Women have been led to believe that having children will destroy the possibility of fulfillment and happiness. This narrative is so dominant that many women feel stigma from finding any joy in motherhood. Cohen described as much in a remarkable section of her Vox piece: “When I started asking women about their experiences as mothers, I was startled by the number who sheepishly admitted, and only after being pressed, that they had pretty equitable arrangements with their partners, and even loved being moms, but were unlikely to say any of that publicly. Doing so could seem insensitive to those whose experiences were not as positive.”
Recently in Vox, journalist Rachel Cohen attempted to explain how “millennials learned to dread motherhood.” Noting the troubling drop in global fertility rates, Cohen spoke to dozens of women about whether they hoped to become or hoped to avoid becoming moms.
Today, the question of whether to have kids generates anxiety far more intense than your garden-variety ambivalence. For too many, it inspires dread. I know some women who have decided to forgo motherhood altogether—not out of an empowered certainty that they want to remain child-free, but because the alternative seems impossibly daunting. Others are still choosing motherhood, but with profound apprehension that it will require them to sacrifice everything that brings them pleasure.
At least part of the dynamic at work here is cultural. Technology and evolving social norms have created the impression that the choice to become parents is simply one among many lifestyle “choices” we make, such as whether to buy or rent, or whether or not to get a dog. And like those choices, we make the choice to have children or not based on convenience, enjoyment, and personal fulfillment. It’s no surprise, then, that motherhood often lands on the losing side of that evaluation.
This narrative has roots in second-wave feminism. Unlike early feminism, which was largely about correcting social injustices in pursuit of equal rights for women, second- and especially third-wave feminism went further, presuming that a woman’s value is found entirely in how she compares to and competes with men. In the process, women’s fertility was, in many ways, pathologized, treated as a bug rather than a feature of being a woman.
Rather than liberating women as promised, however, one of the consequences of this brand of feminism is fear.
You Might also like
By Jonathan Leeman — 2 years ago
Virtual church as a permanent option, hurts Christian discipleship. It trains Christians to think of their faith as autonomous. It teaches them they can follow Jesus as a member of the “family of God,” in some abstract sense, without teaching them what it means to be a part of a family and to make sacrifices for a family.
The COVID-19 pandemic was challenging for churches around the world precisely because, in so many places, the saints had difficulty gathering and learning to cherish the Word of God together. After a few months of not gathering during the early days of COVID-19, I felt as if I were losing track of my church. Friends would ask, “How is your church doing?” I had a hard time answering. I was making regular phone calls and sending text messages to individual members, but I couldn’t get my mind around the whole body. The church felt like rainwater on a parking lot after a storm—spread thin, with puddles here and there.
The elders worried most about spiritually weak members who were struggling in their faith or facing particular temptations. We worried about those who already seemed to be drifting spiritually, those with one foot out the door months before the pandemic forced them out altogether.
Yet not gathering affected everyone—the spiritually mature and immature alike. Each one of us needs to see and to hear our fellow saints regularly. Otherwise, it’s only colleagues at work, friends at school, or TV characters whose patterns we observe.
What Are We Missing?
Once the pandemic began, many churches livestreamed their services, and many voices extolled the enduring value of “virtual church.” Pastors who had previously decried the idea now opened up “virtual campuses” and staffed them with full-time pastors, promising that the campuses would continue indefinitely. This was an exciting development in the history of fulfilling the Great Commission, some said.
And yet we wonder: What goes missing when your “church” experience is nothing more than a weekly livestream? For starters, you think less about your fellow members. They don’t come to mind. You don’t bump into them and have the quick conversations that lead to longer conversations over dinner. Beyond that, you remove yourself from the path of encouragement, accountability, and love.
Praise God that we can download biblical truths. But let’s praise God that the Christian life is more than just an information transfer. When church is only online, we can’t feel, experience, and witness those truths becoming enfleshed in the family of God, which both fortifies our faith and creates cords of love between brothers and sisters. Virtual church is an oxymoron.
By Jeff Robinson — 1 year ago
One of the great strengths I’ve observed in many modern Reformed ministries, particularly in John Piper with his emphasis on joy and satisfaction in Christ and in R. C. Sproul’s with his exuberant teaching ministry, is what I like to call compassionate Calvinism. Many of my professors, pastor friends, and many of my living ministry heroes are joyful Calvinists, and their preaching, teaching, and writing reflect reverence, joy, and grace.
