Tag Archives: shame

Raising Homemakers or Clipping Wings?

I joined the CBE – Christians for Biblical Equality group on Facebook and have gotten into the habit of checking in every day to see the interesting posts members share.  A couple days ago, one man, Erik, shared an article that had brought his wife to tears of shame and guilt that morning:

You’ve Trained Her in the “How” of Homemaking, Have You Trained Her for the “Why?” by Jennifer at Raising Homemakers.  This is a blog about clipping your daughters wings – training her to see her role in life as a subordinate to her husband whose sole work consists of cooking for and cleaning up after others.

Here are some highlights lowlights:

“If your husband were to come home, unexpectedly, right now… what would he find? A cared for home and family, or chaos and disorganization?”

Here was one excellent comment:  “... If you were at a paid job and weren’t doing the work that’s expected of you then your employer would be unhappy. So, depending on what you and your husband expect from your role at home, are you upholding your end?”

Exactly. Our husbands are gone all day, working for us and the children, sometimes doing work they don’t particularly enjoy, in conditions they may not find pleasant.   On the other hand, we are in the sanctuary of our homes, typically spending our time as we see fit.

Another reader wrote to me privately: “Am I doing my part? Sometimes yes, most times no.  Truly makes you take a step back and say if I was working at a real job, would I still be employed?” 

We must train our daughters that keeping their homes clean and orderly, working heartily as unto the LORD (Col. 3:23) is their reasonable service (Romans 12:1) and is necessary, that the Word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:5).

 

Although the intent of the author is clearly to encourage wives to put their best foot forward when it comes to caring for their home and husbands and “training” their daughters, the effect is quite the opposite.  Like Erik’s wife, most of us women feel the weight of impossible standards bearing down on us.  We can never do enough or be enough.  We feel judgment when our house is not perfectly tidy and our children are not perfectly behaved and our appearance isn’t perfectly put-together.  We also feel like we are losing ourselves when we don’t have any space in our lives to spend our time “as we see fit,” but are always tied to the responsibility of assisting and caring for others.  And on top of that, if we are not completely happy while trying to meet these impossible standards, we again feel like we’ve failed.

There are women who are naturally inclined to order and homemaking who could read this post and nod in agreement, without sensing the undercurrent of sexism and shaming.  But the truth is, we women come in a wide variety of personalities and giftings, and our value and worth does not come from where we land on that spectrum.  It comes directly from our Father, who imprinted us with His image so that we can display His glory as creative, life-giving people (whether that is in creating meals, sermons or spreadsheets…whatever our work may be).

crafty people maker

What I think the author gets wrong about homemaking, is that God does not command all women to be June Cleaver.  In fact, He doesn’t command any women to be June Cleaver.  God does not tell women that they are solely responsible for the laundry and meals.  The other side of that coin is that God does not tell men that they are off-the-hook when it comes to helping out with the household upkeep.  God tells both men and women to steward creation, but He leaves it up to each couple to decide how they are going to accomplish that in their own home and family.

Additionally, the author seems to be completely blind to her privileged position as a full-time homemaker.  Most families cannot survive on one income in today’s economy.  Yet the author makes it seem that the only way for a wife to be living in God’s will is to be keeping a clean and orderly home.

I would also object to the image of the husband as the disgruntled boss who inspects the home upon his arrival at the end of the day to see if you are holding up “your end”, as though marriage is merely an exchange of goods.  Excuse me for choosing to see my husband as my friend and partner in life – and as my co-warrior in ushering in God’s kingdom in our family and neighborhood.  At the end of the day, if work and child-care took precedence over the dirty dishes, there is nothing I appreciate more than family clean-up time.  What would take me two hours on my own can take half an hour when Logan and the kids are all helping me.  We are a team and we understand that we all need each other to pitch in and serve together.  In this way, we are also training our sons to take responsibility for their own messes and to appreciate that putting all of the homemaking responsibility on one person robs that person of pursuing what makes them truly human.  By dividing the work evenly, we all have at least a little bit of time each day to spend “as we see fit.”

