Monday, February 27, 2012
Keepers at Home
What is the mind of Christ regarding women being homemakers? Is it the will of God for Christian women to pursue careers outside of the home? Is there a norm, a standard role within the home that Yahweh has appointed for women who aspire to godliness? Are there exceptional cases where God will direct a woman to deviate from this pattern to fulfill some other purpose that He has determined?
As I begin to delve into these issues, let me affirm that Yahweh does have a specific plan and purpose for the life of every son and daughter. The Scriptures reveal that God has a predetermined path appointed for everyone who comes to Him. He has prepared every work beforehand that the saints in Christ are to accomplish.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Yahshua for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
A foundational theme that Yahweh has directed me to proclaim to His people (men and women) is that He does have a very specific will and plan for each of our lives. Our success as Christians, as sons and daughters of God, will be determined by our perceptiveness in identifying God’s will for our lives, and our obedience to do all that He has determined. To be a disciple of Christ we must lay down our own plans and agendas and embrace wholeheartedly that path God has chosen for us.
The second book which the Spirit of Christ directed me to write was titled Sabbath. This book explores the spiritual meaning of Sabbath rest. The church has largely focused on the types and shadows of Sabbath in the Old Testament. They see the laws relating to the cessation of labor one day out of the week. These Old Testament laws and ordinances were given to direct the saints to the substance of Sabbath rest to be obtained in Christ. The Son of God was the first man to ever fulfill the Sabbath rest of God. Paul defines this rest in the following words.
There remains therefore a [Sabbath] rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
True Sabbath rest is defined as ceasing from our own works, those things our soul would direct us to do. Sabbath rest is living daily to accomplish the will of the Father. Sabbath rest is Christ living in and through the people of God.
Yahshua is our pattern man. He always lived to do the will of the Father. He never did any work that arose from His own soul, His own intellect, will, or emotions. He was perfectly surrendered to the leading of the Holy Spirit. He did only those things the Father revealed to Him to do.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.”
Christ was always beholding the Father. The Father showed the Son all things that He would have Him to do. Christ was careful to do all that the Father revealed to Him. Yahshua would do nothing that arose from self, that is to say, from His own soul. He testified to this truth numerous times, and His words are recorded for us by the apostle John.
“I can do nothing on My own initiative... I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
So Yahshua said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative.”
“For I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.”
“For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.”
“The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.”
Christ walked in perfect Sabbath rest. He did no works that arose from His soul. All of His decisions, actions, and words, were determined by the Father. He ever lived to do the Father’s will. If we abide in Christ, and He abides in us, we will find ourselves living the same life of rest.
I John 2:6
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
I can say with all confidence that God does have a specific will for all of His daughters. He does care whether they remain at home, or whether they work; whether they raise families, or pursue a career, or ministry. It is requisite that every daughter of God discern what God’s specific will is for her life. Failing to do so will result in a life of self-direction, personal initiative, and a failure to enter God’s rest.
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.
There is reason to fear falling short of the will of God for our lives. We will reap what we sow. If our lives were self-directed, God will not judge us to have been conformed to the life of His Son. Christ ever lived to do the Father’s will. He was attentive to the Father, inquiring constantly to know what He would have Him do, and He was careful to do all “in like manner” as the Father revealed it to Him.
If a woman chooses employment, or college and career, or even devotes herself to fulfilling some vision of ministry, apart from being directed by God the Father to do so, she will be accounted as lawless in His sight. Consider the message of the following words of Christ.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘LORD!,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘LORD!, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’”
Yahshua is not condemning those here who are doing overtly evil actions. He is not saying that adulterers and murderers and liars and thieves will be judged as evil doers. He is speaking of men and women who are casting out demons, prophesying, and performing miracles. Why then are they declared as “lawless”? The answer is found in the opening sentence of this passage. “He who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter (the kingdom of heaven).” If the Father has given you no command to do a work, even an apparently good work, you are out from under authority. To be out from under authority is to be accounted as lawless.
A person’s soul can direct them to do good works and God will despise those works. Why? Only that which He commands is approved in His sight. All else is striving and works of the flesh. It is not enough to do good works. We must do those works God has appointed to us.
