What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Friday, June 18, 2010

Finding the Worth of a Woman (and a book review)

I recently finished reading this book and I really, really enjoyed it. I am not surprised, because I usually really, really enjoy viewpoints that raise eyebrows and drop chins. The thesis of the book is that, now that there has been some time to see it played out in real life, it is clear that Feminism has been bad for the world and especially, for WOMEN.

Danielle Crittenden has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Ladies Home Journal and has appeared on NBC's Today Show. There is not an ounce of religion referenced within the work. I don't even know if she IS religious so if you are non-religious and afraid of some lunatic Christian writing some bit of religion-drabble (though I doubt anyone like that would read this blog, har har), don't let that stop you from reading the book.

The author shows us just how much of our "way" we have gotten~having just as many (if not more) opportunities for careers and education, more respect in politics, and still manage to get away with demanding more from everyone else. We have "won"-but at what expense?

She then explains that postponing marriage for singleness, motherhood for careers, and sacrificing values for promiscuity has led to women being sexualized, children to be raised by non-mothers (if you are indeed ABLE to have children when you eventually decide to have them), wives to be trumped by younger, more beautiful models (if they are indeed able to get husbands at all), and a whole other host of "results" (not so lovely) in areas of aging, politics, careers, etc. Her premise, then, is that we, the daughters of Feminism, have had to swallow a sour pill that our mothers spoon fed us without accurately assessing the implications of the medicine.

Her "remedy" of the situation involves WOMEN changing how we do things...find love (and don't give the milk out for free), get married, have children right off. After you have had the 2.3 children you desired and you truck them off to school, THEN you can have the career you have always wanted, the children you WILL want when you are old, and the husband who is already bound to you.

It is well written, insightful and will be profound to about 97% of the people reading it. Throughout much of the book I kept thinking, "THIS is what people need to hear! Girls need to realize the ramifications of them throwing themselves at men! Women ought to be getting married, not sleeping around uncommitted and then licking their wounds when they are hurt by uncommitted men! Children need to be raised by mothers-not by office-run daycare centers! Women need to stop making outrageous demands on everyone else, husbands, businesses, and legislation so that they can "have it all". This is what our society needs!" But as I read through the book and her conclusions played out, something unsettled me but I couldn't put my finger on it. For two nights I kept coming back to the thoughts swirling around in my head. What WAS it?

This book would have HUGE implications for women, children, men-and society as a whole if her practical, OBVIOUS insights into the failures of Feminism were actually adopted and acted upon. I would highly recommend anyone reading it and would anticipate better lifestyles for all the victims of the selfishness of Feminism (children and husbands and, turns out~ WOMEN).

So,where was the rub? What was it that was lacking?

Finally, it dawned on me. Danielle Crittenden, opposer of Feminism, was a Feminist herself. Or at the very least, had bought the same lie that had resulted in the transforming of a nation. What was missing in her book, in her life, was the very ESSENCE of femininity. It is her opinion that you can have it "all" if you do it in the right sequence and sacrifice in the beginning to get the 'necessities' out of the way first, but I wonder if her "all" is a different picture of what it would have been without the lie.

What lie?

The lie that a woman cannot have a worthwhile identity or be fulfilled doing womanly things. That her value is in the pay stub she gets every Friday at 3:30.

Radical Feminism is destructive of choice and of LIFE~offering no solutions and choices to those who are impacted by woman...only to WOMAN, herself. Babies are prevented or murdered, with no choice given to them. Men have the responsibilities of leading a household and contributing the finances while simultaneously taking over half the woman's jobs too, with no say in the matter. We Christian women look at these affects and we scoff. Radical feminism? Hooey. Pure selfishness. But how have our minds already been infiltrated with the subtleties of the Feminist lie? How have our lives been changed by the adoption of casual feminism? The lie that says we have no worth or value IN the home, only OUT of it.

Dianne Chrittenden says we save ourselves for marriage, "catch" husbands while we still have the sex appeal, have children early so our bodies are more capable and so that it doesn't disrupt the careers that we will have. All great notions, on the surface.

But you will see the feminist worldview if you ask the question: Why "do our time" for the good of the kids until we can procure a better career? Is there not intrinsic value in giving yourself to your family? Is "doing our time" the sacrifice or is it in fact, the "all" which we all seek?

I would argue that no career is as valuable as devoting yourself to your home and family.

Husbands will need you, even after child-bearing years are over. Older children will depend upon you, even after they begin schooling (sometimes more!). Nutritious food will still need to be put on the table, money will always need to be wisely portioned out, pantries will always need to be stocked, clothing will always need to be washed, homes still will long to be beautified, younger women will always need mentors, strong households will always need dedication to thrive, people will always need to be encouraged, women will always need to devote times to furthering themselves, and worthwhile pursuits are ever-ready to happen.

So, is "putting in your time early" really the answer to getting it all?

