Not the Mama! Solomon and the Baby Cutting Incident.

“Although you have ten thousand teachers you have not many fathers or mothers.”[1] A guy named Paul wrote this. He was urging the readers to realize who it was that really cared about them.  Parents… that’s who care and that is how we prove we are really parents.  Mother’s and Father’s endure for the long run. Teachers are for a season. As an educator myself, I would like to think of teaching as a short parental assignment. Short is the operative word here. Paul emphasized that we need fathers (and mothers) to become spiritually mature. So true! So what does it mean to be a parent?

There was another guy who dealt with parents, mothers to be more specific. Two women were fighting over a baby. They both gave birth around the same time and one baby died. The women came before the king with their dispute. Each claimed that the vital baby belonged to her. The king ordered the baby to be cut in two, one half for each woman. Of course the genuine Mama acquiesced allowing the Not the Mama to have her son. Self sacrifice and love spoke.  Thus the king knew who the real Mama was. Two trajectories exist in this story. One is that King Solomon proved his wisdom to lead his country. The other is stronger, I think, and often overlooked. The real mother proved her maternity by her willingness to let the baby go, relinquish her control and her rightness. Ultimately she preserved her son’s life.

I geek out on theology. Really, I love this stuff. But sometimes I wonder what we are doing when we debate theological concepts ad nauseum. At times we act as if theology is in itself inspired, even more so the stuff that is inherited from the patristic fathers. By it’s very definition, though, theology cannot be inspired. Theology is literally man’s effort to learn about God. Once man is in the formula, it is a flawed effort and subject to change. So why such intense ownership?

The problem is that we get so entrenched in our theological fortresses of certainty that we grind people up without another thought that flesh and blood are at the other end of these arguments, people whose lives we know nothing about…. dear ones who need mothers and fathers to protect them. We go round and round with arguments: hell, no hell… homosexual, heterosexual… women, no women…  and the list goes on. We alienate people, sending them away… we cut the baby in two with our theologizing and the baby dies.

Where are the Mama’s who will acquiesce? Where are the mothers and fathers who will ensure the survival of even the weakest and the least tenable? Where are those who will spread the carpet of warmth and welcoming that is needed for growth and development? Where are the theologically and spiritually hospitable? Where are those who will give up their rights of possession and their right to be right so that the baby can thrive?

The real Mama (and Daddy) does whatever it takes to keep the baby alive.

So I ask you to think about this. Are you the Not the Mama or the Mama? How are you showing hospitality?[2]

Thanks for reading! Next time

Please leave a comment.



[1] I added the gender equality to this quote. Originally is said only fathers.

[2] I recommend reading  Hospitality and The Other by Amos Yong. New York: Orbis Books, 2008.

2 Replies to “Not the Mama! Solomon and the Baby Cutting Incident.”

  1. If I were the kind of guy who cried easily, your observations might just do the trick. Of course, that would only apply if I had a propensity to tear up in the influence of loving brilliance and Godly care.

  2. LOVE this. I always thought Solomon was a great big asshole for offering to settle the dispute by decapitating the baby. His wisdom in sussing out the right mama was SO GOOD and totally unraveled the asshole’ish persona that he was in the story. She would give up her claim, her rightful claim to what belonged to her so the baby could Live even if that meant living with a liar and a kidnapper. Such drama! Loved how you tease out the questions of certainty and our right to be right. One of my all time fave stories……

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