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A Sensitive Subject

This article was written by Connie W. Adams (this particular Connie is a man) and originally appeared in a publication for which he was the editor, "Searching the Scriptures." It was reprinted in the 1988 summer issue of the publication "Think On These Things," which, at that time, was edited and published by Leslie Diestelkamp.

About a year ago, I wrote an article for this paper on "Keepers At Home" based on Titus 2:5. It drew mixed reactions. Some women thanked me for it, and others threw bricks. Some wrote that they had caught a great deal of criticism from sisters in Christ when they decided to leave the job market and return to being a homemaker. In the last few years, I have preached in meetings on the home in various places, approaching the subject in different ways. But increasingly, I am finding any treatment of this subject strikes a raw nerve with many of the women and some of the men. I have encountered more open hostility on this subject than anything else I discuss.

Even when allowances are made for those who are single, widowed or divorced, and who MUST provide a living, and even for those in family circumstances where an extra income is necessary to meet the needs of that particular family, there is defensive (and sometimes abusive) response from those women who work outside the home by their own choice. The spirit of the feminist movement is flourishing in the hearts of many among us.

The rationalizations are many. Some are "bored" at home. Others want to feel "fulfilled." Some want to discover "who I really am." There are those who leave their babies with strangers to satisfy selfish ambitions while forgetting the needs of the child. There are mothers of teenagers who are absent from the home at a critical time in the lives of those youngsters. They are left to watch the soaps, or direct themselves. The justification is that this will make them more self-reliant. Others contend that the extra income can supply so many things the family needs.

God designed the family. He knows more about it than we do. His word is still the last word as to what families need. Unless you have cut it out of your Bible, Titus 2:5 still teaches that older women are to teach the younger women to be "keepers at home." And 1 Tim. 5:14 says younger widows are to be taught to marry, bear children, and "guide the house." This expression means "the management and direction of household affairs (W. E. Vine Expository Dictionary, p. 185). Many households are not being directed at all. There are some problem areas created by career women which we need to consider:

1) Experience has demonstrated that a strain is placed on the marriage itself. The simple logistics of finding clean clothes when they are needed, grocery shopping, attending to a sick child, arranging a time when service people can come to repair an appliance or some home fixture which has broken down, helping with school functions (or, better yet, homeschooling the children--a Banick family comment inserted here), and neighborhood activities in which children are involved--these, and many other things go begging. Unplanned meals, no time for a family to sit down together, much less read the Bible and pray together, inadequate time to stay in communication with children (or with husbands and wives)--all of these place a strain on the family. Career women tend to develop an air of independence which is harmful to a marriage. She has her money and he has his. The ornament of a "meek and quiet spirit," said to be of "great price" in the sight of God (1 Pet. 3:4), gets badly tarnished. If a woman is not careful, she can begin to feel that she does not actually "need" her husband and can very well manage on her own. Instead of depending on the husband to "provide for his own" and the husband depending on the wife to "guide the house," this interdependence is lost.

2) Children are the big losers. They are alone much of the time, or else with people who do not feel the same degree of concern for their training as godly parents should manifest. We are rearing a third generation which has not seen a proper example of homemaking. We are finding some young women who really would prefer to be at home, but who are pressured by their own mothers and grandmothers or other sisters in Christ to make their mark in the world. This includes the wives of gospel preachers and elders in the churches.

3) Hospitality is hindered. Entertaining guests requires housecleaning, preparation of food, attendance to shopping and numerous details. "Given to hospitality" is one of the requirements for elders (1 Tim. 3:2). It is also required of all Christians (Rom. 12:15). Does anyone seriously think we have as much of this in practice as is needed? Teenagers do not feel at liberty to invite their friends to their homes. Teenagers who are Christians need to be together in domestic settings (not just at the pizza place, bowling alley, or skating rink).

4) Evangelism is retarded. We have lost much of the spiritual force generated by godly women who had time to be excellent students of the Bible, who were willing and had time to teach neighbors, or arrange for studies in which someone else could come in and teach them. Harried households find it inconvenient to plan an evening a week for several weeks to have a home Bible study to which friends or neighbors are invited. Am I just imagining this?

5) Benevolence goes begging. Who has time to sew for the poor, or cook for the needy, or go help a fellow Christian who is sick, or perhaps a neighbor? Again I ask, where will we find a Dorcas? Why, there is not even time to sew on a button for a family member.

6) An unhealthy respect is being developed toward what the Word of God says on this subject. Preachers with career wives are not going to say anything about it. They have often already lost control of the leadership of their own family. Elders with career wives are not going to stress the need for teaching along these lines. Young people in classes are not going to be taught much on the subject. Bible class teachers often get caught in a buzz saw if they try to discuss these passages. They will have their carcasses picked by career-oriented women (aided and abetted by some of the men). Simply ask, "Well, what does 'guide the house' mean?" and then prepare to take cover. You are going to catch it! But I'll tell you what you will hear. You will hear everything except a fair, clear-cut presentation of what these expressions from the Word of God mean. It is dangerous to play fast and loose with the Word of God, on this or any other subject.

We need gospel preachers to present God's ideal for the family, without fear or favor. We need elders to insist that this great need be met. We need teachers in classrooms who are prepared to teach, without compromise, what the Word of God says on this matter. We need mothers in the church who will teach their children by word and example.

At the risk of being hanged from the nearest tree, I'll say it again. One of the great perils facing the nation, the home, and the church is simply this: mother isn't home.

Note: At the bottom of this article was the following note from the editor, Leslie Diestelkamp.

If this article, which first appeared as an editorial in "Searching the Scriptures," displeases you, just remember that many wise and discerning brethren agree with Connie. I heard L. A. Stauffer preach, and he said, "If there is one thing that will destroy the Lord's church in this generation, it is greed--it sends the wives and mothers out of the home to work so we can have more and better cars, houses, etc."