When Christ went to the Pool of Bethesda we are told that there were a multitude of sick and injured present waiting for the stirring of the waters that they might be healed. Christ healed one man who had lain there for thirty-eight years. He then departed and hid Himself. He left the multitude in the condition in which He found them, for He had no command from the Father to heal all of them. (John 5)
How many Christians today having the power to work miracles and to heal the sick would have acted with such restraint? Many Christians consider only what they are able to do. They do not consider whether God has commanded them to do it. A need does not constitute a calling. In the book of Acts we read that the apostle Paul and those with him had perceived a great need in Asia. There were multitudes of people dwelling there, and the gospel of Christ was unknown. Nevertheless, it was not the will of God that Paul take the gospel to Asia. The Father had other fields of labor prepared for the apostle.
Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Is it not evident that God has a specific will for His sons and daughters? Those who are mature are led by the Spirit in all their works.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
Christ was a mature Son, and He did only that which He saw the Father doing. If we are to follow in His steps we must live as He lived. The invitation of Christ is “Come, take up your cross, and follow Me.” We must be equally surrendered to the direction of the Spirit of God in our lives as He was.
Let us return now to the subject of women and their occupations. Many Christian women spend decades of their adult lives working in jobs and careers outside the home. In many cases, indeed the majority of them, the woman was led to this life consuming activity by the counsel of her own soul. She did what seemed good and desirable, according to the reasoning of her mind, rather than seeking the mind of the Father to know what He would command her to do. Christian women in great numbers are leaving their infant children in the hands of daycare services and babysitters while they go off to work outside the home. They have given the training and education of their older children to the godless public schools that promote a humanistic world view. They neglect the nutritional needs of their families, setting before them the dead, heavily processed convenience foods of the stores and restaurants. They neglect to pray for their husbands and children, or to train up their children in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord. Their time is demanded elsewhere. They have given themselves to careers, and activities outside the home, while neglecting to inquire of God about His will for them. Will He say “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when they have failed to do His will? What sorrow it will be to stand before Christ on the day of judgment and to hear the words, “Depart from Me you workers of lawlessness. I never knew you.”
Before you assume that I have concluded that it is always wrong for a woman to work outside the home, hear what I have to say. I am speaking to those women who have made their life decisions independently of God. I am speaking to those who CANNOT say with Christ, “I do nothing of My own initiative. I only do the will of the Father.” The church by and large today knows very little of the cost of discipleship. Pastors and teachers encourage their congregations to envision the dreams and desires of their own souls and pray that God might fulfill all. This is not the teaching or example of Christ. It is “anti-Christ.”
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?
The Christian woman today who finds her life conformed to that of the world around her should question how she arrived at this condition. Did God give her command to pursue employment outside of the home, to labor to acquire the goods of the world, a nice home, a car, and many material things? Was it the direction of the Spirit that led her to abdicate her role as homemaker, wife, and mother while adopting the pattern of a world under the influence of Satan?
I do not doubt that there are occasions when Yahweh will direct a woman to work outside the home, to engage the assistance of other teachers for her children, or to give herself to some ministry besides homemaking. Yet, I am equally convinced that there are few women who can testify today that the life they are living is one which Yahweh gave them commandment to live. If you are one who has followed the crowd, following mindlessly the pattern of other women in and out of the church, or you have been self-directed, determining the dreams and ambitions that you will pursue, I would awaken you to your great peril. Paul said, “Let us FEAR lest any fall short of entering into God’s rest.” It is the one who has ceased from THEIR OWN WORKS that has entered God’s rest.
Has God given you commandment to live as you are living?
The Scriptures reveal that there is a general calling for women to be homemakers, devoted to family. This pattern is seen throughout the Bible. It is observed in the lives of the godly women of old whose lives are set forth as examples to women who aspire to godliness today. Sarah is cited by the apostle Peter as an example of a godly woman whose life is to be emulated. She was a keeper at home. In Genesis, when Abraham was greeted by some angelic visitors, we read the following.
Then they said to him, "Where is Sarah your wife?" And he said, "There, in the tent."
In contrast, Jezebel serves as a type to be avoided. Jehu describes Jezebel as a harlot.
II Kings 9:22
When Joram saw Jehu, he said, “Is it peace, Jehu?” And he answered, “What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?”
Harlots were widely perceived to be women who strayed from home. They would go about and engage in activities outside the home that were unbecoming of a godly woman.
And behold, a woman comes to meet him, dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart. She is boisterous and rebellious, her feet do not remain at home...
A pattern of godly women being keepers at home is set forth by the apostles of Christ in the New Testament.
