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Tis the season for special days honoring mothers and graduates. So I thought I’d use the occasion to suggest one modest proposal. It’s aimed at Christian colleges. Here it is in a nutshell: admit you have mothers.

My wife and I both graduated from Christian colleges. I’ve seen more than a decades worth of alumni magazines and college promo materials. As a pastor, I see the magazines from other colleges too, as many of them are sent to the church. These magazines are usually well done. I’m sure many people work hard to make these materials attractive and informative, while also putting the schools best face forward.

All I’m suggesting is that some of the best faces to put forward are mothers. And yet I can’t ever recall seeing a mom focused in alumni material from any Christian college. I know my recollection is hardly a scientific survey, so take this as one man’s perception. But I just don’t remember ever seeing anything about moms.

And before someone says, “Well, I’ve never seen a spotlight on auto mechanics or lumberjacks” let me point out that roughly half of the graduates of Christian colleges are mothers. Close to 60% of the graduates are woman and most them will get married and have children, many of them as their primary vocation for a long season of their lives. So I’m not munching on sour grapes that one particular kind of person never gets mentioned. I’m wondering why the calling lived out by more graduates than any other calling is so infrequently celebrated?

I understand that alumni magazines try to focus on the extraordinary. Inevitably they highlight graduates serving in unusual ways, or graduates with significant influence, or graduates who have gone on to make the school proud. I have absolutely no problem with any of that. Profile those folks most of the time. But for liberal arts schools in particular–the kind of institutions that pride themselves on making you a well-rounded person and a lifelong learner–it would be wonderful to see some spotlight on the “ordinary” graduates, especially if half of your graduates will go on to serve in the same field.

The last thing we want to convey is that moms haven’t gone on to do anything significant. The second to the last thing we want to convey is that a mom doesn’t really benefit from a good education and a Christian worldview.

So here’s my challenge: let me know if you’ve seen an alumni magazine from a Christian college that spotlights mothers, not mothers who also dance in the ballet and spin centrifuges, but mothers who are “just” mothers.

And a bonus challenge, this one for our fine Christian colleges: we’d love to see how proud you are of the half of your graduates putting their education to good use by helping their husbands, raising kids, serving in the church, and doing a hundred other amazing things that don’t look impressive to most people but should look impressive to us.


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36 thoughts on “A Modest Proposal on Moms”

  1. Matthew Vogan says:

    I love this! It is so true that you don’t see that most of the time if at all. I go to Houghton College which is a small Christian Liberal Arts College. The ratio of girls to guys is almost 3-1. I’m guessing that stories of successful Houghton graduates and alumni are either men or women with full time jobs. I would love to see stories of women graduates who have become full time mothers that have made a difference in their church, “helping their husbands, raising kids.. and doing a hundred other amazing things that… should look impressive to us.”

  2. David Axberg says:

    Amen and amen. I vote for my wife to be the first as a drop out of college to fulfil her calling as an outstanding wife and mother. We are all better because of it. God bless all those mothers who have taken the calling seriously.

  3. Robin Bowlus says:

    What a timely topic!! Last spring our Bluffton University alumni magazine theme was “Bluffton Women” and was a story through the lens of the national report, A Women’s Nation. There are stories of moms who love their “job” of raising their kids. Here is the link.

    http://www.bluffton.edu/blufftonalumni/magazine/spring2010/

    Bluffton University is located in northwest Ohio.

  4. Jeff Schultz says:

    As a pastor and the son and husband of Christian moms, I say “Amen!”

  5. Owen says:

    Amen. And by the way, being a mom is extraordinary. That can sound saccharine, but it’s true.

  6. Dave Fox says:

    Colleges don’t focus on the extraordinary- they focus on the money. Articles on moms won’t generate buzz or donations. Follow the money, sad to say :-)

  7. J. Dean says:

    I’m forwarding this to my wife. She will be VERY happy to see this. I may make a Calvinist out of her yet!

  8. Chuck says:

    I am a son of a woman described above. I am the husband of a woman described above. And I am the father of a woman described above. Your observations about college/university alumni focus is spot on. It might actually surprise an institution at how well such an article would market their school, as opposed to the usual features in their publications.

  9. kpolo says:

    I have to ask, if 60% of the graduates of Christian colleges are women and most will pursue full-time motherhood and home-making ala Titus 2, why go to the College in the first place?

