What's a Girl to Do?7:30 AM
Discerning God's will takes on a whole different level when people have you pegged on a blog. You start thinking that adoring fans love you merely for supporting their paradigm - not for you, not for your spiritual journey. You start to cater to what you think they think...and then you start wondering what on earth you think.
So it was when I stopped reading stay-at-home daughter blogs and started reading the Bible. I got some pretty radical ideas for how I wanted to serve the Lord - and I didn't know of a single popular blogger or writer who would support me on it.
I was terrified. Not because I didn't think I was right, not because I doubted God's calling but what would other people say? After all, girls looked up to me. Their mothers lauded my stance on home, daughterhood and Biblical femininity. For them, at least, I must keep up some pretense of being radically different from the world in everything I do - I couldn't let them down. I couldn't confuse sisters in Christ just coming to the idea that family could be the training ground for ministry.
I couldn't go to college. I couldn't say that I wouldn't mind being unmarried for the rest of my life. I couldn't admit I really, really want to teach and write instead of learn to sew and cook.
Plus the argument went that, well, marrying younger is all the rage in conservative circles, as is getting degrees online, or hey, skipping college altogether. The way to make a difference in life was bucking the trends, being smart without college and selling one's soul to motherhood and wifehood before the likely appearance of Prince Charming (or Ashley Newton, if you join the Midnight Sister Talks). The pressure to conform to unconformity is a very tight squeeze and not very pleasant with which to bunk decision-making.
Perhaps I should have said this before and avoided confusion, disappointment and anti-religious-freak attacks, but I must admit it before someone charges me with hypocrisy:
I'm not a stay-at-home daughter. Not once did I ever like the term, though certain brilliant young ladies redeemed it from the shallow labelling that made me cringe. Don't get me wrong: I love my home. I love hovering over my brownies to make sure they're perfect for company (and the dog, who found them tasty as well). I love cuddling with Daniel Franklyn and Caroline on the couch, reading Erik Carle picture books over and over and over. I love sharing with others how much I adore the maternal, sisterly, womanly work of learning to make home and cherish its inhabitants. No regrets there. This much I will admit, and proudly: I am a homemaker-in-training.
There's a difference. You tracking with me?
For a very long while, I followed the crowd of stay-at-home daughters - godly girls all, with grace, conviction and Bible verses to back them up. But I got stuck in the stereotype. I kidded myself that I was actually living Biblically - I wasn't at all. I checked what the Bible said to what the stay-at-home bloggers said. I hadn't dug into the Bible, hadn't learned to follow Christ, hadn't done anything but trade the world's cookie cutter for the "good Christian conservative girl" one. Either way, I turned out a lopsided cookie.
Understand, of course, that simply because I misunderstood what they said and turned conviction into law (a trend many other young ladies seem to capitalize on) doesn't mean that their position is wrong. I don't think it's wrong. I don't think it's antithetical to Biblical living. That's not what I'm saying.
I'm saying that the inferences we made from Biblical principles became binding and sometimes twisted to the extreme. We thronged together, on blogs, at conferences, with email loops, because let's face it - going anywhere upstream isn't easy unless you do it in a crowd. We encouraged one another, we admired one another, and somewhere along the line, we started looking like one another too.
So it is that, sadly, I can be defined as one of those types who wear ankle-length skirts, long hair, likes housework and avoids college like the plague rather than a passionate disciple of Christ. There's nothing wrong with ankle-length skirts, long hair, housework and forgoing college. To make a case that it is (like a woman who was offended by those who wore conservative swimsuits) is to make no case at all. But to be defined solely by those beliefs - to have my heart judged by both sides on these external issues - to check a little box on what type of Christian morality and practice I adhere to - that is not for me.
I've been inside and out of this issue. You do get cold shoulders if you don't fall into the cookie cutter, whichever it may be. You do get little side glances and half-smiles of disappointment when you step outside the boundaries. In some ways, the conservative Christian circle has become cliquish, judgmental and mostly external.
I know this may shock some of you, interest others and turn the rest away in droves. Perhaps I may be branded as just another black sheep, giving up because it's too hard to be different, backsliding like any other spineless Christian. You will not believe that I am sincere, thinking clearly and have studied my Bible. That is fine. I would have done the same thing had my favorite blogger written this post.
But this needs to be said:
It's disappointing when we can defend patriarchialism better than we can the gospel. It's counterproductive when we're defined by the work we do post-high school instead of the work of Christ Jesus in our hearts. Do we go the other extreme and say, "Forget about morality, forget about Christian living - let's love Jesus!"? No, of course not. That's not my point. It's that we've become accustomed to defending ourselves as stay-at-home daughters, as stay-at-home mothers, as homemakers-in-training to the point where Christ becomes less and less the purpose of our life.
It struck me as interesting how this verse rarely comes up among us Christian daughters, in comparison to Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 (directed to older, married women):
And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.How does one reconcile this to the idea that she is essentially her father's helpmate, that the home she's now in is her primary domain and that to step outside that relationship and that domain is to disobey every ordinance laid upon daughterkind? In some cases, of course, it isn't hard at all - loving my siblings, supporting my daddy, serving my mother - these are all good, godly things that please the Lord and are acceptable as worship in His sight. There's no disconnect in serving the Lord and serving in the home.
- 1 Corinthians 3:34-35
So why then does Paul mention the difference between unmarried women and married women? There must be a difference. There must be some sort of freedom for unmarried women that married women do not have, that stay-at-home daughterhood in its most hardcore form doesn't allow because Daddy and his estate is by and large the daughter's domain.
I have not figured that out for myself, and I certainly haven't figured it out as a general rule. It may be a difference merely of priority without an outward change of, say, living arrangement or work, per se. But from now on I want to strive to be a Christ-follower, not a stay-at-home daughter, a truly Biblical Christian and not whatever's fashionably Bibley, and I want to emphasise that my service is a love offering to both the people and the God I serve, whether or not it fits into stay-at-home daughter labels.