But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine... the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
I Timothy 5:14
I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach...
To a great many women today, the thought of staying at home is a very unpleasant one. It conjures up images of extreme boredom. This is partly a byproduct of changes that have occurred in the past century as women have exited the home en masse to pursue careers or employment elsewhere. The home has been rendered impotent, bereft of life and activity, no longer serving as the center of family life as God intended. Women have consequently lost the multitude of skills that were once the hallmark of the successful homemaker. The chain has been broken whereby homemaking skills were passed on from mother to daughter, leaving many women today with no idea of the character of that life their forebears knew.
In the past few generations much of the labor that took place in the home has been agglomerated. Whereas women used to make their own clothes at home, this work has been centralized into large textile manufacturers and clothing factories. Today the thought of “homespun” cloth strikes most as antiquated, yet women in relatively recent times used to use spindle and distaff to spin their own thread and yarn, to weave their own fabric, and to sew their own clothes. In the book of Proverbs we find mention of women engaged in this activity.
Proverbs 31:10, 13, 19-22, 24
An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels... She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen.
These words in Proverbs describe what would be termed a “cottage industry” today. Not only did the woman use her homemaking skills to clothe her own family, but she would earn money at home by skillfully crafting products to sell to others. Following is an image of a distaff and spindle.
Clarke's Commentary explains the use of these items:
"She gives an example of skill and industry to her household. She takes the distaff, that on which the wool or flax was rolled; and the spindle, that by twisting of which she twisted the thread with the right hand, while she held the distaff in the guard of the left arm, and drew down the thread with the fingers of the left hand. Allowing that spindle and distaff are proper translations of kishor, and pelech, this was their use, and the way in which they were used. The spindle and distaff are the most ancient of all the instruments used for spinning, or making thread. The spinning-wheel superseded them in these countries; but still they were in considerable use till spinning machinery superseded both them and the spinning-wheels in general."
The spinning wheel is a more recognizable item for most people today, though for many its usage is as mysterious as the more ancient distaff and spindle.
The Bible identifies the making of clothing as part of that work traditionally performed by the woman in the role of a homemaker. I am not suggesting that women today need to return to using the spindle and loom anymore than I would suggest they need to learn the art of candle making to light their homes. Electricity serves very well for lights today. Nevertheless, it does reveal that those duties performed by the woman who was a keeper at home have been given over to others.
The change has been by degrees, but it has been accomplished with relative swiftness. Fabric and thread became readily available for purchase during the industrial revolution, making it no longer necessary for the woman to create everything from scratch. The sewing machine became the workhorse for the stay at home woman, and tens of millions of sewing machines were sold. Women prior to World War I worked outside the home in relatively small numbers, and those who did so were usually unmarried, and from the lower classes. Those women who could do so, chose to remain at home and they used the modern convenience of store bought cloth and a sewing machine to make garments for their families, and to sell or trade with others.
The Bible mentions food and clothing as two of the most basic needs of mankind, and women had key roles in both of these areas of life.
She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar. She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
These verses reveal the woman’s involvement in every aspect of food preparation in the same way that she was involved in every aspect of manufacturing clothing for her household. The woman would choose a field, plant it, harvest the crops, and prepare wholesome and savory dishes for her family. The godly woman worked with her hands, and was not idle.
Proverbs 31:27, 31
She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness... Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
As society has been changing, and women have abandoned the home to seek outside employment, that work formerly done by the woman has been delegated to others. Women have less time at home, so they look for shortcuts. They buy clothing already made for themselves and their families. If they do cook at home, they often purchase prepared, or partially prepared foods such as baked breads, and Hamburger Helper. The nutritional value of these products is vastly deficient from those whole foods that were formerly prepared by women who were keepers at home. The result is seen in a myriad of health problems among family members.
The nutritional value found in home baked breads that are made with freshly ground whole grains is vastly superior to the loaf of prepared bread one will find at the grocery store. I know from personal experience that there is a lot to learn to educate oneself in the preparation of healthy, nutritious and satisfying foods. I have discerned the difference in my own health as I have abandoned the Standard American Diet (SAD) and have returned to cooking my meals from scratch. I make my own soups, bake some of my own breads, and have eliminated the highly processed foodstuffs that used to make up the bulk of my diet.
