It’s time for some free association. I’ll give you a word. Close you eyes and tell me what springs to mind. Ready?
What did you come up with? Kids? Caring? Apple pie? I’m pretty sure none of you came up with the word ‘salvation’! But in the Bible, motherhood and salvation go hand in hand.
Our women’s Bible study group has been reading Genesis 1-3 from a woman’s point of view—from Eve’s point of view, to be exact. It’s a fascinating exercise! You wouldn’t usually want to read the Bible through the lens of a particular topic, but when you do, it’s a bit like looking through the wrong end of a telescope: you pick up all kinds of details you wouldn’t normally notice.
There’s not much about motherhood in the first half of the creation account in Genesis 2:1-3:12. But as you read on, suddenly motherhood is everywhere:
- Who will crush the serpent? The woman’s offspring (Gen 3:14-15).
- What’s the woman’s curse all about? Marriage (which will now bring conflict for power) and motherhood (which will now bring pain) (Gen 3:16).
- What’s the first sign of hope? Adam’s beautiful words, which seem to heal the rift with Eve and express his delight over their promised children: “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Gen 3:20).
- What’s the first fruit of their union? “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, ‘I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord’” (Gen 4:1).
- How does the ‘godly line’ begin? With Seth: “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel” (Gen 4:25b), and then with a line of sons down to Noah: “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands” (Gen 5:28-29).
- What’s the purpose of the ‘godly line’? It continues all the way down the generations to Jesus, the serpent-crusher (Luke 3:23-38, Heb 2:14, Rom 16:20).
Motherhood goes with salvation like the proverbial apple pie. I’ll never have the privilege of being one of the rollcall of women (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, Mary) in the godly line that led to the birth of Jesus (Matt 1:1-17). But motherhood and salvation are still linked in the mind of God:
- One of the purposes of faithful marriage is to raise ‘godly offspring’ (Mal 2:15).
- The Bible praises mothers like Lois and Eunice who passed their faith onto their grandson and son Timothy (2 Tim 1:5, 3:14-15, 1 Tim 5:9-10).
- Paul speaks of women being “saved through childbearing” (1 Tim 2:11-15). I think he’s talking about the opportunity many women have to work out their salvation as they serve Christ in the sphere of marriage and motherhood (Phil 2:12-13). There’s no need to hanker after more public teaching ministries! Right now, in this home with this family, as I help my husband and raise our children to be ‘godly offspring’, I am doing God’s work and furthering his kingdom.
I’m not a mother primarily for my own joy (although the joy—and labour—of motherhood is great!). I’m a mother because God wants me to teach and train our children so that they can grow into godly men and women who bring glory to Jesus by living for him and telling others about him. That’s the privilege and responsibility of motherhood.
So I’ve been praying a new prayer—that, like in the ‘godly line’, my faith will be passed on to our children, to our children’s children, and to our children’s children’s children—down the generations until Christ returns. More importantly, I’ve been asking God to help me raise children who will share God’s gift of salvation so that others can become part of his family.
It’s because in God’s economy, motherhood and salvation go hand in hand.