Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why I don't preach Mother's Day messages

So, I found out that some are wondering why I did not preach a "Mother's Day sermon" last Sunday.

I'll be brief.

I do not preach Mother's Day messages...

1. for the same reason I do not preach Father's Day, Valentine's Day, Groundhog's Day, Guy Fawkes Day, or Chinese New Year's Day messages.

2. because there is no biblical prescription for Mother's Day.

3. because I am trying to build a pulpit ministry that is characterized by consistent biblical exposition not topical points of interest.

4. because I am obliged to honor God and His Word above all things in the corporate gatherings of His people.

5. because I don't want greeting card companies to dictate sermon content to Christ's church.

6. because I am inclined away from "bandwagonism" and sentimentality.

Al Mohler has posted some great thoughts on Mother's Day:

Christians must resist the reduction of motherhood to sentimentality, and particularly that sentimentalism that undermines what mothers are truly to represent -- nurture, fortitude, courage, dedication, faithfulness, discipline, and trust in God.

Mother's Day is a bad idea because it subverts the reality of faithful mothering and robs faithful mothers of their true glory. Mothers deserving of honor are handed cards and taken to lunch, when songs of praise should instead be offered to the glory of God. Undeserving mothers, who abdicate their true responsibility, are honored just because they are mothers. Children, young and old, who ignore and dishonor their mothers by word and by life throughout the year, assuage their guilt by making a big deal of Mother's Day.

Read the entire post HERE.


toothdoc said...

Just admit it, you hate moms :) Seriously, though, a Guy Fawkes day sermon would be awesome.

Todd Pruitt said...

I am also against apple pie and puppies.

toothdoc said...

Don't forget America - you don't preach 4th of July sermons - communist.

Todd Pruitt said...

Oh I forgot!

I would be happy to preach a "God and Country" sermon in early July if I could just find a biblical text to justify it.

Mainline Mom said...

*sigh* I posted on my blog about how gravely saddened I was to hear a purely Mother's Day sermon at my church last week.

WHY did you have to come to COS AFTER I moved to Houston? Boohoo.

Anonymous said...

Since last Sunday was my first time at CoS I was overjoyed that you didn't do a Mother's Day sermon. Seriously though, I think it made my room mate's week that you avoided the typical sentimental sermon.

j.kulp said...

Sorry, I disagree with your reasoning for not preaching a "Mother's Day" sermon. 1) There are plenty of Biblical texts on godly women, motherhood, etc. which would not compromise your integrity as a preacher of God's Word. 2)It is not amusing to equate honoring mothers on Mother's Day with remembering Groundhog's Day. 3) It is a great opportunity to "be all things to all people that some might be saved" as many people are in church that day to honor their mothers. I am sure you could tie in appropriate Scriptures honoring mothers while preaching a strong Gospel presentation. 4) You sound harsh and caustic with your reasoning, even possibly condescending toward those who would choose to preach a sermon honoring mothers on Mother's Day. Equating honoring mothers on Mother's Day by preaching a sermon recognizing the event with mere sentimentality is not always an accurate conclusion. Please be careful of generalities.

Todd Pruitt said...


Not intending to be harsh or condescending. It is however a little frustrating when things are heard second-hand.

There are no doubt Scriptures that speak to the honor of motherhood. God willing I will be able to preach on those texts when the time comes.

As far as being all things to all people I am not sure how a Mother's Day sermon would help me do that.

I am absolultely in favor of honoring mothers (I'm married to a wonderful mother). I just disagree with those who believe that doesn't happen unless there is a "Mother's Day sermon."

Todd Pruitt said...

Just a couple more thoughts:

1. Let's not lose our sense of humor - especially when we're criticized.

2. I am just a couple weeks into the Hebrews' series. I did not want to interupt it so soon.

3. I am uncomfortable with arranging the preaching schedule in response to a purely secular observance.

4. I am uncomfortable with arranging the preaching schedule according to someone's expectations.

threegirldad said...


"caustic"??? That's hard to take seriously. I think you got carried away by your own reaction against Todd's comments.

Let's focus for a moment on his first statement. It seems clear enough that some people simply had an expectation of such a sermon, because, well, it's Mother's Day! And what else would you preach about on Mother's Day? If that doesn't strike you as at least a bit odd, then I think you're making Todd's point for him.

Bill Legge said...

Hmmm, first complementarianism and now this. You really do hate moms.

On a more serious note,

Dear mom-bashing, puppy-hating, communist, Pastor guy,

Guy Fawkes should be added to that list of names that are really fun to say. I would rate it slightly above Doug Moo, and a bit below Ruud Lubbers.


I really don’t read anything harsh, caustic, or condescending in the tone or content of this post. Mother’s Day is a secular, overly commercialized, “holiday”. It has no business dictating the content of a sermon, regardless of what the expectations may be. Yes, there are many Scriptures that speak to the honor of motherhood, but that is not the same thing as there being a biblical prescription for Mother’s Day. I would argue that any pastor who confuses the two absolutely compromises his integrity as a preacher of the Gospel.

This ties in to Todd’s fourth point. He is obligated to honor God and his Word above all things in the corporate gatherings of people. He is not obligated to honor the expectations of the people in the worshipping of God. All worship must be for God’s honor and glory, not to glorify moms, dads, grandparents, secretaries, groundhogs, etc. Please don’t misunderstand; I am not, much like I believe that Todd wasn’t, equating honoring mothers to groundhogs. I’m merely pointing out that Mother’s Day, in its current form, is as absurd.

