When people find out I have ten children, there is usually a lot of shock, to say the least. The looks alone, from believers and unbelievers alike, make me think that I grew green horns out of my forehead, all of a sudden. Not to mention the rather interesting and typical responses of “Do you know how that happens?”, “You have your hands full”, and “Are you joking?”
People also tend to assume that I am a very patient person because not only do I have a lot of kids, but I homeschool them as well. When in fact, each one of my kids has brought out something in me that I didn’t know needed to be worked on. The fruit of the Spirit needs to be developed and grown in me, just as much as anyone else. Paul Washer has said that he believes marriage is the greatest instrument of sanctification. That may be true, but it is my personal opinion that parenting is a close second.
God intended for marriages to become families, and typically families involve having children. However, it is the Lord’s will and doing whether or not a woman’s womb is opened to bear children. Scripture provides many examples of this with Sarah, Hannah, Mary…to name a few. We might not know why one woman’s womb is opened and another’s is closed, but we trust in His sovereignty.
So why does 1 Timothy 2:15 say “Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” Is a woman really saved if she has children? Does that mean I am saved nine times over because I have nine children? How can an instrument of sanctification save you? What about the women who God has not opened their wombs? Or the women who felt the call to adopt? And what about men? It really doesn’t make a lot of sense at first glance. So what does Paul mean?
In the last part of the second chapter of 1 Timothy, Paul is talking about how Christian women should be focusing on their God assigned roles. As Paul says, a woman’s ministry is not to run the church (verse 12) and this is for two reasons, because Adam was formed first (verse 13) and because Eve was the one who was deceived (verse 14). God created men and women equal but with different roles; this is commonly known as complementarianism. We were created to complete each other. “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). Women, while no less valuable, are the weaker vessel and helper. (1 Peter 3:7). There’s no denying that women are more easily deceived and we know this mainly because of the actions of Eve in the garden (Genesis 3), as Paul mentions in verse 14. However, like John MacArthur wrote in his bible commentary, “even though a woman [Eve] bears the stigma of being the initial instrument who led the race into sin, it is women through childbearing who may be preserved or freed from that stigma by raising a generation of godly children.”
Giving birth to a child does not have any weight in a woman’s salvation (no matter how many times you do so), and we know that Paul would never say that salvation is through any other means besides Christ. So, we are able to come to the conclusion that Paul is speaking of where a woman will find true fulfillment of her God intended role – in her home. As wives, we should be working out our salvation with fear and trembling in our homes, as we are keepers of the home (Titus 2:5). If we have been gifted children, whether we bore them or through adoption, we should be raising those children to the glory of God. While we are not called to lead the church, as mothers, we are still called to a noble and unique responsibility; to rear godly children. We may not be able to teach and lead over men in the church, but we have the joy and honor to teach and minister to the saints in our homes. We should do our best to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Pointing them to the truth of God’s Word; knowing that the state of their eternal souls are far more important than whatever worldly accomplishments they may happen to achieve. We will be truly blessed if our children “continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control”, in the way of which they were trained (Proverbs 22:6).
The only way to salvation, for male or female, is through Jesus Christ. His atoning work on the cross is what makes the forgiveness of our sins by God possible. He paid the price and by grace we have been saved through faith, not of our own doing but the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). There are no works that we are able to do to save ourselves…that includes having children. But we are all called to fear the Lord, be obedient, to strive for holiness, and to do everything to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). As mothers, one of the most important things that we can do for God’s glory, and for the advancement of the Kingdom, is to raise our children to know His Son. A true honor, it is, and may our children rise up and call us blessed!
*I originally wrote this article for Bible Dingers for their Weird Wednesday series.