Women Saved Through Childbearing?!

Last week I posted a short encouragement to moms of infants and toddlers. I average 200 or so visitors to the blog daily. I’ve had a few times on this blog that daily visitors have spiked over 1000. The Gospel Coalition has picked up a few of my posts. I posted a few articles on Desiring God, and hits to the blog spiked then too. But after the post for moms of infants and toddlers, no major source picked up the blog article. Even so, hits to my blog were at an all-time high. Over 450 (*now it’s 500) individuals shared the article on Facebook—most definitely an all-time high for this blog. I pondered all of this. No major evangelical outlets picked up this article. It didn’t stand out to them, and I respect that. Yet, for the moms in the trenches, it struck a major nerve.

Moms in the trenches—now there’s a demographic. You’re not the soccer moms. More the spit-up moms. The poop moms. The keep-them-from-swallowing-poison-today moms. Raising these little ones has exposed in us something raw and needy. Childbearing. Child rearing. It is not for the faint of heart.

A few years ago, I sat through a Mother’s Day sermon that made me cringe at the onset. The pastor announced his passage, and I wanted to walk out. It was 1 Timothy 2:15.

“Yet she will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.“

Come on, Pastor?! Don’t you know better than to go there?!! Paul sounds like such a sexist there. And, yet, on this particular Sunday, the message ended up being a real encouragement to me. I finally got the point of Paul’s words. I’m sure it helped that I was the mother of 2 young boys stuck in the trenches. As I listened to the pastor’s explanation in light of my own experiences as a young, naïve, but earnest mother, the Spirit made some things clear to me from this passage.

I grew up thinking the term “saved” referred simply to that one point in time in which I walked down the isle of my church, repented of my sins, and publicly professed belief in Christ. That was “getting saved”. Once I “got saved”, that term had served its purpose in my life, and I needed to focus on other Christian obligations. As an adult, I’ve come to understand the broader way the Scripture uses the term salvation. Salvation is a process that follows me from the day I first understand my need for Jesus Christ (or more accurately, from before time began) until I sit at the Marriage Feast in heaven as the Bride of Christ. Scripture uses the terms justification, sanctification, and glorification to define this process. I was saved (justification). I am being saved (sanctification). And I will be saved (glorification).

The term saved encompasses our redemption from sin and reconciliation to God. The entire process is by God’s free grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It begins with justification—God opens my eyes to my need for Him, and I repent of my sin and place my faith in Jesus. God declares me righteous through Christ’s payment for sin on the cross, switching Christ’s perfection to my account and my sin to Christ’s account. But then I wake up the next morning, and I still struggle, quite consistently, with sin. This leads to sanctification—where slowly over time God roots out our sin and conforms us more and more to the image of Jesus Christ. It’s becoming in reality what God has already declared us to be in heaven—i. e. perfectly righteous. Glorification is the end—in heaven, God will present us to Jesus at the Marriage Feast in beauty and perfection. We will finally be in reality a Bride worthy of the Lamb.

But here I am now, a 40 something mother of 2 young boys, stuck right in the middle. I am justified—God has declared me righteous in heaven. I am reconciled to Him through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. But I’m still a sinner. In the midst of that, I begin the process of bearing (the Greek here indicates bringing into existence, forming, becoming, developing) children. For me, this process began years ago when I was a single woman who thought I may never get married and have kids. God was sanctifying me back then through my fear of never bearing children. One older single friend gave testimony to me of the great spiritual struggle she had to say goodbye to the children she would never bear. God rooted out much fear and wrong thinking in her life through that struggle. During the mother’s day sermon in question, the pastor made the point that single and infertile women shouldn’t feel excluded from I Tim. 2:15, because God still uses the issue of childbearing in their lives for their sanctification. I have heard from many women who struggle because they are unable to bear children. They too give testimony that God has used the issue of childbearing to sanctify them much.

Once I did get married, we got pregnant easily, miscarried, and then had problems getting pregnant again. Again, well before I ever physically bore a child, God was using the bearing of children to reveal to me my fears and unbelief. Then finally I had my beautiful boys. They daily bring me great joy. And God uses them daily to reveal to me my great sin. Before I got married, I had no idea how selfish and self-oriented I was. In marriage, I began to see it a little bit. But now, I am bombarded 100 times a day with the need to die to myself. I had NO IDEA I was so alive to myself in the first place. I’m also becoming increasingly aware of how little I trust God. It’s one thing to trust Him with my own safety. Another thing to trust Him with my grown husband. But to trust Him with my vulnerable, little boys?! God once again is rooting out my wrong views of His character and replacing them with the truth of His trustworthiness from His Word.

