Christians, how was your Mother’s Day? Did you celebrate it with flowers, fine dining, and gifts? Did your mother have a good time being the center of attention for a day? How about the family? Did everyone enjoy honoring the family matriarch? Now that the festivities are over, have you ever stopped to ask why we celebrate Mother’s Day? Is it really just another innocent holiday (holy-day) celebrated by Christian families? Or have you considered it may just another piece of nostalgic Americana that has been hijacked by materialistic greed (especially within greeting card and restaurant industries).
Admittedly, as a Bible believer, I find the ecumenical holy days like Mother’s Day a bit uncomfortable because I can’t escape the paganism at our Local Churches. Sadly, even local churches that believe on Jesus Christ for their Salvation are so taken up by the world that they have no problem celebrating pagan holy days such as: Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas. It seems the only people not caught up in this madness are the Jehovah’s Witnesses as they’re too busy witnessing to the world (like Christians should be doing).
Now Mr. Worldly Wiseman (the character in Pilgrim’s Progress) will remind us that Paul says inRomans 14:5 “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” However, as a self-proclaimed Pharisee (Acts 23:6), Paul is referring to the Sabbath and Jewish holy days. He is not referring to the pagan worship of Zeus, Santa Claus, or the local spring fertility goddess orgy. Proof of this is seen in Acts 19 when the pagans burn all their pagan books and the silversmiths (the greeting card and chocolate purveyors of their day) see their nostalgic “holiday” (and its associated profit) collapsing all around them.
Next Ignorance (another Pilgrim’s Progress character) will object: “But we aren’t worshiping Mother on Mother’s Day!” Are you sure about that? In new-age America, the two biggest “gods” that anybody worships are “self” and “money.” Mother’s Day (like Valentine’s Day and Christmas) is an excuse for our feminist-influenced mothers to worship self and to “enjoy” materialism for a day. If you don’t believe this, try not participating in the Mother’s Day mania next year and see what kind of scorn you endure. You will be criticized by both the “non-honored” mother and the Church-attending-pew-warmers attempting to salve their burning consciences for joining in the festivities of the world.
Try this experiment: Honor your mother on a different day than “Mother’s Day” or even honor her with something other than a greeting card, phone call, or Sunday dinner. As a Christian, you could send her a Bible, a tract, or even take her out soul-winning. See how well the non-materialism goes over. You will notice that many mothers caught up in Mother’s Day could care less about true honor; they are really looking for an excuse to brag/gossip to their friends about how wonderful their child is. On this note, Mother’s Day (like Father’s Day) is a bit like Easter: If you truly honor your mother and father (and Our Lord Jesus Christ) then you would honor your parents every day (Ex 20:12,Deut 5:16). Anybody who honors mother and father only once a year during a non-Christian Holy Day is a self-righteous fraud (a bit like Christians who only say “He is Risen” while munching on chocolate eggs on one Sunday in April).
Now putting the soapbox aside: If you claim the name of Jesus Christ, yet have never compared Mother’s Day to Scripture, I urge you to dust the cobwebs off your King James Bible and follow in the footsteps of the Bereans: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
Where did we get Mother’s Day? Typing, “Where did we get Mother’s Day?” into an Internet search engine brings up Wikipedia in the top 10 results. Since Wikipedia is a shining example of anti-Christian ideology and rhetoric, it will be a fine starting point for our research (thus avoiding our natural Christian bias). According to Wikipedia, while Julia Ward Howe started Mother’s Day in America, worldwide it is linked to Catholic, Muslim, and Greek/Roman pagan traditions. So what does this mean for us as Bible Believers? We will answer this by addressing the 5 major Mother’s Day themes described by Wikipedia.
“The modern Mother’s Day is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, yet most commonly in March, April, or May as a day to honor mothers and motherhood…. One of the early calls to celebrate a Mother’s Day in the United States was the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” by Julia Ward Howe. Written in 1870, it was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The Proclamation was tied to Howe’s feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level.”
