The Domestic Arts

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While reading this article(which is actually a critique of another article) at CBMW’s website, I was happy to see a complementarian recognize the current tendency for some Christians to idolize marriage and marginalize singles, and to acknowledge that women’s need and desire to study the deep theological themes of Scripture rather than only the themes that allude to homemaking and motherhood, has grown.

But…

I must comment on the one little part that stood out to me, and not in a positive way(there are other good and bad points in the post, but I won’t get into them here).  The belief that women who do not embrace homemaking as a career are selfish, prideful money-hoarders appears to be alive and well among some complementarians.  Strachan implies this idea here(bold mine) ~

~”I would note that we don’t want to pit careful attention to homemaking, for example, against pondering the extracalvinisticum. Older women are called to mentor younger women, which clearly calls for biblically-fueled discipleship that will involve both doctrine and the application of doctrine (Titus 2:3-5). With many, I am grateful that the complementarian movement has seen several exemplary resources on godly motherhood and homemaking pop up in the last decade or so. May their number only proliferate. Everywhere women are being encouraged to “lean in” and leave their kids and homes, and yet there are many, many Christian women who have not bowed the knee to Facebook (sorry, Sheryl Sandberg).

Praise God for this, for the scores of intelligent, gifted, creative, well-trained, deeply thoughtful women in our churches who have embraced the scriptural call to the domestic arts. (Our culture foolishly construes “value” in terms of money and career. Did we learn nothing from the spectacular crash of Marxist thought in the twentieth-century? But I digress.)”

Here we have yet another complementarian mistaking women’s desire for a meaningful career with the sinful desire for money.  There are so many problems with this view.  For one thing, are all women who work really doing it so they can make more money and therefore accumulate frivolous material wealth?  Is the prevailing belief in our culture that both husbands and wives should both work so they can buy more and more stuff?  Yes, there are people like this in our society, no doubt about that.  But from my view, most folks I know are just trying to keep their heads above water and pay their bills.  And yes, they’d like a little enjoyment out of life, too(like the ability to get pizza for dinner now and then, not buy a Corvette or anything like that).  Many people today can’t survive on one income, really.  Many, many women work because they need the money, not because they’re bowing to culture.

There’s another aspect this author ignores; Christian women want to do meaningful things in their lives, and that doesn’t always include the “domestic arts”.  Whether it’s volunteering, writing, painting, or working for wages, women crave meaningful work.  Many women don’t enjoy the “domestic arts”, and they find themselves depressed and floundering as homemakers, wondering how they can be used in other ways. Exploring these feelings of depression and emptiness doesn’t mean they’re neglecting their home and children any more than the men who work to provide for their families are neglecting their families.

By claiming that “embracing the domestic arts” is the scriptural call for all women, and that women who don’t embrace it are “foolish”, Owen Strachan has created a divide.  He is pushing Christian women away who don’t fit the mold, women like me who question the “biblical” interpretation that leaves me with one choice(which is really no choice at all) of what to do with my life.  Now that I’ve questioned and studied the idea that homemaking might not be the only biblical role for women, it would seem that in Owen Strachan’s eyes I am no longer following Scripture, and that I’m a selfish woman who only wants to feed my pride and my bank account.  I realize that complementarians and egalitarians are trying to have an open and loving discussion about gender roles, but it seems to me that Strachan’s attitude here doesn’t leave much room for discussion.  It shuts the door in the other camp’s face.

This issue needs to be talked about without folks accusing others of being “unbiblical” or “selfishly valuing money and career” above family.  Some women find homemaking superficial and empty, or they discover hidden gifts that should be explored.  What Strachan says about women who don’t “embrace the domestic arts” isn’t going to help further the discussion; it immediately shuts it down.  This attitude pushes women away who are asking legitimate questions about the Bible.  It’s time for CBMW to get past this false idea that “real” Christian women pursue homemaking, and that those who don’t are selfish and prideful.  Now that we Christian women have been studying the Bible for ourselves, we know better.

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About creativehomeschooler

I'm a homeschooling mom of two creative children. I created this blog to highlight the things I'm thankful for during my days. It can be a challenge to homeschool, but I try to look at the grace my children and I experience. And these kids come up with some neat projects, so I hope to encourage and inspire others who may be reading.

4 responses »

  1. CBMW misunderstands Titus 2 also. Titus 2 says that older women are to teach period and INCLUDED in that is that they are to teach younger women.

  2. This false teaching also ignores the myriad of single women, who do not have the ability to stay home and be homemakers. They HAVE TO work to pay their bills because even if they’d rather not, there is no one else to do it. There is also the fact that child rearing is not a whole lifetime. It has a beginning and an end, so that, even for women who do choose a domestic role during all or part of the child rearing years, that role is not a lifetime sentence. This whole pushing of domesticity and idolization of marriage and motherhood is just that: idolatry.

  3. Don, good point. Perhaps their assumption is that the older women MUST be teaching other women, because they aren’t “allowed” to teach men.

    Mandy, I have often thought that Christians tend to make “the family” into an idol. It has also occurred to me that for women, the emphasis on being a mother and homemaker as her highest calling is shortsighted, unless she ends up having many, many children. I have two children and have homeschooled them for 6 years, but my daughter will be going to school next year, and my son will probably go the year after that. So it would seem I have a lot of years(I hope!) ahead of me during which I won’t be “mothering” full time. I will be spending more time doing other things with my life than I ever spent staying home with my kids. So logically speaking, it doesn’t make sense to me to put so much emphasis on my “calling” as a mother and homemaker when I’m spending such a small amount of my lifetime doing it.

  4. Right, this is how CBMW reads Titus 2, but it shows how their “blue glasses” that they wear (their assumptions) shape what they are reading and ultimately distort it. Everyone has presuppositions when they come to a text on how to “fill in the gaps of what is not stated”. In this case, what Titus 2 actually says is actually not seen by them, since they are not looking for it. And when one is not looking for something, it is easy to not find it.

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