God has a plan and a design for women. So does Satan. God desires women to be grounded in the gospel and content in their role; as the one who created them, he knows the way he has created and the way that they are to be fulfilled. Satan wants to create the illusion of satisfaction and fulfillment in anything and everything other than God and his design.
Satan Desires Discontentment
Satan’s desire for mothers is the same as his desire for all women. He desires to create discontent in the roles that God has assigned. That is what Satan did in Eden, by approaching Eve first. And according to Paul (1 Tim 2.11-15), that is what Satan was doing in the early church in Ephesus. And you can rest assured that’s what he’s doing today.
God has designed women to be wives and mothers in order that they might reflect God himself, in whose image they are created. But Satan wants to create discontent with all of it so that the image of God is marred and belittled.
There are many ways Satan still works to create discontent in women — even Christian women — today. Here are two:
1. He says you’re too good for mothering
He tells women that the ideal is to get a degree, be a professional, and shatter the glass ceiling. The idea of being a wife and a mother is good for some or perhaps for a time, but the idea of being forever identified as a wife & mother is clearly not for you. The idea of letting a husband ‘lead you’ is so far beneath you it’s inconceivable, and having your identity be something bound up with your husband and your children is degrading.
When he creates this kind discontent, he has won. Just like in Eden, this rising up will result first in frustration, and ultimately in being brought low.
2. He says mothering is too good for you
In recent days it seems that our culture has shifted somewhat. Gone are the days (seemingly) when mothering is bad and career is good. Now we have entered the days of ‘Super-Moms’, where mothering is not for the faint-of-heart.
Simply feeding your children is not enough. You have to make your own food, according to all latest health crazes, and you have to prepare them as ‘dishes’ like the chefs on TV. Just clothing your kids appropriate to the weather is not enough. You have to clothe your children just right so that they can be the appropriate fashion accessory for you.
Making sure your children are educated is not enough. You must choose carefully between classical education options, homeschool options and private school options; but you must find something that will make your child excel beyond the others.
Reacting to a generation of moms who were perhaps not involved enough, the pressure now is to engage your children in all manner of special activities from the time they are birthed. Yoga, painting, music, exercise, and who knows what else(!) all become ‘essential’ for good moms. Though previous generations knew nothing about these things, they are apparently now essential for a child’s brain development or emotional and relational health.
And whatever you do, if you are a good mom, you must make sure you get it all on camera so you can post the pictures on Facebook and the ideas on Pinterest to let everyone know you’re keeping up. Plus, you should probably earn some income (at the very least, open an Etsy shop) to prove you’re not inferior to the women around you who hold down jobs.
And on top of that you must make sure that your body looks the exact same as it did before having children so you can be a ‘yummy mummy’ like the real housewives of wherever.
Subtly, but powerfully, Satan communicates to women that all these are essential to good mothering. And when you can’t keep up, you get discouraged and discontent. And in that moment, Satan wins.
God’s Desire Is the Answer
So what is the answer to all these lies and temptations from Satan? That’s what I think Paul is getting at in 1 Tim 2.15; a way to be ‘saved’ through the temptations of Satan. (He argues similarly in 1 Tim 5.14-15 with regard to widows avoiding the temptations of Satan.)
1. Mothers must cling to the gospel too
Paul says, ‘she will be saved through childbearing — if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.’ The continuing in ‘faith and love’ is expressive of Paul’s own testimony (1 Tim 1.13-14). In other words, if mothers are to be content, they must do the same thing that the apostle Paul did: believe the gospel of love which has overflowed to them in the grace and mercy of God. Even more than being a mother, their foundational identity is ‘Christian,’ beloved of God in the gospel.
They must cling to this to be firmly grounded, immovable when Satan tempts them to discontentment.
2. Mothers must be content with their God-assigned role
When Paul says ‘childbearing’ in this verse he is using short-hand to refer to the whole role of ‘marrying, bearing children, managing the household’ (1 Tim 5.14). This role is to be the main occupation of the wife & mother; it is what she was created for. The one who created her desires her to be grounded in the gospel and content in this role in order to be delivered safely through Satan’s temptations.
Being content in this role is where the ‘holiness’ of 1 Tim 2.15 is found, through persistent ‘self-control.’