One of my roommates in college was an amateur magician who had mastered a handful of coin tricks. Since he would occasionally practice on his old roomie, I learned to do a couple of them myself. One was called the French Drop, which, like all magic tricks, fools the observer as the magician focuses on one hand (or some “shiny trinket,” etc.) while the other hand is hiding the coin.
I have often thought that Satan, the master deceiver, has done the same thing with Christian women. This was both Jesus’ and Paul’s constant admonition—”Do not be deceived” (e.g., Matthew 24:14, 2 Corinthians 11:3). Satan has shown them the shiny trinket of a career outside the home, accompanied by the resultant fame and fortune, while shunning the occupation of full-time homemaker. They have fallen for it, and just as with the French Drop, the coin will disappear. It will be replaced by an unfulfilled longing that can only be satisfied by giving themselves to God’s plan for their lives.
At the beginning of the 20th century, by far the great preponderance of American wives were homemakers; only 18% were a part of the total national workforce. The mood of the country was that the full time job of wives and mothers was to function as homemakers in order to provide a stable, nurturing family for the children that every newly married couple planned.
That concept was so prevalent that I can remember distinctly one of the most popular majors for girls at the University of Oklahoma in 1960 was “Home Economics,” actually offered as a four year degree. It was exclusively a girl’s major, and although a stray boy of two took a baking class occasionally, it was because he had some undesignated credits he had to pick up, not because he was going into a career as a baker (I was never sure whether he loved to bake or loved the idea of being the only boy in a class full of girls!).
However, that model was already under attack, as two world wars had already begun to change all that. Rosie the Riveter was a very popular meme during WWII, picturing a pretty woman with muscles, dressed in work clothes, a bandana holding up her hair, and a welding torch in hand. She represented the thousands upon thousands of women who left their homes and took the jobs their husbands had had to leave to go to war.
When the men came home in 1945, since the classical family model was still predominant in American thought, the initial impulse after being apart for years, was to begin families. They did so, giving birth to the “baby boomer” generation. But the dam was broken and the precedent of wives working full-time outside the home had been introduced.
And surprise, surprise! They proved to be just as competent as their husbands. Now, they only needed to be “released from all old puritan, antiquated, repressive ideas of women (hint, hint – ‘the woman’s place is in the home,’ as that musty old Bible teaches) and they will finally be free.”
At this point, the sexual revolution of the 60’s exploded on the scene and brought that “freedom” with it, in spades. Society’s sexual mores were shaken to their core. The biblical morality that had formed the foundation for our American culture for almost 350 years was directly and defiantly challenged.
Shockingly, even the church, with its desire to be “user friendly and relevant” has gone along. It is a rare church that preaches what I have discussed about the Proverbs 31 woman in these postings. I even read an article some time ago in a leading national Christian magazine that advocated the need to rethink our stance on sexual purity for our single adults in the church. The reasoning was that abstinence is not practical for anyone at that age. Of course, according to this article, no one still believes that homemaking is God’s customary calling for all women, either.
The web-site, “Catalyst,” is designed by its writers to foster female work-place participation. They report the following changes which they view as GREAT SUCCESS in their mission:
“Women are (now) nearly half the labor force. In 2018, there were 75,978,000 women aged 16 and over in the labor force, representing 46.9% of the total labor force. 57.1% of women participated in the labor force, compared to 69.1% of men.
“However, women’s labor force participation rate continues to decline. (It) peaked in 1999 at 60.0%. It is projected to be 55.4% in 2024 and 51.9% in 2060. (Could it be that the fulfillment women were seeking was simply an ephemeral adventure, evaporating in the heat of experience.) Men’s labor force participation rate has decreased since the 1940s. It is projected to be 66.1% in 2024 and 62.3% in 2060.”
These statistical forecasts do not reflect the recent surge in the labor force under the Trump Administration’s economic policy (who knows what it will be after the shutdown ends), but they do predict a long range decline for men, from almost 90% in 1900 to today’s 70%, which Catalysts seems to be fine with—the decline in women’s participation, not so much.
But from my perspective that decline is understood and expected, as more women all the time are recognizing they have been had by the great deceiver! The possibility of genuine excitement, adventure, and fulfillment in the life of today’s biblical homemaker, that I have described in the past weeks in these postings, is the result of doing what she was created specifically to do—reproduce as her husband’s helper; “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). Adam cannot do this part of his three-fold commission from God without her.
Satan has deceived women by focusing attention on the individual tasks of being a homemaker without the overall vision of the framework in which they fit. This is like a carpenter trying to build a house without a blueprint. He can saw boards and hammer nails very well; he can both frame and finish, even roof and install siding with masterful skill, but without a plan, and the ability to read that plan, the result will be very questionable, no matter how talented the carpenter.
The blueprint, the master plan, is the kingdom of God. Unless the homemaker can read the plan, and see how her calling fits into the kingdom, she is simply grinding out obediently a series of rather difficult, sometimes boring, tasks. She is focusing on the individual trees and missing the beautiful, evergreen forest. She will miss the peace and joy that accompanies life lived self-consciously in light of the kingdom of God (Romans 14:17).
Let me conclude with an example I have used before. It is perfect for this week’s posting. Two laborers were working side-by-side, diligently digging a ditch. The first man was grumbling unhappily, and looking at his watch every five minutes, while the second man, with a smile on his face, was singing joyfully to himself as he worked.
“What are you men doing?” a passer-by asked, noticing the strikingly different demeanor of the two men. “I’m just digging a ditch,” muttered the first man. The second man looked up, his face beaming. “I’m building a cathedral!”
What are you doing today? Are you just wiping noses, sweeping floors, washing clothes, and cooking meals, or are you building the kingdom of God, a cathedral made of living stones where God in all His fullness comes to dwell. That is your calling as a woman of God.