I’ve never needed theology more than I do as a mother. Not even as a seminary student. Not even as a writer for a Christian publication. Not even as Bible study teacher. Motherhood requires theology more than any other job I’ve ever held. Why? Because nothing reveals my heart’s true beliefs about God like the daily routine of motherhood. Nothing reveals my inadequacies like motherhood does. Nothing reveals my need for truth and grace like motherhood does.
The task of a theologian is more than studying God’s Word and the history of its interpretation. A true theologian seeks to know God more intimately by applying the truths of His Word to life’s everyday moments. For mothers, that means the task of theology is to instill in our children a biblical worldview, giving them the tools to filter reality through the lens of God’s truth. If my assessment is correct, then our culture has no greater need than for mothers to enter into the world of theology.
Here’s four reasons why I believe that to be so:
1) Moms need theology to keep us on mission.
God gives parents a very important task in entrusting them with children. Deuteronomy 6:4-6 (the Shema) reveals a mom’s mission: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
From the very beginning, God ordered theological and biblical instruction to come primarily from the home. Instruction on God’s Word and how to apply it to everyday life was expected to occur between a parents and a child (both at home and on the road) and on a continual basis (both day and night).
As a mom, it’s very easy to lose sight of this God-given mission when many churches today offer robust children’s ministry, Vacation Bible Schools, and youth activities. But Deuteronomy 6 is pretty clear. It’s not a Sunday School teacher’s job to teach our kids theology. It is not a pastor’s job to teach our kids theology. It’s our job. God’s Word and the daily application of its tenets should be visible in our lives and prominent in our schedules – as if our theology was tied to our hands and bound to our foreheads. Mom’s need theology to keep us on mission for biblical parenting.
2) Moms need theology to keep our worship rightly ordered.
Have you ever wondered why a passage on teaching the next generation opens with a statement about God’s character? Deut. 6:4-6 begins: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
The author of Deuteronomy is affirming that our obedience to fulfill God’s commandments (our actions) are grounded in our heart’s beliefs about the character and quality of God. Our actions reveal what or who our heart truly worships, and the author is calling parents to ensure their worship is rightly ordered toward the only God who deserves to be worshipped.
The Shema, then, commissions parents to do more than simply teach their children God’s commandments, it also reveals God’s plan for parenthood – to lead children into a relationship with the Triune God. Moms need theology to keep our own worship rightly ordered, but we also need it to guard our homes and children against idolatry.
3) Moms need theology to rightly interpret and respond to life circumstances.
Moms, theology will help you rightly interpret your circumstances and view them in light of the mission God has given you as a mother.
Nothing reveals the center of my heart’s true affections like poor circumstances – whether that’s a really bad diaper (for the fifth time in a day), sickness, financial trouble, or loss. I’m particularly prone to misinterpreting my circumstances and allowing my circumstances to distract me from my God-given purpose – to bring my children into wise worship of the King. That means demonstrating to our children that, as Deut. 6:4 tells us, God is worthy to be worshipped because He is bigger than our circumstances. When we allow ourselves to be overcome by fear, worry, or anxiety, not only are we revealing false gods we worship (i.e.: personal convenience, security, financial gain, health), but we are also demonstrating to our children that God is not worthy to be the center of our heart’s affections.
4) Moms need theology to teach the full message of the Gospel.
When I began to outline this hive series, my children were memorizing Ps. 118:1 which states: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
But later that day, I realized how sub-par my theological instruction proved to be. In reviewing Wayne Grudem’s Christian Beliefs for this series, I stopped on his chapter titled: “What is God like?” In three short paragraphs he outlined seven implications concerning God’s goodness, and NONE of them included my dictionary explanation to my kids. Here’s a snipit from his book:his love endures forever.” It’s a simple verse, and they caught on quickly. On the day I introduced Ps. 118 to them, I asked them, “What does it mean when the Bible says: “God is good?” My three-year-olds had few answers, so I offered up a dictionary answer full of noble character attributes: God is kind, God is gracious, God is patient, etc. Were those answers correct? Yes. Did my kids understand that God was good? Yes. With my mission accomplished I felt pretty good about myself.