  10. R.G. says:

    I went to a Christian college in western PA with amazing professors who taught the Lordship of Christ over every area of life. I graduated and worked in youth ministry for years before kids. We moved around the world and back again with our kids over the past 5 years and God used us where ever we were. My role as Mother who disciples her children, Wife who helps and encourages my husband, Neighbor who loves those in my community and Believer who seeks to glorify God in all I do was shaped by that small school in those 4 years. Yes, now I am “just” a stay at home mom, however God has used me, and my fervent prayer is that Gods continued use of me in this role will have eternal significance. If only we didn’t look at college as a means to an end for a career and moms as personal assistants for their kids. Thanks for this article, super encouraging for me.

  11. Jimmy says:

    Any thought of looking for an article on men who are caretakers of their children? Would an article about two moms in one family be acceptable? Or is this not about moms, but about a preferred kind of womanly role?

  12. Rose says:

    Thanks for the link to the Bluffton article. I really wish I had been encouraged by brethren in the church to develop the gifts I have other than “nurturing” and “supporting.” Those are definitely wonderful gifts, but there was/is(?) so much more I could have done, if it hadn’t been frowned upon as “feminism” and “worldly” to pursue academic interests not involving homeschooling.

  13. truthmatters says:

    Hey… Give your mom a hug, and tell her you love her.

  14. Jodi says:

    Thank you! I’ve been saying this since I left my career to became a full time, stay at home mother three years ago. I think we should celebrate the most important job in the world!

  15. Clarice says:

    Thank you for writing this, Kevin! As a wife and mother of 2 with a BA in Literature from a Christian college, I appreciate your perspective here.

    kpolo asked “…if 60% of the graduates of Christian colleges are women and most will pursue full-time motherhood and home-making ala Titus 2, why go to the College in the first place?”

    To answer simply: I don’t think the goal of a college degree is only about going out into the work force and making money. It’s about learning how to be a life long learner–it’s about developing the mind, honing communication skills, sharpening the intellect. For me it was more about acquiring tools than achieving some sort of end.

  16. Kathleen says:

    Thank you!!! Well said! Being a mother is an honorable, challenging, and infinitely valuable vocation, an end for which all the education and training in the world would not be wasted.

    Being “just” a mom, i.e. motherhood as your primary vocation for a season, is not a light task at all. Every minute and all your brains, emotional intelligence, skills, wisdom, physical ability, craftsmanship, and more are engaged!

  17. Here here!! I am a mom and I agree!

  18. Cindy says:

    Very well said! and you are so right. The position of wife and mother have very little value in the worlds eyes, sadly but true, even in Christian circles. Thank you!

  19. Dennis Lutz says:

    Well Said!

  20. Melody says:

    kpolo, its both about learning and about being prepared.
    If I had gotten married straight out of college as many women do, I would still want to have the knowledge I gained in college to help me raise my kids well. I want that base foundation.

    But also, while many women do marry and become stay at home mothers, there is no guarantee that this *will* happen. There’s not guarantee that if it does happen it will be right away, or that if it’s right away the husband wouldn’t die suddenly or become disabled or lose his job.

    So it’s good to have something to fall back on.

  21. Mrs. JD Darr says:

    kpolo,

    John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” High Priestly Prayer

    I see Theology Proper and Christology in this verse. These are for women as well. Are we not to enjoy and participate in this “eternal life”?

    Pastor DeYoung,
    I love this post! What a blessing!

  22. Christy Keyton says:

    Thank you, Kevin, for this article. It made me cry. I am one of those Moms. We have eight children. I see the hand of God in my life, including my college education. I grew so much mentally and spiritually in college. My degree is in Early Childhood Education, and to answer kpolo, my degree has helped my home educate all of these children, two of whom are at college now on scholarship. My role as a Mom is some of the greatest work I have ever been privileged to do.

  23. Jeremy says:

    @Jimmy

    You’ve just written the most insightful comment that I’ve read on a blog in a long time. You’ve actually raised my consciousness on this issue. From now on every time the religious right wants to celebrate mothers, I’m going to ask if they are celebrating their work or celebrating their role.

  24. There is an old saying that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. So who says mothers are not doing anything significant!

  25. kpolo,

    Real womanhood is about instructing women and children in all of Scripture, and history (beginning at Genesis and ending in Revelation), and pretty every other subject as well, not just Titus 2 and Proverbs 31.

    I think you can make a direct correlation between the lack of deep teaching and supporting of women, and this generation’s shallow understanding of the gospel and its implications for all of life. There are signs everywhere that this is changing, and my heart is so encouraged. My daughters’ college experience will hopefully be so much more fruitful than mine if it continues. Thank you to Kevin and all the other brothers at TGC who seem to be working so intentionally and pastorally toward advocating for more support and encouragement for women in their difficult, but eternally valuable work, in every season of life.

