As the twentieth century closes, the cry for equality between the sexes is provoking unprecedented conflicts between women and men in the workplace and in the family. Women of all colors and classes continue to carry out an enormous amount of indispensable, unremunerated caring labor, which at once undergirds and is peripheral to human life--as men have defined it--and therefore without value. Also a Mother protests this definition of work and value, and claims that beneath the everyday scuffles over gender roles and child care lies an essential religious crisis of work and love.
Drawing on her situation as seminary professor and mother of three sons, Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore argues that Christian ideals of motherly self-sacrifice and fatherly hard work, as they have been interpreted by church tradition and promoted in society at large, not only fail the lives of many people today, but misrepresent both the intent of God's creation and the promise of the gospel message itself. She asks: How might theological doctrines of love, self-sacrifice creation, procreation, vocation, and community better respond to women and men who want to work in fulfilling ways and to love in intimate relationships including those that involve raising children? To answer adequately, theology must seriously entertain what mothers think, feel, desire, and know bodily, in a way that it has failed to do thus far.
The Christian feminist maternal theology that Miller-McLemore proposes challenges the mores of a society that has selectively divided the burdens and rewards of family and work along gender lines, calls for a rereading of biblical and theological traditions that have been wrongly used to uphold this division, and reclaims the values of caring labor for both men and women.
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