Friday, March 04, 2005

Do Personal Circumstances Change the Meaning of the Bible?

"One who wants, finds a way. One who does not want, finds a reason." (Russian Proverb)

When Jennie Chancey and I first formed LAF
there was the usual barrage of objections from feminist girls who knew nothing about the home and the family. In response to our articles about women as guards and guides of the home, the questions ranged from "What if my husband dies," to "What if my children become drug addicts?" Here is a partial list of these objections:

What if my husband gets sick?
What if my husband doesn't make enough money to support me?
What if I have talents beyond homemaking? Shouldn't I share them with the world?
What about the women in Victorian times who had to work in the factories?
What about the slaves in America? What about the slaves in Egypt?
What about the serfs in England who had to work in the fields?
What about Deborah, who was a judge, in the Bible?
What about Lydia, who was a merchant?
What about the prophetesses and the deaconesses in the Bible?
What about poor women, single women, women without living parents? What about the women who became famous opera singers, authors or painters?
What if I find I can't keep house?
What if I don't want to be a homemaker?
What if my husband makes me go to work?
What if my husband refuses to work?
What if my husband is lazy and will not work?
What if I have children, even though I am not married?
What if I don't have children, even though I am married? What will I do all day?
What if the government sends all the women to work and all the children to day care?

The list goes on and on, and as a young single girl, I can remember asking questions like this myself, just to sound very smart. Things change once your heart changes and you get married, and even those who have children and no husband, soon discover their minds changing about a lot of things. The presence of someone else dear to your life, will change your thinking in many ways. You are no longer thinking of "me" but of "we," and that makes a big, big difference.

There is no way to answer every single little detailed question in objection to the idea of women being the guides and guards of the home, and the men being the providers.

I don't care about what the slaves did in Egypt, and I don't care about the women in the factories in Victorian times, or the women in the work houses in Edwardian times. What I care about is what the Bible teaches women about how to live.
All these scenes that everyone presents to me to trip me up, remind me of the Pharisees and their attempt to trap the words of Jesus. They were just trying to justify their actions and get out of doing what was right. If a girl really truly wants to do what is right and will bring the greatest blessings on her, and is concerned about having a long marriage and a good home and good children, she will pay attention to what the scriptures teach women to do.
In a time when the non-believing women were loud and pushy and bossy and independent, the holy spirit told women to be busy at home. It was partly to make them different from the world and keep the word of God from being blasphemed, and partly because it is what is best for a woman's make up. We live in a nervous world today and it has increased since women went to work enmasse and left the comforts of the home.

It may have been true that some women worked in factories and let their children run in the streets or put them to work too, but there were, in every single era that has ever existed throughout time, women who followed the Biblical teachings. (We are more enlightened today: we send women to work and leave their children in daycares or the care of others; teenagers roam the streets or become "latchkey kids." )

Yes, there were women who worked in saloons in the days of the wild, wild west, but there were Christian women who did not. There have always been women who managed pubs or worked every day in the market, but those who followed the scriptures knew that their place was in the home. Just because women working as harlots was mentioned in the Bible, does not give women the authority to do it. Christian women will always be different.

Yes, there were women who were slaves, but those who were Christians, did what their Lord taught them to do: take care of their husbands and children and their own homes. So, in answer to the fact that women used to work, or that all women in your country work, I can say I am sure they do, but Christian women who believe the Bible and have a conviction, will follow what it says, not the dictates of the prevailing culture.

No matter what state we find ourselves in, the Bible teaches us that the woman's greatest and most powerful role is as guard and guide of her home and family. That will never change, no matter what the economy does; no matter what the government does; no matter what the prevailing culture does.

It is still possible to be all those things that the Bible teaches. You can give me the weirdest scenario, and I will admit there are always exceptions. Sure, Deborah was a judge, so is that teaching us to become career judges?

Lydia was a seller of purple, so does that mean we all go door to door selling cloth? And yes, there were the slaves in Egypt. Does that mean we should all be slaves and go to work in other people's houses for minimum wage?

