Friday, January 15, 2010

from the archives: homemaking

Yesterday, I wrote about some of the obstacles to homemaking: valuing paid work above working at home; being at home but not "busy" at home; and doing other ministries at the expense of home and family. ...

Here's a few preliminary thoughts on what homemaking is all about. Very hazy and unformed! But I hope you find them useful. I'd welcome anyone's comments or suggestions.

  • Homemaking, along with helping our husbands and bringing up our children, is our primary responsibility if we are married with children (Prov. 31:10-31; 1 Tim. 5:14; Tit. 2:3-5). We'll be involved in other ministries as time and the seasons of life permit (and often our home and family will form the basis of these ministries) but home and family should be the focus of our time and energy (more about this next week).
  • Homemaking is not home worship. It's possible to prioritise family and home to such an extent that it's not good for us, our husbands, children, church or community (we've all known self-absorbed couples and families, and women obsessed with making their homes beautiful). Jesus is the one we worship, and marriage, family and home are temporary, not eternal (Matt. 10-37-39; 22:30).
  • Homemaking is hard work. We're called to be "home workers" not "yummy mummies" (Titus 2:3-5). The Proverbs 31 woman is never idle: she gets up before the sun, goes to bed after the sun, and "sets about her work vigorously" in between (Prov. 31:13-18).
  • Homemaking is about managing a home - literally, being a "home ruler" (1 Tim. 5:14). It's a position of authority and responsibility, requiring skill, intelligence, self-discipline, organisation, training, and energy. It means overseeing and managing all the matters relating to the home. You don't need to ask your husband for advice about every tiny thing! It's your job to make decisions and oversee operations.
  • Homemaking is a multi-skilled profession. The Proverbs 31 woman cares for her husband and children, provides food, clothes and bed linens from scratch, contributes to the family income, and manages an extended household. For you, homemaking might involve managing finances, fixing things around the house, shopping, planning, cooking, cleaning, mending, organising the calendar: the possibilities are endless!
  • Homemaking doesn't exclude or elevate paid work. The Proverbs 31 woman contributes to the family income through making clothes and selling them, trading, buying fields, and planting vineyards. But her home and family come first: she works for their sake, not her own self-fulfilment, and she doesn't work at the expense of her home and family.
  • Homemaking is about people. The place serves the people, not the other way around. Your husband's preferences, your children's happiness, the mood of a home, whether it's welcoming to visitors, whether people feel comfortable there: these are all more important than a shining floor or a well-ordered drawer (unless these are important to the happiness and smooth functioning of the family).
  • Homemaking will look different for everyone. We all bring our own distinctive personality, preferences, skills and gifts to the job. Some delight in baked goodies, others in choosing paint colours; some prefer neatness, others comfortable clutter; some excel in financial management, others in quilting; some are married to men who like to cook, others to men who don't know one end of a broom from the other: as long as we love and serve the people who live in and visit our home, let's rejoice in our differences.
  • Full-time homemaking isn't always possible, even when we would prefer it. I'm not sure a couple doing two full-time jobs to afford a more affluent lifestyle is a good reason for not giving more time to homemaking! But a husband who is sick or unemployed, a wife who is unable to do physically demanding tasks, relational breakdown or single parenting, may mean a woman needs to work full-time, or a husband to fulfil many homemaking responsibilities. Let's not judge others, especially when we don't understand their situation.
How does this apply to single women without dependent children? I'm not sure. You'll hear some people say that single women should focus on preparing for marriage and home, or on nurturing other people's children and creating a home. I'm not convinced, although I'd like to think about this more! The advantage of staying single is to have more time to serve Jesus, although this will be done in a distinctively feminine way. Older widows (over 60) were to teach younger women (spiritual motherhood), and to devote themselves to good deeds, such as hospitality (from a home!), service in the church (while supporting male leadership), and caring for the poor (at the time, this often meant using feminine skills involved in making clothes) - 1 Cor. 7:34; Tit. 2:3-5; 1 Tim. 5:9-10; Ac. 9:36-41.

What do you think?

image is from stock.xchng


Jo said...

They are all good points, I would like to spend a bit more time thinking about each in depth.

Something else I think a Homemaker is responsible for is simply making home a nice, pleasant place to be. For me, this means getting enough sleep, so I am not snappy and cranky. I set the tone for the whole house, if I am tired and cranky, home is not a nice place to be for!!,

Jean said...

Great point, Jo!

Fiona McLean said...

Great comments, Jean. I appreciate the way you've thought about different dimensions of home-making.