31 March 2008

Baby Love

I went to a baby shower on Saturday and got to see my friend Mrs. Miller and meet baby Evangeline (what a cutie!). While there, I got to spend time with another young married gal from our church, Stephanie. She has been blogging about her baby research and questions as she and her husband prepare to start their family. One of her posts got me thinking.

Her question was:
Does having your first child change the way you view love? Do you feel like you have a greater capacity for love/compassion/self-sacrifice since becoming a parent? Or is all that the stuff of myth?

My initial response (which will show up in the post's comments when Stephanie has time to approve it - her blog has been raided by spammers, so she's having to moderate things more closely) was that the fact of having a baby certainly didn't make me less of a sinner than before I had a baby (any of them), but in the long run, the Lord has certainly used my children in the process of sanctification to mature me and teach me much about his love, which has indeed increased my capacity to love.

However, I've continued to mull this over and don't want to clog up her blog with a comment that's longer than her original post. That's why I have a blog of my own!

I think this thought that having a baby dramatically changes who you are is based on a Romantic (with a capital 'R') view of the world. Not 'romantic' meaning an ooey-gooey love story in which everyone lives happily ever after, but 'Romantic' as in the nineteenth century philosophical movement that was an over-reaction to the rationalism of the Enlightenment. The Romantic philosophers distrusted reason, preferring to rely upon their emotions for guidance and to lead them to truth. This meant that if they felt more loving, they were indeed more capable of love. This idea denies the bad news of the gospel - that we are sinners who cannot choose in our own strength to do right - and denies the good news of the gospel - that the gospel expressed through Christ crucified and raised again for our sins is the power of God at work in us. Looking through the lens of a Christian Romanticism, our emotions become the means of our sanctification and we must manufacture the right emotions so that we'll be changed.

While I don't think anything short of the work of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ can truly change us, the Lord does use earthly means, and one of those means is motherhood. Our children are most definitely ingredients in the slow crucible of our sanctification, but they are not a lightning bolt that changes everything in the blink of an eye (that's still to come!). I am also not saying that a new baby doesn't dramatically change one's life (which should go without saying, but I'm saying it anyway because I don't want to be misunderstood). Of course having a baby changes life in dramatic ways, but these changes don't necessarily equate to instant sanctification.

As Christ changes us into his image, those changes will affect our emotions. Our emotions, feelings, and sentiments will respond to the work of Christ. However, I see those changed emotions merely as a response to rather than a cause of our sanctification.

I have more thoughts jumpled up with this that I'm working to sort out, but they're best saved for another post.


No comments:

Post a Comment