During the months of May and June, we take time to pay honor to our mothers and fathers. Some will jokingly say that Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are just greeting card holidays, made up to just sell cards. Yet, for those of us who are Christians, these holidays are a good way to keep the fourth commandment of honoring one’s mother and father. It is an opportunity to appreciate all that our parents have done for us; moms in May and dads in June.
Sad to say that parenthood in general, and motherhood in particular, has come to be seen as a curse rather than a blessing. This is for so many different reasons, which affect both women and men.
One influence is a form of radical feminism which views pregnancy as something contra-woman; that is, the belief that pregnancy prevents a woman from fully fulfilling herself. In truth, this ideology desires to overthrow nature itself by doing away with that which is truly feminine and masculine, leading to a sexless (having neither the male sex nor the female sex), boring, world.
This ideology can affect men’s attitudes toward children as well. Such thinking fails to see motherhood as a fulfilling vocation, while also failing to understand the two-sex difference manifests how exciting life, existence, is.
Another influence today on conceiving a child is the so-called “adverse-effect” another human being will have on the environment. Some desire to forgo having children in the hope that it will save the planet or help ease global-warming by having one less carbon footprint. This view tends to view human-kind as a force slowly destroying all life, including the planet. This leads to a pessimistic view of life and existence, leading to a self-hatred that will think it pointless, cruel even, to bring more human life into the world.
It is important to recall and reflect on the lessons of the first chapter of Genesis. From this chapter we understand that God freely created all that is, creating the earth to be filled with life, while creating man, male and female, in his image and likeness (Gen. 1:27). God further proclaims that all that he has created is good. The goodness found in creation allows us to know the goodness of God and to experience his love.
The text further states that “God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). Here the ability to share in God’s creative power by conceiving a child is a blessing. So too is the ability to share in God’s care for creation. Both blessings are to be done after the example of the Most Blessed Trinity: in knowledge (for God spoke a Word) and Love (for God willed it to happen).
It is important, therefore, to see motherhood and fatherhood as good and fulfilling vocations. In order to do this, it is important to recall that human beings, male and female, are created in the image and likeness of God. In imitation of God, it is good to bring a child into the world so to experience the good of creation and the good of God’s love. Further, it is important to recall that human beings are to care for creation, including children. This implies teaching children to know and love God so to care for humankind as well as all of creation.
In truth, by entering into marriage, a man and woman begin to practice sacrificial life-giving-love. Such love should lead to actual life, that is children. As parents, mothers and fathers are to teach their children to engage in the same type of love, which is the very love of Jesus, which has been poured into our hearts through the sacraments. It is this love which will truly change the world.
Father Jason Rocks is currently in Rome at the Pontifical North American College for Advanced Studies.