Now that women know that God has made them equal to men, rather than inferior to men, nor has He placed women under the dominion of men, what are we to do with this knowledge? Certainly we should not be obnoxious with it, for all wisdom that comes from God is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy; and the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.(James 3: 17 & 18)
God wants us to know that He loves us as much as He loves males and that He has places in ministry for us, but He does not want us to turn into obnoxious bullies nor sabotage our marriages. We need to be assertive, rather than aggressive, and we need to be patient with our husbands, keeping in mind the patriarchal culture that they were raised in. To wean them away from the patriarchal system and show them the superiority of egalitarian marriage, we must be gentle and respectful.
Psalm 141:6 & 7 says, "Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities. When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet." When the righteous reprove, they do so in a way that allows those whom they rebuke to retain their dignity.
Keep in mind also that a woman's children should be one of her top priorities. A woman should not let either career or ministry interfere with what is best for her children. Job 39:13 – 18, speaks of talented women who seek their own fulfillment to the detriment of their children: "Did you give the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich? Which leaves her eggs in the earth, and warms them in dust, And forgets that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers: her labour is in vain without fear; Because God has deprived her of wisdom, neither has he imparted to her understanding. What time she lifts up herself on high, she scorns the horse and his rider."
Though we know that God expects our husbands to listen to us when we have a word from Him, and to be as supportive to us in our spiritual giftings as we should be towards them in theirs, the Word of God still holds true in Titus 2:4 & 5 in its command that we love our husbands and our children, be sensible and discreet, and stay home to look after our children until they are grown and capable of looking after themselves. As for that bit about obeying, refer to the links below for a keener understanding of the original Greek in which the New Testament was written.
If a family can get by with only one income, it makes sense that the husband should work and the woman stay at home to look after the children. God has equipped women for nurturing children more so than He has equipped men. It is to women that He gave a womb to nurture children in utero and breasts to convey milk for their nourishment. Also, men tend to have stronger bodies, equipped for hard work. Certainly women can do most of the jobs that men do, but heavy work will ruin a woman's body faster than it will a man's. I have a sister who, as a single mother who needed to earn decent wages, ruined her back from working in a shake and shingle mill and lives in a lot of pain.
Work of a more intellectual type is certainly within a woman's scope, but she also has to deal with the nasty politics of the workplace. If a woman can get out of having to deal with that, it would be smart of her to take advantage of the opportunity to stay home and stay out of that snake pit.
When God blesses us with children, they are our responsibility and should not be shoved off onto daycare, if a family can get by on one income. Nor if a person can afford a nanny, should one assume that a nanny is taking good care of their children.
I observed a nanny with two children on a bus one morning on my way to work. The nanny was not raised in North America and did not have North American standards of what is considered good child care. The older child, who was about seven, was expected to assist the nanny, rather than being an object of the nanny's concern. She nearly fell while reaching for an umbrella that the nanny was handing her, rather than the nanny making sure that child was seated before the bus started to move.
As for the younger child huddled in the stroller, a little boy of about two, his teeth were chattering with cold. The children wore only thin raincoats on that chilly day. I thought to myself, "The parents probably think that they are taking good care of their children because they hired this nanny for them, but the woman is clueless."
I spoke to the nanny when we got off the bus at the same stop, but either her English was very poor, or she pretended that she did not know what I was talking about when I told her she should put warm clothes on the children. Most mothers would care more than a hired nanny about their children's comfort and safety.
Even the best of nannies is not a better proposition than a loving mother. Some parents require the nanny to take care only of physical and educational needs, and to refrain from emotional involvement with the children. This is not fair to the children. Children need lots of love in order to thrive, but when an emotional bond is formed between the nanny and the child(ren), it is heart–wrenching to both sides if there is a separation.
It is also difficult for a loving nanny if the parents are negligent or abusive towards their children. The best solution is for parents to grow up and learn how to raise their children properly, and for one of them to always be on hand for the children, preferably the mother.
Kids can be really stressful to deal with and it does seem more gratifying to have a career where one gets appreciation, at least in the form of a paycheque, if not pats on the back and word from the boss that one has done a good job. We all need appreciation.
God asked me one day, "Lanny, what would you like from your kids?" I gave it some thought and was surprised that the answer I came up with was appreciation. I was surprised because I didn't think I was very much like my mother (and really I am not), but this is something I have in common with her.
When my siblings and I were children, my mother frequently griped that she didn't get any appreciation. It took me a long time to realize that she loved me because I thought the only reason she did as much as she did, was because she was addicted to being appreciated. If she had not complained so much, I think I would have realized far sooner that she served us because she loved us, besides for the sake of her self–respect.
