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.
Article from The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
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.
This is our purpose in life, what John Angell James calls a "woman's mission"—to "affect society through the medium of family influence."2 You see, being feminine isn't just who we are; it's also what we do. Our feminine identity comes with a unique task: to change the world by devoting ourselves to home life.
Now this does not mean that the Bible confines girls and women to their homes. The Proverbs 31 woman—the ideal homemaker—pursued endeavors outside of the home for the good of her family. And, of course, single women will have careers that require them to work beyond the home. But Scripture unapologetically sets forth the high priority of the home for each and every woman.
Although this is our clear mission from God, not many young women aspire to be homemakers these days. While there are many other worthy careers they may consider, homemaking isn't usually on the list of desirable options.
However, it wasn't so long ago that women thought differently about homemaking. As author Danielle Crittenden points out, "Whether it's the pleasure of being a wife or of raising children or of making a home—[these] were, until the day before yesterday, considered the most natural things in the world."3 Today the most natural thing in the world is for girls to consider any career except that of homemaker. So what happened? When did homemaking fall off the radar screen for young women?
To make a very long story short, forty years ago a revolution known as the feminist movement set out to "liberate" our mothers' generation from being tied down to the home. And part and parcel of the feminist message was "a disdain of domesticity and a contempt for housewives."4
And there is perhaps no greater measurement of the success of feminism than the fact that our generation no longer considers homemaking a viable career. As my mom has written, "Feminist philosophy has become thoroughly integrated into the values of mainstream society—so much so, that it has been absorbed and applied by the majority of women, even many who do not consider themselves feminist."5 The feminist revolution is not a revolution anymore; it's simply a way of life.
While motherhood has made a comeback in the ratings of late—and only as a worthy interlude in an otherwise successful career—homemaking in its full scope remains unpopular. Thus you may not have thought of housewives (a term usually employed while looking down on someone) as being world-changers before. But looks can be deceiving. True greatness isn't always flashy or attention-grabbing when it arrives on the scene. I didn't see it at first either.
My mom is a homemaker. I grew up with a living model of a woman who utilized all her intelligence, creativity, and energy to create a home and care for her husband and children. But I didn't always fully appreciate the true significance of her chosen career.
Sure, I wanted to get married and have kids someday and have a home of my own, but I lacked a biblical understanding and vision of the importance and priority of my future calling. However, Mom did not allow me to remain ignorant for long. Through Scripture, hours of conversations, and helpful books, she presented to me the noble calling of a homemaker and its powerful effect in the world.
I learned that, as John Angell James wrote, quoting Adolphe Monod, "The greatest influence on earth whether for good or for evil, is possessed by woman."6 Modern-day pastor John MacArthur echoes his sentiment:
The family might survive the problems with children and husband-fathers if the women who are wives and mothers were faithful to their godly calling. Their influence is so strong and pervasive in the home that it can mitigate the other influences. . . . when a wife and mother fulfills her God-given duty, she acts as a barrier against that family's dishonoring God and His Word.7
Mom not only taught me of the power of a homemaker's influence in the world but about the fulfilling nature of her job. Dorothy Patterson elaborates,
Homemaking, if pursued with energy, imagination, and skills, has as much challenge and opportunity, success and failure, growth and expansion, perks and incentives as any corporation, plus something no other position offers—working for people you love most and want to please the most!8
Through my mother's example and training, I caught a vision of the importance of my future mission. I knew that whether or not I got married, and no matter what other tasks God might have for me, I wanted to fulfill my biblical calling to be a "keeper of the home."
Today, although I may not be doing important works by society's standards, I am doing great things for God, by His grace. Although God did not call me to be a missionary in another country, I am able to share the gospel with my little boy, Jack. While I may not be an encouragement to thousands, I can pray for and encourage Steve, the godly man who is my husband. And I finally realized that I wasn't cut out to be a nurse, but each and every day I have the opportunity to serve the church and reach out to the community, all from the base of my home.
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.9
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.
Carolyn, Jonalee, and Stephanie are participating in what one person called "the great task of renovating the world":
Even if we cannot reform the world in a moment, we can begin the work by reforming ourselves and our households—It is woman's mission. Let her not look away from her own little family circle for the means of producing moral and social reforms, but begin at home.10
You want to join us? I must warn you that the world will not applaud you. Or worse, they may look down on you and criticize you. I guarantee there won't be awards given out for homemakers—at least, not in this world. And we probably won't see the effects right away. But our influence will surely outlast our lives.
Actually you don't have to wait until a future day or time to get started on your mission. You can begin today. My mom, Carolyn Mahaney, will tell you how in the following article. But for the moment, consider: When the next person asks about your plans after high school, how will you respond? Will you join the vast number of women who have tossed away the keys to the home? Or will you join the homemaker's mission to change the world with the gospel?
1 From Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre, copyright 2005, pages 143-48. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60187, www.crossway.com.
2 John Angell James, Female Piety: A Young Woman's Friend and Guide(Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1860, repr. 1995), 91-92.
3 Danielle Crittenden, What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999), 22.
4 F. Carolyn Graglia, Domestic Tranquility (Dallas, TX: Spence, 1998), 92.
5 Carolyn Mahaney, Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003), 103.
6 James, Female Piety, 72.
7 John MacArthur, Foreword to Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock, Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God, (Chicago: Moody, 2003), 12.
8 Dorothy Patterson, "The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective," in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem; Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1991), 377.
9 Carolyn McCulley, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God with A Hope Deferred (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004).
10 Barbara Welter, "The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860," American Quarterly, 18 (Summer 1966), 53, 174; quoted in Susan Hunt, The True Woman (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1997), 24.