Or is REALIZING what having "it all" really means the answer?

Is a career even PART of the "it all"?

Who told us the lie that womanhood, marriage and motherhood isn't enough for us? Who told us (and why did we believe them when they said) that living an obedient life to God is not where true contentment lies?

Women need to realize where worth and value come from, only then can they understand whether or not they have attained it. Is worth defined by where they went to college, a title behind their name, or on which desk the brass nameplate sits? Not hardly.

So why do we seek it there and overlook it when it is right in front of us? Why do we seek to be fulfilled in unnatural ways-when we have the potential to live fulfilling lives every moment, if only we see our lives that way.

Please don't understand me, I am not saying that having a job outside of the home is intrinsically sinful. I am, however, unapologetically shouting from the rooftops that a JOB is not where true fulfillment lies. If you leave home to seek it, your quest will be in vain. It is found in the very place we are LEAVING.

True fulfillment is found by bringing Glory to God through obedience, to thriving joyously in the roles with which He has ordered for us. For many, it is a life of marriage and motherhood~ it is found in a well ordered home and being an asset to your husband; it is found in the adoring eyes of the children whose lives you impact every.single.day. For some, God does not grant children and so it is a life of marriage and devotion to being a helpmeet. It is found in the good stewardship of gifts~like money, food, home and family. It is found on the lace tablecloths, the dressers filled, the books dog-eared, the moments grasped with joy. And for some, true fulfillment lies in a life without marriage or motherhood but obedience to God and contentment therewith. It is living a life of gratitude and of selfless giving, and of making the world more beautiful through the gifts God has given you. For ALL women, a truly fulfilled life is a life lived for Christ, endeavoring to serve HIM and others~for His glory.

True fulfillment is found when you give of yourself joyfully and wholly and are received gratefully. True value and contentment is found when you realize your value and worth is far above rubies.

No brass nameplate can do that. Not even if you send the children to school first.


Miranda said...

Great post, Rebecca! Im going to have to check my library for this book.

alyssa spring said...

Lovely.Have you read the book Fearlessly Feminine by Jani Ortlund?

...they call me mommy... said...

Just picked this up from my hold pile at the library! :)

Victoria said...

I am definitely going to read this book! Thanks for the recommendation.

MameyJane said...

Well said...you get a big 'amen' from my corner...you should write a book! Really.

Jinger said...

I have a question only somewhat related to this topic. Like you, I have a daughter, then a son, and another daughter. How do you begin training against this 'lie' with your daughters and more specifically with your son at a young age?

I want to teach my girls about womanhood differently than I was taught (the lie), but how do you treat them (daughters & sons) differently in the home now, as children? Do you encourage your son to find a career & not your daughters? Or even to pursue education outside of homemaking skills? Do you teach your son homemaking skills since he is home wiht you now?

I fear my true question isn't coming across accurately, but I think this training should happen now as opposed to when they are women & men...?

Really great post... we are greatly encouraged by it. As this is counter-culture... it seems a bit overwhelming to me at times in the practical life application of it.


Stefanie said...

Thanks for this post. It is so nice to hear radicle feminism named correctly. Lets not forget that it seems most confuse radical feminism with feminism. I think we all would argue that man and woman are equal under God's eyes. I am a feminist because I believe men and women are equal, (different) but equal. I however do not agree with radicle feminism which has many of the afformentioned consequences. I too have read this book though it has been sometime ago. I see so many young women putting off childbearing/marriage for careers, and quite frankly I don't think such a self-obessed track makes one happy. At least I have not observed it.
What I have observed is so much pressure for women to produce- careers, kids, etc. I don't believe on can have it all. I really haven't seen one successful example. I believe we can change and have seasons as women however.
What saddens me as a new mom is watching the indifference of other new moms, many of whom choose to leave their child and go back to work. They get so preoccupied with spending big money on baby supplies, and sometimes I want to scream "All this child really needs is their mamma", but I don't, I try to listen and not judge, but my heart still breaks for that baby.

Wendy said...

A very nice post Rebecca, I enjoyed reading this. I am blessed to be able to stay home with the kiddos, and may or may not go back to work when they are older. My reasons for going back would not neccessarily be for money, or for my own prestige, but for a simple love of what I went to school for. I also enjoy knowing that I have talents in other areas other than domestication. If I dont go back...which is more likely...it is due to not having the time to give to that endeavor. Parenting, and homekeeping is time consuming...but definitely in a good way :-) Plus...I love being home :-)

Rebecca said...

Alyssa Spring~ no, I haven't read that one. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to get that on my "hopefuls' list.

Stefanie~you are so right. One thing I didn't bring out as well as I ought is that feminism is the religion of "SELF". It is, as you said, self-obsessed. Problem is, we are told to die to self and to love our neighbors and enemies more than ourselves. A Christian can not serve two masters so we need to make our decisions there. Feminism can not survive Christianity and Christianity can not commune with feminism. Just isn't possible.