Having realized that I, too, wanted appreciation, God did not let me think for even a moment that I was not appreciated. He said, "Well, I appreciate what you do for your children." I then recognized that my children were too young to appreciate what I did for them, being at that time only seven–years–old and five–years–old, but the Lord is my Shepherd and within His care, I truly do not lack. I could not expect to get appreciation from my children until they were mature enough to recognize that I had made sacrifices for them, but I would still get appreciation in the meantime.
Realizing that God appreciated what I did for my children helped me to not load my kids up with unrealistic expectations. It helped us have better times together because I didn't rant at them about how I felt unappreciated. I was able to focus more on what they needed, rather than feel sorry for myself that they did not meet my needs. Really, parents should be far more concerned about meeting their children's needs, than looking to their children to meet their needs. A parent's needs are too heavy of a load for a child to bear.
A woman with talent and intelligence doesn't need to feel stifled, if she stays home to look after her children. Being a mother is a career as a psychologist. She can read books and educate herself about children's needs and how to deal proactively with misbehaviour, as well as help her children have healthy self–esteem.
A stay–at–home mother can cast herself in the role of being a nutritionist, a expert on stretching dollars, a teacher (if she homeschools) or a teacher's aide (helping the kids with their homework), an interior decorator of the highest stamp (one who can take a piece of junk and turn it into a work of art), a life skills coach, a home economics teacher (training her children how to keep house), a mechanics teacher (how to fix cars and appliances, if she is good at that), a landscaper or horticulturalist (yard work), an agriculturalist (organic gardener), a manager (running the home), a bookkeeper (keeping track of expenses, staying within budget, doing the tax returns), a recreational coordinator/entertainer (keeping the kids busy and happy), a photographer who records family memories, a naturalist who takes the kids on hikes and teaches them about plants, animals, birds, and minerals, a tour guide for field trips, etc …, and someone whom the children will afterwards consider to be one of their best friends. There is much that a woman can do to find fulfillment in staying home with her children, if she takes a godly attitude and intelligent perspective towards this high calling. None of us are likely to really be a Supermom, but if we aim for that, it will help make us better mothers than if we take an apathetic approach to motherhood.
A woman can read articles and textbooks on Business Management, not only to prepare her for a career after the children leave home, but also to run the home better and to increase her negotiating skills with her husband and other people whom she might deal with in the course of a day. Instead of watching TV, reading novels, or any other number of time–wasting entertainments, a woman can read books or take online courses that will help prepare her for work, in case it becomes necessary for her to support her family.
I read an article where a man who believes women should be in submission to men received a vision that seemed to confirm to him that God has ordained it thus. I think his vision was filtered through an idol of male pride, but one thing he said that I agree with. If women whose family can get by on the husband's income stayed home to look after their children, there would be less unemployment because more jobs would be available to men. Mind you, some men might have to work as sales clerks, but it would still give them some income. I don't believe that women who have to work should have to take the boring, low income jobs that will not meet their family's expenses.
Just what does a family need in regards to material things? Does a family need to own their house? No, a roof over their head is required, but it does not have to be a roof that they own. Certainly, owning one's home is preferable, but not essential.
Nutritious food is essential. It is cheaper to cook from basic, healthy ingredients than to buy packaged food, and unhealthy snacks should be eliminated. It is also healthier to eat raw vegetables rather than cooked food, which can also save time; there would be fewer sticky pots to scrub after a meal.
Clothing that is neat, clean, and smart so that neither parents nor children feel shabby compared to others can be obtained without always shopping in malls. Second hand stores sometimes sells things that are new or barely worn. Christians should not consider it beneath them to wear second–hand clothes; God gives grace to the humble. Also, it could be an instance of the wealth of the sinner being laid up for the just. Some people toss stuff out because they can't be bothered to sew on a button or fix a little tear, which is laziness.
A family doesn't necessarily need to have two cars. With good planning, one car could suffice. Do you need to have a speedboat or other expensive toys to have a good life? Giving one's children their mother is more important than having luxuries. If a husband insists on sending his wife to work so that he can enjoy a more luxurious lifestyle, he needs to get his priorities in order.
A woman needs to help her husband realize that just because he goes out to work and brings home the money, it does not mean that it is solely "his" money, and "his" home, "his" car, etc … that the money has paid for. When the couple got married, they became a partnership. The partners have different functions, but they are equally valuable. The money belongs to them equally.
