Motherhood and More

mom and I
My mom showing off her last and best work. I am the youngest of her three children.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. I will travel to my mom’s home on Sunday.  I sent a dozen roses to her earlier this week. I’m a good kid.

Other than my planned trip to visit my mom, his week has been fairly routine. I did some gardening. I rode my bicycle almost every day. I indulged in a few long phone calls and Zoom meetings for sanity’s sake. One thing I have returned to my Before Corona (BC) life is volunteering at the local food bank. Every Wednesday, I act as receptionist, fielding questions, accepting donations, and doing simple office work.

I also completed the book, Searching for Sunday, by Rachel Held Evans which I reviewed in my last post. Immediately upon finishing that volume, I read a second book by Evans, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband ‘Master.’ I expected a light-hearted, satirical approach to Rachel Evans’ year-long experiment to live out the Biblical tenets of womanhood in modern America. How bad could it be, I thought? Besides, it was only $4.99 to download it to my Kindle.

Was there satire? Was it humorous? Yes and yes. But, Evans is sneaky. She incorporated quite a bit of commentary and exegesis on the topic of Biblical womanhood. She wrote about some of the stranger stuff that is in the Bible as specifically concerns women. For example, the Old Testament has some bizarre guidelines about menstruation. I think the old rabbis were scared of periods. She discusses, too, the New Testament exhortation to follow Sarah’s example of the Old Testament in calling her husband, ‘master.’ For one month, she called her husband, master, as neither she nor her husband could stomach the other word translated for master, ‘lord.’

Evans used her book to show that the sacred texts of Christianity, both Old and New Testament, have startling statements in regard to our culture’s view of women that are sometimes regarded as inflexible and inerrant, and other texts that are considered irrelevant and obsolete in our culture. She had great skill in making it clear how the modern evangelical church uses the Bible to keep women as secondary and servile to men.

In most evangelical and conservative Christian movements, a woman finds her purpose in marriage and childhood. In such churches, there is very little use for a woman in any other role. Therefore, someone like myself, single, a spinster of uncertain years, is considered essentially, purposeless. Of course, I followed traditionally accepted roles for single women in the church. I taught school, and I served abroad.

Evans and I agree that a woman can be much more than a wife and mother. I agree with Evans that Biblical advice in the Old Testament were just that, advice. I don’t think Paul and Peter meant for their letters to the churches to be mindlessly obeyed like Orthodox Jews today obey the Torah.

So this Mother’s Day, I will celebrate my mother as we enjoy a meal together. We will, no doubt, enjoy each other’s company, as we have an immutable bond as mother and daughter. I will also reflect on things I have created with my life through agency other than that is wrought by marriage and childhood.

 

4 thoughts on “Motherhood and More

  1. Once again, a well-written and considered essay.

    The New Testament epistles contain some of the trickiest pieces of theology in The Bible. I agree with you that a majority of the social conventions Peter, James, John, and Paul discuss amount to well-considered advice in a specific social context. A number of the epistles were letters responding to other letters. And we do not have those letters, so, the context requires a lot of speculation.

    But just as there is advice that should not be considered as doctrine today, there is also theology that is immutable. (That is true of the Torah, as well.) The tricky part is parsing out one from the other. Even radical literalists admit that a good deal of Deutoronomy cannot possibly be applied to modern society. And radical liberals concede that the Bible is filled with doctrinal truths. We should be able to have a good faith discussion where those lines should be drawn.

    I thank you for starting part of that conversation. But, I will be watching that you keep your hair covered and that you do not speak up in church — even if the pastor’s wife’s dress catches flame.

    Like

  2. Well written comment, Steve. I agree that there is theology that is immutable in the Old and the New Testament. Thanks for the balanced thoughts that you added to the conversation.

    Like

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