Mother’s Day is a particularly sensitive time in many congregations, and pastors and church leaders often don’t even know it. This is true even in congregations that don’t focus the entire service around the event as if it were a feast day on the church’s liturgical calendar. Infertile women, and often their husbands, are still often grieving in the shadows. It is good and right to honor mothers. The Bible calls us to do so. Jesus does so with his own mother. We must recognize though that many infertile women find this day almost unbearable. This is not because these women are (necessarily) bitter or covetous or envious. The day is simply a reminder of unfulfilled longings, longings that are good. Some pastors, commendably, mention in their sermons and prayers on this day those who want to be mothers but who have not had their prayers answered. Some recognize those who are mothers not to children, but to the rest of the congregation as they disciple spiritual daughters in the faith. This is more than a “shout-out” to those who don’t have children. It is a call to the congregation to rejoice in those who “mother” the church with wisdom, and it’s a call to the church to remember those who long desperately to hear “Mama” directed at them. What if pastors and church leaders were to set aside a day for prayer for children for the infertile? In too many churches ministry to infertile couples is relegated to support groups that meet in the church basement during the week, under cover of darkness. Now it’s true that infertile couples need each other. The time of prayer and counsel with people in similar circumstances can be helpful. But this alone can contribute to the sense of isolation and even shame experienced by those hurting in this way. Moreover, if the only time one talks about infertility is in a room with those who are currently infertile, one is probably going to frame the situation in rather hopeless terms. In fact, almost every congregation is filled with previously infertile people, including lots and lots who were told by medical professionals that they would never have children! Most of those (most of us, I should say) who fit into that category don’t really talk about it much because they simply don’t think of themselves in those terms. The baby or babies are here, and the pain of the infertility has subsided. Infertile couples need to see others who were once where they are, but who have been granted the blessing they seek. What if, at the end of a service, the pastor called any person or couple who wanted prayer for children to come forward and then asked others in the congregation to gather around them and pray? Not every person grappling with infertility will do this publicly, and that’s all right. But many will. And even those too embarrassed to come forward will be encouraged by a church willing to pray for those hurting this way. The pastor could pray for God’s gift of children for these couples, either through biological procreation or through adoption, whichever the Lord should desire in each case. Regardless of how you do it, remember the infertile as the world around us celebrates motherhood. The Proverbs 31 woman needs our attention, but the 1 Samuel 1 woman does too. A version of this commentary originally ran on May 5, 2011.
— Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 —
Mother’s Day is a particularly sensitive time in many congregations, and pastors and church leaders often don’t even know it. This is true even in congregations that don’t focus the entire service around the event as if it were a feast day on the church’s liturgical calendar. Infertile women, and often their husbands, are still often grieving in the shadows.
It is good and right to honor mothers. The Bible calls us to do so. Jesus does so with his own mother. We must recognize though that many infertile women find this day almost unbearable. This is not because these women are (necessarily) bitter or covetous or envious. The day is simply a reminder of unfulfilled longings, longings that are good.Keep Reading...
— Monday, May 6th, 2013 —
I want to live long enough to be a burden to my children.
I heard a Christian thinker I respect say that years ago, and it embedded in my mind, shocking as it is to our sensitivities. After all, isn’t this the shocking reverse of the received wisdom we hear, and say, all the time? Isn’t it selfish to want to be a burden to one’s children?
This sentence came to mind again this weekend when reading this article in The Guardian by Giles Fraser. Fraser writes that he is not enamored with the pain and indignity of death. But caring for others, and being cared for, is love. We are not “brains in vats,” he notes but persons who live in communities and families.Keep Reading...
— Friday, April 26th, 2013 —
George Jones has died, and I am afraid a lot of people will think he was a hypocrite. George Jones was no hypocrite. He was the troubadour of the Christ-haunted South. The raw emotion, and even whispers of torture, in his voice can teach American Christianity much about the nature of sin and the longing for repentance.
Jones is easy to caricature as a hypocrite, to be sure. He performed some of the greatest songs in country music history. I would fight anyone, metaphorically speaking, who denies that “He Stopped Loving Her Today” is the greatest country song of all time, but Jones was known for more than his songs. His failed marriages, most notably from fellow country music star Tammy Wynette, and his life-long skirmish with substance abuse, were always in the headlines. Few people knew of George Jones who did not immediately think of the anecdote of his riding a lawn mower to the liquor store after the authorities, and his long-suffering wife, took away his freedom to drive a car.Keep Reading...
