The Thinking Housewife is one of the few people online that I know who questions the hystorical (spelling deliberate) myths of huge populations of women in the work place in previous centuries. Even the most liberal educators of the early 20th century did not teach the things about women that modern religious people are teaching today. I have outlined some of my thoughts on the matter here.
Invented religious history claims that women were always workers earning money, either at home, or, after the industrial revolution, in the workplace of factories and offices: That this belief came to light only in the last decade (to me, at least) made me suspect it was another fabrication of the left, marketed to religious people, capitalizing on the women mentioned in the Bible and making them all career women—from Deborah the judge, the Proverbs 31 woman, to the New Testament mention of Priscilla, and Lydia, the seller of purple. They have missed the spiritual point of the scriptures regarding these women, and I leave it to my viewers to comment on this.
Changing history to dictate the present culture:An historical account that I read some time ago told how Communists tried to get people to change the old way of life and embrace their new culture. They tried to erase all knowledge of the past, the way people lived, the roles of women and men, and so forth, and re-write history so that the young people would not go back to the old ways. This revisionist view of women having always been considered a statistical part of the work force is no different. It is an attempt to change people's beliefs and dictate their way of life.
Fairy tales invented to prove points:
While I get letters every day saying that my view of history is a fairy-tale or a fantasy, is not the revisionist view of history even more fantastic? That all women, excepting royalty or the very rich of the 1800's and earlier labored in the fields all day and then gave birth in the fields, getting up afterwards to continue plowing the fields; that all women were beaten by men; that all women earned money; that all women were part of the work-force; that all women of previous centuries who were not royalty lived in putrid poverty with no water, no medicine, no education, no clothes, no shelter, no rights, and no life!
Is not this the same as taking the cases where women gave birth in a car on the way to the hospital and making a claim that all women in the 20th or 21st century had to give birth in cars? Claiming that women as a population always plowed or always earned money is to ignore a great part of the population in much the same way that pollsters choose only a certain amount of people to interview. This kind of thinking leaves out a great number of people; people who lived differently than the perceived norm.
The myth of women behind the plow:
Popular myth today claims that women of the 1800's and earlier were working women because they "plowed all day." Religious people even claim that women of the past "labored in the fields all day, every day," and therefore, were career women. De Toqueville's quotes indicate that American women at least, were busy IN THE HOME and they were held in high esteem because of it. These pretentious historians believe that all women of the past plowed, but how would they go about proving it? Furthermore, they claim that women plowed all day, gave birth in the field and then got up and continued plowing. These ridiculous claims leave out the part of the population of women that saw the house and home as their domain. Before the tractor was invented, plowing was not done by women unless in emergencies, in the absence of able-bodied men, during war, illness, or when men were away. I lived in rural America, as did many people in the 50's, and never saw women plowing in the way that modernists describe. It is possible that some women did, but not full time and not as a career. How would anyone prove that ALL women were occupied in "plowing."
You can't have it both ways:
Some books will say that before women's liberation, or feminism, women were not allowed to work outside the home. Later, authors attempted to show that the feminist movement was not necessary, because past centuries of women worked in the fields all day (after having a baby, of course). This is one way in which so called authorities talk out of both sides of their mouths. Can anyone trust such inconsistent reporters? The Bible tells the truth consistently, and we can trust its author for guidance in our lives.
Modernists sometimes teach that Ruth, in the Bible, was part of the work force, in the fields: but she was simply going to get something that was provided free for poor people. She was not paid for picking up free grain to provide flour for making her own bread, nor was she paying for the grain. She was not employed in the fields. She was getting something that the Jews provided free for the poor in the corners of their fields. She was not laboring in the fields as a career for money. Gleaning made Ruth no more of a career than going to a food bank gives a poor man a career when times are tough and he has to get free food. Whatever the matter, it is doubtful that Ruth worked in the fields after marrying Boaz and starting her family.
Sometimes modernists teach that most women died in childbirth, and at the same time say that women plowed the fields.
Some people insist that women were weak and uneducated, confined, with too many children, sickly and dying in pre-modern times, and yet they worked in the fields all day or plowed. There were some who did work in the fields but anyone with a knowledge of farming knows that it is seasonal work. There will be planting, watering and harvest when farmers are busiest. Family farms always included the women and children, but it does not mean women rebelled against being keepers at home.To listen to revisionists, one would think women were working in the fields in the middle of winter, 8 hours a day, every day, or even when there was no planting to be done.
