Evangelicals & Motherhood

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in Faith and love and holiness, with self-control (1Timothy 2:15).

I freely acknowledge that 1 Timothy 2:15 is admittedly one of the Bible’s thorniest passages to interpret correctly. This is one of those perfect times it would be most helpful if we were able to ask the Apostle Paul, “Brother Paul, what do you mean by saved?”

I am most certain Paul was not teaching a doctrine of Salvation by Childbirth. Faith was then, is now, and will forever only be by Faith in the finished work of the Second Person of the Trinity’s Substitutionary Atonement via His death, burial, and subsequent resurrection from the dead.

Yet, the perplexing issue remains, just what was Paul communicating to believers through his divinely inspired letter to his young protégé Timothy? As I have learned from the teachings of the late theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul, the Bible speaks of salvation in many ways other than salvation from eternal damnation. The word can also mean “to rescue,” “to preserve safe and unharmed,” “to heal,” “to set free,” or “to deliver from.” It appears a number of times in the New Testament without reference to spiritual salvation (cf.. Matt. 8:259:21–2210:2224:2227:4042492 Tim. 4:18). [1]

Although I cannot assert dogmatically, I side with those like Dr. John MacArthur when he writes concerning 1 Timothy 2:15,

Paul teaches here that although a woman precipitated the Fall and women bear that responsibility, they may be preserved from that stigma through childbearing. The rescue, the delivery, the freeing of women from the stigma of having led the race into sin happens when they bring up a righteous seed. What a perfect counter! Women are far from being second-class citizens because they have the primary responsibility for rearing godly children. Mothers spend far more time with their children than do their fathers, and thus have the greater influence. Fathers cannot know the intimate relationship with their children that their mother establishes from pregnancy, birth, infancy, and early childhood. Paul’s point is that while a woman may have led the race into sin, women have the privilege of leading the race out of sin to godliness. That does not mean that God wants all women to bear children; some He doesn’t even want married (1 Cor. 7:25–40). Paul speaks in general terms. The pain associated with childbirth was the punishment for the woman’s sin (Gen. 3:16), but the joy and privilege of child rearing delivers women from the stigma of that sin.

Women, not men, have the unique and exclusive privilege of birthing children, perpetuating the family lineage, and facilitating civilization’s continual existence. No matter how much you read about an alleged male giving birth, only a woman can carry a baby in her womb biologically and anatomically. Mankind, no matter how they try, will never be able to overcome this biological limitation, no matter how secular elites will most certainly try.

Ironically, God masterfully uses one of mankind’s greatest laments (Eve’s disobedience and encouragement for Adam to disobey God) to free the entire female race from the scourge of childbirth. Through childbirth, which only the female species can accomplish, no matter how the secular media vainly and deceptively tries to present stories of males giving birth, God has saved woman (not in the ultimate salvific sense; again read MacArthur) from the stains of Eve’s contribution to the Fall. Without this salvation childbirth would still be tainted because of God’s curse on Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:16).

Motherhood, which society, especially the Visible Church, once understood as a divine privilege, as a much-cherished and highly exalted role in advancing human flourishing. Today, many now view Motherhood as a nuisance, an unwelcome intrusion to their vain pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. I can think of no better example than this particular encounter I experienced while in college. I took this college-level version of Home Economics. I cannot remember the exact course title as I only took it to fulfill the required hours to graduate.

One of my fellow female AA students was very opinionated and outgoing, which in itself is nothing sinful or to be concerned. In what I call her Helen Reddy, I am woman. Hear me roar moment she waxed passionately and with great fanfare about how she would conquer the business world and obtain great status. Now, I admit thinking matters through a Judeo-Christian worldview was tragically the further thing from my way of thinking back then. Yet, I nonetheless still immediately felt a gut repulsion to her radical feminism embracing hubris.

