The Stay-at-Home7:30 AM
To be perfectly, obtrusively honest - I dislike the term "stay-at-home." I know - many of my dearest mentors have bled and died on the field in order to wear that label with pride and respect. To those who wear it, I salute you. You ought to feel proud. You ought to be respected.
But if we're going to talk about labels (which I am, at least), I much prefer "homemaker." And it's not just semantics.
I am encouraged to see such organized opposition against feminism and its effects on the homefront, to know that there are others out there who think this battle worth fighting. And I think we have seen great lengths in getting the word out about another equally viable, more fulfilling outlet for the modern woman: homemaking.
It's just that I fear that with the emphasis on getting women back home, we have confused our message of hope and turned it into a burden that we didn't intend to make. We've given the wrapper - the "stay at home" part - without the contents - glorifying God through and in the home.
(Now some people are lazy and just lump all homemakers together in one flowery, skirts-only, bread-baking group, without bothering to look into the vision. That's their problem. No amount of rationalization or tears upon the paper will convince them otherwise of our unadulterated conviction.)
Ever since the Lord woke my heart up to this glorious context of womanhood, I've been measuring the definitions of what that exactly meant to Scripture. Did it mean I had to be enamored with sewing? Did I have to bake my own bread? Did I really have to use cloth diapers...or could I be holy using disposables?
But to be serious now. I tried to whittle away different convictions and circumstances - even my own - and get down to the bare truth of Scripture. To really define womanhood in a way that covered every single woman of God out there. Different women came into my life, different in different ways - working home school moms, working moms who loved the home, die hard stay-at-homes. They shaped me more than I shaped them - that both positively and negatively.
What I learned? It's easier and lazier to define Biblical womanhood as "staying at home and not working." It's so much easier to describe a stay-at-home daughter, for instance, as a girl who doesn't go to college and sews on the side. It's so much easier to describe the womanly arts as quilling and quilting.
But those are just externals. In many cases, the call to Biblical womanhood includes staying at home, quitting a job and yes, quilting. (Any girl who doesn't have a mama-made quilt to snuggle up in is missing out, I think.) We have to be careful, though, that we don't mix up the expressions of womanhood with womanhood itself.
What do we do with the wife whose husband forces her to work? What about the daughter whose parents want her off to college and career, no matter how respectfully she appeals? Are we to say that they cannot be true women, following true womanhood, despite the fact that they are not physically home at all times?
Conversely, I know women who stay at home, who maybe home school, who perhaps spend their spare time knitting or cross stitching, and they have nothing of the vision of a lady I know who works full-time but desires to be home more than anything.
What is that vision? It's a vision to prepare for marriage and home life as a good thing, as something to be desired (Proverbs 31:10-12). It's a vision that sees the home and its inhabitants as both a means to serve and an opportunity to serve itself (Titus 2:4-5). It's a vision that understands that God's gifts to us are meant to be used in His contexts and for His glory (Titus 2:12-15).
This is not a rap against women who stay home. I believe that womanhood is rooted in the home. Mothers who stay home do a greater service to their children than mothers who work. Daughters and wives who keep home full time have my deepest admiration - they're my heroes. But not simply because they stay home. Because they have a vision for their role in the home, whether they're there 24/7 or only after the work hours.
"Coming home" physically is only an outer manifestation of a heart issue. A woman can be "at home" physically and somewhere else spiritually and wholeheartedly. And vice versa. Yes, the more natural way is at home - it's the best way - the benefits of being at home far outweigh anything else this life has to offer for women. But only if we dedicate it to the Lord. Only if we have a vision that goes beyond private wish and fulfillment. Only if we look to His Word as the ultimate directive for our life - not the books and blogs of those who share our same views.
Would I encourage any woman, married or unmarried, to come home physically? Absolutely. Do I believe Scripture encourages such a lifestyle? Unequivocally. Do I believe a woman cannot be a woman if she must work or go to college? No. Emphatically.
Once we grasp the heart of womanhood, we can give those women something to fill their homes with - something to define their lives with - something that works in every situation, for the glory of God alone. That's what homemaking is all about. And every woman is called to it.