The subject of women at home and stay-at-home moms and wives continues to be a hot topic in Christian and non-Christian circles. The Lord has laid it upon my heart to write about this from a Biblical perspective. But before we go there, I encourage you to take a look at what is being said about this subject in recent past:
Women at home: what the headlines and culture today says
Linked to Drudge Report, there was an ABC news report by Emily Friedman which spoke of a quote from Hilary Rosen (Democratic strategist and DNC adviser) belittling Ann Romney, wife of US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, for being a stay at home wife and mom. Funny how this also comes on the first day that Ann Romney ever tweeted from the popular social media, Twitter. I love how Ann responded to this unbelievably discriminatory remark, she said “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work”. Read the full story here: Ann Romney Fights Back: Debuts on Twitter. I think Ann will have 1,000,000 followers soon; you can follow Ann on twitter @AnnDRomney
Other related Headlines:
What God says about the women at home
This post today is not to support any specific candidate for public office, no, in fact I do not even know for whom I will vote come November 2012. I am simply pointing out that we can see that the talking heads in the political arena and in the media think they know about women. That’s fine, but I have news for them, God has much to say about it too. And what He says far outweighs anything that we see in the headlines today.
I am speaking from the heart on this one, as I used to be that career-bound woman who depended upon everyone else to raise my kids. We had a church friend who cared for our youngest when she was in 1st grade and in fact, she taught her how to ride a bicycle. Sometimes if it weren’t for fast food restaurants back in those days, I think my husband and my family would have gone hungry because I did not have time to prepare meals. Don’t get me wrong and don’t jump down my neck now if you are a woman who must work outside of the home due to extenuating circumstances, like you have no husband or your husband is physically unable to provide for you. I am speaking about the women at home, those ones that are wives and moms who have made the choice to be at home because they have a husband who is the provider and because they are able to do the things that God has designed them to do without needing to work outside of the home. I know firsthand what it is like to quit a successful career and trust God to provide through my husband. It is the second best decision I have made in my life – the first being my decision to believe in what Jesus did at the cross on Calvary, accepting His payment for my sin debt. You can make this decision too; Meet my Savior.
Now that you, hopefully, understand my position, let’s take a look at one of the most popular Bible passages as it applies to women — specifically a virtuous woman. This is found in the book of Proverbs, chapter 31. It is based upon the advice that King Lemuel received from his mother (called a prophecy). Beginning in verse 10 and continuing on to the end of the chapter, the King’s mother gives these words of wisdom to her son:
Proverbs 31:10-31 ( KJV ) 10Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 11The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. 12She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. 13She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. 14She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. 15She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. 16She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. 17She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. 18She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. 19She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. 20She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. 21She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. 23Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. 24She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. 25Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. 26She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. 27She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. 28Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. 29Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 30Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. 31Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
Now let’s break it down to see what the woman at home does all day:
Right there in the beginning, Lemuel’s Mama says “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil” (vs. 11). You see a husband trusts his wife to be “creative” with what the Lord provides through the husband. Let’s keep looking because the King’s Mama explains some of the creative things that the virtuous woman does with little (verses 12-18):
12She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
She honors her husband with her thrifty ways. She appreciates her husband’s hard work, even when he is not able to collect a huge wage.
13She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
She is not afraid to learn how to sew and make clothing from the materials that are available to her. She does it willingly, meaning no one forces her to do it.
14She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
In the days when this was written women sometimes walked miles to get meat, milk, cheese, flour and other grains and water.
Today, sometimes a thrifty woman has to travel (usually in a car) to the grocery store that has the best prices. Also, in today’s times many thrifty women use a computer and the news paper to clip coupons for discounts on food and other merchandise.
15She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. 16She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. 17She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. 18She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
In Biblical times women would rise early so that they could begin preparing food for the day. For example, the dough for bread was started early in the day and making bread took 5-6 hours to finish because you must wait for the dough to rise a few times before it was ready to bake (of course she was multi-tasking, doing other things while she waited). Also, women had to walk to a well to draw water for the day – they carried large containers and filled them, returning home with the heavy load. Did you know that one gallon of water weighs nearly 8 pounds? Women sometimes were blessed with other women to help in the home too – these servants needed to be fed. In Biblical times the men were away so many times it was left to the women to purchase land that was needed to plant seeds that would be harvested later for food. The woman not only purchased the land, she planted and kept the garden when necessary. Doing it early in the morning was much more comfortable than in the heat of the day. It takes great strength and endurance to keep a garden/vineyard and when the sun sets many times she was back out there in the field.
