A High and Holy Calling
Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says women can nurture life in a variety of ways.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Childless women whether married or single can do so much to support the parenting ministry of others in the Body of Christ.
Leslie Basham: Nancy doesn’t know we’re using this story, but it illustrates the point perfectly. It comes from the co-author of Lies Young Women Believe, Dannah Gresh. She was visiting Nancy’s home while they were preparing to write the book together.
Dannah Gresh: I’ve been given this picture into Nancy’s quiet life, her private life. She is the same woman if not a deeper woman in quiet. When she talks about true womanhood and says that a woman should be hospitable, it would be easy for her as a single woman not to have to do that. But she’s had me sleep over at her home once, and she tucked me into bed with a prayer. That’s mentoring and mothering and nurturing at its best in a quiet place where nobody else sees it and nobody else needs to know.
When she’s had groups of us over for dinner, she’ll take time the night before to research what our names mean to make placards and to speak truth into our hearts, which is again a very mothering and nurturing thing to do. So what she’s teaching, she’s living.
Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, June 25.
Thousands of women have added their names to the True Woman Manifesto. You can read it and add your name to it at ReviveOurHearts.com. That document includes this line:
Children are a blessing from God; women are uniquely designed to be bearers and nurturers of life whether it be their own biological or adopted children or other children in their sphere of influence.
Nancy’s been teaching through the True Woman Manifesto in several series this year, and she’ll focus on this important statement today.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I’m holding in my hand the May 3, 2010 issue of Time Magazine. You may have seen this. The cover says in big letters, THE PILL, talking about the 50th anniversary of the Pill. And the feature article in this issue was written by Nancy Gibbs. It’s called “Love, Sex, Freedom and the Paradox of the Pill.”
Let me just read the first part of that article. She says,
There's no such thing as the Car or the Shoe or the Laundry Soap. But everyone knows the Pill, whose FDA approval 50 years ago rearranged the furniture of human relations in ways that we've argued about ever since. . . .
Today more than 100 million women around the world [that figure boggled my brain] start their day with this tiny tablet.
There’s a lot of very helpful research and background history in this article if you want to know some more about the background. Let me just read a couple quotes from it.
In 1960 the typical American woman had 3.6 children. [I don’t know how you have 3.6 children, but I think that’s on average.] By 1980 [20 years later], the number had dropped below 2. [Which, by the way, is below replacement rate for a culture.]
For the first time, more women identified themselves as workers than as homemakers. "There is a straight line between the Pill and the changes in family structure we now see," says National Organization for Woman president Terry O’Neill, "with 22% of women earning more than their husbands. In 1970, 70% of women with children under 6 were at home; 30% worked. [They all worked but 30% worked outside the home.] Now that's roughly reversed."
Dr. Al Mohler from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky was quoted in the article. And he said,
The ability to control human reproduction has done more to reorder life than any event since Adam and Eve ate the apple. Go back a hundred years. The idea that you’d have adults who’d intend to have very active sex lives without any respect to the likelihood of children didn’t exist. And it’s now unexceptional.
So today it’s just a given that there can be an active sex life without any consideration of the likelihood of children.
Dr. Mohler in his blog commenting on this Time piece, this feature article said,
The idea that sex would be severed from child bearing is a very modern concept and a concept made meaningful only by the development of the Pill and its successor birth control technologies. The severing of this relationship represents a quantum change in human life and relationships, not to mention morality (from his 4/26/10 blog).
Now, it’s not my intent in this program to talk about the Pill or birth control, contraception. That is not the issue that we’re talking about today. We’re looking at the True Woman Manifesto though and it’s just interesting that this article appeared at the time that I was preparing for this series where we come to this point in the manifesto that says,
Children are a blessing from God; women are uniquely designed to be bearers and nurturers of life whether it be their own biological or adopted children or other children in their sphere of influence.
And as is true with so many areas of life, the trajectory that the world is on is moving right directly away from the trajectory of Scripture, the worldview of Scripture. And again, please don’t quote me on this program as drawing any conclusions about the Pill. That’s not the point here. The point is that in the last 50 years or so there has been a concerted move away from women having children or delaying childbearing until they’re really past their most effective time to have children.
