Volume 9, Issue 3: Husbandry
Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Yes, may you see your children's children. Peace be upon Israel!
Feminine beauty takes many forms, but in modern times the most overlooked form of this blessed beauty is that of pregnancy. Because we do not pay attention to our Bibles, we have now come to the point where we dismiss this blessing contemptuously, or we make fun of it, or we make rude comments to those who have received the blessing. The result is that too often modern Christian women abhor pregnancy because it "ruins the figure." Others lament what happens to them because of the inconveniences involved in getting around, or in sleeping. Others associate pregnancy with morning sickness, and insist that they never want to be pregnant again. The central problem with such opinions is not that women have them, but rather the context we have created, in which such opinions are formed.
This context can be described as a general bad attitude toward children, and everything connected to it. Pregnancy is not honored because children are not appreciated. Unfortunately, the Christian response to this has only gone halfway back. Some men have learned that children are a blessing, and so they have decided with their wives that they want to have more kids. Sometimes this decision is reached with some reluctance, but it is reached. But without questioning the sincerity of those who make this decision, the decisions are often made on the basis of raw principle with no attitudinal follow-through. We have returned to the "duty" but not to the blessing.
We have consequently fallen between two positions. We have rejected the contempt the world shows for the results of pregnancy, but we have not yet learned to honor pregnancy ourselves. If a pregnant woman enters a modern gathering of Christians in the condition that Luke describes concerning our Lord's mother (i.e. great with child), the chances are good that she will hear three rude comments before the evening is out, two people will want to pat her stomach, as though being pregnant makes one's body public property, and one person will set up shop as a wit. "Does the doctor know what causes this?" A few more serious individuals will express some concern for her, the kind of concern that baits the snare for discontent. "Is Joe taking care of you? You look awfully tired."
A world of difference lies between men who insist that women should do their duty and men who honor women who fulfill their calling. "Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control" (1 Tim. 2:15). Women, like men, are saved by God's grace in the midst of their vocational callings. In the wisdom of God, pregnancy is the beginning of this calling for women. God gave Adam the task of being fruitful and filling the earth. But Adam was utterly incapable of reproducing by himself. He needed a helper suitable to him, someone able to help him to be fruitful. And when Adam received his help, he honored her.
Paul says that true widows are to be honored (1 Tim. 5:3). If their families cannot take care of them, then the church should help, provided they were renowned for their good works, which specifically included the rearing of children (v. 10). The calling which is honored at the end must also be honored at the beginning.
So men must learn to see pregnancy as an honor bestowed, and they must themselves honor those to whom it has been given. Men must do this generally, and husbands must do it particularly. The point is to see it as more than good, more than a duty, more than important; this condition is lovely. Imagine this situation: a woman, bearing within her body another eternal soul, enters a room filled with men. They all stand and greet her, and they speak of this and that. No one refers to her pregnancy but the vast majority of them are thinking, "Now that is really something. She is incredible." Their demeanor is one of respect and honor. When men generally respect pregnant women, and a husband in particular learns to verbally respect and honor and admire his wife's loveliness in pregnancy, our situation will soon be very different.
In traditional conservative Christian circles, a common lament is that modern women are not eager to have children the way women were in the Bible, women are too eager to rush off to a childless career, women are disgruntled about the calling which God has given them. But then, look at how pregnant women are treated in their midst. Why are we surprised? Why should women honor what their men treat with contempt?