— Friday, April 26th, 2013 —
Recently Christian rapper Shai Linne took on America’s prosperity gospel teachers, by name and without apology. He was challenged by the son of prosperity teacher Paula White, and responded with a dose of gospel power and light.
This week Shai was in town, making his way through the country on The Black Out Circuit tour, [...]Keep Reading...
— Thursday, April 25th, 2013 —
I need your help.
On June 1st, I will start as president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Shortly thereafter, we’ll be unveiling a brand new podcast, dealing with cultural, social, and political issues from a gospel and kingdom perspective. This will be talk [...]Keep Reading...
— Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 —
This sermon, “The Weight of Twelve Stones: Reflections on a Grateful Goodbye” (Josh. 4:1-24), was originally preached at Alumni Chapel at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. This was Dr. Moore’s final chapel sermon as Dean of the School of Theology and Senior [...]Keep Reading...
— Friday, April 19th, 2013 —
I love Brad Paisley. I love LL Cool J. I don’t like “Accidental Racist.”
The song, part of Paisley’s new album Wheelhouse, has provoked controversy in media outlets around the country, with some suggesting the song is hokey and some suggesting it’s actually racist.
I don’t think Brad or LL are in any way racists of any sort. I just think the song awkwardly trivializes the real issues it raises, making it the musical equivalent of Michael Scott’s “diversity day” presentations on a rerun of The Office.
But I could be wrong. And that’s why I pulled in a pastor/scholar/author I respect, Thabiti Anyabwile. I love Thabiti’s work across the board, but I thought of him particularly because some of the issues raised in this song are remarkably similar to a recent conversation he had with pastor Douglas Wilson about the legacy of the Civil War.Keep Reading...
— Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 —
Dear Dr. Moore,
I know you don’t believe in in vitro fertilization, but my wife and I found it was a good solution to our infertility problem. We created multiple embryos, and carried two to term. We cannot afford any other children, so another round of pregnancies is not an option. Our quiver’s full. My conscience is bothering me a little, though, since we banked a number of other fertilized embryos, just in case the first round didn’t take. Do we have any responsibility for these embryos?
Sincerely, A Stressed Dad
Your quiver’s fuller than you think.Keep Reading...
— Friday, April 12th, 2013 —
Yesterday I was typing the name “Kermit Gosnell,” and my phone auto-corrected the name to “gospel.” I shuddered momentarily. After all, what could be more contradictory than the name of a notorious abortionist on trial for child murder, and the good news of the mercies of God in Christ. My smartphone, it turns out, was smarter than I was.
The Gosnell case is stomach-turning. Testimonies in court point to a sadistic man who would sever the spines of babies, in and out of the womb. They tell of a man so cold-blooded that he would keep the feet of unborn children as trophies of his evil. They speak of a man who would prey upon the poorest and most vulnerable women in his community in order to destroy their lives and those of their children. It’s hard to think of the gospel in the midst of all that evil.
But that’s just the point.Keep Reading...
— Thursday, March 28th, 2013 —
Why could Jesus sleep so peacefully through a life-threatening sea-storm, and yet is awake all night in the olive garden before his arrest, crying out in anguish? Why are the disciples pulsing with adrenaline as the ship is tossed about on the Galilee Lake, but drifting off to slumber as the most awful conspiracy in human history gets underway?
Peter, James, and John rebuke Jesus for falling asleep on the boat: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mk. 4:38) Jesus rebukes them for falling asleep as he prays before the cross: “Could you not watch one hour?” (Mk. 14:37)
Jesus isn’t the anxious sort. He tells us, remember, to be anxious for nothing, to take no thought for tomorrow (Matt 6:25-34). So why is he awake all night, “greatly distressed and troubled” (Mk. 14:33). In the storm, Jesus dismisses the disciples’ terror with a wave of the hand. In the garden, he screams, with loud cries and tears (Heb. 5:7), until the blood vessels in his face explode.Keep Reading...