November 28, 2018

What John Wesley
Asked His Mother

Motherhood in Western civilization has historically been considered one the most noble of social positions and the most important of civic responsibilities. This is largely, if not entirely, because of the Christian foundations of Western civilization. 

But as America has become an increasingly secular nation, motherhood as a primary vocation for women has not only been downplayed, it has been attacked and discredited. 

Traditional Christian ideas about just about everything are marginalized and abused in our secular culture. If you keep your Christian beliefs to yourself, or keep them within the dwindling number of Christian ghettos (churches), that's okay. But don't you dare bring such ideas to the mainstream dialogue! 

But I digress. Getting back on track...

How many young girls do you know these days who are encouraged and taught to be mothers by their mothers? By that I mean taught a variety of homemaking and home-keeping  skills, along with nurturing and caring for others? I know a few, but it's a precious few .

Most young girls are consumed by popular culture. Their lives reflect the foolishness and selfishness of popular culture. This is illustrated  disgustingly well in Cyndi Lauper's Song and Music Video, "Girls Just Want To Have Fun."

More serious girls in our modern culture are expected to go to college to prepare for a career making as much money as possible. In so doing, they will be further indoctrinated into the mindset of secular-culture feminism (which abhors Biblical motherhood), and they will leave with an enormous debt load. Being thus enslaved to debt, they will then be obligated to pursue any career other than motherhood. And if they do pursue motherhood, it will be, of necessity, a part time vocation.

Now, having written all of that, you need to realize this blog is oftentimes something like a stream of consciousness. My thoughts and opinions are just flowing, and it takes me awhile to get to the main thing I want to share with you. In this instance, my subject isn't motherhood in general, but one mother in particular—that mother being Susanna Wesley. And to be even more particular, her  answer to a question asked of her by her son, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church.

My assumption is that you know something about Susanna Wesley's difficult life, and her remarkable example of Christian motherhood. If you don't, you should. This YouTube Presentation gives a short introduction, but there is so much more to her inspiring story. This Link provides more details.  

Susanna Wesley is on my mind because I recently listened to a YouTube presentation by Ravi Zacharias and he mentioned that John Wesley once asked his mother for a definition of sin.

Her reply struck me as the most insightful and scripturally rooted definition for sin that I've ever heard. 

Secularists could care less about defining sin. And "cultural christians" aren't much interested either. But understanding sin is a big deal for the serious Christian.

If you were to ask me my definition of sin, I would simply say, "sin is a violation of God's law." It is a biblically correct definition, but it is very fundamental and best suited to explain sin to an unbeliever.

Susanna Wesley's definition is so much more insightful, and it is geared for someone who is already a Christian believer. Here it is...

"Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself." 

That was written in a 1725 letter to John. He was 22 years old at the time, and Susanna was 56 (she died in 1742, at 73 years of age). 

It is a definition that I'll write down and put in my Bible for future reference, or to share with someone else someday. I think it's worth memorizing.

Susanna Wesley's above quote comes from This Web Page at the Ravi Zacharias web site.

I could go on any number of rabbit trails from here but, suffice it to say, Susanna Wesley influenced not only her children by being a godly mother, she indirectly influenced millions of people for generations to come through her children. She made the world a better place by her deliberate and serious pursuit of responsible Christian motherhood. 

And I hasten to say, Susanna did not pursue responsible Christian motherhood to make herself and her children famous. She did it out of obedience to a high calling.

In a very real sense, we as a civilization are faced with a choice: Cyndi Lauper or Susanna Wesley?

That choice is made one woman and one family at a time.