It is imperative that we allow our daughters to be fully human – i.e. to dream and explore and discover; to follow their aspirations and giftings and to follow God’s prompting, even if that leads them into the workforce.  We must teach them to find their identity in God, not in their home or husband or career or any other category.  When we understand ourselves only in those categories and not in the light of God, we will lose sight of who we truly are.  Let us train allow our daughters to fly.

 

That’s my two-cents.  Here are some of my favorite comments in response to this post from the CBE Facebook community:

Deborah: Ok, maybe I’m jaded.  I work AND keep my home clean and orderly.  I really don’t see a reason to continue enabling bad habits in men of not being capable of both.  I teach my son how to keep his room clean, fold his clothes, and when he’s old enough, how to cook his own meals, babysit, and do his own laundry.  Because not doing that is to severely handicap him.  If he wants a maid, he can hire one, but I will make darn tootin’ sure he doesn’t think he’s going to marry one.

Joy:  The “real job” bit is offensive.  While supposedly elevating homemaking, she actually degrades it.

Beata:  “Our husbands are gone all day, working for us and the children…” – nowadays many women work outside the home too.  Why only women should clean, cook, etc.?

Bethany:  Another reader pointed out that this woman fails to recognize that it is often physically, mentally, and psychologically easier to go to work, with less demands, less headaches, less need to train your co-workers to be competent, and more immediate, measurable rewards (e.g. paychecks, health insurance, breaks, etc.).  The author responded by telling this woman to stop “making excuses” and get to work, because “God commands it” so it doesn’t matter if it’s not easy.  She tried to phrase it slightly more politely than that, but that was the essence of her response.  I was appalled.  Homemaking is valuable and, to a certain degree, necessary.  But it is not easy, and it is not always rewarding or lovable (very often, it’s the complete opposite).  To ignore this fact is disingenuous, especially from those who are attempting to elevate homemaking as a woman’s “highest calling” (barf).

Brian: Is there anything particularly wrong with a woman that wants to stay home and take care of the house and kids?

Bethany: No, not at all.  But to say it’s her only option and that God commands her to always have a clean house is false, and it makes a lot of women feel not only as if they’re failing at being mothers/wives/homemakers, but that they are failing at being Christians too.

Erik:  It is the pressure created by unrealistic expectations that is harmful.

Deb: Gak!  I guess single women have no worth, because there’s no one to clean up after.

Faith:  We taught both our daughters and sons to cook and do laundry…they taught their friends in college and tech school…Such skills are helpful to everyone.  We view the house as everyone’s responsibility.  We are each supposed to pick up after ourselves, wash dishes, cook, etc…Sometimes we do divide chores traditionally…but it is our choice to do it, not a Biblical mandate.

Faith:  What about training our daughters to be Kingdom people…seeking first the kingdom of God…taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, healing the sick, raising the daed…feeding the hungry and ministering to the widows, the orphans and strangers…caring for children and family is important…but so is the kingdom of God.

Mabel: southern Baptist seminary has homemaking classes for the women and theology classes for the men.

Ronda:  I am so sad to hear this about Southern but not surprised.  I am an alum but graduated when women at Southern could be theologians, apologists, pastors, evantelists, ethicists, counselors, etc.

Mabel: This article is NOT about if anyone wants to be a housewife, it is about telling ALL wives that’s what they should do and the reasons why.  It says we “MUST” train our “DAUGHTERS” as if sons don’t need to learn to keep a clean house.  It is all the women’s “role.”  She aslo accuses women of not doing their part, her answer to a reader’s question “am I doing my part” is “Sometimes yes, most times no.”  She shames women and accuses them of not doing their part “MOST TIMES.”

Billie: Do we want our sons to get married just to have someone to cook and clean for him?  That would be raising a very shallow child.

Bronwen: I’m a bit saddened by the implication that the only useful way to spend time with our kids is to “teach and train” them. Yep, that’s PART of a parent’s job…As a chaplain in a government school (in Australia) and as someone who has worked a lot with kids in churches, one of the things I hear most from kids is that they wish that a parent spent more time with them and listened to them.

