by Courtney Moore
One of the most insidious lies women have absorbed is that they must bear children to fulfill God’s highest purpose for their lives. Some leaders speak this message out loud while others convey it silently through more subtle, hurtful ways. The single woman doesn’t feel she belongs at the women’s Bible study. The infertile wife battles inward shame for not having produced babies.
But the Bible tells a different story.
All believing women offer a vital contribution to the kingdom of God regardless of their parental status. The Bible demands no prerequisite of motherhood to fulfill the Great Commission.
Is motherhood a wonderful gift? Yes, it’s miraculous how God created the human female body to bring life into the world. In this way, women image God—who is the life-giver (John 11:25)— uniquely.
But let’s not mistake the value of motherhood as the qualitative worth of women. Motherhood does not equal womanhood. And God’s purposes for women are more expansive than child-bearing alone.
So how can women fulfill the mission of God in both motherhood and childlessness?
It’s interesting to note the difference of importance placed on child-bearing in the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Covenant, women’s worth was heavily placed on having children, particularly sons as they waited for the promised Messiah’s arrival. Passages often note the beauty of women and who they’re married to as we see with Rebekah, Rachel, Naomi, and Ruth. These Old Testament mothers were following the command God gave Adam and Eve in the creation mandate to multiply and fill the earth with children (Genesis 1:28).
But women in the New Testament were not described by their physical appearance, marital status, or who they were the mother of. Rather, we see Mary, a virgin, favored and chosen by God (Luke 1:27). There is Anna, the widow of 77 years prophesying in the temple (Luke 2:36-38), Phoebe, who is Paul’s benefactor (Romans 16:1-2), and Lydia, a businesswoman and the first European convert (Acts 16:14-15). These women give us early examples of fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), being fruitful in a wholly new way.
There is no one right way to be a woman. We are varied in our personalities, experiences, capacities, appearances, preferences, and more. Though nearly all women share the physical possibility of bearing children, God doesn’t call all women to become physical mothers. And that’s ok!
As members together of the body of Christ, we are all different parts with unique giftings and callings (1 Cor 12:12-26). We were each created intentionally by the Master Craftsman, and long before our birth, He planned the good works for us each to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).
For some women, those good works will be caring for physical children they birthed, sharing the gospel with them, and training them as unto the Lord (Psalm 78:5-8). For others, it will be adopting children and doing the same. For others, those good works will be fulfilling their vocational calling as they remain single with perhaps no physical children but instead, armfuls of new brothers and sisters in Christ they have discipled (Isaiah 54:1-3).
Our God is creative and loves making His name known through women who image Him in beautifully distinct giftings (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). Womanhood is not one-dimensional or cookie-cutter, and every believing woman can fulfill the mission of God in her unique calling.
If we really believe God is in control, then we’ll understand that our power to fulfill the mission of God is not ultimately found in us. Our ability to walk forward in the plan of God for our lives is not determined by pink lines on a pregnancy test. The power we need to accomplish the mission is only found through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit (Colossians 1:29).
He is Immanuel, God with us. His presence in us is not dependent on whether or not a child has been born from our bodies. Instead, He makes our bodies His temple and then gives us the strength to do all He has called us to for His glory. He empowers us to fulfill the mission of God as we rely on Him both in caring for children or stepping forward into every endeavor He places before us.
Women’s worth is not dependent on their status as a mother but rather, they fulfill the mission of God as they walk before Him as unique, God-called individuals in the strength He supplies.
Courtney Moore is the founder and president of the nonprofit organization, Women & Work, as well as co-host of the Women & Work Podcast. Courtney is passionate about seeing Jesus Christ honored by women as they steward their gifts and leverage their unique potential for His glory. She and Brent parent their three kids in El Paso, Texas where Brent pastors. Her new book, Women & Work is available for purchase nationwide.