The Helpfulness of Strong & Theologically Savvy Mothers

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. It is a day to remember our mothers and their many sacrifices with much gratitude. Though everyone should be grateful for their mother, godly mothers are a particular blessing. Godly mothers give their children something ungodly mothers sadly fail to give their children – a Biblical and theological view of everything.

It is important that mothers recognize the unique opportunity they have. They are uniquely positioned to nurture the next generation of Reformers. Mothers do not need to go about their work of nurturing aimlessly, for both men and women of the Reformation have left us plenty of help to guide our children in the faith.

Rebecca VanDoodewaard wrote an excellent little article for Tabletalk magazine titled, “The Women of the Reformation.” I recommend that you read the article whether you’re a woman or a man. The article illustrates the strength and effectiveness of women in the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation was a difficult time demanding great sacrifice for those standing for truth, and strong and godly women were essential to the Reformation. We can draw much encouragement from their example. Women are still essential to the ongoing Reformation of the Church according to the Word of God.

So then, women, to maximize their impact at home, at church, and in the community, must be strong and theologically savvy. Mothers, your children need you to be strong and theologically savvy. They need you to listen carefully to the preaching God provides you in your church, to meditate upon it carefully, and to help them understand and apply the same preaching they hear from your lap or the spot beside you in the pew. They need you to catechize yourself, to think carefully on God’s Word, so you are equipped and ready to catechize them. They need to hear the Word of Christ from the pulpit of their church but also from your lips at home. You have the opportunity to help them hear, understand, and apply.

In her helpful article, VanDoodewaard mentioned three vital ways women participated in the Reformation: one, they served in their homes and raised children in the Protestant understanding of Scripture and theology; two, they used their positions of power, like queenship, to defend and further Protestant freedom; and three, they wrote and published astute and helpful theological works.

Moms, you may not be a queen ruling a nation, and you may not be a published author read by thousands, but you are a mom, and that is an honorable and high position and responsibility in which you are actually a type of queen and author. You lovingly govern and lead your children in the ways of the Lord at home and while you’re out and about, and your pen can be mighty as you scribble little encouraging notes to your kids striving always to point them to Christ and sound theology. So, whatever your gifts, how might the women of the Reformation encourage you to be more discerning and faithful at home with your children? How might you use your personality, skills, abilities, and theological wisdom to instill in your children a necessary theological framework?   

VanDoodewaard said, “Godly homes were the grassroots of the Reformation and they fueled it continually” [1]. That’s a huge statement. The Church is always reforming according to the Word of God, and we need strong Reformers. We need moms to be faithful to fuel this ongoing Reformation from home. Teach your kids the Heidelberg Catechism. Learn it with them. Talk about it. Hey, throw in the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, and the Westminster Standards. Feed them with what you are feeding on. Your children need a theological framework, a way to understand Scripture, and you have an opportunity to help solidify a helpful framework in their hearts. Your home can be a bastion of theological fidelity and also a place where Reformers are deployed. For that to happen, we need helpful, strong, and theologically savvy mothers.  

VanDoodewaard said of Katharina Luther, “It was as if the joy of her salvation could not be contained internally and found physical and relational expressions in her home” [2]. Women, let the joy of your salvation manifest in physical and relational ways in your home with your children and guests. VanDoodewaard said of Anna Bullinger, “The picture we get of the couple’s house is of a place where Anna was perpetually busy showing Christlike love for other Christians” [3]. Women and mothers are not simply serving their husbands and children, their front door is open to other Christians welcoming them into their refuge of gospel comfort and encouragement. As a mother serves others selflessly with her talents, her children receive, watch, learn, and grow.

Consider the United States. Things are falling apart, not the least of which are marriage and family, the essential building blocks of society. The next generation of Americans is inheriting countless problems that will be immensely difficult to change. The next generation needs a sound Biblical and theological worldview or they will succumb. Mothers, you have an opportunity to give your children a theological framework. By giving them a theological framework you are equipping them to serve their families, their churches, and their communities; you are raising up Reformers. VanDoodewaard said of the women of the Reformation, “And their nurture of children raised a new generation of Protestants who were ready to stand on Scripture alone in the face of Roman Catholic persecution” [4]. We need a new generation of Reformed Protestants to stand against secularism, humanism, socialism, communism, sexual libertinism, and plenty of other isms and the associated persecution.

Many women and mothers have ungodly ambitions that distract them from this calling. The Church needs ongoing Reformation according to the Word of God. So moms, you must be intentional, ready, and equipped to raise the next generation of Reformers. You have God’s grace and Spirit. You have the ecumenical creeds and Reformed confessions. With Bible and confessions in hand (maybe start with the Heidelberg Catechism) and with the joy of your salvation overflowing in selfless service, fuel ongoing Reformation from your home by giving your children the beautiful and helpful gift of a theological framework through which to make sense of the world. Trust the Spirit to work, but devote yourself to being strong and theologically savvy for the good of others.   

[1] [2] Ibid. [3] Ibid. [4] Ibid.  

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Jonathan Shirk

Welcome to the online home of Jonathan Shirk, family man, Reformed pastor, author, podcaster, and small town theologian. Whether you're from a small town or big city, may this website help you find deeper comfort and joy in the gospel.

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