I sort through a number of blogs and websites that deal exclusively with homemaking, sometimes looking for guidance and other times just looking for recipes and tips, but every now and again I come across something that highlights a particular vision of homemaking ideology that I have difficultly just tossing aside. I found the article “Future Homemakers,” written by Nicole Whitacre, on the website of The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. (Not sure how I got there; I’m an erratic Googler.) This particular article is a segment of a larger work entitled Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood (2005).
I don’t like to disagree with people. I prefer finding common ground and then dwelling in that space indefinitely — much to my own detriment. But there are parts of this article that I feel revel in a worldview that doesn’t necessarily hold when you confront the nitty-gritty aspects of homemaking in real life. Whitacre’s article calls for women to recognize their primary, scriptural vocation as workers in the home, pushing any secondary vocational outlets to the wayside. Here’s the opening of the article:
As a young woman, I often lay in bed at night and wondered about my future. I stared hard into the darkness, as if God had put the answers there. I had a longing to do great things for God. I imagined myself as a missionary in another country, maybe even a nurse. (I assumed my tendency to faint at the sight of blood would not be a problem.) I had visions of speaking to crowds of women, leading many to the gospel.
What I didn’t yet understand was that God’s plan for me was greater than what my imagination could conjure up. It was also very different than what I thought.
How about you? What are your dreams and aspirations for your future? How do you answer the well-meaning adults who ask about your plans after high school?
It may surprise you to learn that God in the Bible has already given you a sneak peek into your future. As women, we are all appointed to be keepers of the home (Prov 31:10-31; 1 Tim 5:14; Titus 2:5). Someday you may be called to love a husband and bring up children and make a home for them. Or as a single woman, you may be entrusted with a home from which you extend hospitality and vital service to your church and community. While you may pursue many other God-honoring tasks or occupations throughout your lifetime, you are also called to be a homemaker.
I love the vision of homemaking as a spiritual calling, but I struggle to accept a perspective that pre-establishes one of women’s vocations. A vocation, or calling, is a deeply personal inclination, one that, I think, isn’t necessarily susceptible to blanket statements. I should qualify here that my lens for reading the Bible is probably very different from Whitacre’s, so I want to resist dealing with exegetical gymnastics; instead, I want to linger on another portion of her article that I found even more striking. The passage is long, but I promise the content is worth considering:
I know many other women, married and single, who are quietly and without fanfare starting a counterrevolution. They are intelligent, talented, godly visionaries who are seeking to change their world by answering God’s call to be homemakers.
Carolyn McCulley is one such single woman. She has turned her back on the feminist ideology she formerly embraced and now enthusiastically serves others through her home. While she holds down a demanding job, she also thrives on hosting singles and married couples alike in her home for fellowship or evangelism (and even gourmet meals!). She loves to have children—especially her nieces and nephews—spend the night. In fact, Carolyn has recently written a book to encourage other single women to embrace God’s feminine design.
Another revolutionary is my friend, Jonalee Earles, a young wife and mother. She was a straight-A student in high school who went on to study interior design and could have had her pick of career options. However, she’s chosen to invest her creative talent into making a pleasant and delightful home for her husband and their three small children. Jonalee is a wonderful wife, an exceptional mom, and a skilled and artistic homemaker. In her spare time she helps other women decorate their homes.
Stephanie Pyle is a future homemaker. A bright college student at the local university, she does not hesitate to tell others that she hopes to make use of her degree as a wife and mother someday. Her fellow students are perplexed but curious. Stephanie is a young woman who has a clear vision of the importance of the home.
These stories about women, married and single, who find their vocational outlet in homemaking perhaps shouldn’t be lifted up as the ideal for all women; ideality in this sense has the capacity to greatly diminish a sense of individuality, something I value very much. The ideal (for me, at least) is for a person — any person — to prioritize the home as a sacred space, and to couple that desire for sacredness with their own vocational outlet, whether it be as caretaker of the home or something else.
Within this perspective, “homemaking” is not so much a vocation — it becomes a spiritual discipline: a purposeful, vision-shifting approach to the home-space in which everyone participates. Instead of focusing on whether or not women are exclusively designed to be “workers in the home,” perhaps we should focus on the larger issue of viewing “the home” in an intentional, spiritual manner — viewing it as a space not only of peace, but also of reinvigoration.
The choices of these women, though, are ideal insofar that they are typified by decisiveness. They possess a clear vision for their lives and ministries, and they don’t apologize for pursuing a kind of work that many women would scoff at. This decisiveness is powerful, monumental. How many college students are like Stephanie Pyle, the “future homemaker”? She makes no apologies for her unique calling, and she pursues it with an intentional, educated mindset.
Even as a college graduate in the midst of grad school, I’m hardly sure if that can be said of my own life.