To begin this study, we must ask the question: “Who was Julia Ward Howe?” Again, according toWikipedia: “Julia Ward Howe (May 27, 1819 – October 17, 1910) was a prominent American abolitionist, social activist, and poet, most famous as the author of ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’.” Juliawardhowe.org reveals that “Julia called together the first convention of women ministers attended by figures like the Universalist Lorenza Haynes and Unitarians Mary Graves, and Eliza Tupper Wilkes.” Finally, About.com claims that both she and her husband were Unitarians, which makes sense in light of the fact that she called a conference of women preachers attended by both Unitarians and Universalists. To sum it up: Julia was a Feminist Unitarian Preacher.
In the years after the Mother’s Day Proclamation, Ann Jarvis founded five Mothers’ Day Work Clubs to improve sanitary and health conditions. In 1907, two years after Ann Jarvis’ death, her daughter Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother and began a campaign to make “Mother’s Day” a recognized holiday in the US. Although she was successful in 1914, she was already disappointed with its commercialization by the 1920s.
While Julia Ward Howe made the first Mother’s Day Proclamation, it was really Anna Jarvis who was the force behind the modern American celebration. As is usually the case in America, Anna’s attempts at good works were usurped by the love of money less than 10 years after she foisted Mother’s Day upon us. If the roots in paganism and feminism weren’t bad enough, its crass materialism would be enough to discredit this holiday in the eyes of an honest observer. While not a Feminist/Unitarian, Anna was also not somebody a Christian should follow. She wasted her life and fortune suing and fighting everybody from Eleanor Roosevelt to the “The American War Mothers” in a vain attempt (Col 2:8, Php 2:16, 1 Tim 1:16) to perpetually honor her earthly mother instead of spending her life honoring her Lord and Creator Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11-13 tells us that Christian works will be tried by fire and only those founded on Jesus Christ will survive. If we spend our time fighting for non-Christian “good causes” such as saving the whales, the environment, or Mother’s Day, we will suffer loss in Heaven (1 Corinthians 3:15) as we entangle ourselves in the world (1 Timothy 2:4).
Celebrations of mothers and motherhood occur throughout the world; many of these can be traced back to ancient festivals, like the Greek cult to Cybele or the Roman festival of Hilaria. The modern US holiday is not directly related to these.
The historical background of Mother’s Day can aptly be summed up with Jeremiah 10:2 “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen…” Jeremiah specifically told the Jews not to fall into idolatry with 5 verses warning not to worship the “Queen of Heaven” as doing so provokes God to anger. Jeremiah 7:18 “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.”
In some countries it was changed to dates that were significant to the majority religion, like the Virgin Mary day in Catholic countries, or the birthday of the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad in Islamic countries.
Sadly, many people are caught up in the Mary-worship of the Catholics and are ignorant of what the Bible says on the matter. Paul informs us in 1 Corinthians 10:11 “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” This means that while Jeremiah wrote to the Jews of his day, his message is still to be taken seriously by us today. It is no surprise that Muslims are also caught up in Mother’s Day since they are essentially a cultic offshoot of Roman Catholicism in the same way that Mormonism is an outgrowth of Christianity.
As we can see from our cursory examination, Mother’s Day is an overly commercialized modern holy day rooted in Idolatry (Anna Jarvis), Feminism/Unitarianism (Julia Ward Howe), and Paganism (Queen of Heaven, Greek/Roman Mythology, Catholic/Muslim Idolatry). As a pagan holy day, it offers nothing to a Christian save a worldly compromise to pacify women seeking to usurp the authority and honor of both God and their husbands (see Genesis 2:18 and 1 Corinthians 11:7). If after studying all this information, you still feel compelled to celebrate Mother’s Day in the manner of the world, consider this: instead of sending your mother chocolate that will only ruin her health, you could edify her soul by sending your father a Bible study on Proverbs 31, Titus 2,1 Corinthians 11, and 1 Corinthians 14:35. These may help regain his role as the spiritual leader of the family who will insist on his children honoring his wife each and every day according to godly wisdom in place of materialistic foolishness.