Today, although many of the burdens of preparation have been made easier, the woman still needs to prepare meals. A thrifty woman will see that making meals from “scratch” ingredients are sometimes much more economical than purchasing prepared meals to heat and eat. Rising early to tend to a garden is still something that women today do. Sunset does not bring an end to a woman’s work – there is always something to do because “a woman’s work is never done”.
And look at what comes next, more work (verses 19-22), back to the seamstress theme :
19She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. 20She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. 21She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
Do you see that? She was not always purchasing her cloth, sometimes she made the cloth. And not only did she make sure that her family was properly clothed; she gave to the needy as well – she is a generous lady, this virtuous woman. And even her own clothing was handmade of fine linen.
Today we have many options for clothing. Women at home can find bargains on the internet. They can network with other women to share clothing between families. They can donate gently worn clothing to thrift shops. They can even make clothing so much more easily with the invention of modern sewing machines. All of this takes time and effort. It is work to keep your family properly clothed.
More about clothing – not just material things (verses 23-25):
23Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. 24She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. 25Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. 26She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
Everyone knows her husband and so what she does with her time is also quite well-known. We see in this section that she not only makes the fine linen, but she hand-delivers it to her clients; who are the merchants in the town. Remember up in verse 22 it said that she makes her own clothing – well she wears not only those clothes, but she wears the attitude that shows honour and strength and she is positive about the future as well. This virtuous woman is also wise and kind.
Today women still have opportunity to honour their husbands. Her attitude and speech still reflect greatly on her husband. Women should never speak poorly of their husbands. They are working hard to provide for the family and everything the wife does should be in light of helpfulness. When times are tough, remember that we are called to “rejoice in the Lord always’ (Phil 4:4) and to “be kindly affectioned one to another” and “tenderhearted” (Romans 12:10; Ephesians 4:32). Speaking ill of your husband not only goes against these Biblical principles, but it also tears down his reputation. It takes wisdom and great work to protect his reputation. Here are some ideas about how you can respect your husband and protect his reputation. I wrote it over at WCWTK: How to Respect Your Husband: 7 Helpful Hints.
And finally, Lemuel’s Mama sums it all up like this (verses 27-31):
27She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. 28Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. 29Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 30Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. 31Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
This virtuous woman is running the household and because of this she is never idle. Like I said earlier: “a woman’s work is never done”. Her children and her husband praise her for all she is doing – but that is not why she does it. She does it because she fears the LORD (a reverent kind of fear, not terror). She has a reputation too; everyone knows the godly women.
Women at home are well known locally. Indeed, communities know the virtuous women; they are the ones who are active in caring for the community. They are the ones who speak up when the neighborhood park is in need of repair or upkeep. They are the ones who notice when crime is up and they often speak to the community leaders to get public safety programs in place. They are the ones that call the city council representatives or the mayor when attention is needed. They are active and they get results. It takes work to care for the husband, the children and the community.
I am speaking out for Women at home because I have had the experience and honor to have been one of them. Women’s work at home is an every day thing. Women at home are at the heart of everything that happens. They are busy working to keep the family together. They are vital to the balance that God so intricately designed. Women at home are at the center of the family, raising independent thinkers to become the community and government leaders of the future. We owe them much honour and to say that a woman at home has never worked a day in her life is nothing but a lie from someone who is too proud to bow to our Almighty God and Father. It takes a strong woman to be at home. The Bible lists many strong women, take a look at what my friend David wrote over at WCWTK about strong women: 5 Strong Women from the Bible
I cannot help but end this post with another famous quote from the Bible. I share this verse because it reminds us of the root of this controversy:
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before the fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
This post is linked up at Best Post of the Week, Proverbs 31 Thursdays, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home and Titus 2sday. There are some really fantastic articles on these linkys, please take a couple minutes to read some of the other posts over there.
“women at well” The Krasna project
“spindle & distaff” Wikipedia.org