Chesterton’s Tribute to Mothers

G. K. Chesterton can create a whole world in a paragraph.  In this excerpt from his 1910 book What’s Wrong with the World, this great mind gave us his vision of a mother at home.  It is not a common vision in our young century.  But perhaps his hundred-year-old words will help us see some things we can do to get this world on track.  Here is what he saw, and wrote.

To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.

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Covenant Children

In my reading through Ezekiel I have come across a couple of interesting references to children. Now children are mentioned in Ezekiel frequently and in several contexts. The particular passages I have in mind address the idolatry of the nation of Judah and how it involved their children. Pay particular attention to the underlined words:

“And you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your whorings so small a matter that you slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them?” Ezekiel 16:20-21

“With their idols they have committed adultery, and they have even offered up to them for food the children whom they had borne to me.” Ezekiel 23:37c-d

The LORD claims the children of the nation of Judah as his own. They had been borne to him and were his. In order to understand the LORD’s ownership of these children, we must realize the covenantal nature of this language. As offspring of Abraham, the nation of Judah was the LORD’s covenant people. In establishing his covenant with Abraham and his seed, the LORD said to Abraham:

“And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.” Genesis 17:7

Abraham and all subsequent generations of Israelites were to show that they believed God to be their God and the God of their offspring by circumcising their male children. Faithful follow-through involved trusting in the LORD and following his ways, and teaching their children to trust the LORD and follow his ways. What was so abominable in Ezekiel’s day is that these descendants of Abraham were not acknowledging the LORD to be their God or the God of their children. That being the case, they offered their children to the gods at hand. These children who already had a God, the LORD God of Israel, were being sacrificed, offered in worship to idols.

Parents must realize that if they don’t acknowledge the true and living God to be their God and the God of their children, they will offer up themselves and their children to the false gods of our culture. There is no escaping this.

But if we are in the New Covenant established in Christ, there is really good news. Our heavenly Father claims our children as his own! Though he has given them to us, from conception they belong to him. They have a God…our God. We recognize this by baptizing them, this being the New Covenant sacrament instituted by Christ as a replacement of circumcision. This means that as we nurture them in the faith, our heavenly Father is involved from day one. He is at work through his Word and by the Spirit to bless our little ones as they grow in faith and faithfulness.

“For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:39)