By Jesse Johnson - Posted at The Cripplegate:
Last week, the New York Times ran a fascinating column by Heather Andrews lamenting the absence of conservative women fighting to defend the “traditional family” (aka, a woman’s ability to be a stay-at-home mom). The gist of the article was that the makeup of the American family is in crisis: because of the influx of moms in the workplace, wages are lowered, household expenses rise, and this creates a “two-income trap” where families feel like they have no choice except to have both parents work. The end result of the feminist movement is a tragic (mortal?) wounding of what it means to be a mom.
Andrew’s point was largely political and sociological; but I can say from experience that it is also religious. She has hit upon a devastating and sad truth inside of evangelicalism. There is an attack on motherhood from the world, to be sure. But the bigger danger is that the Bible’s teaching on gender roles in marriage is dying inside the church as well. And unless there is a course change, the next generation of evangelicals won’t be able to blame the change on the world or the devil, because the blame will lie squarely on those inside the church.
My perception was that for a long time (at least through much of 1990’s/2000’s), churches did sermon series on the role of the family. Pastors wrote parenting books and marriage books. There was obviously pushback from those who thought that any teaching about a mom’s primary role in the home was sexist and discriminatory. But at least (in my experience) that was a pushback the church embraced. We understood that our view of family was supposed to be different than the world, and also understood that those in the world would reject that distinction.
Yet gradually I have seen a change inside the church, in such places as premarital curriculum, marriage books, and sermon series. I recently grabbed six relatively new premarital books (from the shelf at a soon to close Christian bookstore), and noticed that only two of them even had a section on gender distinctions in marriage at all. Most of the books were on financial plans, communication principles, and spiritual priorities. Maybe even a question or two about “expectations” once children arrive. But beyond that, very little teaching on actual biblical principles for marriage.