To claim that most women plowed or worked in the fields is to be unaware of women in cities and towns where there were no fields. How would women do that if they lived in the city? How could they have plowed if they were denied their right to work, in past centuries, as many people claim? Which is it: women of the past were forced to labor in the fields plowing with a hand plow, or they were not allowed to work? Many people are sure that most women of the Victorian era died in childbirth. If this were so, how could they be plowing?
Why did crops fail when the men were gone?
A history book I own which was written shortly after the gold rush states that during the gold rush (1848-1855) in the Oregon Territory when men left their farms to find gold, the crops rotted. Where were all these women who "worked in the field"?
There are people who have kept photograph albums of their relatives in the Victorian era, with diaries and letters showing what all the women did at that time, and these records are more consistent with the observations of Alexis de Tocqueville, who visited America in the 1830's:
.*In America, far more than elsewhere, the lines of action of the two sexes have been clearly divided. You do not find American women directing the external affairs of the family, or entering into business or into politics; but neither do you find them obliged to undertake the rough labours of the field, or any other work requiring physical strength. There are no families so poor as to form an exception to this rule. - Alexis de Toqueville
How would anyone go about proving that all women in the past worked for money or that all women in the past plowed? It is an argument that is not worth the time it would take, because to the Biblical woman; to the Christian, all traditions worth following must be rooted in Biblical example, Biblical command, Biblical logic, and Biblical conclusion.
Mind your own business:
Women would be better off to go about the business of the home than to spend too much time trying to refute those who have a new program for them. Don't you see what these arguers against women at home are doing? They are distracting you from being excellent in your work and making you nervous and unsettled. Look at the most religious women you know whose place is in the home. Are they distressed about the things other people are saying about women at home? Does it seem to bother them at all that part of the world thinks they should not be home? Observe them as they shop for food or fabric, and as they go about the business of managing the home. They are business-like, seriously and intensely concentrating on the next task at hand. They seem never to be bored and never to long for the world and its sorrows. They seem industrious in the management of their homes.
The Bible, our ultimate standard of living:
What does it matter if an entire century of women went to work in the fields? Would not those who had been taught the word of God want to change their lives to follow the scriptures, rather than follow the customs and commandments of men? If an entire generation of women rushed off to work outside the home for some national emergency, as they did during World War 1 and 2, would that be a guide for us to follow? Maybe you had an aunt or a grandmother who worked during the war to help in the war effort. Does that mean that you should use it as your standard?
We may learn from history, but the Bible is our ultimate authority and standard. History can show us the outcome when people do not follow God's law, and the rewards when they do. Measured against the Bible, it can be useful for our lives, but when it comes to a choice between what people did and what God says to do in his Word, we must follow Him.
Inductive reasoning, verses deductive reasoning:
I have written in comments previously about the matter of deducting a truth based on your own experience or based on God's word. Inductive reasoning says, "The Bible says women should be keepers at home, but I had an aunt who did not believe it. My aunt was a nice person and she did just fine in her life, even though she didnt follow the scriptures."
Deductive reasoning says, "Even though my aunt did okay with her life, and she is a nice person, I could not live as she did. The Bible is my guide, not other people." Revised historical accounts seem to imply that because women of the past worked in the fields, women of today must work in the factories or the offices, and that they do not need to be keepers of the home. This reasoning leaves out Bible as the standard to follow.
The French writer, Alexis de Toqueville observed in his visit to America in the mid-1800's, that women, rich or poor were at home:
"For my part, I say this without hesitation: although the American woman rarely leaves her domestic sphere and in certain respects is very dependent within it, nowhere does she enjoy a higher status. And now, as I come near to the end of this book in which I have recorded so many considerable achievements of the Americans, if I am asked how we should account for the unusual prosperity and growing strength of this nation, I would reply that they must be attributed to the superiority of their women." Alexis de Toqueville, Democracy in America, 1830.
A woman's domestic sphere includes anything she needs in order to fulfill her obligation to guide the home and manage it. In spite of these observations by past historians, many modernists will claim that all women of the past were laborers or out plowing in the fields as a career.
Followers of God are different:
Followers of God's word in any era live completely different than the world around them and do not go down the broad path with the prevailing culture. It is easy to spread the belief that everyone did the same thing at a certain time in history, but it would be impossible to prove it. One thing that is certain: the Bible as the word of God is our pattern to follow. History can always be written to suit those in power, but the Word of God is truth.