Most regrettably, today, far too many in the professing Evangelical community live lives akin to my aforementioned college classmate to the Church’s utter shame and clear capitulation to the culture. Instead of hearing the roars of delights in Motherhood, we have many females, including professing female Evangelicals eschewing pregnancy altogether or making a swift beeline back into the workforce so they can obtain the proverbial corner office as fast as they can. All so females can keep up with their male counterparts. Somehow this is classified as vital to Women’s Liberation. Never mind the embrace of such an alien concept of Motherhood as part of Family Planning finds its source, not from above but from below (James 1:17).

I would not have been able to rebut my college cohort in eloquent Evangelical worldview terms, but intuitively, even then, I knew something was amiss in my classmate’s secular view of Womanhood. I know as I write as someone approaching his sixties, I am swimming against the tide, but press on I must. Proverbs 31 was nowhere in my classmate’s thinking that day, circa 1984. Maybe my cohort has gone on to repudiate her views on how to advance human flourishing for females in particular, as this blog is specifically concerning Motherhood. I hold out hope that is the case; only heaven will reveal the yeah or nay of that matter. I blog on this subject today because I am confident her view is the predominant view of many in our culture in general. As always, my chief concern is my cohort’s view back in 1984 is the worldview of many professing female Evangelicals as I write today.

I interjected the biblical passage Proverbs 31 without commentary initially. I know most who read this blog post immediately understood the reference and need no elaboration, but others have no familiarity so let me give some context. In summary, Proverbs 31 is the famous biblical passage that many have come to regard as the quintessential view of Biblical Womanhood. For those not familiar, here is what God sovereignly moved King Lemuel to pen,

10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
13She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. 14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
    she brings her food from afar.15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household
    and portions for her maidens. 16 She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.17 She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.[f] 22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates
    when he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
    she delivers sashes to the merchant. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.27 She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:29 “Many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
    and let her works praise her in the gates.

When you, the female reader, especially the professing Evangelical female reader, eschew Motherhood or even the possibility of Motherhood, you express your wanton disregard for the things of God. While God has plainly put forth the things that best lead to human flourishing before His creation, fallen men and women assume the foolish posture of self-autonomical governance. Editor’s note: This is one of the chief reasons I am fervently anti-contraceptive (see my past post, Evangelicals & Contraception).

For much of our world’s early history, society has viewed the abundance of children in the home in the most positive light and as a necessity due to high infant mortality and a vital source of necessary labor, both in the very near term and for long-term survival as a species, as society understood every present generation eventually succumbed to mortality. So without children and not just enough to satisfy the fertility replacement rate (for more study on fertility replacement rate, click on the hyperlink) mankind understood the importance of large families to facilitate the highest degree of human flourishing possible.

Although severely flawed in their thinking on many other societal matters of importance, man correctly aligned their conception of children in manners that aligned and bent the knee to God’s ordained mode—doing so allowed even a severely morally flawed society to fulfill one of the Bible’s first commands, to be fruitful and multiply, and to exercise dominion as God’s privileged stewards.

Yet, like much that God intended as a means for human flourishing, Satan has blinded the minds and hearts of unregenerate men and women that what God has graciously provided to His creation was inadequate and in need of revision with Satan, offering his alternate path to nirvana.

While many of you saw when it first burst on the scene and still see today The Pill as one of the outstanding achievements of the Twentieth Century, I see the acceptance and ubitiquous practice of birth control as one of the great tragedies of human history, close behind the practice and ever-growing acceptance of abortion as a legitimate action with the full-throated endorsement of the government. Listen to one of my spiritual heroes, Dr. Albert Mohler, regarding the Pill,

The Pill changed everything. In addition, concerns about human overpopulation and an ecological crisis led some to see large families as expensive and inefficient hobbies or worse.  Social planners held out the example of the two-child family, and some ideologues wanted to define “normal” as one child per couple. By the early twenty-first century, reproduction rates were falling around the world.  Some European nations were facing a demographic crisis of low birthrates, and not a single major European nation was reproducing at even the replacement rate.

Paul Ehrlich, author of the scaremongering 1968 best-seller, The Population Bomb. The on-line magazine Salon recently interviewed Ehrlich, along with several others.

