The Believer’s Attitude Toward Single Mothers
In this current political and economic climate, it has become a national past-time to point fingers at whichever class of society we feel is the source of all of our hardships. Depending on our political persuasions, we are either inclined to point fingers at society’s “irresponsible dregs” (i.e. – everyone on welfare, especially single mothers) or the people we think are too rich and powerful (i.e. anyone who has a business payroll & wears a suit).
For our purpose here at ACFJ, I want to shine a light on the former attitude, while acknowledging that any viewpoint that puts all of the blame for the world’s problems at the feet of any one group of people is wrong. As believers we know that the world’s problems are caused by sin, and every person has a sin nature. This evil attitude of entitlement that we face in abusers and wife beaters knows no class boundary – it is a major sin of the heart and it is present in the people at the bottom of the social classes all the way to the top. (cough Middle Class)
Every time I see a single mother make a heartfelt comment online about her tremendous difficulties, she is met with horrible responses such as:
“My tax dollars paid for your kids’ free school lunches and public babysitting and food stamps — you’re welcome.”
“If your life is so hard than don’t be a single mom.”
“I guess you should have picked a better husband.”
In response I’ve seen people jump in and say “well yes that’s true, but widows can’t help it if their husband died.” (This is where widows jump in and make sure that everyone validates their own hardship, while all those “other single moms” can go jump off a bridge.)
I have seen a similar attitude displayed even by people who claim to be Believers. Now granted, it’s dicey to assume that someone saying cruel things to the poor is genuinely a Christian, as we have all witnessed in our own lives people who pretend to be Christians (and the accompanying abuse). But let’s just consider genuine Christians who feel that single mothers are one of the causes of all that is wrong with society – because this is a very widespread belief. It is made more ugly by the current financial stress that everyone is feeling.
This was one of the many things I was afraid of before my husband left. I didn’t want to end up in this class of women and children who are dismissed as “less than” everyone else. I knew instinctively that I was going to be judged a failure in certain quarters. I’ve had to examine some previous attitudes in my own heart, about judgments I made before I had to walk in these shoes. Pharisees — there but for the grace of God, go I.
Here are some truths that I have experienced in a big new way:
- When Jesus said to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” – that means my money (or lack of it) does not matter. God has control over everything: our government, our tax rates, our employment, and our very survival. If God allows us to be ruled by bad men who grind us into poverty — then that is what He has allowed. But for believers, our hope is in Jesus. Our eyes need to be fixed on Jesus. Our money belongs to Jesus. (I am not thinking of tithing rules here, by the way. I’m thinking of that poor woman in my community who needs emergency food or home repairs.)
- “Personal responsibility” is not our religion. It is ONE component (a natural outgrowth) of being a righteous man or woman. But it is impossible to “take responsibility” for our every circumstance. For victims who have had the misery of trying to get child support from their Abuser, we know it is impossible to force evil men to take responsibility for anything! No court system in the world is able to force evil men to act right. Also – a silver lining in this wreck of an economy is re-examining the false doctrine that “if I just make all the right choices then I won’t end up poor or dependent on others”. The only answer to the world’s problems is Jesus. End of story.
- We are not called to judge the poor before we show love, even within the Body. The women in your church who are single because their husbands died are not more worthy of respect and dignity then the woman whose husband broke every single vow he made to her and his children. Or the woman whose husband sits in church every Sunday but behind closed doors he screams at his wife and teaches his children many ways to hate her. There is physical poverty, and there are those who are poverty-stricken in spirit. Both are crippling.
James 1:27 – Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (See Barb’s book Not Under Bondage [*Affiliate link] for a deeper understanding of the term “widow” used in scripture.)
Our society may continue to have too few jobs and opportunities for the needy. This might be our future. What does our heart say in response to this possibility? Do we clutch our purses in horror and start blaming the needy, the fools, and start stockpiling treasure in a hole in the backyard? Or do we go the opposite way, and blame the rich, and expect our leaders to play Robin Hood and meet all of our needs & bring perfect justice (all the while sinking the nation into unfathomable debt)?
Or – do we operate under the belief that God is taking away the blessings of our nation and the only way to get it back is to throw ourselves at the grinding mill of performance? Maybe if we enforce more purity rules, take away our daughters’ freedom, stay married to our wicked spouses no matter what, and homeschool our kids, then things will get better. Because nobody will have abortions and single moms can go back to being rare outcasts (rather than constantly in our line of sight) and then we will be awesome again. (SIGH)
I’m overwhelmed by the sheer number of ways that we spin our wheels.
Instead, let us look to the One who sustains us – in all of life’s possibilities. Justice and mercy flow from one perfect source. I’m reminding myself every day not to waste time looking for it elsewhere.
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