“The mentality of sacrifice is not a mentality of sorrow. The life of giving is not an empty life. I am not writing about sacrifice because I think that moms as a whole are not run-down enough, or tired enough, or working hard enough. I write about it because it is the first step to encouragement, to clearing your mind, to being fulfilled. Scripture is very clear on this–if you seek to be full, give. The verse about the first being last and the last being first is not talking about how all the winners will be losers at the end… rather this verse is talking about those who seek their own interests first. Those who put themselves above others will be the last. Those who value themselves the least will be the most valued. There isn’t any way to do this other than the hard way. Giving with a lot of enthusiasm for watching yourself in the mirror isn’t really giving, it is just watching yourself. Sacrifice isn’t really sacrifice if it involves only doing what you want” (Rachel Jankovic, Fit to Burst, 13-14).
Today, the idea of giving oneself for another is still applauded perhaps in movies and novels, featuring a heroic character who gives everything in order to help or save another. I’d also say that we still culturally value the great sacrifice of those in the military or any other form of similar service (police, firefighter, etc.). However, on a deeper, more personal level, it seems that we have all but abandoned true sacrifice in the day to day of our actual lives. While many activists online (even Christian) enjoy virtue signaling to their fellow citizens who are never “doing enough”, they simultaneously cringe at the idea of giving themselves fully to the calling of submission and obedience to Christ and His Word, submission to a husband, or the full-body giving of oneself through childbearing and childrearing. While the idea of sacrifice is theoretically valued, when it comes down to it, many ladies will gripe at the mere idea of picking up their husbands' socks, or giving up their autonomy and ability to do whatever, whenever in order to care for a little one.
What a sad state of affairs. Sacrifice, the giving of oneself for the service and betterment of others, is now seen as an affront to the autonomy and dignity of the one having to make the sacrifice. In some cases, it's even seen as oppression - for a woman to sacrifice her career, her body, her preferences in order to serve her family. “Me? Wake up in the middle of the night to feed my needy baby? No thanks. I birthed the darn thing, that's my husband’s job if he wants to have any more kids.” Why are we so averse to true, practical, and often gritty sacrifice?
Here’s a few possible reasons.
- We live in a me-centered culture. My desires, my identity, my gifts, my preferences, my body, my choice, MY LIFE! The very idea of putting off one’s own immediate wants is unthinkable.
- We live in a comfort-driven culture. We love trinkets. We love vacations. We love the power to buy what we want, whenever, right at our fingertips. Why would someone ever want to embark on something, i.e, marriage or childbearing that intentionally causes discomfort, and could even ask you to CHANGE?
- Our culture despises the word duty. When it comes down to it, every man and woman has a duty to obey God's calling for them. Gendered piety, as described by Michael Foster, is the "knowledge, virtues and skills necessary to rightly order ourselves and our world as men [and women]". God has different callings for men and women, and in the world today, this statement is about as radical as it gets.
- Our culture hates the true Christ. Christ submitted to the Father and suffered the greatest punishment in all of history. And He didn’t deserve it. The idea of suffering purely for the sake of another is strange to Americans. If I don’t have to, then why would I subject myself to that?
- Not only this, but we hate hierarchy. We hate that one person would be subject to another. In an ideal world, many would have it that authority be anathema, as the idea of setting moral standards in a society is now viewed as outdated tactics of oppression.
We would like to instead embrace relativism at every level. And no, this isn’t just something that secularists do. Christians are far too often guilty embracing the same kind of liberalities: “Did God really say that?”, “That’s just a command back then because they were sexist! It’s not relevant in our enlightened age!”, “Christians who follow rules are legalists!”, "Paul was just really (maybe too) zealous!".
To be a Christian, is to be under authority. Not only one layer of authority, God over man, but MANY layers. Wife submitted to husband, children submitted to parents, people submitted to governing authorities, the Church submitted to God, church-goers submitted to elders and the Church’s governing power. All of these require some level of submission and sacrifice. They require us to subject ourselves to another, and to give up our immediate desires (good or bad) in order to maintain unity, purity, and obedience ultimately to God. Why do I bring these points up? Well, as Christian women greatly influenced (whether we like it or not) by a feminist culture, we have to have some sort of lens by which to filter the commands of the world and the commands of God. In the next blog post, I will get more into what I have been learning about what it looks like as a Christian to live sacrificially. As I learn more on sacrifice, I am convicted by the many ways that I fail to live out this calling. By the grace of God, I share these thoughts not as one who has “made it”, but as one who is learning, growing, and seeking counsel from other wise godly women in my life. If you don’t have a wise woman to look up to, I admonish you to seek one out in your local church!