- God is the final standard of good
- All God is and does is good (and is worthy of approval)
- No one is good except God alone
- God is the ultimate source of goodness
- Even God’s discipline is a manifestation of his goodness toward us
- God’s goodness can be seen in his mercy and grace
- We are called to demonstrate God’s goodness to others (Grudem, Christian Beliefs, pg. 29)
How meager my dictionary definition of God’s goodness appeared when compared to the full-orbed meaning contained in the Scriptures! In just a few paragraphs, Wayne Grudem explained what God’s goodness was, it’s implications for our sinful state, and it’s significance for how we live our everyday lives. God’s goodness isn’t simply a noble character quality – it is an action, a standard, a contrasting picture to our sinfulness, and a call to ministry.
[pullquote style="left" quote="dark"]Mom theologs are able to connect the dots of faith so that real life problems come with real-life solutions. Mom theologs are able to train their children to view their current condition and life situation through the lens of the Word of God.[/pullquote]Theology helps moms teach their children the full truth of the Scriptures. When we immerse ourselves in study of Christian doctrine, we stand equipped to do more than simply quote Bible verses or tell Bible stories. Mom theologs are able to explain the significance and implications of the words of Scripture. Mom theologs are able to connect the dots of faith so that real life problems come with real-life solutions. Mom theologs are able to train their children to view their current condition and life situation through the lens of the Word of God.
Is teaching theology to our children an easy task? Hardly. Incorporating theology into motherhood is a lesson I’m still learning today. It’s a task that requires wisdom and patience…two qualities I need heaps of. To do otherwise is to risk spoon-feeding our child past their developmental age, rendering them either spiritually stunted for life or without a taste for the meat of God’s Word.
So, in case you find yourself in the same shaky boat of biblical instruction, here are some lessons about theology and motherhood that I’ve learned along the way:
- Mom theologs must be Bible-saturated. In order to effectively teach my children Christian doctrine and present them with the full message of the Scriptures, I must be diligent in my own studies on a daily basis. Do I attain this goal every day? I wish I could say yes. But my need to be immersed in the Word of God is seen the most clearly on days when I have let time and ‘busyness’ get the best of my schedule. So, not only do I need to set aside time to ingest God’s Word (reading, meditate, pray on it) and great theology books, my kids need to see me prioritizing my schedule to do so.
- Mom theologs must be direct and intentional in word. My boys are three-years-old, and they have about a two-minute attention span (literally). That means two things. First, when instruction or reproof is needed, I must be prepared with the exact words to share at the time those difficult situations arise (i.e.: fights, quarrels, whining, etc.) Second, small attention spans means that I need to insert theological discussions into small teaching moments throughout the day (i.e.: fights, quarrels, whining, etc.) Full-blown theological discussions just aren’t plausible at this point in their development. So, in order to fulfill God’s commission for me in Deut. 6, I must engage my children on the theological topics of forgiveness, redemption, worship in the everyday realities of life.
- Mom theologs must be direct and intentional in deed. Nothing brings me to my knees faster than the realization that I’ve demonstrated poor theology to my kids, whether it’s allowing my circumstances or fears to overwhelm me (demonstrating God is not worthy to be trusted) or allowing my flesh to respond poorly to marital conflict (demonstrating God’s forgiveness is slow or given grudgingly). Poor theology is picked up like cookie crumbs on the floor – gleaned and ingested before I have a chance to clean up the mess I’ve created. My kids need to see me actively living out sound theology. And ironically, when I think I am teaching my kids to think biblically, I’m really, in fact, training myself to do so.
Need some help learning how to incorporate theology into the task of motherhood? To check out some of our recommended resources for digging into theology click here! You might even score one for free!
Also, be sure to check out our Q&A with blogger Amanda White about her new e-book, Truth in the Tinsel: And Advent Experience for Little Hands, to find out how she incorporates theology into the Advent season! Click here to go to the Q&A page and enter to win a free copy of her book!