Mark Eddy: Dealing with guilt
A couple weeks ago the Times Record included a USA TODAY article entitled “LET GO OF mom guilt.” I suspect that most of the celebrities and TikTok #momguilt watchers mentioned in the article have a different perspective on guilt than do the “experts” and “sociologists” it cited. From this pastor’s perspective, the moms would do better without the “experts.”
One thing the experts got right is that “maternal guilt is the product of a cultural belief.” But they criticize the wrong cultural beliefs (which most cultures around the world and through history have shared) and instead promote the modern American cultural beliefs which are causing the mom guilt.
My Mom and my wife (and most moms in their generations and before) did not struggle with “mom guilt,” because they did what mom’s are created to do. Females, who can become moms, are gifted with wombs and mammary glands, which make them specially equipped to feed their babies for 9 months before birth and for many months after birth. That biological advantage is why most societies expect and encourage mothers not to work outside the home when they have young children. So moms do not need to feel guilt for dropping out of the paid work force in order to do the more important work of raising young children. This view of motherhood is not due to “sexism” or hatred of women or holding women back from careers, as the “sociologists” in the article seem to believe.
Some forms of feminism, which have infected the past couple generations, have pushed women to give in to anti-biology (and anti-God) cultural influences, such as the false belief that both men and women should value themselves in terms of how much money they make. Laboring for a paycheck may be more valuable to an employer (which makes a profit on everything the worker does) and the government (which collects more tax revenue). But it does not necessarily add more value to the family. The stresses, which the lure of a paycheck and the demands of a boss lay on a woman, are part of the “cultural phenomenon” which creates “mom guilt.” Moms, like my mother and wife, felt no guilt for being moms. They did what God created their bodies to do. And their husbands love(d) and support(ed) them.
Dear moms (and all women), for God’s sake do not believe the lie that “Maternal guilt is the linchpin of gender inequality here in the U.S.” God created two sexes, normally to go through life as couples. The two sexes are biologically different, physically and emotionally. But that does not make one better or more valuable than the other. Mars and Venus are not equal. But there is nothing wrong with either. Value is not determined in terms of careers or dollars.
Guilt is a God-given emotion. Guilt is as old as the Garden of Eden, where both the man and the woman felt guilt when they did something wrong, something which God told them not to do. When moms (or dads) feel guilt, it is probably because they are doing or thinking something which is not good or right. The USA TODAY article wrongly blames historic cultures for “the message that motherhood is central to what it means to be a good women.” While not all women are mothers, and that is OK, motherhood is a blessing unique to women. Why would modern sociologists want to trash it? The guilt comes when women realize that they want to be good moms, but “experts” (who should feel guilty for their lack of trust in God) actively teach moms that they should envy what they are not (i.e. men) and wrongly teach that moms are not valuable unless they do what men do. Those lies lead to mom guilt, and a lot more guilt.
The solution to mom guilt is not what USA TODAY suggested: to force employers (or governments) to pay for women not to work or to pay someone else to feed their children. The solution is to trust the God who “created mankind in His image … male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:27-28; affirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19:4). And when we trust that the all-wise God knew what He was doing when He created motherhood, we’ll learn not to covet wealth or the opposite sex, or anything which contradicts God’s good will for our lives, as He revealed it in the Bible. Who says that it is better to be wealthy and guilty than to be poor and content? Not God, not the cultural beliefs of Christian societies.
Yes, let go of mom guilt. But do it by letting go of misguided cultural expectations of “many wealthy Western nations.” While you are a mom, you don’t have to do all those other things which build wealth but tear down happiness and contentment and families. Even the Beetles knew: “Money can’t buy me love.” Hold on to the cultural expectations which God taught in the Bible. And, since all of us fall short of God’s standard of “the good life,” when you feel guilty, confess what you feel guilty about to God. Maybe it is your fault; maybe it is society’s fault. But God is the expert at getting rid of the guilt of every fault. His guiltless Son Jesus died for all the guilty, for whatever sin causes us to feel guilty. God “made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become God’s righteousness in connection with Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous, that He would forgive these sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Enjoy being who God created you to be. Enjoy being a forgiven child of God. And let Him free you from all kinds of guilt.
Pastor Mark Eddy, Zion Lutheran Church, Taylor Ridge, Ill.