Monday, January 21, 2008

Saved Through Childbearing

I'm no theologian. But there's a verse I've grown to love in the past few years. St. Paul writes in I Timothy 2:15 that "women will by saved through childbearing."

I was raised Protestant in many church circles that preached a person was "saved" by grace, by simply "believing" in Christ. This could be a one time thing. Of course it was to one's benefit to "walk with the Lord." That this was proof of truly "being saved." But not completely necessary.

I became Catholic as an adult and the view of salvation here is a bit different. Without delving into catechesis, we're still saved by grace but this salvation must be "worked out with fear and trembling." (also St. Paul -- Philippians 2:12) In short, one's salvation and sanctification begin with Baptism and are carried on in faith throughout one's life. During which, if we live by the laws God has revealed to us through his Church we can have great confidence in "being saved" on that final judgement day. So in short, a Catholic should be saved 3 times -- 1. at Baptism 2. Presently -- walking with the Lord 3. Final Judgement.

My point here is not a Sunday school lesson or to talk about the differences between Protestants and Catholics (or their similarities -- as there are many) but to simply celebrate a verse. A verse that made no sense to me before I learned that salvation and sanctification were one. Not only did the verse not make sense. I found it a bit nasty and strange.

We work out our salvation everyday. In what we suffer. In what we celebrate. In how we unite our lives and bend our wills to our risen Lord. Our Mother Church calls for our participation in this work of salvation through prayer, works of charity, study and acts of penance. However, St. Paul wrote that "women would be saved through childbearing."

I'd like to think he must have been keenly familiar with the demands of motherhood. Unlike some modern priests who seem so clueless to my needs as I storm out of mass searching for a quiet place to nurse, I'd like to think St. Paul felt my pain & that he wrote such a benediction after spending time with a young mom and her chicks - a flutter with their needs. As if to say "that's it, girl. that's more than enough. that diaper changing. those sleepless nights. the teething toddler. those babies are plenty of fodder for sin purging. plenty and then some. and then some more."

I wonder if the verse would not translate better to the vernacular as "child rearing." But then like I said I'm no theologian. So I'll close with a quote from a dad of 10 who attended my old parish: "Don't think of changing diapers as a chore but realize this work is the very salvation of your soul." And it is. And it's my joy. And it's my cross. And I wouldn't trade it for the world.


tiffani said...


That was beautiful, perfect. As I sit here trying to get my own work done, I urge my very distracted nine year old to just complete one very difficult creative writing project, "Come on, you can finish it." And I watch my three old's homemade tent/mountain of blankets and pillows grow higher and higher in my previously clean dining room. Yesterday, I said to my husband, "At least people refer to you with a title and you get paid..." Not really a complaint,just a note, because I don't mind the lack of attention from the outside world since I know Who is truly watching my very tiny "sufferings" of sleepiness and showerless mornings.

It's an indelible* gift that motherhood works out our salvation, because that knowledge makes you even more grateful than if you simply thought your reward was finally watching them grow up and move out.

Keep writing about Catholic mommyhood. It's often a very misunderstood truth.

*indelible - cannot be removed, washed away, or erased.

Sarah said...

Thanks Tiffani,

That would be horrible if our only reward would was watching them grow up and move out ... good point. Especially as it seems that so many even well intentioned boys grow up and seem to forget about their mamas. That's why I better have a girl this time (or next ..:).


tiffani said...

I didn't mean that I wanted my children to grow up and move out. I just meant that some people seem to speak so fondly of their babies growing up and moving out so they can "finally have time for themselves", all the while, they are really working out their salvation with absolutely no knowledge of the spiritual implications (or true blessings) of motherhood.

How's that for a run-on sentence?

Sarah said...

very good for a run on sentence and I never thought you were implying that you couldn't wait for your kids to grow up and move out; nope, now how's that for a run on sentence ...

abigail said...

Those last few sentences are the perfect expression of motherhood.

It's our joy. It's our cross. And we wouldn't trade it for the world.

Thank you for writing this.

Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

You are an excellent writer, and your theology seems as good as your writing. The photo is quite moving. You and yours?

M. Moore
Christian Constitutional Society

Sarah said...

Thanks for the kind words, Mr. Moore.

I can't take credit for the photo -- other than finding it via Google Image search.

Take care, Sarah