We do know that the Egyptian women worked, for example, their midwives (who helped the Israelite women deliver their babies when Pharaoh told them to kill the babies), but we do not know for sure the Israelite slave women in Egypt worked. Many of them, such as the mother and sister of Moses, stayed at home and kept the home for their slave husbands. It is possible that even in the slave era in America, that many women stayed in their cabins having babies and fixing meals for their husbands in the cotton fields. It is impossible to prove that every single woman in the 19th century went to work because she was poor or because she had no husband. It is impossible to prove that every single woman has to go to work today just because her husband doesn't have a high salary.

A lot of things that happened in the Bible were not commands of God, but recorded acts of mankind in rebellion. It showed the consequences of man's behavior when he went against God's principles. Just because there were slaves in Egypt, or Miriam complained about her brother, Moses, does not mean God approved of it. It just showed what happened. It showed the consequences of it. Many times God used such things to make people go in a different direction than they were going.

Rahab ran a public house, and though she found favor with God for her heroic actions, it does not say that God approved of the way she lived, or that we should all become tavern keepers or harlots. The Bible tells the truth about people, but we have to be discerning about whether it is God's will for us all to be like the person in question. We have to read the circumstances around the situation and judge righteous judgement.

We can not say for certain that on every single plantation that every single woman and child worked in the cotton fields. Every one was different, and there were some Christian plantations where women were treated differently. But whatever happened, it does not matter, because Christians with conviction will follow the inspired word of God.

We do not know a lot about the circumstances surrounding these people in the Bible. For one, how old was Deborah? Did she have children at home? Was she neglecting her husband, or did she have a living husband? Was she all alone in the world? It does not matter, because the women who follow the scriptures, will do what God says do, and live by faith, not by sight.

As for whether your husband turns out to be a bum who will not work, Christians know that a man who will not provide for his own is in rebellion. His family will starve and it will be a shame to him. The church is supposed to discipline him. The wife should go back to her parents if her husband will not provide for them, as they did in the past. I knew several girls who took their children and went home to their parents when the husband began drinking. But you can prevent this if you will not marry a man who drinks. If he is lazy before you marry him, marriage won't motivate him for long.

He doesn't give us scriptures like, "The young women should marry, bear children, keep no occasion for the enemy (not bringing reproach and criticism by being a bad housekeeper)," and then make circumstances that are impossible. As in every society and every era, there will be women who will leave their homes and their children and husbands and go to work for money, but that is not a standard for the Christian woman.

The Christian woman will do as the scriptures teach (see Titus 2, which shows what the younger women are to be taught). Christian women sometimes find themselves in temporary situations that are not ideal, but they always have a goal of getting as close to the standard as they can. We hold up that ideal in our minds and look to accomplish the goal of the high calling of Christ.

Taking care of our houses and our children and our husbands is a high calling.

If you have a dream and you set your course, you will likely follow it. If you get started in a different direction, you can get trapped working forever, as many women will testify. You can always find exceptions, but Christian women will be different. That is the bottom line.

Yes, there were women in pioneer days who did not stay home, but they were the exception, not the rule. Christian women knew they had a duty to do at home and in the church. It doesn't mean they stayed in the house all their lives. We are all free to come and go as we need to. Home makers are freer than working women and not tied down to strict schedules. They contribute a great deal to the churches and to the world because of their flexibility and creativity. The blogs show this to be true.
There has been an attempt in the last few years, even by ministers and teachers, to make the Proverbs 31 woman into a real estate agent and a merchant and a full time weaver. They miss the entire principle of the passage: that she was busy and she cared for her own household and that she taught the things that were good and right.
In making her into a career woman, these people put tremendous burdens on young women, who need to be content as wives, mother and homemakers. In the past, when the passage was taught, it was taught as a guide for women to be keepers of the home, finding the best food and making good things for their families. Now, it is taught as an excuse for women to neglect their little ones and compete in the market place.

