Friday, May 20, 2011
Keepers at Home are Necessary
For my last post this week, I wanted to tackle one of the dangerous myths about at home wives, and that is the persistent idea that we are not necessary. I’ve heard everything from the theory that machines and gadgets have replaced the need for much human labor in the home(and I'm sure all these machines are very nurturing) to the notion that it’s lazy for wives to be home if small children are not present. Feminists, especially in the second wave of feminism, have portrayed home as a prison for women and demanded vehemently that women go into the workplace. Those who do not have been labeled lazy or childlike.
The ideas of the more extreme feminists have become so entrenched in our society that even many Christian men and women look down on those who stay home unless they have infants or toddlers. After all, how many times have you heard someone discuss a woman staying at home while saying, “I don’t know what she finds to do all day. Her children are in school! You think she’d at least get a part-time job,” or “Did you hear she quit her job when she got married? They don’t even have children yet!” And just check the comments on many career-life balance articles online. The balance often skews heavily in favor of women who can’t imagine staying home and in recent years, I’ve noticed more men stating that they would be unwilling to financially support a wife or that they expect any woman they marry to pull her own weight. I’ve even seen at home wives described as parasites. If I’m expected to do all the same things that my husband does and “pull my own weight” financially, how is that a marriage? How would we complement each other if we don't have different roles to play? Not only do the world's ideas run counter to what Scripture says but this school of thought also seems to operate under the fallacy that men and women are exactly the same.
Perhaps after hearing years of propaganda from the feminist movement, there are those who are starting to see the role of the homemaker as unnecessary, but nothing is further from the truth. Most importantly, the Bible states clearly that God intends for married women to keep the home. In Proverbs 31, the amazing wife praised there is one who runs a very well-ordered home and in all of the work she does, benefiting the home and family are her focus. Guess what? Homes don’t order themselves! Running the home and providing for the family whether there are young children in it or not takes a lot of work. Currently, I am transitioning to be at home with my husband and just keeping up our home, caring for our animals and then reaching out to connect with our new community really can be a full-time job.
And then there’s Titus 2. In that passage, married young women are admonished to be "keepers at home." Titus 2:5. It does not say, "Oh, just keep at home when the kids are little." Oh no. It says simply "keepers at home", and the older women are instructed to mentor these younger women. And it's not just a mild suggestion either; We are told to be keepers at home. Keeping the home may look different in different homes due to individual circumstances, but the duty is still there. I know women who for various reasons must both keep the home and work outside at least for a season, but for many of them, that longing to be in the home doesn't go away.
And indeed, one can find plenty of necessity in keeping the home. Children need their mother's guidance even when they are no longer infants and toddlers. Imagine what would happen if teenagers, for example, were simply left to find their way with no mother at home to guide them. I know people who send their children to public or private school and some have had good experiences, but I frankly do not agree with much of what is forced on families by the schools, especially the government schools, and so if I had children, there would be homeschool or possibly a carefully chosen Christian school if one is available. Homeschool would obviously require that a parent be in the home, but even with children who go out to school, someone needs to supervise their education and assist them with homework. If no one is keeping the home, who will school the children? There needs to be a keeper at home to guide and educate children of all ages.
For women who do not have children, I can say from personal experience that helping my husband and taking care of our home are both necessary endeavors. Our lives suffer if I do not obey God and fulfill my role. I know some women for whom staying home full-time simply is not economically feasible. My job does not lend itself well to part-time status and I am fortunate in that, with some major simplification of my lifestyle, I can leave it. I simply do not have enough hours in my day to work full-time, run a house, and accomplish both of these things effectively. Homes do not keep themselves and families do not bind together in common purpose to serve God without grace and intention. Having seen the alternative, I know as I do my work that I am needed here or our house will not be a home.
And keeping the home is in fact a ministry and witness to God. I will admit that I did rebel against it for a time and bought into the lie that we would need two full-time incomes in order to survive not to mention that working outside would somehow be more fulfilling than keeping home. Boy, was that wrong! However, God has shown my husband and I both the error in that thinking and as I've started transitioning home, I certainly have wished for another group of keepers at home mentioned in Scripture - the older women. Older women keeping home who can mentor those of us coming behind them truly are necessary and God has given them a very important part to play. I only wish there were more of these women out there!
Keepers at home - we are necessary and we have a challenging calling in life. Even more importantly, as children of God, we have a part to serve in the body of the church and that is something special to glory in!
Linking up this "oldie but goodie" post with The Modest Mom. If you're visiting from The Modest Mom, I hope you'll check out some of my more recent writing, too. Welcome!