The authors of Passionate Housewives Desperate for God, Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald, purpose to encourage women in their roles as homemakers and to dispel various homemaker myths: the 1950s stereotypical housewife, vacuuming in pearls and high heels; the perfect super-mom; and the bored, sensual “desperate housewife” of TV fame. They not only outline the biblical teaching of a godly homemaker, but also encourage her that God will give her the strength and grace she needs.
They also want to speak out and warn against feminism and the inroads it is making into Christian culture. I knew that feminists frowned on stay-at-home mothers, but I didn’t realize quite the extent of it. The book is well-documented in its confrontation of feminism: here are just a couple of quotes of feminists themselves:
No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.
~ Simone de Beauvoir, “Sex, Society, and the Female Dilemma,” Saturday Review, June 14, 1975.
Being a housewife is an illegitimate profession…The choice to serve and be protected and plan toward being a family-maker is a choice that shouldn’t be. The heart of radical feminism is to change that.
~ Vivian Gornick, University of Illinois, “The Daily Illini,” April 25, 1981
So much for women’s choice!
The authors also argue against what they call “Me-ology” — “books that encourage women to ‘pamper’ rather than ‘sanctify’ their flesh,” the idea that it’s “okay to live for self.” They’re not against the occasional bubble bath or time alone, but rather the idea that women should put themselves first in order to be better wives and mothers, or that they need to “escape” from their duties. The Bible teaches in many places that Christians are to live their lives in service to God and others and not for self and the more we try to grasp for ourselves, the more miserable we and our families will be (John 15:12-13, Matthew 10:39, Philippians 2:3-7, II Corinthians 5:15, Matthew 25:40, Matthew 16:24-26).
While it may seem counterintuitive, the lesson is true: living more for self will only keep us further from that true joy we’re after as women. God wants us to know that we can’t do it all, so that He can do it through us — so that He can equip us with the grace and strength we need to accomplish His will — which includes serving Him by serving others’ (p. xxv).
Please understand there is nothing intrinsically wrong with [spas, massages, pedicures], as long as we understand that we don’t need them to be content or healthy and that we aren’t somehow deprived if we don’t get them. There are many ways we can relax and enjoy ourselves when God gives us opportunity, but to feverishly pursue solace in worldly leisure and personal pleasure is to run to an empty comforter (p. 15).
I think this book is a great encouragement to any homemaker, particularly the chapters “Embracing Your Sacred Calling” and “So Show Me What a Keeper at Home Really Looks Like.” I have multitudes of quotes marked that spoke to me, too many to list, but here are a couple:
We must view serving our families as acts of service to God, rather than as acts that “get in the way” of serving Him. Martin Luther wrote about this very idea:
[Christian faith] opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as the costliest gold and jewels. A wife…should regard her duties in the same light, as she suckles the child, rocks and bathes it, and cares for it in other ways; and as she busies herself with other duties and renders help and obedience to her husband. These are truly golden and noble works (from a sermon titled “the Estate of Marriage”) (pp. 55-56).
You see, homemaking isn’t about the house itself or the things it contains. Being keepers at home is about focusing on the Lord in all the everydayness so that our houses become centers of hospitality, forgiveness, training, business, welfare, charity, shared mourning and celebration, and — oh, yes — lots of tracked-in mud, crumbs under the chairs, and everything else that goes with human beings. We must not lose sight of the fact that our homes are God-given tools to bless others. They aren’t the end goal; they are, simply, one of the means to the end. And what is the end? Dying to self, laying down our lives, serving others that Christ may grow His kingdom and transform the world and ourselves as we do things His way (p. 94).
No talents are wasted in the Kingdom of God, and putting gifts to use in the service of husbands and godly households is not akin to burying talents in the ground. Proverbs 31 should put that notion firmly to rest, as Scripture demonstrates the wonderful scope for creativity, productivity, and achievement given to the godly keeper of the home (p. 106).
Any mother of young children has, I am sure, experienced this kind of scenario:
I remember one night praying fervently (after the baby had been up twelve or thirteen times), “Please, God, please, please, please let him sleep.” And then I heard the inevitable scream. I cried into my pillow because I knew it was only an hour before I had to get up. Wasn’t God listening?
So I pulled [the baby] into bed with me to nurse, quieted his fretful wails, and drifted off to sleep one more time, desperately hoping for just a “few more minutes” of rest. Yet, as if in a dream, I heard the distant voice of one of my older children, “Mom…Mom, Melissa’s throwing up.”
It was true. Sleep was not meant for me that morning. But I had a choice: I could be bitter toward the family God had called me to serve, or I could ask God to give the strength I needed to die to self and glorify Him. At the end of the day, though I was physically tired, I marveled at how I had made it through and was able to see ways God had eased my burden and refreshed my soul. I was able to nap when the baby rested later in the afternoon, a friend had made an “extra” casserole and wanted to know if I wanted one, and my time seemed to be multiplied. — I was shocked at how much I had accomplished. When we trust God, take our eyes off our troubles, and simply choose to do what needs to be done, God blesses us.
Your burdens will seem lighter as you allow Him to carry you. The hours of sleep may not always be [what] you would choose, but they will be enough — He always gives us enough. Give thanks to God for His provision, for the life He has given you, and for the family He has entrusted to your care.
While the book is filled with wonderful advice and encouragement, there are just a couple of things I would disagree with. One is the idea of the “dominion mandate,” taking God’s instructions to Adam and Eve far beyond what I believe is meant there. For example, one sentence on page 43 says, “If we are faithful in bearing and training up our children, by God’s grace, we will see a growing army for Christ — an army that will take dominion of the godless nations of the earth for the glory of God.” I put a big question mark next to that sentence in my book. I don’t see any instructions in the Bible for New Testament Christians to “take dominion of the godless nations of the earth.” We’re told to share the gospel and make disciples, and all through the New Testament to live a life that glories God, but we are also told we’ll face opposition and persecution, and Christ’s kingdom won’t be fully realized until He returns to Earth.
I also have problems with what they call “the myth of a quiet time.” I do know that when children are small, finding time alone with the Lord is a challenge and might not look like it always has before, and I wrote about that in a post titled “Encouragement to mothers of young children.” And that’s basically what they are saying as well, but to call it a “myth” seems to me to give the wrong impression.
And finally, though Vision Forum, through which this book is published, has a lot of good material and promotes many of the same values and beliefs I do, I would disagree with them on a few things. As just one example, I’ve mentioned before that a woman’s primary ministry is to her family (I Timothy 5:14, Titus 2:4-5, Proverbs 31:27), whether she works outside the home or not, but Vision Forum teaches that even unmarried women should not work “alongside men alongside men as their functional equals in public spheres of dominion (industry, commerce, civil government, the military, etc.)” (see point number 14 here). They take what I believe to be an extreme view in some areas. Neverthless, I think much good can be gleaned from heir materials though most of us would not embrace some of their more extreme stands.