There is a license plate frame I see often, which states, “Only the Best Moms Get Promoted to Grandma.” When I see it, I am never sure whether I want to be sick at the sentiment or laugh at the ridiculously false logic. Let’s face it, bad mothers are likely to be “promoted” early! In reality, the ability to reproduce has absolutely nothing to do with how a person was parented.
I would like to think that the church wouldn’t embrace this idea that having grandchildren means that you were successful as a parent, but it is in the church that I have encountered this notion the most. Otherwise intelligent and respectable Christians boast of grandchildren in a manner that they wouldn’t dare to boast of any other “success.”
I know that I take this far too personally. I love my parents dearly, and I truly believe that they did a good job raising my sisters and me. The evidence I point to is that they raised us to follow Christ, and all three of us have chosen to do so. But, if the boasters are to be believed, my parents would be deemed failures in that only one of their three daughters has married and they have only two grandchildren. Surely no one would make such an accusation, but it is the obvious conclusion if you extend their logic. If this prideful talk angers me as much as it does, I can’t imagine how hurtful it must be to those who struggle with infertility.
I know that the book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the blessings of children. I also know that in the Old Testament, when Israel live under the law, infertility was considered a punishment for sin. Yet, time and again, God used barrenness to show His glory. All the way from Sarah in Genesis through to Elizabeth in Luke, God brought glory to His name by showing that He was in control in all these matters. Sarah only had two grandchildren, which she did not survive to see. Elizabeth had no grandchildren, yet according to Luke 1:6, she and her husband Zechariah were “both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.”
I remember tripping over 1 Timothy 2:15 a few years back. When I read it, it stopped me abruptly in my tracks. The verse states, “Yet she will be saved through childbearing-if they continue in faith and love and holiness with self-control.” “Saved through childbearing” hit me hard. But context is everything. One cannot and should not base theology on a single verse. First the context within the chapter. Paul writes that women “should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control. . .” (v. 9) It further states, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man. . .” (v. 12) The text then goes back to the original sin in the garden, pointing out that, “the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” (v. 14) It is after this statement that Paul wrote, “Yet she will be saved through childbearing.” My research indicates that this verse is of a general nature that all women will be saved because a Savior was born (of a woman, of course). If we look further than the book of 1 Timothy to the whole of Scripture, it is clear that Paul certainly did not mean that women are individually saved by bearing children. If that were the case, I believe that 1 Corinthians 7 would read much differently. But Paul indicates time and again in his epistles that it is devotion to God that matters most.
Clearly, none of us would be here if most people didn’t reproduce. I read a commentary once that stated, in effect, that childbearing is the highest calling a woman can have. I believe this to be false. The reason is not that having children is a bad thing or a bad calling, but it is not every woman’s calling. Over the centuries, God has used unmarried, childless women in a powerful way. And they were available for His calling because they were anxious for His business, rather than anxious for pleasing a husband and caring for children. I think that the highest calling for any woman is the calling that God has for her. Each of us should be seeking to know His will for our lives, and striving to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called. . .”
With our celebration of the Resurrection coming up this weekend, we should remember to boast only in our Savior who died for us and was raised again that we too might live. As the Scripture says, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”