Sunday, May 8, 2011

Some Mother’s Day Reflections

It’s Mother’s Day again in Canada, the United States, and many other countries of the world. I’m pleased to see the holiday is still around. It is a wonder that it was not declared a hate crime to celebrate Mother’s Day decades ago.

After all, it isn’t exactly an inclusive holiday. It excludes all people who are not mothers. That by definition excludes all people who are not biologically female (although pointing that out might be a hate crime in and of itself these days). It excludes plenty of females too, however. What about daughters and granddaughters? What about our sisters and our cousins, whom we reckon up by dozens, and our aunts?* I had started to get the impression that to exclude people was the worst possible thing one could do, a crime of hate so ghastly, so horrible, that is was absolutely unpardonable under any circumstances. At least that is the impression the news and entertainment media, classrooms, and many a pulpit have been giving for decades.

Then there is the fact that Mother’s Day is honouring, well, motherhood. Isn’t motherhood supposed to be degrading to women though? Isn’t that what the great and wise leaders of the Womyn’s Revolution, who brought Enlightenment and Liberation to Personkind back in the 1960’s taught us? That to be a wife and a mother is to be a slave or at best a second class citizen. That motherhood is an inferior choice that keeps women from achieving self-fulfillment through the pursuit of a career.

I suppose that I should not have written the above even in a sarcastic fashion. One doesn’t want to give the humourless dingbats who have created this oppressive cultural climate in which everything ordinary, decent, and honorable in life is degraded and everything weird, indecent, and ignoble is honored any new ideas.

The honouring of motherhood in Mother’s Day seems to be pleasantly out of sync with contemporary Western culture. On an ordinary day of the year the only kind of motherhood that seems to be honoured in our society is single-motherhood. Single-motherhood is honoured today because in traditional culture, our society regarded having a child outside of wedlock as being both sinful and shameful.

That, of course, is completely unacceptable to people living today. Contemporary society likes to justify its rejection of the standards of the past by saying that those standards were unfair.

“It placed an unfair stigma upon the child born out of wedlock. Why should he be blamed for the actions of his parents”.

“It reflects a double standard. The mother who had a child out of wedlock was judged far more harshly than the father of the child if he was judged at all”.

There is some truth to these judgements. All error must be mixed with truth if it is to become widespread and popular. Unmixed error deceives very few. There is much however, that people who make these judgements gloss over, and much that they are simply wrong about. The way traditional society behaved towards men who got unmarried women pregnant, for example, is grossly misrepresented.

It is often forgotten that the social purpose of the stigma against unmarried pregnancy was not to punish the child but to deter people from having children outside of the bonds of marriage. Likewise, the social purpose of seeking to prevent people from having children outside of marriage was not to prevent young people (or anyone else) from “having fun”. Rather it was to promote responsible behavior and stable families. A child raised by a father and mother who are married to each other stands a far better chance of doing well in every area of life than a child in any other situation. Society as a whole is much better off when children are raised by their fathers and mothers in traditional homes than when they are raised in other situations.

Implicit within traditional standards is the concept that we as members of societies have duties to our societies that must govern and take precedence over our personal desires and pursuits. That is a concept that is not well liked today and is widely rejected. It’s current unpopularity, however, does not make it false.

Now, the category of single-motherhood covers more than just women who have gotten pregnant outside of wedlock. It also includes women whose husbands have died or abandoned them. The shame that society attached to out-of-wedlock pregnancy should never have been allowed so spill over onto such women.

This, however, is only a minor consideration in contemporary society’s decision to simultaneously lower the status of traditional motherhood within the context of marriage and elevate the status of single-motherhood. What it really demonstrates is that we have lost our sense of the value of parents, family, and the home. Money, science and technology, and the material resources the latter can provide, are all we value these days. We assume that by having society provide resources for the raising of children through government social programs that we can replace stable marriages, legitimacy, and the home, and get rid of all the rules that supported such things while interfering with our freedom to pursue our pleasure in whatever way we saw fit.

In our rejection of our society’s traditional standards we are saying that we think we know better than our parents, grandparents, and all the generations of great-grandparents prior to them.(1) On this day, devoted to the honouring of one of our parents, we may wish to reflect upon the significance of that. Is such arrogance honouring to our fathers and mothers?

It is God, of course, who tells us to honour our fathers and mothers in the fourth commandment. Some churches, today, have started to address God as Mother rather than Father, or to combine Mother and Father in a single title “Mother-Father God”. This is yet another product of the same collective brain rot afflicting our society that I have been discussing.

Now, someone might object and say “What is wrong with calling God Mother?” Assuming that the objector professes to believe in Jesus Christ and Christianity my answer would be that while feminine images of God do exist in Scripture, and while God is Spirit which cannot be categorized according to biological sex, God in His revelation of Himself has called Himself Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To call God Mother is to presumptuously read contemporary egalitarian and inclusivistic ideas into Christianity at the risk of confusing our God with a contemporary rival deity, the Mother Goddess of neo-paganism. What we will end up with if we do so is a version of “Christianity” that bears about as much resemblance to traditional, historical, Biblical Christianity as neo-paganism bears to traditional, historical, pagan religions, i.e., almost none.

If I felt the compelling need to address a prayer to a female personage I would rather address a prayer to Mary, the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, than to the “Mother-Father God” of contemporary liberal “Christianity”. Although I am a Protestant I would consider it less blasphemous and it at least has the benefit of centuries of tradition behind it.

God the Father commanded us to honour our fathers and our mothers. We are not doing very well with that commandment these days. We have built nursing homes for our elderly parents, where the government pays strangers to look after them, while we go about our daily lives and forget about them. We have developed a culture that glorifies youth and refuses to honour the wisdom that comes with age. Within the last few decades children have developed the disrespectful habit of addressing their parents by their first names.

It is a good thing, therefore, that the Gestapo of contemporary, egalitarian, inclusivistic, multicultural, democratic liberalism has not yet gotten around to banishing Mother’s Day. We need that one day of the year to honour our mothers. We aren’t allowed to honour them any other day any more.

Lord have mercy upon us.


*Apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan

(1) The problem is a few generations old already but if that sentence were adjusted to reflect that fact it would sound extremely awkward.

3 comments:

  1. Hello Mr. Neal,

    Great post, as usual. I'm glad to see Protestants taking a stand for God's fatherhood. But what's this about:

    "Now, the category of single-motherhood covers more than just women who have gotten pregnant outside of wedlock. It also includes women whose husbands have died or abandoned them. The shame that society attached to out-of-wedlock pregnancy should never have been allowed so spill over onto such women."

    Widowhood has never been considered shameful. Other than orphans, I can't think of another group that the Bible and other traditional texts enjoin us as strongly to care for. I've never heard of it being considered shameful to be an abandoned wife either, although perhaps you know something I don't on this matter.

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  2. Hi bonald.

    You are right, of course. The last sentence in the paragraph that you have quoted would be better as an imperative "The shame that society attaches to out-of-wedlock must never be allowed to spill over onto such women".

    The confusion of these categories was not characteristic of traditional society but was a product of modernity. The distinction between a widow or abandoned wife on the one hand and a woman who got pregnant out of wedlock on the other is meaningless to the architects of the welfare state - and to those critics of the welfare state who can think only in terms of dollar figures and the bottom line.

    It is in that context that the generic category of "single motherhood" - now exalted by our sick and dying culture above traditional motherhood - has come into existence.

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  3. You're absolutely right. All this glorification of single motherhood sickens me. The message to me as a father is that I am superfluous. Then there's also the fact that many of those "single mothers" got that way by abandoning their husbands.

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