“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 (NKJV)
God’s Truth is awfully inconvenient sometimes. He meddles in our lives forcing us to deal with things we would prefer to ignore. I recently came across a movie that was released in 2007, which I had never heard of before. The movie, “The Monstrous Regiment of Women”, is based on a John Knox essay from the 16th century with the same name. It is in direct opposition to everything that is culturally prevalent today. The concept, as presented by the movie, makes me intensely uncomfortable, even though I agree with its basic premise. It deals with God’s plan for man as leader and woman’s functional role in the home. I have not seen the movie, but while watching the trailer I could feel the rebellion rising, clearly indicating that there is still work to be done in my heart.
I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s at the beginning of the women’s liberation and feminist movement. Open rebellion was evidenced in women’s rallying cry of “No man is going to tell me what to do”, the burning of foundational garments, and the roar of collective rage from women who felt they had been dominated by men since the beginning of time. It continues to be the catalyst for the unravelling of the family unit and the rapid downward slide of our culture. The social implications have been profound.
Unfortunately, I have historically had a rather schizophrenic view of a woman’s role in the family–an uneasy blend of Biblical truth and cultural examples. I was raised in a Christian home, but didn’t really grow up possessing a Biblical worldview. The focus in my family, while Christian, was one of education as the principal pursuit in life. I was a product of the public schools and not really aware of the impact that educational mind-set had on my views. Even my experience while attending a Christian college wasn’t much different. The Christian life, while encouraged, was more of an addition to, not the primary focus of, the intellectual and academic process–a parallel path, not necessarily intersecting or completely foundational to the academic experience.
Our culture encourages women to attend college and enter the workforce after graduation, somehow expecting them to manage, and successfully juggle, their professional and personal lives. It is never suggested that a woman could, or even should, consider leaving her professional life to focus on a husband or children. Women are encouraged to take care of themselves first (personally and professionally) as the means of becoming a better wife and mother, preserving the career that will give them so many more options in life. The result has been the abdication of woman’s God-ordained role and sphere of influence.
I fully support women developing all of their God-given talents and abilities through education and career, but not at the expense of the family. A woman may do many things with her life, but her primary focus must always be that of her family if God blesses her with one. There will never be a professional accomplishment that can equal the joy of seeing things of eternal value beginning to bear fruit in the hearts of your children.
I have been fortunate to have had both a wonderful professional life and a traditional “stay-at-home” life, working as a nurse until I found myself (after twelve years of married life) joyously expecting our daughter. My husband and I decided early on in our married life that, when we started a family, I would stay home to raise our children in the traditional model. I have never regretted that decision. The addition of homeschooling to our lives was an incredible blessing to me and to our family.
It has been a constant frustration dealing with people’s attitudes about my choice to set aside a professional career to stay at home with my daughter. When people found out I was a “stay-at-home” mom, their eyes would seem to glaze over, a look of pity would come over their faces, and they would begin to treat me like some kind of village idiot.
I remember with clarity one such example. I was at a business dinner with my husband and daughter, entertaining an associate of my husband’s (with his family). During the initial conversation at the restaurant, the expected question was asked of me: “So, what do you do?” I briefly considered telling them a couple of things: “I am a nurse.” (technically true, although I was not currently practicing as one) or ”I stay at home and home school my daughter.” However, this particular night I was feeling a bit feisty, so I opted for: “I am an educational facilitator”. The “oohs and aahs” were immediate and accompanied by this response: “That must be an incredibly interesting job!” I would have gotten away with that illusion except for the resounding laughter emanating from my husband and daughter. This, of course, caused our guests to ask what they were laughing about. When I explained that ”educational facilitator” meant I stayed home and homeschooled my daughter, they lost all interest in anything else I had to say and I largely became invisible for the rest of the evening.
I do not know why we place so little value in our culture on the contribution women make as they raise their children to be the next generation of leaders–God clearly doesn’t. He has commanded us to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Women are the emotional “glue” that holds the family together. What she brings to the marriage and the family are essential for its continuation. Her husband’s willingness to trust his heart to her keeping is a testament to the depth of her love for him. Her gifts and talents are a complement to, and will likely be different from those of her husband’s–both are essential for God’s plan to establish and advance His kingdom. God clearly intended the family to be central to His purposes when He created Adam and Eve and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply in the earth. The family unit is necessary to fulfill His dominion mandate.
My daughter and I have had many conversations about career and family. As a junior in college, she is beginning to consider what God would have her do with her life and her education. While my husband and I have, on occasion, wished that God had called her to an easier career path than ballet, we have supported her as she has faithfully walked in the direction that He has led her. She could easily have done well in any number of other academic pursuits as God has blessed her intellectually in math, science, languages, writing, and in the study of history. We don’t yet know how all of these will fit into God’s call to the arena of ballet, but we do know that God has a specific purpose for each and every one of them.
In many ways my daughter has had to deal with some of the same misconceptions as I did when I stayed at home. Very few people think that dancers have any academic prowess. Most don’t understand the kind of problem-solving, memory skills, and intellectual abilities required of a dancer. It would be a serious mistake to underestimate our daughter’s intellectual capabilities. When God chooses to give her a husband and a family, she will use every one of those abilities to bless her husband and children. Hopefully, she will never have to hear from others, as I did, that staying home to raise a family is a waste of a good college education.
There is no doubt in my mind that, even though I have had a fulfilling career, I was never happier than when I was at home. Even now as I have returned to that career to help pay for my daughter’s college expenses, I must admit to wishing I was still at home. I don’t believe most women today have any idea what they have lost, both spiritually and culturally, by rebelling against God’s plan for them to remain prominently in the home. Many have lost the protection of God and have paid a tremendous price in divorce, rebellious children, and an increase in health problems, now equal to men in many ways. Our rebellion as women has caused many men to flee from their committment and responsibility as principal provider and protector of the family. It doesn’t appear that women have gained anywhere near what they thought they were going to by choosing to compete with men in the financial market place.
Ultimately each woman must seek God’s perfect plan for her life, searching for how He would have her use the gifts and talents that have been given–each day adjusting as necessary when the Spirit whispers to her heart. Only in obedience to God will she find peace, joy, and rich fulfillment.
“A wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.” Proverbs 14:1 (NKJV)
“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Proverbs 30:10-12 (NKJV)
“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her; many daughters have done well, but you excel them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 30:28-30 (NKJV)
Copyright © 2010 by Susan E. Johnson
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