If we are at the point where we need the government, Hallmark, and FTD to tell us as a society in general, and a church in particular, that today’s the day we honor our mothers then we are much worse off than I thought.

Mike said...

if we are consistent with this approach how do we then give our celebration of Christmas a pass...clearly not just a "Hallmark holiday" but a celebration fraught with pagan symbols and sentimental cultural overlays to the birth of
Christ that are not even scriptural.

If we take the approach that we would only talk about the bibical references to the birth of Christ without the cultural that we have created around Christmas I can just imagine the response.

My point is not to be "grinchy" here but rather to point out that we pick and choose how much we allow our culture to affect the church.

Mainline Mom said...

Wow, surprised at the reaction of j.kulp. I'm a mother, and on mother's day, I expect my husband to honor me, maybe with a little card or gift. But I come to church to worship God and hear the gospel, not to be honored myself. While there are Biblical texts about mothers, all scripture points to the gospel and the person of God and I think it would be easy and RIGHT to preach on a Biblical mother in the context of what do we see about God or the gospel through her? THAT is what I hoped to hear on Sunday, not some collection of "mothering moments" through the Bible.

Todd Pruitt said...

Mike (Scrooge),

So now you hate the baby Jesus!

I understand what you are saying. Christmas has been profaned by commercialization.

However there is no comparison between Christmas and Mother's Day. Christmas is the celebration of Christ's incarnation. Yes, this is often crowded out by out of control materialism. But it is still appropriate to set aside time to pay special attention to the good news of God's entrance into humanity.

Mother's Day is an entirely secular observance. I have no problem saying, "We love you moms" in church on Mother's Day. We ought to do that more than once a year. But when it comes to preaching, the incarnation is of far greater urgency than a "Mother's Day sermon."

It's a good thing to call on Christians to stop playing into the commercialization of Christmas. But isn't this what Mother's Day is about to begin with? Does anyone really believe that we can get away with not "commercializing" Mother's Day? Try not sending a card and see what happens.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm great with sending Mother's Day cards. I'm great with taking mom out to lunch on that day and saying kind things to her. I do those things on Mother's Day. But let's just recognize that it is not an observance that is enjoined by Scripture. The church has no obligation under God to observe Mother's Day as an event.

To All:
In any of this did I say or even indicate that we should not honor mothers?

Todd Pruitt said...

I think from now on I will post exclusively on three topics:

1. Politics

2. The views of local Old Testament professors

3. Mother's Day

Mike Demastus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jason said...

I think a faithful teacher of God's Word can preach or not preach a Mother's Day sermon. I didn't even notice that you didn't until I read the blog post (which made me laugh), and I am just thrilled to hear a sermon for 40 minutes (or more). The church and community may benefit from an annual mother's and father's day (& fourth of July) sermon, but then again, we could probably use 2sermons a day on Sunday in which case you'd be due for a salary increase!

Todd Pruitt said...

I promise I did not pay Jason for posting his comment.

Jason, is there any way we can clone you?

Thanks for the encouraging words. And I agree that there is nothing inherently wrong with preaching a message on what the Bible says about mothering on Mother's Day, Fathering on Father's Day, etc. I just have an anti-bandwagon bent to me.

Todd Pruitt said...

I deleted an earlier comment from a pastor in Iowa who apparently was trolling around to find a fellow preacher to criticize. I would have left his post if he hadn't been so snotty.

Jason, Melissa & Eowyn said...

Todd- It is this very "anti-bandwagon" proclivity that we most often appreciate about you.

However, I would like to take the liberty to expound upon what perhaps J. Kulp was alluding to regarding "being all things to all people".

Admittedly, Mother's Day is certainly not Biblically sanctioned or mandated - though there exists a commandment to honor our mothers- not exclusive to a singular May holiday.

Nevertheless, often Mother's Day (and other such fabricated holidays) are the impetus for a non-church attender to make the effort to attend, if only for the greeter-proffered carnation that potentially awaits her. I know many non-attendees who sat- if begrudgingly- in pews this past Sunday to honor (or placate) their Mother. What a great opportunity to provide perhaps more of a holiday-oriented evanglestic message that might better resonate with the non-traditional holiday attenders.

I think that was all (the now-villianized) J. Kulp was suggesting with her remark.

I think we're all on the same team here. Let's not get "carried away by [our] own reactions."

And Todd, we love your Hebrews series - the only disappointment was the lack of the iconic carnation for all mother's at the service's end :)

Todd Pruitt said...

Point well taken.

Really, I don't disagree with anything you've written.

The only thing I would want to add is that last Sunday the text (Hebrews 1:1-4) pointed clearly and beautifully to Christ. So those who were present heard the Gospel.

Also, I was the one on staff who was pushing for full size Hershey bars to be given to all the moms. Up until the end of the week I thought it was happening.

threegirldad said...

"Jason, Melissa & Eowyn",

"villianized"? Where did that come from? Please stop engaging in arm-chair psychoanalysis (and over an internet connection, no less).

I say that "harsh...caustic...condescending" doesn't even come close to being a fair representation of any part of the post.

We're having a disagreement here over a person's characterization of the post's "tone." That doesn't constitute "villanization."

Ilona said...

I am not a mom, but I will say one thing - it's wonderful to honor mothers (and fathers) in some way even in church on Mother's Day (and Father's) - whether with a clap, a carnation or whatever. It takes a minute, and is a nice nice gesture, just as COS in the almost 10 years I've been there has always honored veterans and service men on Memorial Day etc....