In the Salon interview, Ehrlich suggested that every couple “should have slightly fewer than two children.”  Then he said this:

I believe it is immoral and should be illegal for people to have very large numbers of children because they are then co-opting for themselves and their children resources that should be spread elsewhere in the world. You only get a chance to get your fair share. [2]

So, God, who Evangelicals correctly posit is Omniscient [all-knowing], inspires the Psalmist to write in Psalm 127:4-5 in stark contradiction to Paul Ehrlich,

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

Anytime anyone interacts with Dr. Mohler’s musings, they humbly admit that space or author erudition or lack thereof does not permit an adequate treatment of Dr. Mohler’s weighty contribution but suffice it is to say, Paul Ehrlich can craft a Satanic-inspired book that goes on to become a best-seller that adduces large families are both illegal and immoral for couples to have. The Evangelical Church has metaphorically exclaimed, “Sign me up for some of that as my abiding principle to govern my Family Planning.

I submit, for your consideration, my thesis, which is the Evangelical community has to their folly, co-opted Ehrlich’s worldview, which is really his father, Satan’s worldview concerning Family Planning. Many will immediately passionately dissent from my conclusion but pause to think about the typical Evangelical family as they consider Family Planning. Pause to reflect upon your own worldview about the number of children you delighted (for people like me in their current station in life) or delight (for people still in their childbearing prime) to sire and raise.

How many of you even aspired to have more than two children? Some even, especially professing Evangelicals, drank the Kool-Aid of proponents like Ehrlich and decided early on they would stop at one child. Somehow the quintessential idyllic family is pictured and celebrated as a family of four with a white picket fence and maybe a dog. The Universal Church adopts the same philosophical worldview concerning the number of children they envisioned raising in their godless perception and pursuit of the alleged good life.

My angst, as always, is not that Ehrlich’s thesis gained traction in the larger culture. My bewilderment is the traction Ehrlich’s worldview wormed its way into the lives of professing Evangelical men and women. I must place my name at the top of the list of culprits. Tragically, I did not delight in having many quivers of arrows. It is not that I took active steps like some with getting a vasectomy, but I still passively embraced this God-hating perception of Family Planning.

I am approaching sixty, so it is improbable, but not altogether impossible; I have child conception in my future. Like the Apostle Paul, I realize what is past is past concerning my foibles and moral failures of the past. I write to exhort the upcoming generation of Evangelical men and women to be open to however many children the Triune God delights in granting to your marital union. For Evangelical females, especially, to see Motherhood as a glorious privilege God uses to save women from the stain and scourge of the Fall.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I most certainly confess I do not have the best nor the final word about Family Planning. Family Planning is a profoundly personal matter in which no one has the authority to bind another person’s conscience. That is most certainly not my intent in the slightest. I acknowledge God in His Sovereignty, in many cases, does not even grant one child to some married couples who desperately desire to experience the joys of biblical parenthood. Scenarios for which I have no good answer why God does what He does. I cannot and will not go beyond God’s revelation in His most Holy Scriptures.

What I can do is posit dogmatically assert that God desires husbands and wives, Evangelical and non-Evangelical alike, to be open to a bounty of offspring. Open to any number and resting in God’s providential care, whether that providential care grants three or thirteen children and any number in between and, in some cases, many more.

My mother had five brothers and five sisters. My father had five sisters and three brothers. Neither is proof or evidence that God’s will was fully done in either scenario, but I know both my grandmothers (tragically, I never knew either of my grandfathers) were delighted and were open to however many children God sovereignly brought into their marriage.

Me and my generation became the generation that consciously or subconsciously eschewed large families. It is said it is nearly impossible to put the Genie back in the bottle. Evangelicals know there is no impossibility with God (Mark 10:27), so I leave all results up to Him in this and all matters. I just want to be obedient and be the voice crying in the wilderness.

As always, let me know what you think. Until then, keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One.

With fear & trembling,

Ricky Kyles, DEd.Min

[1] https://www.gty.org/library/bibleqnas-library/QA0139/how-are-women-saved-through-childbearing

[2] https://albertmohler.com/2008/09/18/put-a-stop-to-large-families

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