Shall I Have My Cake and Eat It, Too?

As a young woman who grew up post-woman’s rights movement (not that women have gained full rights), I have discovered a sense of turmoil in many women as they decide to work or raise their families.  Should they succumb to social stereotypes and stay at home with the little bundle of joys or should they embrace the right that other woman fought so hard for them to have and enter the work world with seemingly limitless job possibilities?  Unfortunately, from what I have observed from working in a daycare and facing extreme pressure in college to wait on starting a family while I go for my dreams, the world’s solution is to get the best of both choices.  Start that family, get that job, and commit one hundred percent of your energy to both areas.  Despite the warning in the old adage, women are suddenly told, “You CAN have your cake and eat it, too.”  
By now you might be wondering what sort of extremist category I fall under.  Do I feel that women should stay in the kitchen and serve as a joyless slave to their families?  Or do I feel that women should take charge of their lives and work “respectable” jobs that earn actual wages?  The answer is neither, or perhaps both.
Below I have copied the ever quoted Proverbs passage about how a good wife works.  Now, please keep in mind that Proverbs was written somewhere between the 10th and 7th century B.C., so things worked a little bit differently back then.  So why is it when “godly” people read this passage they jump to the conclusion that women should still be sewing outfits for their families and continually honing her skills in womanly arts?  Or, making less of an extreme jump, why do some people assume that a God-fearing woman’s job is truly at home, never in the work field?  As far as I can read into the text, a woman who fears the Lord realizes her role is to care for her family (which, might I add, should be a man’s role as well).  If God has granted her the ability to sew clothing for her children, then that’s great.  If God has granted her the skills to bake wholesome bread from scratch, then that’s wonderful as well.  But please don’t scorn the woman whom God granted the ability to earn the money to put food in the pantry and clothing on her family.  When it reads in verse 15, “She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens,” why can’t we just assume that a woman’s role is to work hard to care for her family in an honest way?  
            However, when a woman gives herself the label “working mom,” I have to wonder why she is working.  Is it because the financial situation is rough and the money is needed to provide for her family?  Did she decide with her husband that she would earn the dough and he would stay home with the children?  Or is she only a “worker who happens to mother?”  When a woman, just like a man, begins to put her career above her family, she deviates away from the role God has given her.  No longer is her family or her home her primary concern.  She gives up her vocation for the sake of supposed empowerment and equality.  She is no longer a woman who fears the Lord; not because she works outside of the home but because she has forgotten her vocations of wife and mother.
            Obviously, some sort of balance needs to be found for these two extremes.  Perhaps instead of screaming, “Woman, get back to the kitchen,” or “Woman, go find yourself and screw all expectations,” we should encourage women to focus on how they can best serve their families.  Instead of making a woman feel guilty because she isn’t the sole cook and maid for her household, encourage her to care for her family with the skills she has been given.  Instead of making a woman feel guilty because she follows the social stereotype of “homemaker,” encourage her to embrace the much needed role she is fulfilling as a caretaker for her children.
            Now excuse me while I get ready for my outside the home job that I have so my husband and I can eat and pay rent without owing the government our souls by the time he is done with school.

Proverbs 31:10-31 (English Standard Version)

The Woman Who Fears the LORD
 10An excellent wife who can find?
   She is far more precious than jewels.
11The heart of her husband trusts in her,
   and he will have no lack of gain.
12She does him good, and not harm,
   all the days of her life.
13She seeks wool and flax,
   and works with willing hands.
14She is like the ships of the merchant;
   she brings her food from afar.
15She rises while it is yet night
   and provides food for her household
   and portions for her maidens.
16She considers a field and buys it;
   with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17She dresses herself with strength
   and makes her arms strong.
18She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
   Her lamp does not go out at night.
19She puts her hands to the distaff,
   and her hands hold the spindle.
20She opens her hand to the poor
   and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21She is not afraid of snow for her household,
   for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22She makes bed coverings for herself;
   her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23Her husband is known in the gates
   when he sits among the elders of the land.
24She makes linen garments and sells them;
   she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25Strength and dignity are her clothing,
   and she laughs at the time to come.
26She opens her mouth with wisdom,
   and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27She looks well to the ways of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28Her children rise up and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
29“Many women have done excellently,
   but you surpass them all.”
30Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31Give her of the fruit of her hands,
   and let her works praise her in the gates. 
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