John 17:17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Some people think truth is what they see around them, instead of looking to the Bible for their authority:
There are those who see things as they are now, and assume that life was always this way. Some people grew up never having seen a woman in the home full time, and believe it could never have been any different. It may be that a generation never saw a woman at home full time, but that cannot be the authority for living. The Bible is the final authority. It cannot be viewed as just another history book, but a book of life. Man must conform his life to the scriptures, instead of trying to conform the scriptures to his life.
In the past that I lived in, people generally understood the Proverbs 31 woman, and were not likely to create an issue over it. Lately though, there has been an attempt to turn her into a real estate agent and a garment designer and ultimately part of the work force. In their attempt to turn her into a factory worker and a wage earner, many people have failed to find the real Proverbs 31 woman, who carefully watched the activities of her home life. Unable to get people to reject the teachings of the Bible, many modernists attempt to teach a different meaning of the Bible. They will say that the women were career women, just like the women today.
In the unlikely event that it be proven that women all went to work in the 1800's, should Christian women do it, or will they follow the teachings of the Bible?
In the past, men were proud of being providers and protectors and were ashamed if their wives worked. It was a shame (and still is) for a man to put his wife in the workforce if he is able bodied and if he claims to be a follower of the Bible. Even more shameful are the ministers, preachers and religious leaders who have their wives working. The world is expected to go the the way of the crowd, but Christians should be guided by the word of God and have a different standard in their homes. That will mean putting up with some pressure, but when you follow God's word, you have a host on your side.
Psalm 18:30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.
Many women at home did earn money: Though they sold their extra eggs or milk, or sewed for someone, it does not mean that they indulged in full time careers and neglected their homes. Extra produce that you grow yourself does not always make it into the freezer or the canning jars. There is nothing wrong with selling the fruit of your labors and your talents to your friends and neighbors or others, nor is there anything wrong with earning money. However, a woman's ability and willingness to earn money can be easily exploited or capitalized upon by others, who will distract her from her real job of keeping the home. It must be given moderation. Taylor Caldwell's excellent essay in the "American Opinion" magazine explained the problem of women earning money being an attraction to weak men who did not want to be providers.
Guard your home life:
Women need to guard their homes from many things: overcrowding her time, over-burdening her with extra work, and other things that rob the home. If over-taxed with extra activities, women, who are to be regarded as the weaker vessel, will crack under the strain and suffer many problems in their home lives. Guard against others expecting you to bring in money, lest they begin to depend on it and demand it from you. I am sure we have all observed women whose husbands wanted them to work temporarily, ending up working permanently because their expenses grew to envelope the extra money; money that was not so "extra" after awhile.
The scriptures are instructions to a special group of people:
The scriptures are written to those who have been converted, that they may be God's own peculiar people (1st Peter 2:9) . Titus 2 was written to instruct Christian men and women on their conduct, so that the word of God be not blasphemed. It would make them different from the rest of the world. Women were to guide the home, teach their children, love their husbands and, as they grow older they are to teach the younger women about these same things. That is the role of women in the church and those who follow it will be pleasing the Lord. Living Titus 2 and other scriptures pertaining to women and the home, sets women apart from the world.
Church members are not supposed to follow the wisdom of the world:
In saying "church" I am referring to the body of people who have obeyed the gospel and worship according to the example and practice of the New Testament. They are not to follow the prevailing culture, but the word of God. Though the women in the world around them may proclaim superior freedom than the ultimate freedom taught by Christ, the women of God will always be different from the world: "For the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God." (Ist Corinthians 3:19). People on the outside will think that following the Biblical role of woman is silly and unnecessary, but God thinks their wisdom is foolish. What will it be? Will we chose the wisdom of the world, or the way of God, which never changes?
My main objection to the popular culture regarding this issue, is the attempt to turn women into workhorses whose only worth is the amount of money they earn. Another concern is the lack of appreciation of women who are content to be home looking after their husbands and houses and not meddling with the world. Women should be valued for the dignity they bring to the home, and for the virtue they teach their children. This is like the women of old, who were gracious believers in their faith and who lived quietly at home, distinctively different than the prevailing culture in any era. Following the Titus 2 role gives Christian women a chance to be different than the world and to bring attention to the teachings of our Lord.