Today is Mother’s Day.
It is a day that has been set aside in the USA to honor mothers. Across the nation, thousands of fathers are waking up their children and helping to prepare breakfast for their mothers… Billions of card stocks have been sold for this day and notes are being carefully crafted and inked inside.
And in churches across the nation staff members are preparing flowers to give away to all the mothers… pastors are preparing nice talks about the value of being a mother…. etc. and etc….
The same scenario will play out in reverse next month with fathers being the target…
sigh. and double sigh… 🙁
While I know that I may on the statistically low end, I don’t like Mother/Father’s Day. Or, perhaps a better way of stating it would be, as a pastor I don’t like Mother/Father’s Day – which is to say that I don’t mind the day as a citizen of the United States.. I even bought Mother’s Day cards for the appropriate ladies in my family – and, yes, it is kinda of cool to get a card from my son on Father’s Day.
But, for all the good that these days do, I think they do even more damage when embraced by the church.
Think about this… when a church body makes a big deal about Mother/Father’s Day they are in essence telling its members that the parenthood is the goal of a Christian. Yes, I know that the churches wouldn’t say it that way…but I do think that is the message that comes across – especially once you consider that most churches are set up to cater to the family unit.
The sad truth is that folks who are single or don’t have kids are constantly pushed aside in favor of those who have children. I mean, when was the last time you heard singleness being promoted form the pulpit? Or a single person honored for being single? Or a couple praised for not having kids?
I would guess that most of the time single folks are told to keep looking for a partner. The general church culture basically is telling single people that unless they are married, they are reckless, uncommitted, and selfish. It is like the church in general has forgotten that Jesus, St. Paul and a lot of the early church fathers were single men. The Bible even goes as far as to tell us that if you are single, stay single and passionately pursue God (1 Corinthians 7:7-8, Matthew 19:10-12).
Let us not forget those couples who are married but don’t have children (either by choice or not). For them, a lot of of the church culture is equally bad. Having been married for ten years before adopting, I felt the sigma of not being a father. It was as if folks thought I couldn’t be a mature man or a great husband unless I had a child…It was like my manhood was depended upon me getting a women pregnant…
As crazy as it sounds, there is an underlining culture within our churches that, in my mind, puts WAY TOO much emphasis on having children and being married. Yes, they are both good things (and if you are single, don’t have sex). But they are not the end game.
So what is the point of all this… the point is that why you may celebrate Mother/Father’s Day in the home, please, please keep it in the home.
The gathering of the church should be a safe place where people of all types and backgrounds came come and worship God. They don’t need to be reminded of the pain in their lives – either for not having kids, having lost kids to miscarriages or abortions, or sickness, for having a bad relationship with their parents or whatever. They need a place where they can come and just embrace God and leave all that crap behind.
And if you know of someone that is hurting today (or will be next month), please reach out to them and love them. Please pay attention to who DOESN’T come to church today – as there will be those who will chose not to go to church as it is not a safe place today – and call them. Don’t give them crap; just listen to them and love them.
For those who want to read more about this subject, I would encourage you to read Maggi Dawn’s post, “Mothers’ Day: Something is Wrong.” Maggi is the Associate Professor of Theology and Literature, and Dean of Marquand Chapel, at Yale Divinity School/Yale Institute of Sacred Music and has some good thoughts about Mother’s Day.