Please don't hurt me. :-) I'll explain...

The pastor had good intentions. At least, I think he did. Before the service, he reminded the men in the audience—especially the notoriously forgetful, impudent husbands—that Mother's Day would pounce on us like a rabid, starving cheetah.

"I did something big for my wife this past weekend," he bragged. "I mean really big." He paused and smiled to let his words sink in. A few people laughed.

And then he hit us with the punchline: "Now I can check that off my list and forget about it for a while." I couldn't see his wife's face, but I'm told it showed exactly what she thought of that. Thankfully, that night's speaker wasn't the pastor but a guest who hadn't ticked off the audience.

If you want to know why I hate Mother's Day, look no further than this pastor's earnest but misguided attempt at mood-softening humor. His wink-wink-nudge-nudge joke may seem harmless, but there's a subtle implication here that's not so funny.

The don't-be-a-slob Christian husband meme in our culture goes something like this: men should definitely honor their wives (the Bible says so), and this is best done by remembering three super-important dates -- birthday, anniversary, and Mother's Day (if applicable). If you do this, you've nailed this husband thing.

But keeping three dates from being sucked into the vacuum of golf outings, fantasy baseball teams, kids' activities, and work? That's hardly honor. We'd be no better than the servants who slobbered all over themselves because they knew they'd done nothing more than the bare, sad minimum (Luke 17:10). And those guys don't exactly receive a commendation.

Mother's Day in our society has boiled down to hardened mass. Frantic husbands who nearly forgot (again) rush to the store to buy a card written by someone else, purchase a gift certificate so that someone else can provide a service to their wives, eat a meal with their spouse that someone else cooked, and/or buy flowers that someone else picked and prepared. And that's honor. That's "doing something big."

Well, not for this husband. Why not? Because I don't want to honor my wife? No, because she deserves much more than three remembered dates.

She's the woman who blinks away the telltale aura of a coming migraine to play another round of Cootie with her two girls. She's the woman who shakes off one garden failure after another until she grows something that my food-sensitive daughters can eat. She's the woman who would rather bake her own bread from scratch than let those food issues keep her girls from their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She's the woman whom God uses to speak sense into the head of her stubborn husband.

I couldn't honor her for all of that by handing over some cardstock pleasantries and petunias on a single day of the year. For some reason, I don't think the woman of Proverbs 31 was "blessed" with a one-time shopping spree to Target.

I hate Mother's Day in our culture because it gives husbands and dads an easy out. As long as we don't forget that starving-cheetah surprise of Mother's Day, we're good. We've checked that off our list. We've paid our dues.

But my wife means more to me than a single annual holiday. Laying down my life surely implies more than adding a reminder on my phone for one Sunday in May. Loving her like Christ surely can't be reduced to a perennial obligation. I'm not perfect (she'd say amen to that), but I don't want the commercialized, don't-forget-it-or-else Mother's Day to water down what honor is all about.

If you want to do something big—really big—don't focus on this single day and call it "mission accomplished." Instead, start by never checking "honoring my wife" off your to-do list. Sure, you'll fail from time to time, but this is one area where effort really does count.

Publication date: May 7, 2014