I’ll never forget attending the first Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference in 2006 in Louisville.
Thousands of voices joined together to sing old hymns with profound energy and zeal, only to sit at rapt attention for hours as well-known Reformed teachers expounded the Word of God. We attended pre-conference events, and in one of those, I learned what a blog was and pondered whether I should start one (I didn’t, but hundreds of others did).
Here’s what I remember most about those late April days sixteen years ago: It was a happy gathering. I was happy. My friends were happy. We were hearing the Word of God preached by our theological heroes and it was all deeply edifying, convicting, rejuvenating—I could add any positive “ing” adjective to the list.
I also remember reflecting backward a decade, in the mid-90s, to the time when I first embraced Reformed theology. There seemed to be so few of us who held to Reformed doctrine in the mid-90s, and we probably seemed idiosyncratic, maybe even weird to some of our fellow evangelicals.
But here sat thousands to hear hours and hours of preaching that flowed out of the doctrines of grace. God’s work in drawing hearts to these glorious doctrines amazed me. It felt like revival that only God could bring.
Young, Restless, Reformed: Its Rise and Fall
That happened during the early years of the burgeoning Reformed movement, what I like to call the age of the mega conference, the coming of age of what Carl Trueman calls “Big Eva”: T4G, Ligonier, the Shepherd’s Conference, Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, and seemingly dozens of smaller conferences.
Reformed parachurch ministries and publishers—some of which had been laboring faithfully since the 1990s and even prior to that, but in relative obscurity—gained prominence and dotted the landscape: Desiring God, Ligonier, 9Marks, the Council for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, The Gospel Coalition, Radical, Crossway, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, Banner of Truth, Sovereign Grace Ministries.
In the early 2000s, a team of Reformed scholars produced an excellent English translation of the Bible, the English Standard Version, which became the go-to version for many pastors in the Reformed village.
In 2009, TIME magazine cited “the New Calvinism” as among the top 10 thought movements influencing the United States, and indeed, to those of us in ministry at the time, that seemed demonstrably true. The internet enabled us to download a variety of popular Reformed teachers such as Piper, Sproul, MacArthur, Dever, Mahaney, Keller, Carson, the now infamous Driscoll, and many others. In a real sense, the worldwide web did for this new reformation what Gutenberg’s printing press did for the original.
In September of 2006, my longtime friend Collin Hansen wrote a memorable article that in 2008 became a noteworthy book (I’m still waiting for the movie!) giving the movement a nickname: Young, Restless, Reformed—or YRR. In Hansen’s parlance, my alma mater, Southern Seminary, was ground zero in educating the many young Baptists among us who were restless and Reformed.
The YRR world was a happy place then, but all these years later, that joyful place seems long ago and far away.
By Jared Nelson — 2 years ago
This year’s Overture 29 seeks to prompt questions in the examination, instruction, and discipline of officers and candidates for office. As theological debate about how best to apply the doctrine of sanctification to modern sexuality has arisen in the Church, one approach emphasizes the issue of language and self-identification. This is the attraction of this year’s Overture 15, which would likely just prompt one sort of question: Do you describe yourself as a homosexual? But this year’s Overture 29 commends a deeper exploration of the root issues, prompting further questions either in an examining committee or on the floor of a Presbytery. The virtue of this year’s Overture 29 is that the corresponding line of inquiry will address deeper issues than any one label, issues which are obvious to careful readers of the AIC Human Sexuality report, advocates for Side B Gay Christianity, or the latter’s most thorough critics who see the deeper root issues.
The 49th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) passed Overture 29 with over 90% of the Assembly voting for it: 1922 to 200. This Amendment now heads to the Presbyteries for consideration, and reads, as amended:
16-4. Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. While office bearers will see spiritual perfection only in glory, they will continue in this life to confess and to mortify remaining sins in light of God’s work of progressive sanctification. Therefore, to be qualified for office, they must affirm the sinfulness of fallen desires, the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, and be committed to the pursuit of Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions.
Overture 29 was in many ways a refinement and replacement for last year’s Overture 23 that narrowly failed to pass the Presbyteries (as Item 2) which read:
16-4. Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. Those who profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, “gay Christian,” “same sex attracted Christian,” “homosexual Christian,” or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction), or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions are not qualified for ordained office.