  26. michelle says:

    To answer kpolo:
    I am currently in an undergraduate program at a large evangelical liberal arts university. while my primary goal is to be a godly wife to my wonderful husband of 7 months (as of today!) that I met at this school, and to be a godly mother to our children, I believe that a college education is invaluable. I am a religion studies major, which will compliment and support my husband’s position in ministry. It will also make me more knowledgeable to mentor younger women as I already do. Also, it makes me more knowledgeable for when I have children and begin to school them, and sets an example for their future of the benefits of college and furthering their education. In addition to THAT, many stay at home moms are not jobless moms. I know many who run businesses out of their homes, and an education makes for wiser business decisions. I personally am minoring in business in order to efficiantly run my dream business (free-lance photography) from home as a contribution to the household income without affecting my ability to be a stay-at-home mom.

    I say great job to all the moms out there with college educations! I believe this verse applies to more than just the Bible… God gave us brains for a reason! 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

  27. Jhr says:

    I work for a large Christian university in the South. Our four children (1 son and 3 daughters)are all grads of the same, married, and 2 of the 3 girls are stay-at-home moms. My grandchild have the blessing of college-educated (read liberal arts) parents. One, a BSN nurse wrote after seeing this “that people are so concerned that I am not “using” my education=) as if it’s wasted… because I’m a stay at home mom…. as if a “job” where one gets paid is the only benefit a person receives from education. I thought that was the mind set of tech schools… not a liberal arts school….

    ONE of the biggest challenges we have is parents who are drilling into their son and daughters that they job training. Frankly, the idea of “liberal” is “for the free man.” Back in the days of the Greeks and Romans, the free man studied philosophy, art, rhetoric, language, science, etc. Their slaves only needed to be trained “how to.” The people who know “how” will have jobs; the one’s who know the “why” will be their bosses.

    Jhr

    P.S. I’m fowarding this blog to our alumni association so watch for it in a future magazine from us….

  28. Lisa Poblenz says:

    I’ve thought this in vague terms for a lot of years, but you put it so well. Thanks for giving us a little credibility. Duly noted and sent on to someone who might be able to make a difference.

  29. Charity says:

    This is absolutely wonderful! I’m currently attending the Master’s College in CA and am enrolled in the Home Economics – Family and Consumer Sciences Department. Interestingly enough, although they do teach us to be professionals and to be able to hold our own in the business world, a strong emphasis is put on becoming a Godly woman and fulfilling the Biblical mandate of womanhood. Being a wife and mother and serving God in our local churches is the greatest calling those in my department can attain. The school completely supports this and encourages us in pursuing an education that will prepare us to serve God by serving our families and those around us. I’d never seen any education like this before coming here, but I know that it is in other places too. I feel very privileged to be able to be prepared and supported in this way!

  30. Jhr says:

    P.S. @ Charity — Hurrah! for you and TMC. My son-in-law graduated in 2009 from the seminary.

    @all: “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” So, I am thankful to the Lord that it was my dear wife who rocked our children (although I admit I sometimes was looking for some rocks….) at home: we had to do without BUT I am so thankful that 3 of my 4 are in vocational (local church) ministry…and the 4th are both involved in our church to the point they’re almost in a “bi-vocational” ministry. Thanks to my dear wife and praise to our Savior

  31. DL says:

    Disagree. I work hard at my job at a local nonprofit, take care of my child and support my husband in his work. In fact we support each other. It’s a woman’s choice to stay at home and I respect it. But unless she is some kind of extraordinary volunteer making a HUGE difference in the community, frankly I’m uninterested in her travails as a stay at home mom.

  32. Jen says:

    DL- to assume that a woman who stays at home as a Mom isn’t making a HUGE difference in her community unless she volunteers outside her home is an inaccurate conclusion to draw. In fact, the influence a stay at home mother has on her children’s lives is sent out through her children to impact many more than she could reach alone. By myself, I may be able to reach out to the community and effect some lives through the grace of God. Together, with my children I have the ability not only to reach out to those who God has called me to reach but also to reach those whom God calls my children to reach and we can do it together for the glory of the Lord! If you want to look at it in terms of just numbers, 1 person can reach x amount of people. Myself and my 4 children can reach 5x amount of people. And if we are faithful to train our children to be servants for the Lord, then our significance will always be higher than anything we could accomplish on our own.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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