Women have always worked from home, and always made extra money, but the pressure now is to get them completely away from the family and out of their home for 8 to 10 hours a day. Women who follow God, will look at this chapter with a yearning to be homemakers, not a yearning to sell girdles in the marketplace. Those who follow the scriptures will do so with a discerning heart, not trying to twist them to suit their own will. There is an old saying that people try to change the Bible to fit themselves, instead of changing themselves to fit the Bible.
Titus 2, I Timothy 5:14, Genesis 1 and 2--the purpose of men and women established. Proverbs 31.
June 18, 2008 I am putting this on the theme article section because of the tendency to get these same objections many times over. Rather than explain in detail when these typical objections occur, this article should suffice. If you need to study further, browse through these articles

If a person has a personal conviction deep enough, he can find a way to follow that conviction. If he cannot follow his convictions, it shows that they were not convictions, but preferences, which change with the winds of adversity. When things are convenient or easy, he finds a way to do want he knows to be right, but when it becomes difficult, he finds a reason he cannot.
"One who wants, finds a way. One who does not want, finds a reason."


LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Please note, that when we were growing up, it was easy to get jobs in people's homes. There were women always willing to hire young girls to help them keep house and they would pay us 50cents and hour, which was a lot at that time. I personally have no objection to hiring a young girl if she wants to come and help and learn homemaking. However today the young girls are lured to other places to work and so we sort of have lost our helpers.I would much rather they worked in people's homes, where they would be with mature women, than in some of the places they have to work today. We understood in the old times that some women had to work, because of their circumstances, but something is wrong, when the neighborhoods are empty and the children are latchkey kids and the courts are full of troubled youngsters whose mothers work.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I hope someday these girls will wake up and ask the same questions about the working world, realizing that it is even less stable than marriage, home and family:

What if the company goes broke?
What if my employer doesn't like me?
What if my employer keeps me longer hours than I wish?
What if I lose my job?
What if the workplace is producing things I do not like?
What if the company I work for runs out of money and cannot pay me?
What if I cannot use my talents at work?
What if someone else gets my job?
What if I get all that education and there is no longer any work in that field for me when I graduate?
What if I put all that time into the career and then find out I am not suited to it?
What if I spend all my youth in the workplace and later want to get married but find no one available?
What if I miss out on having children? What if I don't have the money to adopt?
What if there are men in the workplace that are vulgar and ill mannered?
What if I play around all my youth and then want to settle down and marry and no one wants me?

While you are answering this, what about the slaves in Egypt? I understand they were actually paid, and given places to live. Is not some work that women are hired to do, little more than regular slavery, which tells you when you come and when you go, and dictates your time off, and gives you a low salary? What about the women working in factories and poor houses in the previous centuries? Are not some jobs akin to this today? What if you put all all your live into a career and in the end there is no reward? These are some questions I hope these young critical thinkers will ask, and more.

Becky said...

I agree with this. I too, fail to see how Deborah or Anna in the Temple, is some kind of mandate for women today. I care what the actual instructions are for women in the scriptures. I know that Ruth gleaned in the fields, because she was a widow, but does that mean I must do the same? I think Christ gave us better principles to live by in Titus Two and I Timothy 5.14,

Anonymous said...

This argument, "What if..." against staying home is not logical to me.

A two-income family who is using all of their income to pay their bills is just as vulnerable, if not moreso, than a one-income family.

If one of the two income-earners loses their job or becomes disabled, they won't be able to live on the other income either if they have set up their finances that they are depending on both incomes.

In fact, in a single-income home, if the one wage-earner lost their job, the other person is still available to try to add to the family income somehow. Not to mention that having the wife home increases the security of the family. There is someone there to deal with the big and small emergencies.

~ Ann

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Ann, that is a good point. What if I work and then I get sick and can't work anymore? What if the business I work for goes bankrupt and cannot pay me? What if I am unhappy at work? What if someone replaces me? What if it doesn't pay me enough? Be that as it may, there is no use debating with people who simply havent ever experienced the journey of being a wife, mother and homemaker. They are not speaking from personal experience. They do not know the strength of character nor the faith that it will build, when one is the guard and guide of their own home.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Lady of India: I pulled this article out of my draft files. It had nothing to do with you, yet many other people say the same things, over and over. As for the slaves in Egypt, we are not sure the women worked. Many of them stayed home and kept house for their husbands who worked for the Egyptians. As for there not being slavery if people were Christians, you need to tell that to the people who are enslaving others in Sudan and other places. And, also, there were no Christians in the Old Testament. Just keep focused on what Christ told women today to do, and you will not get entangled in the what if's. Again, this was written a long time ago and saved in drafts. I pulled it out of the archives and put it in the theme aricles.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

