Women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety (1 Timothy 2:15, NIV). Talk about confusing biblical passages. My kids are adopted, so I've never been through childbirth. Does that mean I don't have access to this mysterious "safety?" Besides, how can such an agonizing experience keep a woman safe? From start to finish, motherhood is fraught with danger, as Jesus alluded to in describing the end of time: "How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!" (Luke 21:23a, NIV).
I'm not heading into debate about that verse in Paul's letter to Timothy or the ones that follow because I'm no theologian. But I am a mother, and in that role, I've eked out a glimmer of meaning for myself from the passage. The Greek for "kept safe" (sozo) can be translated as "restored" or "made well." In short, this text might be affirming that wholehearted mothering is a way to flee the traps of deception.
Rich Lamb (author of the excellent book The Pursuit Of God In The Company Of Friends, IVP) recently featured a quote in a letter about the sanctification that accompanies a calling:
...What distinguishes a vocation from the rigors of profession is this: you have to die to enter a vocation. A profession summons the best from you. A vocation calls you away from what you thought was best in you, purifies it, and promises to make you something or someone you are not yet ... A vocation puts an end to you in order to disclose your true end. (Richard Lisher, The End Of Words, Eerdmans, p. 32-33).Here's a classified ad I'd like to see on craigslist (probably under jobs, nonprofit sector): "Need help putting your selfish nature to death on a daily basis? Why not try raising a child with a mother-heart? Because it's not just a job, it's a vocation." Of course, all women are not called to be mothers; other vocations as defined above are capable of changing your life from the inside out -- like passionate fathering, for example. (I close by reflecting on how switching the "o" in "vocation" to an "a" transforms it into a much-needed gift ... hooray for summer!)