Photo by Olivia Snow on Unsplash

I’ve never understood how belief in traditional gender roles survives an actual reading of the Gospels. Case in point: when I thought about what the Bible specifically says about mothers (as distinct entities from fathers), this verse immediately came to mind:

“As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’

“He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.'” Luke 11:27-28 (NIV)

If God’s divine design for women is, primarily, for them to serve the world through the rearing of children, this would have been the place for Jesus to have taught that by affirming what the woman said. Instead, he corrects her: women are blessed not explicitly by mothering, but by discipleship.

The previous chapter saw a rebuff of other traditional “women’s work”:

“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” – Luke 10:39-42 (NIV)

Again, Jesus insists that discipleship is a woman’s true path. His rebuke of Martha makes little sense if, for women, housework and true discipleship are one and the same.

There’s nothing wrong with childrearing (love my kids) or housework (also love a clean home), and I don’t doubt that, for many women, true discipleship regularly involves both.

The wrong is in insisting on those as the paths that all or most women must follow.

Happy Mother’s Day!

4 comments on “Jesus on Mothers”

  1. These verses immediately come to my mind:

    Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

    For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

    1 Timothy 2: 11-15

  2. I think you need to keep silent.

    “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

    And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

    1 Corinthians 14: 34-35

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