Monday, February 02, 2009

Amy Reconsiders Why She Stays at Home

Recently I read an excellent book called Feminine Appeal (Carolyn Mahaney), which is basically a commentary on the seven virtues of a Godly wife and mother listed in Titus 2.

This book really got my cerebral wheels spinning about the topic of staying home to raise your own children. It has completely changed my outlook on the ultimate reason why staying home to raise my own children is the best choice I could make.

The choice to leave the workforce and stay home with my kids seemed like the natural thing to do when I first did it—my mom did it for me, most of my friends were doing it or planning on doing it, and it fit nicely with my biblical worldview.

Since I quit my job to stay home, I’ve done more soul searching on the topic. Before I read Feminine Appeal, I felt like there were basically three compelling reasons for me to stay home. Despite all the sacrifices of stay-at-home-motherhood, these three reasons were ultimately purely selfish.

1) I feel like it’s the best thing for my children;

2) I feel that the quality of our home life is better; and

3) I think that, years down the road, I would regret not having been able to spend all that time and make all those memories with my young children.

You see—it’s been all about ME.

This whole time—three-and-a-half-years—I have missed the MAIN point of why I should stay home with my kids. The “grand purpose” as the book says, is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here is an excerpt from the book (p. 26) that really changed my way of thinking and gives me a lot of hope and renewed joy for what I am doing and the sacrifices I make for my kids every day.

Now there are many Christian women who agree with and adhere to the virtues listed in Titus 2, but are unaware of the ultimate purpose of these practical applications. These women are avid proponents of society’s need to return to “traditional values,” yet that is not what this passage is advocating. We are not commanded to love our husbands and to love our children so we can have strong, happy families like those from a previous era. To be sure, we experience enjoyable and fruitful family relationships when we follow God’s instructions. But there is a far higher call.

On the other hand, there are Christian women who reject some of these virtues because they regard them as restrictive and outdated. They single out “working at home” and “submissive to their own husbands” as purely cultural requirements that are not applicable in modern society. However, that idea is erroneous. This passage remains authoritative and relevant for women today.

The commands found in Titus 2 have been given to us for an all-important reason that transcends time and culture. That reason is the gospel of Jesus Christ. These virtues are not about our personal fulfillment or individual preference. They are required for the sake of unbelievers—so that those who are lost might come to know our Savior.

This purpose is stated in verses 5, 8, and 10. We are to love our husbands and children, pursue self-control and purity, be workers at home, kind and submissive:

that the word of God may not be reviled (v. 5)

so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us (v. 8)

so that in everything [we] may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior (v. 10)

Our conduct has a direct influence on how people think about the gospel. The world doesn’t judge us by our theology; the world judges us by our behavior. People don’t necessarily want to know what we believe about the Bible. They want to see if what we believe makes a difference in our lives. Our actions either bring honor to God or misrepresent His truth.


Heather L. said...

Thanks for the great review of this book! I loved this book when I first read it and highly recommend it. I think it's time I got it out and re-read it.

Monica said...

Very thought provoking. I'm so glad that you shared it. I'm going to check it out from the library next.

I've often wanted to have a better response ready when someone asks, "Why do you homeschool?" Your quote gives me a lot to consider in regards to this.

Angel said...

I love that book. :)

I also love how every activity or effort we undertake becomes so much more purposeful when we view it in light of Christ's gospel. That way of thinking is so alien to our natural tendencies, but it is amazing how much clarity and hope it can bring.

Micah said...

This is incredibly thought provoking, Amy. I'm going to be getting this book. Thanks for sharing.