This chapter paints a picture showing how our idea of home has changed over time. Beginning in the time of Abraham, we are given an idea of how people lived. From those times, until the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, the home was where both work operated from and where the family lived. Be it a farmhouse or a city dwelling operating a business; husband, wife and family would work side by side, sharing the load of supporting themselves and their business and raising their children. Our current notion of a separated home and work life would have been unheard of and unexplainable.
However, with the Industrial Revolution and increased urbanisation, men were drawn into employment into factories and offices and work and home life began to separate. Now the job of working fell to men and the job of raising children and maintaining the home fell to women. At the same time, early women’s movements claiming that women were the more loving, gentle and pious of the sexes were laying the groundwork for later feminists. Finally by the 20th C, women were the target of marketing campaigns to make their lives easier, more efficient and complete with modern appliances.
Thus the shift from the home as a place of production to a place of consumption was completed. In the new culture of consumption - bolstered by the age of advertising and the push for consumer credit - all vestiges of nineteenth century concerns with character, self-restraint, and sacrifice were gone. (p113)
The true heart of the home
McCulley makes some excellent points at the end of this chapter, so I will quote her at length:
The heart of the home is found in the relationships nurtured there and the comfort offered to one another - comfort we have first received from God, the Father of compassion, and then share with one another. (p115)
More importantly, the home is a foretaste of the eternal heaven that awaits us when Jesus returns. He did not leave us to prepare another cubicle in His Father’s office - thanks God!... It is the refuge of a home- with a place in it for each of us - that Jesus promised. (John 14:1-3) (p115)
And a final quote to encourage the many of us who consider ourselves housewives:
“Just a housewife” is a phrase our culture uses to undermine the importance of the private sphere. Though the marketplace does not value the home beyond the goods that can be purchased for it, the ministry to be found there is of immense value to the Lord. The stability of family relationships, the care of elderly or disabled family members, the discipling and training of children, the warm reception of guests, the making of a lifetime of memories, the daily modelling of biblical instruction, the fresh nourishment in an age of processed foods that contribute to our general ill health, the joy of a Christ-centred marriage - all of these have long-lasting, if not eternal, effects. (p115-116)
Things to think about:
- Do you say “I’m just a housewife”, or are you able to say with pride “I’m a wife and mum”
- Even if this world does not value your role, do you see the inherent value in your role?
- Do you risk making your home a ‘safe haven’, rather than a welcoming home?
Next week: Chapter 6: The Mommy Wars