This series was developed because of a question I received from a young woman in her mid-20s. Rebecca asked: "I understand homemaking is to be a priority for women, but is homemaking to be the only priority/purpose/what-have-you for a woman?"
I'm glad she asked because the short answer is: of course not. Our greatest priority and purpose is to be a worshiper of God. But our worship should be expressed in all of life, so even mundane tasks can be done for the glory of God. A godly woman's life actually encompasses a broad range of activities performed with a specific focus. It's the people you carry in your heart that drive the purpose of homemaking.
Check out the epitome of feminine wisdom, the Proverbs 31 woman—she did outreach, she ran a business (profitably!), she was hospitable, she was a homemaker and mother, and her godly character ensured that her husband was respected in the gates (meaning, in community leadership). Her focus was not the house itself, but the people living in that house and those outside who were connected to them through the community. This idea continues in the New Testament. In the book of Acts, we see that the home was where the early church gathered. Therefore, a godly woman's focus is all the people who could be found under her roof--both members of the household and members of Christ's body. But what that looks like for each woman varies according to her season of life, marital status, family needs, time, training, and gifting.
As we consider this, we also need to understand how the history of the home shapes our assumptions about it. After the Industrial Revolution, the home became a place of consumption, as opposed to a place of production. In antiquity, the spheres of public governing and home-based production were quite dependent on each other. Managing the home meant women were running small businesses (unless they were wealthy, and then their estates were quite a production!). But now, home is the place where we store our stuff. It's no wonder that many women lack a vision for the purpose of homemaking in our consumer-driven society. Consumer marketing was in its glory days back in the late '50s and early '60s as our nation recovered from the triple whammy of World Wars I and II and the Great Depression. Peace and prosperity were measured by all the new stuff you could buy then. And to some degree, her rebellion against consumerism led Betty Friedan to kick off the women's liberation movement in the '60s. (See? All things on this blog seem do come around to my book research.) Buying more and more stuff and spending your days cleaning, storing, and arranging your stuff is not the purpose of any woman's life.
So in this series, we will look at some of the practical issues in a godly woman's life in serving her family and the family of God. We start with a topic that is relevant to every woman from Proverbs 31:20, "She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy." That's the theme for this week...