Future headline: Western woman found dead in posh office, choked on own hubris.
A reader tipped me off to this deceptively warm-sounding lament that western women are just not doing enough to save the world, which needs Our Special, Western Wisdom far more than our offspring need so much focused mothering. I say “deceptively warm” because while this woman speaks the language of human kindness, I can’t think of anything much colder than a woman who thinks the needs of her own children pale in comparison to the needs of NGO’s and charitable organizations (and, for Christian women, parachurch “ministries”).
As nice as her “save the world” rhetoric sounds, this woman is not talking about taking any actual risks, like moving in with indigenous people for the long term, kids and all, and teaching them the Gospel by loving them where they are. Or going down to the homeless shelter and helping treat an outbreak of lice. That, I could get behind. There’s a lot we can do for those around us without leaving our dead-weight children behind.
Obviously, she’s not speaking as a Christian, so I’m going to veer away from addressing her exact words. Sadly, I’ve heard plenty of Christian woman say the same things. They talk about working for massive corporations disguised as social services. They talk about entrepreneurship and government involvement. They talk about drawing a first-world salary while the nations and peoples perish (as they are already doing under the loving care of so many such organizations) to justify their paychecks. In short, they talk in glowing terms about the worst kind of liberal do-gooding: the kind that perpetuates itself by never really solving anything.
They say, “Moms, because we are women–nay, not mere women but Wise Western Women–we can change the world, but we need to take up our crosses, and deny our children in order to do it.”
Where I come from, there’s a name for this kind of woman: Busybody.
Ms. Busybody runs to and fro, seeking whom she may enlighten, while leaving her children behind in the loving care of…well, whoever, really. Her own children are so dull, so unimportant, so easy to fit into the spaces of time between all the real work, and the real church, and the real social life. Thankfully, children are so inexperienced and malleable in their thinking that we can ignore them ten hours a day and convince their unquestioning minds that this is a historically, socially, and biologically normal way to raise human beings. While our own homes and neighborhoods burn, we’ll be teaching the third world how to live this way, as well! What could be better?
Christians, let the World’s women do whatever mental gymnastics they require to convince themselves that charity begins halfway across the world. We have an Example set for us, for all time. Jesus didn’t save his children by leaving them. He saved them by joining them in their muck, their diseases, and finally their deaths. If we want to do real charity, we have to do the same. Missions are wonderful. Anyone who feels the need to do missions should do as Jesus did and go to them, live like them, and be willing to die for them. We who have children should take either them along, or not go at all. Those left at home should support that with prayer and finances.
But this thoroughly secular idea that we can adequately serve other peoples without first keeping our own homes in order is a lie, for while we’re off saving the world, Satan is devouring the next generation. How are we going to save Haiti when we can’t even understand the vulnerability of the souls in our very own homes?
Christians, we know better than to fall for this worldly understanding of charity and social good. Charity begins at home. If we don’t have all-out, totally devoted, sacrificial (even to the point of making ourselves as nothing to the rest of the world) love of those in our own homes, whatever we do in the rest of the world will end up being an exercise in self-aggrandizement.
Milton Friedman said “There are no values, no “social” responsibilities in any sense other than the shared values and responsibilities of individuals. Society is a collection of individuals and of the various groups they voluntarily form.”
We can’t save whole nations. We can only save the individuals of which the nations are made. Jesus came to save individuals, and in that way to save the world. Knowing that, how can we believe that we can effect any change in the “world” while neglecting our closest neighbors? Our nation has disintegrated before our very eyes. Freedom and Christendom lie in ashes around our feet in no small part because generations of western women have been convinced by exactly this kind of reasoning that our children’s upbringing could be outsourced to free us up to do real good. Do we really have anything to teach other nations, when we can’t even take care of the individuals who make up our own?
If we want our children who know how to love others into the Kingdom, we have to first love them into the Kingdom. If we want children who are interested in the well-being of others, we have to teach them to see individuals, not people-groups, pet projects or, God forbid, a warm fuzzy way of drawing a more socially acceptable paycheck. It means raising them as individuals, not as numbers in a system, not as so many pets to be kenneled when not in use, not as members of a limited age- or affinity-group, and certainly not as stumbling blocks to real change in the world.
The friend who sent me the link to this article already knew the correct answer to the question “Am I doing enough?” But I suspect there are a lot of weak-willed women who might be easily blown about by these worldly doctrines. Be on your guard, mothers. The world sees its most important goal as luring jealous, watchful, caring mothers away from their offspring so that they may have those young bodies and souls for themselves.
Why is it so easy to forget our explicit instructions in Titus 2 that we can be fooled by this kind of reasoning? Do we believe that God would instruct us through his apostles and prophets to do unimportant things? Do we not believe that God is also in the small, private things that women must do for their families and neighbors every day?
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. –Titus 2:1-5
Women, that doesn’t let us off the social hook. We certainly do have a great deal to do for the people around us who are not our children. I’m not saying we must never help others. We must reach out to the poor where we are. We must reach out to the wealthy unsaved, as well. (And that can be even riskier in this culture, frankly.) We might even have a controversial blog post or two to write! And, yes, we may need to earn some money.
There is plenty of work to be done in our own homes and communities. But our realm is meant to be the realm of the private, of the small in stature, but great in the Kingdom. We have one lowly task before us that must always, always come first: that of nurturing souls.
Jesus did the lowest work of all. He let children sit on his knee. Those children didn’t seem very important to the disciples who knew exactly Who their master was, but he said “let them”. If western women worry this much about being seen to be doing something important, they will (and already do in many cases) miss out on their true calling.