Another realm of responsibility for the homemaker is providing healthcare. The woman has long been involved in acting as nurse and chief health proponent of the family. This is closely related to her role in food preparation. Hippocrates, the Greek physician from whom the Hippocratic oath is derived, said, “Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food.” There is a wealth of naturopathic remedies for sickness and injuries. God has provided mankind with plants and herbs for healing. Women used to pass along this knowledge from generation to generation.
Many women have also abandoned child rearing. Many women are employed when they become pregnant, and take only a few weeks off from work after bearing their child. Children are left in the care of daycare facilities, babysitters, or nannies while the mother works outside the home. The age in which children enter public school has been dropping as the government provides earlier programs for children with kindergarten, and pre-kindergarten programs. The mother has given over the role of educating the children to hired “professionals,” and the results are tragic for both the parents and the children. It has ever been God’s order for parents to take personal responsibility for the training and education of their children.
Hear, my son, your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching...
My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother....
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
Many parents have given over the academic education of their children to school systems, and have largely given their spiritual training into the hands of others as well. Many Christian parents take their children to Sunday School and church, and feel relieved of any further responsibility for their children’s spiritual training. The deficiency in the lives of most young people in the church is readily apparent. There is no substitute for the parents bearing the responsibility themselves for their children’s spiritual training.
“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Who can say how much the family has suffered by women abdicating their roles as the clothiers, nutritionists, educators, spiritual nurturers, and moral centers of their homes? When Paul wrote to Titus and Timothy and gave the instruction of the Lord that the women were to “keep house” and be “keepers at home,” these words encompassed a wealth of activities that would influence the family in profound ways in both natural and spiritual realms. It is little wonder that the older women were exhorted to instruct the younger in this calling. There was a great need for instruction and training from one generation to the next.
But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine... the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things - that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
Staying home was no idle occupation. To be a homemaker was a rich and fulfilling calling. The opportunities for the woman at home were endless. For the woman who has an active mind, and a love of learning, there is no reason that she should be left dissatisfied with the opportunities before her. To become knowledgeable and skillful at the art of homemaking is a lifelong endeavor. Learning to be a home nutritionist, to plan and prepare healthy, life promoting meals for one’s family, is something that many women have devoted years unto. Just the art of baking bread, or being a skilled seamstress, are areas in which a person may continually advance as their knowledge and skill increases. For the woman who would take on the healthcare of her family, the field of naturopathic medicine is vast. Learning the medicinal and health promoting value of herbs, plants, and natural remedies is an immense field of learning. Great harm has been brought to millions of families as the children consume soda pop, loads of sugar, chemicals and heavily refined foods, and then are diagnosed as having an attention deficit disorder and are put on mind altering drugs like Ritalin. Do not women bear some responsibility for abandoning their role as the nutritional supervisors of their homes?
The church should be the chief guardian of the home, and of those God assigned family values and traditions. Yet, the church has given itself to the pursuit of the same passions and desires as the world. The family has been abandoned. The nuclear family, where life is centered in the home, has been neglected. In the time that families are home, the children are often playing video games, listening to worldly music, or the family is being mesmerized by the television and Internet. The entire family is sick morally, spiritually, and physically. By one family member, the wife and mother, abandoning that calling God has given her, trading it for the allure of the world and a career outside the home, great devastation has resulted.
(Please note that I believe men have equally transgressed, and bear even greater responsibility in God’s eyes because of their position of headship. However, this book is written for the instruction and admonishment of the woman who aspires to godliness. She can do much to restore her family to spiritual and natural health by giving herself to apprehending and fulfilling the will of God for her life.)
The Bible consistently reveals God’s purpose for the woman as a homemaker. Even as the woman is absolutely vital to reproduction, for the man cannot bear children by himself, so too is the woman’s role in homemaking irreplaceable. Man needs a helper. Yahweh declared this to be true, and He fashioned the woman to be man’s helper. The title of “helper” seems inadequate to describe all the ways in which the woman renders assistance to man. All of mankind suffers when the woman fails to apprehend and fulfill Yahweh’s purpose for her life. May Yahweh raise up a remnant among women who will demonstrate a spirit of excellence and zeal in seeking to fulfill the role for which they were created.
Dare to be different. When the world is showing great scorn for the role of the homemaker, let the godly woman by her attitude and example reveal the wisdom and blessing that results from embracing the role for which Yahweh created her.
To be continued...
Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws
Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063