Motherhood as vocation

Did you know that Mollie Hemingway, the confessional Lutheran journalist, has a column in Christianity Today?  Here are some links, going back awhile: Throwing Inkwells: Mollie Ziegler Hemingway | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

I’m glad she has that forum.  Other Christians could benefit greatly from what many Lutherans just keep to themselves.  Here she is on how the doctrine of vocation can help stressed out, guilt-ridden mothers deal with “the mommy wars“:

How should Christians think about the Mommy Wars? Vocationally. You may have heard vocation used as a synonym for occupation. But Martin Luther used it to talk about every Christian’s calling to particular offices through which God works to care for his creation. We serve our neighbors as employees, yes, but also as citizens, parishioners, and family members. Through our web of relationships, we are the instruments by which God works in the world.

So, for instance, God heals us by giving us doctors and nurses. He feeds us by giving us farmers and bakers. He gives us earthly order through our governors and legislators, and he gives us life through our parents. God is providing all these gifts—but we receive them from our neighbors.

Parenting is one of the most important vocations we can be given. Yes, the obligations of childrearing are difficult, but when the duties are fulfilled with the knowledge that we are doing the will of God, our reward is great. Luther wrote that fathers should not complain when they have to rock a baby, change his diaper, or care for the baby’s mother, but instead should view each act as a holy blessing.

God has placed me as the mother of my children. So long as I’m not sinning, I am free to serve my children as I see fit. I have the responsibility to feed my children, but I can fulfill that task by slaving away in the kitchen to produce a five-course meal or by ordering out for pizza. I have the responsibility of making sure my children are educated, but I have the freedom to do that on my own or by sending them to whichever school my husband and I pick.

Sure, we all have a role to play in upholding community standards and making sure our neighbors’ children have their needs met, but we should also be careful not to intrude on others’ vocations. Just as we wouldn’t rearrange colleagues’ offices or tinker with their computers, neither should we presume to know best how they should manage their families.

So if you’re an overwhelmed mother, wave the white flag of surrender in the Mommy Wars and enjoy your vocation and the freedom it provides.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Amy

    I first thought this said “Motherhood as a vAcation” and I thought, “Ok, Dr. Veith has lost his mind.” But that’s not what it says. Maybe I shouldn’t try to read your blog before sunrise. :)

  • Amy

    I first thought this said “Motherhood as a vAcation” and I thought, “Ok, Dr. Veith has lost his mind.” But that’s not what it says. Maybe I shouldn’t try to read your blog before sunrise. :)

  • Amy

    And now that I’m properly caffeinated, I want to say thanks for sharing this. I think she’s absolutely right about the Mommy Wars — I think we get so caught up in policing other people’s parenting skills that sometimes we lose sight of the bigger picture. I’ve known people who were so hardcore on the breastfeeding crusade that they would neglect their own children in favor of arguing on Myspace or writing incendiary blogs. Yes, there are things that are important, such as breastfeeding, child nutrition, informed birth choices, and so on, and it’s good to share information — but all this anger and hostility and guilt is unnecessary. We all do the best we can with the information and resources we have available, and isn’t that all anyone can ask?

    And thanks for the link to her other articles as well. Good stuff in there. I’ve bookmarked the site.

  • Amy

    And now that I’m properly caffeinated, I want to say thanks for sharing this. I think she’s absolutely right about the Mommy Wars — I think we get so caught up in policing other people’s parenting skills that sometimes we lose sight of the bigger picture. I’ve known people who were so hardcore on the breastfeeding crusade that they would neglect their own children in favor of arguing on Myspace or writing incendiary blogs. Yes, there are things that are important, such as breastfeeding, child nutrition, informed birth choices, and so on, and it’s good to share information — but all this anger and hostility and guilt is unnecessary. We all do the best we can with the information and resources we have available, and isn’t that all anyone can ask?

    And thanks for the link to her other articles as well. Good stuff in there. I’ve bookmarked the site.

  • bdozer
  • bdozer
  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    God bless, M.Z.
    I am familiar with the mommy wars from listening to my wife, who has a strong interest in parenting philosophies. She has noticed an over abundance in taking personal offense, she says it is so bad that it is nearly impossible to have an honest discussion/debate on the pluses and minuses without somebody stating “are you saying I am a bad mother?!”

    Then to top it off there is an extraordinary glut of bad information being passed around as fact i.e. the vaccine/autism link, the evils of homogenized milk, etc. Honestly, its nuts how many positions are formed solely around, “I read it on the internet,” or I have a friend rather than solid research. It gets even more fun when they start discussing discipline and spanking.

    Kinda makes me glad I am dad and don’t have the underlying expectation to be spending my time learning to be a good dad that moms have. This is not to say I haven’t spent time learning, ironically as a pastor I am participating in a series designed to teach parents how to raise children in a Christ centered home and pass on the faith, so that I can do my best to share the faith with my kids. BTW for you other dads out there CPH’s Treasury of Daily Prayer is a great devotional to do with kids, my kids know the service of evening prayer by heart and they are 4 and nearly 2.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    God bless, M.Z.
    I am familiar with the mommy wars from listening to my wife, who has a strong interest in parenting philosophies. She has noticed an over abundance in taking personal offense, she says it is so bad that it is nearly impossible to have an honest discussion/debate on the pluses and minuses without somebody stating “are you saying I am a bad mother?!”

    Then to top it off there is an extraordinary glut of bad information being passed around as fact i.e. the vaccine/autism link, the evils of homogenized milk, etc. Honestly, its nuts how many positions are formed solely around, “I read it on the internet,” or I have a friend rather than solid research. It gets even more fun when they start discussing discipline and spanking.

    Kinda makes me glad I am dad and don’t have the underlying expectation to be spending my time learning to be a good dad that moms have. This is not to say I haven’t spent time learning, ironically as a pastor I am participating in a series designed to teach parents how to raise children in a Christ centered home and pass on the faith, so that I can do my best to share the faith with my kids. BTW for you other dads out there CPH’s Treasury of Daily Prayer is a great devotional to do with kids, my kids know the service of evening prayer by heart and they are 4 and nearly 2.

  • Dave

    I love the Lutheran presentation of vocation. I think my life would have been very different if I would have been taught it 30 years ago. I’m going to share this with my daughters.

  • Dave

    I love the Lutheran presentation of vocation. I think my life would have been very different if I would have been taught it 30 years ago. I’m going to share this with my daughters.

  • sg

    Lovely Lutheran Ladies blog dedicated to motherhood as vocation:

    http://concordiansisters.blogspot.com/

  • sg

    Lovely Lutheran Ladies blog dedicated to motherhood as vocation:

    http://concordiansisters.blogspot.com/

  • J Voss
  • J Voss
  • Pingback: Thirty Three Things (v. 10) » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog

  • Pingback: Thirty Three Things (v. 10) » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog

  • Mollie

    Well, you know who I learned vocation from . . . Thanks, Dr. Veith!

  • Mollie

    Well, you know who I learned vocation from . . . Thanks, Dr. Veith!


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