“What do you do?” Neither one of us can see very well in the dimly lit patient lounge.

“Lights out in fifteen minutes!” someone belts down a neighboring hallway. 

“I’m currently in grad school but my husband is a school teacher.” 

“Oh. You’re a housewife.” The label rolls off her tongue like a dirty word. 

My stomach tightens. I think about arguing that I write part-time for a magazine in Seattle, or that I’m legally disabled and therefore not required to work. I don’t. Why am I ashamed? I wonder. Since when has living as a married, dependent woman become a sin?

If you’re a woman from a middle-class family born within the past fifty years, it’s pretty likely you were expected to graduate from high school, attend some sort of trade school or college, then find a job for yourself. As a graduate student, I think education is very good. Women are just as intelligent as men and deserve equal opportunities to challenge their minds and broaden their thinking. We have an entire book of the Bible – Proverbs – devoted to developing wisdom and understanding in all readers.

What about the cultural expectation that women work? This isn’t entirely wrong either. I got my first job when I was sixteen and worked continuously until my accident at twenty-three. The model woman in Proverbs 31 trades textiles and purchases real estate, generating income for her family. 

So when we strip these concept down to the bare essentials we’ll find that our culture’s basic education and career paths for women aren’t evil. Some might even say they’re biblical!

Clearly that’s not reality, you might say. Surely God didn’t plan for families to struggle because neither parent is home, or populations to plateau because fewer adults are having kids?

You would be right. Even if our culture stumbled upon part of the truth regarding school and work, they can only see a tiny portion of it. And if we don’t shine light into their darkness, we’ll begin stumbling right along behind them.

Post-Christian thinkers teach women to idolize education and career over friends, family, romance, and sometimes even emotional and physical health. No matter how hard these women fight, the Academy will remain established, the glass ceiling just a few inches out of reach. Their most radical effort is never enough.

The Bible describes a much simpler – and more attainable – life for women in the church: 

“Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.” ~ Titus 2:3-5

Notice the passage does NOT forbid education or work outside the home. It just reminds us that those endeavors are not what brings a godly woman true fulfilment. 

Not surprisingly, I’ve been asked my occupation by various clinicians and patients in a variety of settings over the past year. My standard answer is “writer,” which is true. But after the questioner asks a bit more about my daily activities, they realize I spend at least as much time doing chores, cleaning, and cooking as I do writing in my ivory tower. Their expression changes and I know the H word is due any second now: 

“Oh. You’re a housewife.

Sometimes I still bristle at this, as if “housewife” demoted me to some lower iteration of humanity. But as I think about it, “housewife” should actually be a great compliment for those of us who are Christ-followers. Eve was designed as Adam’s “helper suitable.” Sarah is a role model to all her daughters in the faith because she obeyed Abraham, calling him “lord.” Proverbs describes many qualities of righteous women, ending with the vivid technicolor portrait of the model woman many of us know so well.

The Old Testament is full of stories about women – bad as well as good – who risked their lives to obey God or rescue his people. So when we read the Titus passage in the New Testament, we realize God’s given modern women a different challenge. We might not be rescuing babies from rivers or hiding spies in our wells, but we can love and serve our families – even if that leaves us stereotyped or isolated.

When I think about the “housewives” I know, I’m humbled by their passion for God and their families and their competence to be good stewards of what God has given them. One homeschooling mother-of-four recently told me, “I saw we had an open day on our weekly schedule, so my husband and I thought we should start a small group for young families!”

If that’s a housewife, then I want to be like her when I grow up.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.
When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.
She carefully watches everything in her household
    and suffers nothing from laziness…

…Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
    but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.” ~Prov. 31

9 thoughts on “Housewife: Curse or Calling

  1. Hello sister in CHRIST JESUS
    JoeLTJr here
    I have struggled to send you a comment since your last entry.
    I confessed that very thing to your mom tonight.
    I am totally amazed at how articulate you have become with word expression.
    And it is the accentuation to the glory of GOD that makes it so delicious!
    You continue to be a most honest blessing!
    Thank so much!
    And thank you great GOD ALMIGHTY, LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, for Grace! ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with Joe . . . You are an excellent writer! While that was not your topic for this blog, it IS your wonderful writing ability that delivered this wise message about God’s design. You spoke truth in a humble and gracious way. While we must beware of comparing ourselves to others, if we did so, the rest of us might be found lacking in the faith and strength that God has given you to withstand trials. Thank you for the encouragement to keep working and serving to God’s glory!

    Like

    1. I can do nothing apart from what God helps me to do, and if y’all could live with me for a day I’m sure you could see all the ways I don’t depend on him like I should. Hmmm…maybe I should ask Ivan to do a “husband tells all” post. ;”
      But seriously, thank you for your prayers and encouragement, and for being such a faithful reader!

      Like

  3. Hi Grace,
    I am so thankful that you are alive and doing chores and writing! That is a huge blessing from God! I have learned to tell people that I work for God. I get up in the morning and say, “What would you like me to do today, God?” If He is pleased at the end of my day, I do not care what other people think. I pray every morning that God watches over you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another beautiful post . I have had many jobs before and after marriage and children . I was home during the years of our sons growing up. I was able to do peer counseling while they were in school. I never regret a moment of being there for them when they were young and up to college age. Today it is easier because many parents can work at home . Time flies and they are gone . Being a faithful wife and mother brings commitment , joy , sorrow, rewards, and no regrets .

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Grace for your beautifully written blog. Your continue to inspire and encourage me. The most important job I have had gave me the paycheck of joy, love, peace and contentment. Being a housewife is also the best job I ever could have.

    Liked by 1 person

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