Julie: My DH is from America.  Sometimes we have mused between ourselves, is the USA so devoted to slavery that, having lost black slavery, they must now create a new slave class to do all their cooking, cleaning and thankless chores for them?  It sure looks like male headship is less about exegesis and more about preserving male privilege and entitlement, no matter what.  Who knew that servitude could be spun to look so shiny, glossy and “godly?”

Joy:  Has perfect housekeeping become a bit of an idol?  I remember Martha and Mary had some tension over this.


Check out this great post from “Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood”: God is Not Your Boss

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A Response to Matt Walsh: “Christian women: feminism is not your friend”

scrabble-feminism

Yesterday, popular Christian blogger Matt Walsh wrote a post entitled, “Christian women: feminism is not your friend.”  I recently subscribed to Matt’s blog because I’ve enjoyed several of his posts, which were humorous and smart.  After reading this particular post, I felt compelled to respond.  As a life-long Christian, I think I have a good understanding of Matt’s perspective.  He’s clearly a great guy, husband, father, and a talented writer.  I also deeply appreciate Matt’s passion for unborn children.  All life is sacred; on that we agree 100%.  What I’d like to add to the conversation is the perspective of a faithful believer who feels comfortable with the term “feminist.”

I am keenly aware of the negative reaction to that word among many Christians.  As I was growing up, I heard horrible things about feminists and how they were wreaking havoc on our country’s values and heritage.  In fact, a woman showing a back bone in her family, work and church relationships, or resistance to the status quo, was labeled a feminist, almost as though the term were synonymous with “bitch,” with the implication being that she was rebellious or sinful.  The problem is, we are generally blind to where the status quo is nothing more than a cultural norm.  It is a fact that we are more likely to come to our conclusions about issues according to the consensus of our peers, rather than through logic and critical thinking, as much as we believe we have been logical and critical.  As much as Matt or I blog, it is likely that readers’ viewpoints will remain unchanged.  You can see this from the comments under Matt’s post.  Those who already agreed enjoyed his post, those who disagreed were agitated.  It is in relationship that viewpoints shift.  Therefore, it is very important that we get out of our comfort zones, meet and listen to people of differing perspectives, get to know them and where they are coming from, and honor them as individuals bearing the image of God.  That is how our perspective grows and we gain a fresh understanding of our own beliefs as well as the beliefs of others.

So, let me respond to some of Walsh’s points about feminism.  I believe they could be boiled down for simplicity’s sake to:

1.  Reject the term “feminist” because on the spectrum of feminism there are extremists who advocate for the murder of innocent unborn children, and why would you want to be associated with that?
2. Christianity has always been pro-gender equality, as evidenced by a quote from Thomas Aquinas over 80o years ago.
3.  Feminism is irrelevant now because women can vote and buy property.  Feminists are no longer fighting for equal rights, they are redefining “what constitutes a ‘right’ and what constitutes ‘equality.'”
4.  The pro-life movement is the only equal rights movement left in America – and their biggest opponents are feminists.
5. Men and women are equal in human dignity and intrinsic value, but are not the same because of genetic differences of maleness and femaleness that feminism rejects, which is ruining family stability.

1.  Reject the term “feminist” because on the spectrum of feminism there are extremists who advocate for the murder of innocent unborn children, and why would you want to be associated with that?

If you follow this logic, you will reject the term “Baptist” because the extremist Westboro Baptists are hateful to homosexuals.  There are over 1,400 Baptist denominations in the United States, with a wide spectrum of beliefs ranging from ultra-conservative, King James Only Fundamentalism to ultra-liberal American Baptists.  The adjective “Baptist” does not adequately identify the Biblical interpretation or cultural norms of any given Baptist church.  But I know a kind conversation with a Baptist would help you to understand their perspective.  I am a Baptist and have been misjudged by others because of this term.  So should I drop it?  I also know I have misjudged others on a regular basis because of the adjectives used to describe them.

