Beyond the Mystique: Domesticity and the Proverbs 31 Woman

She has dinner ready by six o’clock. The steam from roast chicken with carrots and mashed potatoes dances under the nostrils. Lamps and end tables are free of dust and clutter, kitchen countertops are shiny and slick, the sink is empty; not a hair is out of place on this woman’s head, and her lipstick perfectly kisses her wide smiling lips. She serves food to her husband and children, who are seated around the dining room table. Her children smile, laugh, and act affectionately towards each other and towards their parents. All is right in the perfect little world of this happy housewife, a scene akin to a family sitcom from the 1950s called Leave It to Beaver. June Cleaver was the iconic image of a 1950s housewife, and the show centered around her youngest son’s boyish mishaps and adventures.

The Cleavers were the quintessential post-war American family: the dad worked, while the mom stayed home and cooked and cleaned. They embodied traditional family values and stuck up for morality. For the most part, everybody in the household got along. If there were any familial or outside skirmishes, they were confronted with ease and perfectly resolved. Watching the show can feel like entering a time warp to a by-gone era. It is pure, innocent, and clean compared to some family sitcoms of today. I’ve known some Christians who wistfully look back on the show and decry the perceived corruption of our modern world. They would say our society is now less “Christian” than the 1950s. But was the show truly Christian? Was the portrayal of a happy housewife through June Cleaver something Christian women should strive to embody?

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Is Your Head Full of Straw?

Christian Thinking Series — Introduction

Men are the tin man in need of a heart and women are the scarecrow wanting for brains. For so long men have been the stereotype of logic and reasoning and women the stereotype of heart and emotions. It can be a mostly true generality, but still a stereotype easily broken.

Are women’s heads truly full of straw? In 2 Timothy 3:5-7 Paul warns Timothy of false teachers:

“And from such people turn away! For this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Paul isn’t perpetuating the above stereotype here, but simply expressing truth. The truth is that women, and housewives in general, are susceptible to the dangers of false teaching. Men are too of course, but there are certain false teachings out there intentionally aimed at women and/or housewives. Just turn on your television to see advertisements selling to women and you know our culture has an agenda.

The Call to Christian Women

Let’s not be those gullible women! Let’s not reserve hard study and theology to the men and seminary students. Women don’t need to be all fluffy hearts and butterflies to epitomize biblical womanhood. We too can be pictured as brave warriors fighting the spiritual battles in our homes, in the world, and in the Church. Women are called to pick up their sword and fight along with the men; the sword of truth does not discriminate.

As Christian women, we need to read and start thinking. Read God’s Word first, but also read good books. You don’t have to be a natural intellectual to think, but we are called to think differently from non-christians. Christian thinking and secular thinking are two seperate categories and we must become familiar with both camps to do battle well.

The Christian Mind

In his 1960’s book, The Christian Mind, Harry Blamires says,

“There is no longer a Christian mind. There is still, of course, a Christian ethic, a Christian practice, and a Christian spirituality.”

When we start to think like a christian it should affect our daily living, and not just be a moral awareness.

I love Aimee Byrd’s book, Housewife Theologian. She has an entire chapter devoted to the Christian mind. Here are some excerpts:

“Truly Christian thinking involves an eternal perspective on our daily matters and contemplation of how they fit into the dogma of the drama in which God has cast us. 

 “Our faith has nothing substantial to say to or about what we perceive as real life. We behave as if our Christian values make our contribution to the world somehow insignificant or unintelligent.

Unfortunately, in many ways as a church, we have allowed this kind of thinking and have, in fact, added to it. We keep our faith compartmentalized into a separate realm, apart from the everyday facts and acts of life. When we are not wearing our “faith hat,” we think in terms of all the isms of our time — naturalism, existentialism, conservatism, feminism, humanism, capitalism, liberalism, and so on — unaware that we are thinking like Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, and other philosophic minds and believing that we are thinking “independently.” Tragically, rather than functioning as independent thinkers we are really just parroting the spin-doctors who don’t see life through the lens of God’s special revelation in Scripture.”

As Paul warned Timothy of false teachers in their day Paul mentions ‘they are always learning, but never arriving at the truth’; these are the spin-doctors of our time too.

My next several blog posts will be aimed at expounding on these thoughts. I’ll explore modern day false teaching aimed at women and how it embodies different philosophies. Instead of filling our heads with the straw of false cultural thinking we’ll be using the brains of true Christian thought. Just follow the yellow brick road.

Part 2 >>