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Mothering Outside the Lines

April 19, 2016


My pastor Kevin has enthusiastically recommended the Scott Sauls book Jesus Outside the Lines over the last few months.  I picked it up myself, and have not been disappointed. In his book, Sauls discusses the Christian response to battles over cultural issues.


I can thankfully say that I don’t spend a lot of time getting into debates about elections or human sexuality. And it’s not that I exist in an echo chamber either;  I’m proud that my church is pretty politically diverse, and I feel like most of my friends do a great job of engaging in political discussion thoughtfully and respectfully. Especially my female friends.

The only thing I really have in common with the women I spend the most time with, is that they are typically mothers and Christian.  Outside of that, we don’t have a lot in common. Even though my friends and I have more differences than commonalities, I have (so far) avoided bitter quarreling over politics.

And yet, this book made me wince over and over, because I have seen venomous line-drawing among my female friends. Although, it looks a little different in our context.

Replace some of these chapter titles from Jesus Outside the Lines with me: 

Red State or Blue State Formula Feeding or Breastfeeding

Money Guilt or Money Greed Homemaker or Employed Outside the Home

For the Unborn or the Poor Natural Births or Interventions During Delivery

Chastity or Sexual Freedom Homeschool, Private School or Public School

Yup. I’m talking about mommy wars stuff. Playdate politics seem like a silly comparison to the issues handled in this book, but trust me when I say that these topics can be every bit as vitriolic and divisive.

Once a month or so, I watch certain parenting manifestos go “viral” on Facebook, along with critical rebuttals a week later.

I’ve seen women cry (or make others cry) over parenting stances.

I mean, can we just marvel at the hostility of that for a second? I’ve never watched a guy make someone cry over their opinion on Obamacare or whatever.

Most regrettably, I’ve seen women leave churches and break off friendships over opinions on child rearing. Mom politics are nasty business. Scott Sauls didn’t write  Jesus Outside the Lines on the mommy wars, but he didn’t really need to. The application of the ideas he presents are the same.

For the record, I’m guilty too. This sort of antagonistic behavior is inevitable when our pride and strong opinions (both of which I have in spades) crash into one another. Separation and friction were the first results of sin. Is it any surprise that our modern sin still results in separation and friction, not just between ourselves and God, but between one another?

The painful results of mommy war conflict, along with every other contentious topic, can only be resolved by mature, humble application of the gospel.

Here are five quotes from the book that could basically be applied to the mommy wars:

On misrepresenting and mischaracterizing the stances of others:

Have we forgotten that a half-truth is the equivalent of a full lie?

On offending others:

When the grace of Jesus sinks in, we will be among the least offended and least offensive people in the world

On winsome behavior during disagreements

There is something incredibly attractive and inviting about people who stop pointing fingers and posing and pretending to be totally good and totally right, and instead start taking themselves less seriously and openly and freely admit that they are not yet what they should be.

On hypocrisy

Nobody completely lives up to his or her own ideals and visions. But by proclaiming our ideals and visions with great conviction and great humility, we may gradually grow into the truth we speak.

Here’s the book on Amazon if you are interested.

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