2. Christianity has always been pro-gender equality, as evidenced by a quote from Thomas Aquinas over 80o years ago. 

Here is another quote from Thomas Aquinas that paints a different picture of women:  “As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence.”–Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, 13th century

I certainly agree with Matt that Jesus Christ granted full equality to women, and I would also suggest that the stories of Old Testament and New Testament women leaders are remarkably counter-cultural, set in a strikingly patriarchal world.  But Christianity also has a dark history of patriarchy, with centuries and centuries of teaching about the subordination of women.

Here are more quotes from theologians who have influenced Christianity:

“[For women] the very consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame.”–Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian (c150-215) Pedagogues II, 33, 22

“Woman is a temple built over a sewer.” –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

“Woman was merely man’s helpmate, a function which pertains to her alone. She is not the image of God but as far as man is concerned, he is by himself the image of God.” – Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius (354-430)

“The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.” – Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546)

“Thus the woman, who had perversely exceeded her proper bounds, is forced back to her own position. She had, indeed, previously been subject to her husband, but that was a liberal and gentle subjection; now, however, she is cast into servitude.” –John Calvin, Reformer (1509-1564)

Here is an even longer list of similar quotes.  It is clear to me that Christianity has an ugly history of sexism that cannot be covered up or ignored.  It is something to examine and root out, as it is contrary to the example we have in Christ Jesus.  Christian feminism that casts a light on sexism and patriarchy in the Church is good.  Christ is cleansing his Bride of all her impurities and it is important to follow where the Spirit is leading.  Many Christian leaders see the releasing of women into ministry as the next big awakening coming to Christianity.

3.  Feminism is irrelevant now because women can vote and buy property.  Feminists are no longer fighting for equal rights, they are redefining “what constitutes a ‘right’ and what constitutes ‘equality.'”

Let me tell you about a few of the relevant issues that Christian feminists are fighting.  Did you know –

In the US (links here here and here):

  • Women make up 51% of the US population – but only 20% of Congress
  • 35 women have served as US governors compared to 2,319 men
  • 71 countries in the world have had female presidents or prime ministers – but not the US
  • US women continue to earn 77 cents to the dollar that men earn, but African- American women earn only 64 cents and Hispanic women make only 56 cents to the dollar.
  • Women comprise 46% of the labor force, but 59% of workers making less than $8/hour
  • The more education a woman has, the greater the disparity in her wages
  • Women earned less than men in 99% of all occupations
  • Women own 40% of all US businesses and employ 35% more employees than all the Fortune 500 companies combined
  • The US is the only major industrialized nation without paid family leave
  • Depression in women has doubled since 1970
  • 38% of girls are molested before turning 18, 16% of boys
  • Only 5% of child sexual abuse is reported to law enforcement
  • 93% of sex offenders describe themselves as “religious”
  • Rape survivors are more likely to suffer from depression, abuse alcohol and drugs, or contemplate suicide
  • 70% of women in the workforce are mothers; yet we have no national paid leave child care or flex time policy

And here’s where it gets really important: Worldwide (links here here here here and here:

  • Women represent 2/3 of the illiterate population
  • In 33% of countries, daughters are not given equal access to school
  • Girls receive less food, less medical care, are married off young, and start bearing children at a young age, affecting lifelong health
  • There are 27,000,000 human beings living as slaves today
  • The average age of trafficking victims is 12
  • Only 1-2% of victims are rescued; 1 in 100,000 traffickers convicted

4.  The pro-life movement is the only equal rights movement left in America – and their biggest opponents are feminists.

Last night, I was wondering what Matt Walsh would say about Affirmative Action.  Funny enough, that’s what today’s post is about.  I would highly recommend reading Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol, about the systemic discrimination, hopelessness and limited economic opportunities facing the people of the South Bronx.  This was a life-changing book for me, and many of my political viewpoints were changed after reading this heart-wrenching book.  Mostly, Kozol’s book gives an eye-opening snapshot of what he calls the punitive, blame-the-poor ideology that has swept our nation.