This assumes, of course, that the wife is pulling her weight at home. If she is, and the husband undervalues her efforts, she might possibly keep a daytimer to show what tasks she performed and how long they took. If the husband thinks he can do better, he has his day off to demonstrate how he can do those same tasks in a shorter time, without compromising the quality of the work.
An allowance for both marriage partners should be worked into the family's budget, even if it is only a very modest amount. The allowance of pin money should be equal for both, and neither of them should be expected to give an account to the other as to how they spent it. Larger amounts of money should have the consent of both before it is spent. It would not be fair of the husband to buy himself fishing equipment when someone in the family needs dental work, nor for the wife to purchase a new wardrobe, if her husband has not had a comparable reward for his labour.
When dealing with one's husband, it is a big help just to realize that it was not God's plan to put women in a subordinate position to their husbands. We can deal in a more patient and loving way with our husbands because we aren't carrying around a load of resentment towards God, knowing that this is actually a matter of cultural re–education.
Dealing with a husband from the perspective of equality is not something that I have yet had the opportunity to work out, but I have been married and can conceive of some strategies to bring about a healthier relationship. One strategy is to stay calm and speak to the husband's sense of reason. When dealing with an issue, present a list of advantages for adopting your proposition. Show him that what you have in mind is in the best interests of the family, rather than it simply being a matter of you wanting to get your own way, regardless of who suffers for it.
Be prepared to negotiate and make concessions. Learn good negotiating skills. If you have taken Business Management before you married, you have an advantage that can be utilized in the home. Be tactful; the law of kindness is supposed to govern the lips of all God's children. Tact does not come easy to some of us; make a study of it and hone diplomatic skills. This is good for ministry, as well as for a marriage and good will with children. We have more influence with people when we frame our words wisely.
As wise women, we should not be arrogant and subscribe to such statements as, "Anything a man can do, I can do better," or "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." Women who says such things are like silly ostriches who scorn the horse and his rider. Everybody can do something better than us, regardless of their gender. And we do need men, not simply for procreation and sexual satisfaction, but we also need their masculine giftings in an emotional sense, to help us to not be self–centred.
Women need a lot of attention, and men need to stretch themselves to pay more attention to their wives, but women also need to learn to not be wimpy and whiny and demanding of our husbands that they worship us. We need to make sure that our requests for attention are not unreasonable and be content with our husbands making a good effort, even if it isn't a perfect performance.
If a husband is a bully, but he isn't actually physically abusing you or the children, do your utmost to try to win him over to accepting you as his equal and allow adequate time for results before you think about packing it in with him. If he adamantly persists in being overbearing and emotionally abusive, it is probably better to live apart from him, if he pushes you beyond what your patience can bear. It is not worth it to go insane and start beating on him (or the children as an outlet for stress), or commit homicide, or suicide, or get ill from internalizing your resentment. But always be ready to reunite when he shows that he is willing to cast down his prideful egotism and grow up.
God does not give us knowledge and liberty so that we can run roughshod over others like they have been running roughshod over us. Two wrongs don't make a right. God gives knowledge and liberty to us to restore our dignity and to help us deal with others in rational, dignified ways. Nor will He hold us guiltless if we use our liberty as an excuse to cast off vows that we made before God and man to love this person and stick by them in sickness and health, for better or worse, for richer or poorer.
A woman may not be able to win her husband over totally to the concept of equality and shared authority, but if she can make some significant progress towards that goal, it is probably worth her while to be content with that. Insisting on one's rights down to the last degree could result in ending up with nothing. It kind of depends on what kind of man you are dealing with. Those who are single should be very careful and wait until they have found a man who is a real gem, rather than settle for one who has a lot of sparkle, but turns out to be just cheap glass after they are married.
Yes, God loves His girls as much as He loves His boys but, sisters, don't forget that God loves His boys just as much as He loves His girls. Be firm with males if they try to push you around, but don't be unreasonable, overbearing, contemptuous, or spiteful to them.
To read some excellent studies on the topic of God's liberation of women, click the following links:
God's Word to Women by Katharine Bushnell
God's Word to Women Word Studies
God's Word to Women Topic Studies
Women in the New Testament by Kenneth E. Bailey
The Meaning of Head by Kluane Spake
One Flesh by Leslie & Gary Johnson
Jesus was a Femnist by Leonard Swidler
Who's the Boss? by Eddie & Susan Hyatt
Copyright © 2010, Lanny Townsend
Page modified by Lanny Townsend on June 1, 2010
Scripture references on this website are closely paraphrased from e–Sword's King James Bible.