This article is in dialogue with Geneva O’Bannon’s “Let them be Women.”
I always wanted to be like my mom. She laughed with me, showed me how to treat people, and cooked incredible food. She taught me how to be hurt, how to repent, how to turn to the Lord. She also placed me in public school, and, though it was the suburban public school of fifteen years ago, I praise God for it.
Young Christians who have yet to be sanctified of their abrasive, combative, and restless tendencies thrive in public schools. When confronted with the consequences of the actions of unsaved peers and the worldview of respectable teachers, the public-schooled Christian quickly learns the careful balance between grace and truth effectively. Every day is filled with opportunities for their beliefs to be attacked and also to share the gospel in the way they live. Those who generally question the worldly establishment are asking questions about the intense sexuality of the world or the rudimentary curriculum rather than questioning the truth and validity of the Bible.
As I grew up, I questioned “the establishment,” which happened to be my rather liberal public school, and those questions catalyzed conversations with my parents, particularly with my mother. As the world of the public school around me ignored the possibility of parenthood for any of its students, male or female, I regularly worked with young kids and thought about becoming a mother and all that would entail. Existing in the public school cannot remove the natural and God-given proclivity toward parenthood, but poor relationships with parents can.
The Lord calls us to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28), and children are a reward from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). However, Paul addresses the unmarried in 1 Corinthians, recognizing that “it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:9), also saying “those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.” The prerequisite for godly motherhood is godly marriage; lacking the latter, the former means nothing. To what end, therefore, ought unmarried women meditate on motherhood? Is this not borrowing worldly trouble that the Lord has not entrusted to us?
It is one thing to cultivate a maternal instinct. Generally speaking, women ought to do their best to be tender and kind to those younger than them, especially in the context of loving their peers or mentors in obeying Christ. Babysitting and mentoring cultivate a maternal spirit, allowing young women to embrace this aspect of femininity in the context of singleness. As we live alongside one another, the Lord will grant us opportunities to serve Him according to His purpose for us.
This is the image of the body of Christ: the often cited verse of submission, Ephesians 5:22 (“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord”) follows twenty one verses that outline the way the entire body of Christ should interact with each other, including “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). We all need to submit to Christ.
Women need to carefully discern when it is appropriate to submit to a man that is not her husband, father, or pastor. Too often, Christian women believe the lie that their thoughts are lesser or that they ought not have a voice in theological discussions because of a general conception of submission. Do not submit to bad authority! Do not submit to a boyfriend of two months. Do not submit to any man who wishes to theologically upbraid you because he happens to know all of the Westminster Catechism and you do not. Submission in the body of Christ ought to come from respect for the work God has done and out of love for God.
In loving God, we must also trust God. Nearly every young person in the church longs for marriage and a family. However, perhaps this desire for a godly family can lead young people to worship an idol of stability, rather than cultivate a God-ordained desire for children. Jesus says in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus establishes the implicit comparison between the love for God and love for other people: we should love God so much that the love we have for earthly ties appears to be hatred. Yet in clinging to hopes of earthly fulfillment, we are begging for lesser love – lesser love that hopes for submission for submission’s sake, not out of intimacy and community with the Father. If our communities direct our mind strictly to men and earthly things, we borrow the trouble that Christ took upon himself, and the trouble that Paul wishes to spare us by his instruction!
When women assume a marital mindset rather than a Christian mindset, they lose out on the opportunities God grants single women by borrowing trouble. Longing for a relationship or even bemoaning the brokenness of systems we have little part in can distract us from the purposes God has for us as single women. He might take you to a New York City law firm; he might take you to Montana with six kids; He might keep you in the Midwest while you feel like you’re waiting for anything to happen. Just obey, no matter where you went to school.
The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the values and beliefs of Cogitare Magazine, nor of Grove City College.