To reinforce my point: You can hurl any insulting challenge toward me--like what about the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, and what about kidnapped women forced to work, etc., and I will say one thing: yes these things happen: I didn't do it. I had no part in it. I didn't condone it. But no matter WHAT the prevailing culture, those who follow the Lord, and His Word, WILL NOT do those things that violate other human beings. Yes, there are men who beat their wives (that comment comes in every day, as if they think I'm living in the Garden of Eden before drugs and alcohol)--but those who love the Lord with all their hearts minds and souls will also love their wives as their own bodies. Yes there have been matriarchial socieites, but there were always those who followed the Lord and His will. Yes, there is this and there is that, as you young girls are always telling me, but if you are a Christian, you have a renewed mind and you are different than the world. Christian women will be the kind of women that is taught in the last Will and Testament of Jesus Christ. It is difficult for those to understand who have never obeyed the gospel, because they will not hear with the understanding that is given them upon their conversion. Therefore, if you aren't a Christian, or if you are in rebellion against the scriptures, you will always find a way around them, if that is what you want to do. No one is going to arrest you for it or start a blog to name you and derride least, not me. You are certainly welcome to your own ways and your own beliefs and you need not come here if you don't like it.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

"Lydia: Your comments say only blog members can post so Im emailing you.I would ask these negative girls how the what if's help them keep house! I think a lot of women argue and thrive on arguing, just to get out of working at home. The past has nothing to do with whether or not you can cook a meal, take care of a husband, keep the laundry done, show hospitality, etc. What people did in the past, or even quoting something from the Bible about Jezebel is so far off what it takes to be a good homemaker. These people are desperate, pulling scriptures and historical things out of context to enable them to shirk their duties at home. In other words, what does this kind of argument have to do with you being a better homemaker? They really need to get on in life and get busy, an not spend so much time arguing. --Anonymous Friend."

Anonymous said...

You housewives are going to be a thing of the past. Don't you see the world going forward and making progress? We will be living life to the fullest, and you will be locked in your homes. I go to Uni and do not know of one single girl who plans on getting married and keeping house. They will all have fulfilling careers. If Universities graduate so many of these women each year, the working women will outnumber you. In my country, the children are all taken care of by state daycare. It is laughable that you want women to do everything themeselves. You do not have to teach your own kids. You do not have to stay home and just babysit. You can get a job and have some mental stimulation. You do not have to hand make clothes. There are factories that do this.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Jean in Jersey City: I put your comment on the Rude Comments section.

Anonymous said...

In the end, many people use this "what-if" list as excuses. Sometimes young women are looking for reasons they can get out of being homemakers. They don't want to be committed to marriage, home and family. They have excuses. If someone really wants to do what is good, they can find a way to do it. If women really want to come home and be in charge of their own homes, they can do it. It takes faith, grit, determination, whatever. You don't have to provide all kinds of arguments about it. Their hearts have to be right. If they really are convicted deeply that it is the right thing to do, they will live in a small house and try to make it, like our own mothers did.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Fellow Readers,

having read through some of the 'rude comments' presented here, I have found myself necessitated to stop; aghast at the ignorance and myth detractors of the 'choice for home' as I will call it, here, labour under.

to begin with, nothing presented in this blog ever takes personal issue with individuals in a way that runs them down or insults them . Aditionally, when discussing segments of society and ways of life that are contrary to the 'choice for home' a thorough reading of this board's offerings will demonstrate it is the wider issues ideologies and now entrenched societal mores that are under discussion as opposed to the people themselves.

