging to American Christian subculture.
To all those who claim motherhood as the “highest calling of women,” I believe that Jesus offers an alternative.
Women are no longer to be characterized primarily by their production and care for children, but instead, their faithful discipleship to Jesus and membership in the family of God.
—– end —-
Married lady who decided to get a tubal ligation (she does not want children):
(Link): Why I’m not having children
- I keep thinking that, of all places this should be OK is within the church. After all, Jesus redefined “family” in his teachings.
For him family was not your biological kin but those who obeyed Godde: “But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’
And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother’” (Matthew 12:48-50).
It should be fine for a Christian woman not have to have kids to fully follow the calling Jesus placed on her life, but it isn’t. It’s assumed that all other callings will be subsumed under The Call to Motherhood.
My only response is no. My highest calling is not to be a mother.
My highest calling is to be a writer. I can’t even say that my calling to be a wife beats out my call to write. I’ve been a writer ever since I could write (a good 34 or 35 years now), and I was making up stores before I could write them down. I’ve only been a wife for four years.
This idea that I should suppress who I really am–a writer–to be something I am not and have no desire to be–a mother–is just un-Christlike considering what Jesus thought of biological families and how he treated women, especially single women.
Related Posts on This Blog:
(Link): “I Regret Having Children” – Various Mothers Interviewed (via NY Post)