While the first section is identical, we can explore how the text has been updated and – given the General Assembly’s greater acceptance of this year’s Overture 29 – improved in the middle and last sections of the proposed amendment.
Middle Section Changes
First, the middle section of last year’s Overture 23 read: “Those who profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, “gay Christian,” “same sex attracted Christian,” “homosexual Christian,” or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction)…”
This verbiage can be confusing to read, perhaps due at least in part to the parenthetical statements. The concern of this section is to describe the relationship of an officer to his indwelling sin. Last year’s Overture 23 prohibited finding identity in our sins (i.e., sinful desires, thoughts, words, behaviors, etc.). Carl Trueman has recently (and notably) connected the concepts of “expressive individualism” with modern concepts of identity. Last year’s Overture 23 intended to clarify that our sense of meaning, purpose, worth, and personhood before God cannot be defined by our sinfulness or sinful desires, but rather with our position as new creations in Christ.
Over the course of the last year, the parentheticals, which contained particular sin identities to illustrate the broad categories, became a source of resistance and confusion for some presbyters. For instance, the example of a “Same-Sex Attracted Christian” has not been a source of cultural identity in the way “Gay Christian” has been connected with Gay Identity.
In its place, this year’s Overture 29 as amended, simplifies this confusing text and the debated particulars by simply stating the principle, “While office bearers will see spiritual perfection only in glory, they will continue in this life to confess and to mortify remaining sins in light of God’s work of progressive sanctification.” The relationship between an officer and his sin is stated, not with reference to “identity,” but with the confessional and biblical language of “confess” and “mortify.” The virtue of this year’s Overture 29 as an improvement over the language of last year’s Overture 23 is that the updated language is consistent with the Report of the Ad Interim Committee on Human Sexuality (2020) and the Westminster Standards in how they deal with these concepts. For instance, you can look at the similarities with Statement 3 on Original Sin in the AIC Report (p. 7), as well as the relevant chapters in the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) on Sin (6) and Sanctification (13). The language of “mortified” (WCF 6.5, 13.1) is found there as well as the teaching that there is “still some remnant of corruption in every part” (13.2), and yet “the regenerate part doth overcome” (13.3) .
The Confession is clear that sin – in its corrupting influence – persists in saints as they make their pilgrimage through life on this earth, even as the Spirit transforms them. As Thomas Watson put it: “Sanctification and glory differ only in degree: sanctification is glory in the seed, and glory is sanctification in the flower.” That is, Glorification is planted and starts to grow in Sanctification and our time on earth, but glorification is not perfected on earth.
Here, it is worth noting that the language of both last year’s Overture 23 and this year’s Overture 29 express this balance with either the vocabulary of “identity” (23) or the Confession’s language of “confess” and “mortify.” On the other hand, another overture passed by the Assembly this year, Overture 15, proposes to add to the Book of Church Order (BCO) the following statement on the office holder and their sin:
7-4. Men who describe themselves as homosexual, even those who describe themselves as homosexual and claim to practice celibacy by refraining from homosexual conduct, are disqualified from holding office in the Presbyterian Church in America (emphasis added).
The language of this year’s Overture 15 originally contained the same verb as last year’s Overture 23 (“identify”), but was changed to “describes themselves” in the minority report passed at the General Assembly. Comparing the three Overtures, this year’s Overture 29 employs the biblical and confessional categories of “confess” and “mortify” rather than a debated concept of “identify” from last year’s Overture 23, or the broad “describe themselves” of this year’s Overture 15, which is unclear as to whether or not concepts of identity or confession are implicated in the act of self-description. One must at least concede the virtue of this year’s Overture 29 using the less ambiguous concepts of confession and mortification, as they are clearly defined by their use in our Standards.
Final Section Changes
The other section of this year’s Overture 29 that has major revisions from last year’s Overture 23 is the final section which reads as follows:
Therefore, to be qualified for office, they must affirm the sinfulness of fallen desires, the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, and be committed to the pursuit of Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions.
This year’s Overture 29 carries over the concern to address the issue behind words of identity or self-description, namely the matter of sanctification. The language itself is cleaned up from last year’s Overture 23, replacing the prohibition of a “denial” in last year’s Overture 23 with seeking positive “affirmation” of three propositions in this year’s Overture 29.