Furthermore, in a world where there are no universal constants, where truth and good are relative and individualism is seen as the ideal standard, surely this does not exclude those who wish to make the 'choice for home'. After all, according to the above ways of thinking, our choice would be just as relevant as any other. and here lies the sticking point. Post modernists are emphatic about issues such as inclusivity and diversity but do not extend this to embrace traditional ways of life such as those to be found in 'western Christianity'. Every other culture, faith, way of life and so forth is championed but this one. If being truly objective, it would be included as just as valid a choice as any other. having studied sociology, psychology and other associated genres extensively at university, (now attending a Christian university studying theology part time) for the most part, i have learned that time and time again, a 'black armband' approach to Christianity and Western civilization has been adopted in the non Christian institutions to the point we ought to be ashamed for even contemplating entertaining traditional Christian life as a viable option.

Additionally, many have stated the 'choice for home' is outmoded, outdated, 'antique, anachronistic and the like. If this is the case, then, we present no threat for we are a relec of the past, unwilling to embrace the 'brave new world' of our time and so on. According to this understanding then, we are no threat as we will eventually and inevitably die out. If this is the case, then? I am left questioning why so many commenters to this blog react so violently? it does not make sense, after all, they're supposed to be tolerant of diversity and inclusive?? Hmm...such violent reactions seem, in light of the above, rather illogical.

this brings me to another point; it would seem illogical to subcontract everything out to do with the running of a home and raising of a family?? Why have to go and work that second job to pay for childcare when one could raise a child without having to pay these costs to these providers? I am well aware many readers will be crying out 'We need to work two jobs that we can pay off our mortgage'. and yes, in many large cities this is the case. herein is revealed an interesting point. the second income is not brought in necessarily, out of one's choice to challenge oneself in the career world, but, more often than not, as an 'ecconomic necessity'. If you were to poll ten couples with children who both work, a majority of them would admit openly in an ideal world the mother (because the vast preportion of women rather than men would tend towards primary position re the childrens' raising) would prefer to be able to do this themselves.
In my nation, till comparitively recently, this ideal WAS the norm. Furthermore, the working world and structure of life meant the primary income erner was not bound up commuting hours and hours to get to work as they are more often than not nowadays, so had more of a chance for family involvement.

Since the 1960's significant shifts ecconomically and societally have put this ideal out of the reach of many. what we as home focused individuals need to do is open up 'choice for home' as a valid option once more, reenstating a situation which would accomodate this.

it is important to realize 'choice for home' does not mean one is forced to leave their intellect at the door, that one cannot engage in their community, earn an income or even study. Far from it (as many articles and links will attest to. what it does mean though, is that the focus can be placed primarily upon the home; that such is valid, good and that healthy homes and families make for more cohesive, harmonious and happy societies.

A closing thought; skills such as cookery, sewing, handicrafts, gardening, artistic endeavours are beautiful gifts to those with whom we share them. Just because A French chef, for instance, trains for years to reach professional excellence, being paid for the role they are filling does not invalidate the home cook's abilities and offerings, or vice versa. A role is just as valid, its outcomes just as worthy whether they earn an income for it or not. Income does not give status or worth. We are much more than an ecconomic unit. though i do not earn a cent for cooking for my husband, family or friends, handspinning wool, silk or alpacca, tending my vegetable garden, herbs and fruit trees or ensuring to the best of my ability our home is clean and decent, these are vital facets of my employ - my profession - that of putting my husband and our family at the fore. I do not lose my individuality - on the contrary, my individuality is what makes my home what it is as opposed to someone else's. As for learning, though i am a student of theology, I ensure my workload and campus time does not take over - the moment it does being the point at which I draw back. Even in the classroom, the complementarian nature of woman and man is espoused. We are no less than one another, we are however different, and this difference is to be embraced and rejoyced over.

Because I put the home first, my husband who works long hours in a difficult job can come home to an oasis away from the madness - a refuge from the storm. We cannot have children; this is evidently god's will; however, if this were to change, the logical step would be to invest my time and energy into the raising and preparation of a precious soul - a young man or woman for the next generation - a sacred calling rather than a drudge or burden. Indeed, speaking of study, the moment my course goes 'on-line' I will be studying from home. This will ensure time is not lost in travelling to campus etc and will further save money (in australia our setup for theology does not lead to indebtedness as with other courses).

Whatever path a reader might be travelling along, may we all travel in peace, love and unity of our Heavenly Father, our Lord and Saviour jesus Christ and the Holy spirit.


Mrs. E.


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