Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Lament as Social Commentary: Abstract
The most intriguing insight to come out of my study of Lamentations is that it is a book written in community. Which fits in perfectly with my purpose of using Lamentations as a springboard for a Social Commentary Series.
Because Lamentations consists of five chapters, or poems or laments, as may be the case, I have broken my commentary into five topics under the headline "A Lament Over the Fallen State of Motherhood." The five categories are: 1.) Women’s “Liberation” 2.) Abortion (abortion is motherhood in a fallen state) 3.) High Calling of God 4.) Empty Nest 5.) Final Prayer.
I say that Lamentations is written in community because the author lived amongst the very people he loved, warned, and ultimately saw vanquished. Yet he was alone in his discernment, preaching and trying to convince the people for 40 years to turn back to God.
As a child of the 60’s who attended a top-ten liberal university, I was inundated with a women’s liberation ideology. Career and over-stepping a man were a woman’s right, and nothing and nobody, not even children, were going to get in the way.
Even though I was not saved at the time, I felt in my innermost being that what I was being told to believe was not quite right. Inside, I wanted to stay home with my kids when and if that day ever came. But I felt immense guilt for feeling that way; not guilt for myself, as much as for all the women I hurt and hindered by even desiring to make my aspiration in life to be a wife and mom.
So I entered motherhood with a huge burden of disquiet, wanting, on the one hand, to be a stay-at-home mom, and being perceived and treated like a pariah on the other.
Only when I became a Christian did I understand that my innermost desire to be a mother and wife was of God, and only when I accepted His worldview completely in Christ did I submit myself to God as a wife and mother. For me, peace came when I understood motherhood to be a high calling of God, to raise His children that He has entrusted to me. My children are not my own, they are God’s.
This series of laments, then, when it comes down to it, is a lament for all the women who will never rightly understand this high calling of God to be mothers.
Keep in mind: I am not saying women should not work. I am saying that work must not take precedence over husband, children and home. Tony Evans says the same, and you can go to his website and read abundant resources that teach the prioritizing of family. Theologian Warren Wiersbe put it this way:
"The yielded Christian wife should find joy and fulfillment in her home. Christian girls who are not interested in bearing children, keeping house, and caring for a husband simply should not get married. They will only make themselves and the man they married miserable...When outside the home is more inviting and exciting than inside the home, then you can be sure Satan is at work to wreck that marriage."
Nobody puts a gun to our heads when we marry and give birth. We know that having sex can lead to children. To resent our children as if they chose to interrupt our lives is ludicrous. We choose to bring children into this world, whether intentionally, or unintentionally through having sex without the expectation that it would lead to children. People might not expect sex to result in children, but they do know it can result in children, and often does.
Our responsibilities at home must be met first. The organizing of our lives must be based on this.
Second, I am not advocating "helicopter parenting." So often people translate at-home mom with helicopter mom. However, one would do well to admit that this term, "helicopter parent," is a recent construct. My parent's generation were not called this. Why has this phrase even been coined? Because helicopter parenting is a recent phenomenon, in an age when most parents work. Helicopter parenting is a result of fewer children because more parents work outside the home, and also perhaps because working moms want to make up for not being home so they get hyper-involved in the details of their child's lives, reacting in often unhealthy and hyper-controlling ways.
The kind of prioritizing I am talking about is the hard work of actually being a parent. I'm talking about being the parent who says "No," who sets limits, who is willing to see the child unhappy with having to obey the rules and expectations of the household. I am talking about parenting that lays the groundwork for children having chores and completing them, getting home at a certain time, not being able to run with any crowd, and not getting every material or experiential thing they want. The parenting I'm advocating meets the spiritual, basic physical, mental and emotional needs of children by teaching sound values, exposing sons and daughters to religious ideas and opportunities, sends them outdoors to exercise and play and turns off the TV and computer. It is a family that brings out board games, dines together, talks, takes family walks and reads books, including the Bible.
Many people work outside the home to avoid this hard and difficult task of raising children, and to prioritize their own personal desires for "fulfillment and actualization." They hand off the responsibility of raising their children. If God gives us children, He will equip us to raise them when we ask. If we have a husband, children and a place to live, that is our first priority and even our ministry.
"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him." Psalm 127:3