So, yes, I am being saved—redeemed from sin and conformed to His image—through the bearing, development, and formation of these boys. I realize that for the rest of my life, I will be the mother of these 2 boys. And for the rest of my life, God will use them to test my faith and reveal my wrong thinking, lack of trust, pride, and selfishness. This is my marathon, which is why Paul warned of the need for perseverance in I Timothy 2. God will use them to root out sin, but then He’ll replace it with the righteousness of Christ as He conforms me to His image. To the praise of His glorious grace.

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

14 Responses to Women Saved Through Childbearing?!

  1. Violet November 19, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    Thank you for this. You have articulated so well my own journey in understanding the wide scope of “salvation”. I am ahead of you age-wise with four grown children (ages 22-30) but still finding just how much I have yet to learn along the lines of trusting God and mortifying my flesh. It truly is a marathon, but how wonderful to realize He brings us through “to the praise of His glorious grace.”

  2. nancyguthrie November 19, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    This is fabulous, Wendy. I so appreciate your putting into words that getting saved is not something I did one time, but something God has done and continues to do.

  3. Seda November 20, 2011 at 5:31 am #

    Thank you! I give thanks (to you and to the Lord) for your ability to articulate these difficult things so clearly and so well.

    Another passage that is becoming clearer to me after becoming a mom is the curses in Genesis after the fall. God, in his perfect love and kindness, ordained that Eve would have pain in childbearing, and struggle in marriage. I am beginning to understand that, like death, even God's curses were expressions of his mercy. God ordained these pains to draw Eve to himself, that she would depend on him and not rely on her understanding.

    May we, the daughters of Eve, learn likewise.

  4. Anonymous November 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    Amen. We all together are in childbirth pains.. in labor, for our children, for us all, until Christ is formed in us Gal 4:19

  5. Lori Lynn November 20, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    Isn't it interesting when God want you to read something so fitting for you at the moment. I am struggling to trust God for an adult child and their decisions right now as I type my comment. God has been speaking to me all night and today about how He is working and will continue to work in this childs life and heart. My part? Pray, pray, pray and let God be God. Yes….. parenting is NEVER finished. So true….God will continue to use our children to shape us into the people (parents) God wants. His work in progress. We will never arrive until Glory. But…..we can rejoice in each answered pray and victory as we see God move and answer prayers. Thank you for your insight and taking the time to share it. Blessings to you in process…..

  6. Gloria Furman November 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Yes, thank you!!

    Some days I feel like all I've done is keep my children's behinds' poop-free and their fingers out of light sockets.

    Praise the Lord He is using all things for my good to conform me to His image.

    Also, I can count on one hand the number of times I've heard this verse applied to single and infertile women and how they need not feel excluded from the grace of sanctification in 1 Tim 2:15. Thank you!

  7. Megan November 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    In my case Paul was wrong. I stopped attending church after I had children. I liked hanging out with my babies more.

  8. Holly November 21, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    Love the explanation on progressive salvation. I hadn't ever read it this way before. Thank you!

  9. Luma November 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    “I had NO IDEA I was so alive to myself in the first place.” Oh my, yes! I never knew how selfish my heart was until I had children. I can see now how God uses my children to sanctify me every day.

    Good Post, Wendy!

  10. the mcleans November 23, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    thanks, wendy. not sure how many hits you'll get but it was what i needed today anyway!

  11. Brooke Turner November 25, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    such a good word – thank you .. so needed. This is the best explanation of this “saved in Childbearing” verse I have ever heard!

  12. Anonymous November 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    Thank you for tackling this tough passage. As one of the few women in my theology cohort, I have to press into passages like this to understand God and motivate my fellow classmates to innovate their theology with regard to more than 50% of their future congregations. It's so important for women to wade through hard passages for themselves and not rely on man's interpretation.

  13. Jessica November 29, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    This is so practical and so profound! Thank-you!

  14. Aila January 12, 2017 at 9:09 pm #

    Hi could you give me some more information on how struggling with infertility helps sanctify through childbearing? Thanks 😀