Honor your father and mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you (Exodus 20:12).
This day belongs to moms all around the world and throughout time as we exalt or remember them. That we should honor our parents is commanded to us as one of the Ten Commandments. The apostle called it the first commandment with a promise . . . that you may live long on the earth (Ephesians 6:1-4). Both Exodus and Ephesians address that honoring and obeying parents lead to a long life. What are the ways that God’s promises work through His commandments regarding children and parents?
One major memory I have of my mom is that growing up she always wanted to be a nurse. Unfortunately, her parents bought into the notion that nurses didn’t have a good reputation because of the nonsense that was spread about them in World War II. She set her dream aside for many years. In 1960, when my mom was thirty-years-old, she decided to pursue her dream, so she attended nursing school to obtain her LVN. In the last two or three decades, it has become more commonplace for adults to either enter or return to college to pursue a career or just to obtain the education they thought they missed. In 1960, that was not necessarily the case. But mom and a good friend of hers sought their LVN and obtained it. She worked hard while still raising me and being a mom at home as well. In the 1970’s, she attended college again to obtain her full RN. Again through some time and hard work, she completed her degree and received her RN. As a nurse, mom did not want to slack. She thoroughly enjoyed working in the emergency room because it helps me keep on top of my skills. She followed her dream, and worked as a nurse for over thirty years. I learned that work ethic, not just from my dad, but from my mom as well. Don’t I ever wish that I would have learned it more thoroughly than I did. Where I didn’t it was not due to lack of example and living it out. That work ethic was part of my upbringing, and the reason that I worked summer jobs, and eventually went on to pursue my own dreams.
Mom as a Mom
Not only did mom provide a good example for a work ethic and pursuing something she wanted to do through hard work and study, she was also a wonderful mom. I remember one time as I was just getting ready to start college, she asked me what do you really want to do with your life? In all honesty, I had never thought about what sincere goals I wanted to set for myself. I observed how that worked out for her and dad, but thought it would be something that would simply fall in place. I never thought about how to contemplate what it was I wanted to do with my life until that day. It still took me some time to find my way, but her question to me planted the seed that would bear fruit years later.
The memories I have of her are countless. In addition to being a solid professional nurse, mom was an artist. She purchased a kiln, and fashioned through pottery plates, cups, bowls, and glasses on which she painted designs herself, and these dishes became what the family used on special occasions, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays. Holidays was another thing for which I remember her. She loved the holidays, and wanted to make them festive for the entire family, from Thanksgiving meals Christmas trees, opening gifts, and celebrating all in find style. Those times were the most memorable and fun times I can imagine. As I look back on them, I wish I would have embraced them even stronger than I did.
There are countless memories and snippets of memories that I have of her when I was a small child. I recall the train trips we would take to visit her parents. In the 1950’s, the train was a major way to travel before the airlines became so popular in the 1960’s forward. I recall as well her joy as we looked for a new home in 1960. We would drive around town, scooping out all the homes that were on the market in our town. Her joy was beyond measure. We had a little week-end shack, if it even could be called that, which set on a small lake in East Texas. And mom loved to fish and to cook freshly caught fish for a meal. She was truly a fun-loving person who lived life fully. I was asthmatic as a child, and the one memory I hold dear of her is one night when I was having trouble breathing and sleeping, she got up from her sleep and rocked me until I finally went to sleep. I was probably four or five, but I never forgot that late night caregiving at her hand. Mom comprised a full-life of gifts and talents that she lived out as an amazing example for me to witness and follow.
Biblical Perspective on Mothers
Exodus 20 and Ephesians 6:1-4 are mere beginnings on how we are to relate to our mothers and fathers. Other Biblical examples include Ruth’s relationship to Naomi (Book of Ruth). Naomi’s faith in God provided an example for Ruth, so she told Naomi that she would stay with her, and her people would be her people, and her God would be her God. Marys response to the angel Gabriel and her willingness to undergo doubts from others about her pregnancy provides yet another example. Although not fully under-standing, she never doubted that God had good things in store for her in His providential care for her. Indeed when she visited her relative, Elizabeth, she delivered her wonderful Magnificat (Luke 1:45-56). The greatest example of honoring one’s mother is seen when Jesus, the Christ, died on the cross. He addressed both Mary and the disciple John, who will become the apostle John, woman, behold your son. And to John, He said, behold your mother (John 19:26-27). From that time forward, John took Mary into his household and to provide for her.
On April 17th, 2007, my mom succumbed to esophageal cancer. In the providence of God, the college campus where I taught in Austin had been shut down because of a stupid bomb threat because some student didn’t want to take a final exam. However, what that meant is that I got to spend the morning with mom on her last day here on earth. I held her hand as she passed on.
This day belongs to all the moms out there, those especially who have done the hard work of raising a child, and doing it right. There are many other examples we could look at. This Biblical perspective gives us a chance to think about our parents as a the gift they are. I know not all families were as blessed as mine happened to be. The lack of family love and guidance truly speaks to the Biblical truth of how we should see our family life as a blessing. R. J. Rushdoony sees the family as a basic form of government by which we exercise dominion over the world, if we live true to God’s law. We should thank and praise God if our family life was truly blessed as it should have been.
John V. Jones, Jr., Ph.D./ May 14th, 2023