The Apostle Paul does not abandon woman with an indication that her misery is self-inflicted. A promise is given from the Most High: "But women will be saved" (v15). This is not a text on remission of sins but deliverance out of sin-related suffering and oppression. Woman will triumph over and emerge from the misery and curse under which she is held by forces of evil.
But how are women saved? By their joining militant organisations which demand rights equal to man's? By proving that women can "make it" in the world of business, politics, sports, and even the pastorate? By escaping from home where she has been buried in obscurity and where so many evils have been perpetrated by abusive husbands? Never! That approach only institutionalises her rebellion against her God-given place.
Her pathway to real salvation was appointed by the Almighty. It is motherhood. "She shall be saved through childbirth" (v15). The first gospel promise was given before any curse was pronounced on man or woman. And the promise wonderfully involved the means of motherhood. "I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" [Gen 3:5]. God our Maker would not allow the human race to perish. Now that Adam and Eve had sinned and Paradise was shattered, the only hope lay in God himself. "I will" is the message of grace. One means was mentioned as the instrumental course of salvation from the devil's clutches. It was childbearing! Deliverance comes, not through man's vocational efforts in the cultural mandate, but through woman's childbearing. How wrong women are when they imagine that their hope lies in imitating men's careers. As they abandon motherhood for the office and factory, they despise God's carefully designed means of breaking the devil's yoke and fleeing the miseries he has inflicted. It is to woman, not man, that God assigned this high calling. But her hope is not identified with her political savvy, her business acumen, or her social activism. It is in childbearing! Women today are so eager to abandon "mere" motherhood to duplicate male labours. How tragic, when the hope God has given woman and for all of our race is tied to childbearing! Of course the central attention of Genesis 3:15 is upon one seed of the woman, Jesus Christ. He who was born of the Jewess, Mary, delivered the decisive death blow to the head of the serpent on Calvary. He purchased salvation for all who are redeemed. Yet, even before Christ came, a godly seed of the woman was set against Satanic forces. Childbearing prepared the way of the Lord. When about to raise up mighty leaders, Jehovah God, often sought out peculiarly able women. Jochebed, the mother of Moses; Hannah, mother of Samuel; Manoah's wife, mother of Samson, are leading examples. Through their childbearing the course of history was wonderfully altered. Since Christ has come, a godly seed carries the gospel to all the earth to gather God's elect and hasten Christ's return. Raising a godly seed is still of the profoundest importance to the cause of God in the earth. Adam saw at once that the most profound work of the ages - God's work of grace - is directly related to motherhood. Appreciating God's purpose, "Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living" [Gen 3:20]. Today, through contraceptives and abortions, women can avoid the "nuisance" of having children. Using these means, they are free to seek what they think are higher and more noble callings. What relief to the forces of darkness! Nothing crushes the cause of sin like godly childbearing.
3. TRUE MOTHERHOOD
It is obvious that more is intended by "childbearing" than the physical process of conceiving, carrying a child in the womb, and bringing him into the world, but mothering that person is assumed. More is expressly stated by Paul. "Women will be saved through childbirth, if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety" [1Tim 2:15]. Conscientious motherhood cannot follow the selfish pattern of having a child only to send him off as soon as possible to a day-care centre. Of course, at times this is essential for survival! But at other times it is produced by a selfish interest in one's own career or in acquiring more wealth. Women want to get on to more exciting things. This low view of a mother's task is damaging the church.
Many are saved out of homes in which parents did not care for their children. These have lived useful lives for the Lord. But most of the greatest servants of God who have dealt the mightiest blows to Satan's kingdom were raised in stable homes. It is almost always a mother who makes it stable. Today nothing can replace the care and training of a faithful mother. Those who lack this blessing in their childhood carry a burden throughout life. Emotional scars and character flaws from mother's neglect are handicaps in serving the Lord. Even grace at conversion does not eliminate these liabilities.
Our world sets its wares before women: Look at the money you can make! A pay-cheque is an immediate and tangible reward for labour. Look at the influence and respect you can command in a successful career! There is fun and excitement in the work world - the social stimulation of interesting people, the excitement of travel, the glamour of attention from others, the intellectual challenges, and so on. But in reality these often prove to be the baubles of Vanity Fair.
God has assigned a nobler work to woman than merely to parallel man's activities. There is no more pitiful person in the world than the woman who "has it all together" in business but whose family has fallen apart. She is the epitome of energy, organisation, talent, and efficiency - only her children have not turned out well.
Loneliness and non-recognition attend motherhood for a time. But that is the perspective of this world only. How does the Judge compare the socialite, the dynamic business "success" in comparison with the mother who is selflessly training children with an eye of faith fixed on a spiritual kingdom and her hope firmly fixed upon the Lord? Some will think this is an emotional appeal to put women down once again. Rather, it is a conviction that many women have abandoned their highest dignity and hope for lesser things.
What is involved in motherhood? After birth pangs bring children into this world, there come years of life pangs. It is a mother's task and privilege to oversee the forging of a personality in her sons and daughters. For this she must set a tone in the home which builds strong character. Hers it is to take great Christian principles and practically apply them in every-day affairs - doing it simply and naturally. It is her responsibility to analyse each child mentally, physically, socially, spiritually. Talents are to be developed, virtues must be instilled, faults are to be patiently corrected, young sinners are to be evangelised. She is building men and women for God. Results may not be visible until she has laboured for fifteen or twenty years. Even when her task ends the true measure of her work awaits the full maturity of her children. Moses would be much more than an Egyptian rebel and an obscure shepherd, but Jochebed would not live to observe the consequences of her motherhood.