Friday, September 15, 2006

Good Housewife Guide Tips

"Over the cooler months of the year, you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel as though he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction."

"Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first. Remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours."

My feminist friend had underlined the last sentences of these paragraphs as ones to particularly regard as ridiculous. Now, she is from a hardscrabble Indiana farm family, the mother of which would rub her hands raw with the laundry and other work around the house while overseeing the children and preparing for her husband who was primarily a musician. Later, he (the father of five) abandoned the family. So you can see why my freind V.S. would be bitter. This is not a good way to introduce a child to The Way Things Oughta Be. I empathise with her completely. As far as she is concerned, this cute little tip got her mother exactly nothing, less some. But if you stand back a bit this is like that old argument that "one ought not to be a Christian because the worst wars in history have been fought in the name of Christ." To which one replies, "That does not make Jesus Christ a party to them." The precept hasn't failed, those who aren't practising it have.

What, I ask you, is so ridiculous about a wife making a comfortable home for her husband to come home to? Is she a fool for doing what is the right and good thing to do if her husband proves to be worthless? Why wouldn't she feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment by having made her husband's day end well? How many of us don't wish someone would pour themselves into our own comfort? Why do we think we have to pay others to do these things or that it is beneath us to serve one's husband with that total abandon that makes life so much darned fun and so pleasant? Don't you love to be pampered? Don't you love to pamper someone else if it is in your capability to do so? Why stop short of making the whole thing great fun in your abandon?

What's that you say? Your wife works long hard hours too? Well, I'm not seeing the Good Husband's Tips here, but they do exist, and they are written in the Scriptures and you are not off the hook, husband: Does your wife really want to work outside the home? Not all really do. Is it not our culture that has so denigrated the joys and value of housekeeping that makes the wife's homemaking such a "lowly" job, so disrespected by our world that she is forced by some stupid shame out into a world she might not wish to enter? How are you doing at honoring what she does for you? Do you imply that housework is beneath her? (If so, why? Is service to the ones we love somehow...unclean?)

Perhaps you, wife, have great talents that can be put to use in the world. Well, fine. Maybe you can make a comfortably orderly home for the family and still do those things. It's not easy. I wonder, though-- would you still do what you do if you were not paid to do it? Do you need to work for the money? Are you actually covering for the failure of a husband to be your provider, the way Christ has commanded of him? Do you believe the lie that housework is 'beneath' you? (Why, I wonder?) Why is it that talents must come before service at home to family in this day and age? Who has authority to tell me how to spend my time?

Certainly there are exceptions to this rule-- the wife whose husband has sinfully abandoned her; the husband who is disabled, or by some unhappy occurrence, dead. Yet Scripture also makes it clear that the Christian community has real obligations to such people that all too often are not being fulfilled. We have obligations to the Church-- but the Church also has obligations to its members.

No Scripture tells a wife that she MUST ALWAYS stay at home (we have plenty of examples to the godly contrary), although it does teach that family and home matters must be her priority, just as a steward makes the careful overseeing of his boss's resources redound to his boss's prosperity. The Scriptures teach that a woman can find a great deal of dignity in volunteer activities and the service of others who need her help. It's that laying down of the life thing again. Put another person in front of yourself for a change, and keep your eye on the right priorities: Wife, your God comes first, and you serve God on earth by putting your husband's needs first; your childrens' second, your own last. Why last? Because--guess what-- you are at the top of your husband's earthly list, by the very command of God Almighty.

Sweet deal, eh? I think so.

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