At church growing up, they would always have all moms stand up and then ushers would walk around and give each mom a carnation. While I understand the heart behind this, there are several significant reasons this and other Mother’s Day observations / celebrations should not be done in church:
1. Many women have had miscarriages or are infertile.
The burden, shame, anger and envy that goes along with a woman not being able to get pregnant, or with a woman who has had a miscarriage, is something that as a man I cannot fully relate to. I do know these are very strong feelings though and things we need to be sensitive to in ministry. Having moms stand up and get flowers handed to them, or even having them be applauded, or any other type of special attention given to moms on Mother’s Day is like fiery salt in the wound to these women. Salt that they don’t need to experience at church. A reminder of what other women were given from God that they weren’t given. A reminder they don’t need rubbed in their faces.
2. People have been abused by their mothers.
A friend of mine will never attend church on Mother’s Day because they were sexually abused by their mom. Mother’s Day is the day the church tells everyone to be so thankful for their moms, as if everyone had a perfect mom given to them from God. Being reminded of a sexually abusive mom and all the scars and emotions this churns up is not something someone needs at church, let alone the theological mess it puts someone in wondering, “Why did God give other people good moms but not me?”
3. People whose mothers have died prematurely
“Why did God take my mom from me when he did and the way?”
4. Mothers whose children have died prematurely
Again, is the pain and emotional/spiritual upheaval caused by the forced reminder of their greatest loss in life worth it?
5. 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime
Picture that 1 in 3 women in your congregation have had an abortion and walk around with its shame, most of them having no one in their lives who even know about this. If you have all the moms stand, should they stand as well? Many of these women have repented of this, but still live with its reality.
6. Women who legally have had their children taken from them
How is the devastating pain inflicted to the above six individuals worth the nominal encouragement a flower will bring to a mom attending your church service?
I’m not bashing Mother’s Day or moms, I just don’t think it should be a part of a public church worship service meant to be a sanctuary for the hurt and broken. Let families honor their mothers at home and let the church take extra care of the hurting and vulnerable in their communities. The appreciation moms might feel from a carnation is not worth the devastation an infertile woman, abused child, or a woman who had her children taken away legally will feel from being reminded of motherhood on a day that is already almost unbearable. After all, a person decided to get out of bed and come into community with other followers of Christ this Sunday morning to exalt God, not motherhood. To find hope, not shame and pain. They should be able to worship the Lord without having their deepest wounds and pain rubbed in their faces. While the tradition of “honoring mothers” on Mother’s Day comes from a good place, it does much more harm than good and is a tradition that should be ended.
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