Women are free to choose—and there is no wrong choice. The women’s liberation movement has definitely made “progress.” Time once was when society thought it was immoral for a woman to “choose” not to become a mother by having an abortion. Time once was when society thought it was improper (immoral may be too strong a word) for a mother to leave her children in the home while she pursued a career in the work-a-day-world. Then the feminist movement came along proclaiming women had the right to choose. Now women have freedom to choose. They may choose to give birth to a child or murder a child. They may choose to stay home and care for their children or pursue a business career and not care for their children. And the creed of our culture is that no one may judge.
A kind of societal confession of faith in the doctrine of a woman’s right to choose took place in response to feminist Hilary Rosen’s criticism of presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann. During a television appearance Rosen said of candidate Romney, “Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.” Rosen made the comment because Mrs. Romney stayed home to care for her five children rather than pursue a career outside the home. Rosen’s comment suggested that the only “working” mothers are those who have careers outside the home. Mothers who rear children apparently are on vacation. The comment also betrayed Rosen’s disdain for stay-at-home moms and her belief that it is better for moms to “choose” to work outside the home.
Rosen’s insinuation that stay-at-home moms do not work has been almost universally criticized and rejected. Of course stay-at-home moms work. Faithful moms work very hard. Even Rosen later admitted this and attempted to back off her comment by saying she chose her words poorly. Many mothers in the home work as hard or harder than men and women who are busy in other careers. The LA Times reported on a study that estimates stay-at-home moms put in about 99 hours of work in a week and would earn about $112,000 a year in the business world (Ann Romney flap: Stay-at-home moms worth $112,000, study says, latimes.com, April 13, 2012). This quantification of the work of stay-at-home moms is a helpful way of underscoring the fact that moms in the home work very hard indeed!
However, these calculations are purely carnal. From a spiritual point of view, believing mothers in the home are worth far more than this study indicates. No amount of money is enough to compensate believing mothers for the work they do in the home—nurturing the children who are in the covenant in the fear of the Lord. The world recognizes that mothers work hard. This is especially true (at least it should be) of believing mothers.
But what does our society think of mothers staying home? Should they stay home and work, or should they go out into the business world and work? The popular answer seems to be, “they are free to choose, and no choice is wrong.” Here are some responses to Rosen that express this answer:
Ann Romney in response to Rosen: “My career choice was to be a mother. And I think all of us need to know that we need to respect choices that women make” (Ann Romney addresses ‘never worked’ accusation on Fox News, chicagotribune.com, April 12, 2012).
Frank Bruni for the New York Times: “What’s most bothersome about Rosen’s comment, though, was its betrayal of what the Democratic Party and feminism at their best are supposed to be about: recognizing the full diversity of human experience and empowering everyone along that spectrum to walk successfully down the path of his or her choosing, so long as it poses no clear harm to anyone else” (Working and Women, nytimes.com, April 14, 2012).
The editorial staff of the Houston Chronicle: “Ann Romney is entitled to her choices, as all women should be” (Ann Romney’s entitled to her choices, www.chron.com, April 15, 2012).
A summary of responses reported by Laurie Kellman for the Associated Press: “Weighing into the debate: Vice President Joe Biden; female surrogates for Romney who said they were outraged by Hilary Rosen’s words; first lady Michelle Obama; and the president’s top campaign strategists. All defended mothers and the inevitable choices all of them must make” (Obama sticks up for Ann Romney in working mom flap, hosted.ap.org, April 13, 2012).
The above quotes all illustrate the godlessness of our culture and of the women’s liberation movement. Women are sovereign. They are free to choose and are answerable to no one. They certainly are not answerable to men, including their husbands. Nor are they answerable to God—as far as society is concerned. Society denies that God has anything to say about the role of women in marriage and child rearing. A woman must only examine her own feelings, her own goals, and do what she wants to do.
This godlessness is the sin of our culture and its beliefs concerning the roles of women. Women choosing to murder unborn babies is certainly a monstrous sin. And in many instances women commit gross sin when they abandon their children to pursue a career outside of the home. But what leads to these sins is that women, encouraged by our society, completely rebel against the truth that God is sovereign over the lives of human beings. This is why we must even condemn Ann Romney’s behavior as sinful.
It is almost tempting to take Mrs. Romney’s side. After all, she did give birth to five children (not deliberately “choosing” to have merely one or two, as many do today), and she stayed home to care for them. But Mrs. Romney professes she did not do these things out of a conviction she was serving God but out of a conviction that she had the right to choose. Mrs. Romney made a sinful, godless decision. (We should also mention that Mrs. Romney stayed in the home but, rather than rear her children in the fear of God according to His truth, she raised them according to the God-denying teachings of Mormonism.)
This godlessness of the society around us is what we as Christians must fight against as we consider the role of mothers. There are choices, decisions, that believing women must make (with their husbands!). And they are free, but not free from the rule of God, as our society would have us believe. Their liberty is in Jesus Christ. Through Him they are free from sin. They are free to serve God. This means that as decisions are made about women and mothers, God’s will must be considered and obeyed.
Believing women, along with their husbands, are making decisions. And it is so easy, even for believers, to be godless in making these decisions. Let’s face it, we are tempted to decide how many children we would like to have, based on carnal reasons. We are tempted to decide whether to have mom work outside the home based on carnal reasons. For example, it is so very easy for us to make these decisions thinking only about the “almighty dollar.” In fact, this is the only reason why so many in the world say that many women do not have a choice. They must work. Because not working would mean sacrificing a certain standard of living—exactly what godless people will not do. How often do believers also make decisions based on this ungodly reason?
The question for you believing mothers (and your husbands) is not merely, what are you doing, but why are you doing these things? You do not have “freedom to choose” to disobey God. You are free through Jesus Christ to serve Him. Your decisions must be made in light of the direction God gives in the Bible. God’s Word has much to say about the role of mothers. Are you (we) listening?