These trends have had consequences. Thinking has consequences. Ideas have consequences. And the consequences within our culture have been significant in ways that perhaps you’ve never even thought about.
But what I want to do is just take us to God’s way of thinking because the best way to combat the darkness is to turn on the light. And the best way to combat things that aren’t true is to show people what is true. I think sometimes we Christians are just thought of as being negative, as being against this or against that. Certainly, we need to be against sin, and we need to hate the devil, and we need to hate deception.
But it’s the truth that is more powerful than lies. So I just think by educating women in God’s Word, God’s truth, God’s ways of thinking, then the lights start to go on and things start to click.
A woman came to me before this session and she thanked me for the last session where we talked about children being a blessing. She had tears streaming down her cheeks as she said, “I have three children, but I have not considered my children always a blessing.” Now, I know there are moments in every mother’s life when blessing isn’t the word you would use to describe your children.
But she said, “Thank you so much for helping me see that my children really are a blessing." And then she said something really interesting. She said, “My children make me impatient.” Now I knew what she meant, but I just took a moment there in that conversation to remind her what we all need to be reminded of whether we think it’s our children that make us impatient or our co-workers or our laptops, whatever.
I said, “You know, really it’s not your children who make you impatient. The fact is, you are impatient. God knows that’s in your heart and He loves you enough to bring circumstances into your life (in her case it’s three children) who squeeze you and bring to the surface what’s inside you so that you can see that you really are impatient so that God can change you, so He can sanctify you.”
So I said, “That’s why your children are a blessing because they help you see areas of your life that need to be changed.” And of course, I wasn’t telling her anything she didn’t already know. But that’s how we need to remind each other to think about even the challenge of children, that God uses this in a sanctifying way in our lives.
Now, I’m getting ahead of myself. I want us to think just for a moment about the first mother. Genesis 3:20 tells us that "the man called his wife’s name Eve." Now he had already called her woman. He was man; she was woman. But he had a proper name, Adam, and he gave her her proper name, Eve.
He called his wife’s name Eve. Have you ever wondered why? I mean, did he go through a book of 20,000 names? Well, there weren’t any books on naming your wife, and they didn’t need books on naming your baby at that point because there were no babies. So why did he come up with this name? Well, the Scripture tells us. He called his wife’s name Eve "because she was the mother of all living" (verse 20).
Now if you’re using as I do the English Standard Version of the Bible, there’s a little marginal note that says Eve sounds like the Hebrew for life-giver and resembles the word for living. So he called his wife something that reminds us of life-giving, of living. She is the mother of all living.
When you think about Adam naming his wife life-giver, living, it’s a statement of faith that Adam is making in the promises and the redeeming love of God. You say how so? Adam and Eve had just made this fatal choice for which God had said the consequence would be what? Death. "In the day that you eat you will surely die" (Genesis 2:17). Yet Adam gives his wife a name that highlights life and her calling to be a life-giver.
What is that saying? You see, God is going to mercifully allow Eve and women subsequent to her to give birth to children who will continue the human race. So God has said, “You have sinned. You will die.” And yet God has made this provision through childbearing for there to be subsequent generations. For the woman who had brought death to the human race, the woman and Adam, to now be givers of life to the human race.
God has made a provision for this woman and for her offspring to have eternal life. Yes, the wages of sin is death. But from the very beginning, from before creation, God had already made plans for life to eclipse death through Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf.
Now Adam and Eve couldn’t have told you that whole story at that time. They only had tiny, little glimpses of it. But now we see the story. We look back on what they were looking forward to. We see that this was a statement of grace. This was a statement of faith that Eve will be the mother of all living, that though we’ve sinned and though there is death, God has made provision so that we can have life.
So even in the naming of the first woman, there’s a hint of the gospel, a hint of what we can experience through Christ and a reminder that being a life-giver for a woman is a high and a holy calling. We need to recalibrate our thinking. Now 50 or 100 years ago what I’m saying would have been “duh.” Everybody understands this. But today, it’s really a counter-cultural way of thinking that mothering, that bearing and nurturing life, is a high and holy calling in the will of God.
All through Scripture you see mothers given a place of honor. You see God’s heart for women to be childbearers. I love that verse in Psalm 113:9 that says, “He gives the barren woman a home making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!” God’s saying there’s something to be celebrated when women give birth, when women have children, when women make homes.
Now as we’re going to see, there are different ways that God allows different women to do that. But I don’t want to overlook the obvious physical way. None of us would be here if some woman would have not said, “I am willing to be a bearer and nurturer of life, to have a baby.” And physically we see women are uniquely and intentionally designed by God to be bearers and nurturers of life. Our bodies are designed physiologically to conceive and carry children.
Let me just state the obvious. Men cannot have babies. And women are designed physiologically to nourish and nurture their babies through the pregnancy. I read this about child bearing: “Women’s bodies,” this one author said, “tend to store up fat.” Now, we don’t like storing up fat. “Women’s bodies tend to store up fat in order to nourish babies both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. This is your body’s way of protecting you and your baby from famine.”1 So thank the Lord for fat deposits! Right?
Women are uniquely designed to have children. They are uniquely designed to nurture them once they are born. There’s a God given capacity to feed, to nurse them with your own milk, nurturing. It’s a picture of all kinds of motherhood that God has equipped us to do by pouring our lives into others.
Even when we talk about discipleship and mentoring and Titus 2 mandate, it’s this concept of women being mothers, physical mothers, spiritual mothers. This whole concept of nurturing is something that is not as comfortable for many women today as it was at one time.
I saw a poll conducted by Women Today Online in which half the respondents said that they did not see themselves as nurturing in a way that comes naturally to them, half of the respondents.2
Now these things used to be axiomatic. They were givens. In the 1960s if you were a mother and a nurturer, a nurturing woman, you were honored. It was the right thing to do. It was accepted. There was a degree of respect recorded to that.
But in so many ways culture has stripped this from women. We’ve tried for now five decades to eradicate the things that God put into women’s lives or at best we have devalued so many of those things. We’ve allowed our selfish instincts to rule. And so many women today who have been put in positions of taking the man’s responsibility to provide don’t have energy or capacity left to nurture.
Now again, I’m trying to state general principles. Don’t let your mind go running off and say that I’m making absolute statements. I’m not saying no woman should be working outside her home. We’ve done other series where we’ve explored those kinds of issues. But I’m just saying if you look at the culture as a whole where women are feeling like they have to go into the workplace for their family to survive, one of the things that has done is exhausted women so that they’re not feeling the capacity to give their children the best hours of their day and to nurture them.
It’s no longer considered particularly desirable or meaningful for a woman to be a nurturer. What kind of occupation is that? Rather, we have “supermoms” who manage their children. They’re administrators extraordinaire. But the opposite of nurturing has been drilled into them. That has to be taught. That has to be trained today.
But let me just remind us if we go back to creation, God has wired and equipped us to be bearers and nurturers of life, physically and spiritually. The calling is to surrender to that work of the Spirit in our lives, as true women to say, "Lord, maybe nurturing doesn’t come naturally to me." Maybe you didn’t have a nurturing mother. You say, "I don’t know how to nurture."
It used to be that once a woman held a baby in her arms there was just something natural that really came out. Today, there are first-time moms, second, third-time moms, who hold these babies in their arms, and there’s no instinct there. It’s awkward; it’s not natural. Now, I’m not saying that having babies and nurturing babies is all easy, but it used to be more instinctive. But God has still put that within you. If you will let Him by His Spirit, He can bring out that God-created bent, that wiring to bear and nurture life.
You read this concept through the Scripture. I love that passage in 1 Thessalonians 2 which is not a passage on mothering particularly. But you see Paul describing his ministry to the Thessalonians. And he says, “We were gentle among you like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (verse 7). He didn’t say we were gentle among you like a nursing dad taking care of his own children. Dads can’t nurse!
Now, I’m not saying men can’t be nurturing. But I’m saying there’s a unique sense in which God has equipped women to be nurturers. So Paul says, “We were gentle like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.” That just brings a picture to mind of how Paul ministered to these believers.
So he says, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (verse 8). Paul looked at how women were wired and he said, “That’s a quality there, that’s a quality I wanted to have in our ministry.”
Elisabeth Elliot wrote a book years ago—if you can get a hold of a copy of it, I don’t know if it’s still in print (it may be)—called Let Me Be A Woman. A fabulous book written I believe to her daughter if I’m not mistaken. And she said,
Every normal woman is equipped to be a mother. Certainly not every woman in the world is destined to make use of the physical equipment but surely motherhood, in a deeper sense, is the essence of womanhood. The body of every normal woman prepares itself repeatedly to receive and to bear. Motherhood requires self-giving, sacrifice, and suffering. It is a going down into death in order to give life.
We see it in the salmon swimming upstream, going back to their homes so they can lay their eggs and die. It’s a life of sacrifice. It’s a life of self-giving, of suffering at times in order to bear and nurture life.”
Now clearly your own children, those of you who have been blessed with children—the affirmation here is that children are a blessing. Those of you who have biological or adopted children clearly there’s a call to love them, to nurture them, to nourish their lives. But there are so many other ways, both those who have their own children and those who don’t, can be bearers and nurturers of life as they invest in other people’s children, in other lives.
I think of a woman I heard about recently who was not ever able to have children. She’s an older woman now who has shepherded hundreds of kids in her church’s youth department. I think of foster care and adoption and so many women who are loving children who are not their own flesh and blood.
So I don’t know what season of life you may be in. We have gray-haired women here. We have much younger women, women in every season of life—some empty nesters, some of you doing the hard work right now of little ones at home. I just want to say that whatever season of life you’re in would you ask God to give you a heart for bearing and nurturing life? Ask God to help you make room in your life for children.
You say, “I’ve got seven kids.” You need to make room in your heart for those children because sometimes you can start to resent those children that are such a blessing from the Lord. I know some of you are thinking it’s a hard season right now. Some of you are so sleep deprived you hardly know how to function. That’s where some like me need to come alongside and say, “Can I give you a break and let you and your husband get away, let you have a date night, let you as a single mom go spend some hours doing something you need to do for yourself? Let me take your kids.”
See what we can do to help lift the load of others, to invest in children and realize that as we do we are investing in the next generation. We’re passing the baton of faith on to the next generation.
There are women in this room who have prodigal children and your heart is so heavy for them. When I talk about children being a blessing, you’re just thinking about how they’ve broken your heart. Wouldn’t you love to have some other women in the Body of Christ come around and say, “I’m going to pray with you and for you and for that son or daughter who’s way far from the Lord, and I’m going to believe God with you to break through in their life”?
Sometimes you have to be willing to be in there for the long haul and say, “How can I pray for you? How can I encourage you in this season of life?” Children are a blessing from the Lord. What a privilege God has given us as women as He has uniquely designed us to be bearers and nurturers of life for His glory and for the advancement of His kingdom.
Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has challenged every woman, even if you have no biological children, you can nurture life. That message was based on the True Woman Manifesto which you can read at ReviveOurHearts.com. The True Woman Manifesto was created in conjunction with the True Woman Conference. Earlier this year conference goers heard the Manifesto read and affirmed these statements by saying, “Yes Lord.”
Nancy, it really was a powerful moment.
Nancy: It was Leslie. And actually it was just one of many very powerful moments at that conference. A woman who attended the True Woman Conference earlier this year wrote to us afterwards and said, “I’m 26 years old and I didn’t realize how important my role of a wife and mom really is.” She was challenged to rethink her view of that calling at that conference. And she said in her note, “I’ll never forget this experience.”
We put in a lot of effort to make sure that the True Woman Conference is thoroughly biblical. Your Bible will be open all weekend. You’ll understand it better and know how to apply it to practical areas of your life, whatever season of life you may be in. It’s a great thing to be able to experience that teaching in the context of other women who are wanting to become true women of God.
So that’s why being at the conference is different than just listening to the messages on CD or reading the same material. I want you to experience a True Woman Conference for yourself as thousands of other women from all across this country and even other countries will be doing this fall.
So plan to join us in Indianapolis this September or come to Fort Worth in October. For more details and to get more information about group discounts, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
Leslie Basham: Nancy’s going to continue leading us through the True Woman Manifesto next time. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.
2 Stacey Wiebe. “Born to Nurture” – http://www.Womentodaymagazine.com
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