Last weekend I attended a Christian women’s conference. The conference was hosted by a different denomination than mine, and there were many positives and negatives to the conference. But after the third session, I found myself praying desperately for any infertile childless woman in the room.
If there are 9,000 women in a room, statistically, according to the CDC, roughly 12% of them will be infertile. That’s over 1,000 women.
This conference was billed as a women’s conference, not a mothering conference. I think that is SO important for Church leaders and conference designers to remember. By the end of the third speaker session, it seemed to me that approximately half the words spoken had been about their experiences as mothers or about their children.
So, imagine. You are a godly woman; you desperately desire to connect with God, because infertility is sucking your faith out of you at a rapid pace. You see a conference, advertised to help you reconnect with God, and the first speaker jokes about her husband’s vasectomy. As does the second. Then comes along a very funny comedienne who has made her living looking humorously at all the things that go hand in hand with being a mother.
Over and over and over again you are hearing the subtle lie that women only matter if they are mothers. There is no conversation about anything “difficult.” There is no conversation about struggles with faith. There is only conversation dealing with being a mother.
If I was there three years ago, I would have left the conference at that point, even angrier at God than when I went in. And I probably would have not left quietly, and would have been demanding my registration fees returned to me immediately.
You MUST stop ignoring infertile women. You cannot continue to tell women that being a mother is the highest calling for a woman. It simply isn’t true! Is being a mother a high calling from God? Absolutely!! But is it the only possible call God could have for a woman?
No. Absolutely not. And if you disagree, prove it. With Scripture. In the original language and context, preferably.
Church should be the one place an infertile woman can find hope, and peace, and unconditional love. After all, that is what Christ offers. But the Church has elevated motherhood above all else for women. If you are not a mother, and you are beyond your second year of marriage, you are looked upon with disdain, because the assumption is you are choosing selfish ambition over the sacrificial life of motherhood.
I am so blessed to attend a church that refuses to elevate anything or anyone above Christ; we do not recognize groups of people on holidays, because our services should usher people to the throne of God, not pay special attention to mothers, or fathers, or graduates, or whomever. Only one time did I cry through a Mothers’ Day service, and that was because our then-worship-minister just didn’t really understand the purpose of worship. But it was one time. Out of eight.
Infertility is a real struggle in 2012. It is not a sin; it is not a contagious disease; it is a painful desire to have a child and be denied that very basic biological ability.
Please stop ignoring infertile women (and the men who love them). And please stop elevating motherhood above being a faithful follower of Christ.