I do not agree with Matt that the pro-life movement is the only equal rights movement left in America.  As much as I believe in the sanctity of unborn life, I am equally concerned about the sanctity of post-birth life.  One of the primary reasons that women have abortions is because they cannot afford children and will receive little help.  I am also thinking of immigrants, the homeless population, innocent civilian victims of “just wars”, unequal access to health care, lack of resources for single mothers, etc.  To be a Christ follower is to be moved with compassion for the poor.

5. Men and women are equal in human dignity and intrinsic value, but are not the same because of genetic differences of maleness and femaleness that feminism rejects, which is ruining family stability.

One example of a cultural norm that feminists resist, is the trend of labeling qualities as feminine or masculine, so that there is shame for someone who holds qualities that are not typically designated to their gender.  Shame is dehumanizing, thus to shame someone is to sin against them.  Personalities are so complex that this tendency ends up hurting many, many men and women.  Boys are bullied for “being a girl” or “being a sissy,” and girls are restricted from activities deemed unladylike.  I believe this is an important issue to consider.  How does our culture shame men and women who are not stereotypically masculine or feminine?

In an article entitled, “Embracing the Feminine Side of God” on the Red Letter Christian website yesterday , Tony Campolo said, “Not only do I love the feminine in Jesus, but the more I know Jesus, the more I realize that Jesus loves the feminine in me. In a day and age when so many women are trying to rediscover the side of their humanity that the world deems masculine, I find Jesus is helping me to appreciate those dimensions of me the world calls feminine.”

In Matt’s post, he says, “So I urge you: unbind yourself from the bondage of this term that’s become inexorably tied to a demonic dogma that obliterates the unity of the family, drives a wedge between a wife and her husband, and digs a giant chasm between a mother and her child.”  Tell me if that doesn’t sound a little extreme, like Pat Robertson’s infamous characterization of feminism:  “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

For those who consider themselves to be Christian feminists, this issue of “equal but different” is at the heart of the problem.  The Bible is predominantly understood to designate specific roles according to gender, which restricts women from positions of authority in the home or church.  Matt’s language describing feminine and masculine qualities makes me think he is coming from a complementarian perspective.  An egalitarian perspective interprets Scripture to say that women are equally made in God’s image, equally gifted by the Holy Spirit with the same types of gifts as men, and are equally eligible for leadership if that is what God has called them to.  It is a critical issue in the church and can be a contentious topic of discussion.  All I can say is, from my own experience and studies, the egalitarian perspective has rung truer, and I am always excited to share my viewpoints with complementarians who haven’t really considered another perspective.  I would recommend this article by theologian N.T. Wright as a good place to start as you consider another point of view.

I guess I’ll leave off here for now.  I understand that as a blogger, it is smart to be controversial and keep people talking about and visiting your blog.  Matt is really gifted in getting conversations going!  Thank you for reading this and God bless.


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Beautiful and Dangerous: Body=Image; Sex=Symbol

Join Ruth and Becky as they interview Lisa Wells who is the Family Ministries Director at North Harbor Community Church in Topsham, Maine. Lisa is a gifted teacher and musician and a mom of 3 beautiful girls and is married to Dan Wells our lead pastor at North Harbor. The 8 week sermon series is called Beautiful And Dangerous. Lisa’s sermon is part 5 and is entitled, Body=Image; Sex=Symbol and the link to listen to it is here: http://www.northharbor.net/

And here is the link to our interview:

You may also want to watch the Amy Cuddy body language talk that Lisa references.

Be blessed!!!

 

Monday’s VLOG – Fighting for Joy

In this week’s vlog, we attempt to answer a question we received about how to fight for joy while walking through depression.  Becky takes the lead, sharing her own journey through depression.

Previous VLOGS are on our Facebook page.  “Like” us if you’d like to get our posts in your newsfeed!

In this video, we recommend two books:
1,000 Gifts, by Ann Voskamp
The Cry of the Soul, by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman