Motherhood – one part of a whole

“While motherhood is a privilege that offers great joys and great challenges, it is important to remain clear about the fact that motherhood is one part of a whole life lived for kingdom purposes.” (Ruth Haley Barton)

This is such an incredibly significant insight. Motherhood is only ONE part of a whole life lived for Kingdom purposes. At least, it better be. God sees it that way. So ought we.

Some would have it that, “This is how God created you and it is your purpose for existing.” My whole purpose for existing? You’ve got to be kidding. I really have read this in many different forums (whether Christian devotions, articles, sermons, books) — and it has made me choke on my own spit.

If I’m a woman and don’t marry and don’t have babies, then what? If I’m married and can’t have babies, then what? Isn’t my purpose for existing to worship God and draw in other worshippers?

On reading some of the connotations of what motherhood ought to be (according to hierarchicalists), my refusal to fall prey to these restrictions has, sadly –for awhile, meant an aversion toward and an avoidance of motherhood. There’s been a bit of a wholesale rejection of motherhood, on my part, from the dread of being perceived merely as a Womb and Caretaker. If that’s all I’m gonna be, then I don’t wanna be that. Of course, there’s so much foolishness in this extremist reaction. Just because I don’t believe it is the (only) calling (for my life) doesn’t mean that it can’t be a calling (one of many) in my life. I can enjoy the privilege of motherhood without having to also endorse the hierarchical propaganda that this is my only purpose for existing. I can be a mom and a minister at the same time. I can love my children and they don’t have to be the center of my world. Christ can keep that place. And the revolution can still take place.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Corrie on January 3, 2008 at 12:02 am

    So, so true! I, too, resent being reduced to my body parts. (Isn’t that what the secular world usually does?) God created me for many things, but most of all, to love and serve him! I know that my purpose in life is to share his love and grace with as many people as I can. If I am blessed with a spouse, that will be a great joy, but if not, where would that leave me in the traditional hierarchicalist view?

    I love that as an egalitarian I can be a human being first, and a woman, second. Yes, being a woman is something interesting and creative that God made me. But my gender does not define the core desires of my heart. At my core, my soul longs for God, just like King David, or the Prophet Isaiah, or any other human being throughout history!


  2. Posted by Kim on January 20, 2008 at 4:55 am

    I’m so glad God allowed our paths to cross. I can see even more clearly why He did so, now.


  3. Thanks, Kim. That’s really neat of you to say! 🙂


  4. Posted by Liz on April 30, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Yes..sometimes our reactions too the statements of others can be a factor in our moving in one direction or another. It’s a fact of life that we can’t explain everything to everyone all the time and we just have toleave heaps up to God to sort out in other people. Otherwise, we would be continually changing to suit/please others. May God give you and keep you in his peace in these important issues of life for you and your husband just now.


  5. Liz, thanks for your comments. So true that we have to “leave heaps up to God”!


  6. […] Awhile ago, I quoted Ruth Haley Barton, “While motherhood is a privilege that offers great joys and great challenges, it is important to remain clear about the fact that motherhood is one part of a whole life lived for kingdom purposes.”  It really is just one part of a whole, but that one part doesn’t have to be dismissed as less important than any of the other of God’s kingdom purposes.  Living out Jesus in this moment.  That’s what I’m doing while I’m caring for my baby.  And that’s what will continue the revolution. […]


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