Wendy~One thing that I learned from this book is how truly warped MANY womens' minds are. They feel like LESSER individuals by staying home and taking care of their children, like they have no purpose outside of a paycheck. I guess I have always led a more isolated, naive life because I can not fathom that (but it is SO prevalent, which shocks me). THAT is what my entire point was. Working outside the home isn't sinful. It isn't even something you have to rationalize. (I earn my own money too.) What I wanted to point out is that working outside the home is not the way to fulfillment and staying home is not only not something to be ashamed of-but the very place true fulfillment lies. I don't think anyone who visits my blog actually believes that working outside the home is the only path to self-worth, so I am preaching to the choir here-but it feels good to get off my chest anyway. :-)

Don't think I am being judgmental about working outside the home. I am being judgemental on where we find fulfillment. That's all. :-)

Rebecca said...

Jinger~thanks for your question. It's a good one, and one that I contemplate often. I am still in those early years so I can't say as I know the answer to it. I will tell you, here is something I do consider really valuable to the proper training of girls/boys.

I read a quote once that said something to the affect of "Fathers don't tell their children how to live. They LIVE and let their children watch." I think that is powerful (for men AND women), especially in these early years. Women who cherish and value their roles will very easily convey the greatness of the womanly roles to their daughters and their daughters will aspire to be like them. Sons, in the same way, will be taught firsthand what it means to be a MAN (not just the gender, mind you) by imitating a good one.

So, my main goal at THIS stage, is to show my children firsthand what a godly family looks like and for them to glean the godly roles through observation~not lecturing. There will be plenty of time for conversations later.

As for some of the more practical questions you referred to....

~Will I encourage boys in careers and not my daughters? The fact is, boys NEED careers. They need to be responsible money-earners, providers and protectors of their family. So yes, I will train them to seek good, profitable and worthwhile work. Matt and I will also encourage them to make that work something that does not draw them away from their families too much-because Fathers need to be present, just like mothers. As for my girls, I consider the "career" I have chosen (and it is a career) to be the good, profitable and worthwhile work that God has planned for most women. That is not to say that they can not pursue money-earning on the side, only that they understand their HIGHEST calling and pursue excellence in that area first and foremost.

~Will I encourage further education for boys and not girls? This is a tricky question and you might not like the answer. Yes and no. Yes-Matt and I will encourage further education for BOTH our girls and boys. No-because Matt and I don't really consider the modern-day "college" setup further education. It seems more a waste of time and money than of anything constructive. Education is a life-long pursuit and will not (ought not) end after highschool. Women need to be highly educated in order to properly fulfill the responsibilities before us. Any further education we can get will only be beneficial to us and our families. We will be able to USE it throughout life. Is college the only place for further education? I think not. But not just for girls, (this is where I am going out on a limb) but college isn't the only (or best) higher education option for BOYS either.

Will we teach boys to do household work? oh MY yes. The object of a family is to work together, for a common good. Each one, within the family, must learn to fulfill his/her duties well-and happily. This is a skill that my boys will need when they begin their own families. I will expect my boys to know how to cook and clean and do laundry for the time in which he has no wife and so that he might be able to "consider his wives' frame" and take care of his family if ever the need arises. It is important for him to be a provider for his family and a lover to his wife, showing kindness and love to her when she may need it. In the same way-women need to be able to push up their sleeves and be willing to get dirty at times, to truly help their husbands and so they need to be taught more than just how to make dishes sparkle. That said, there are also times when certain chores just seem better suited to boys versus girls. Right now, the differences are very apparent though. They both help with laundry hanging and putting away, they both carry groceries from the car. They both like to help in the kitchen and help Papa with animal chores.

That is where I am at now-and desperately seeking wisdom.

Rebecca said...

okay-I actually had to cut stuff out of that comment because it was too long to be published.

Wow. A new milestone: too wordy for a comment box. I have reached a new low.

Wendy said...

Rebecca, I didnt think you were being judgmental~ I was merely pointing out that I agree that my fulfillment comes from my staying home, but there IS that part of me, that really likes my field of study and hopes that one day God can use me in some way with it :-) It certainly wouldnt take the place of my "main job"...did I sound like I was trying to justify? I really wasnt~ Sorry it sounded weird...haha!

JenniferM said...

Great post, Rebecca!

I'm only surprised that you didn't notice the author's feminist inclination sooner. :)

I think as my girls grow older, I will encourage them to persue a particular talent (career?) in addition to general all-around homemaking skills. The reason? Finding a suitable husband gets harder and harder all the time. I have friends who are 25-35, who do not oppose marriage, but simply can't find a man who will adequately lead the family they desire. The general result is that they have no desire to be out on their own, but need to have a skill which is developed enough to earn some income so as to not be an ongoing burden on their parents.

Jinger said...

This gives me much to think about. Thank you for such a lengthy & informative reply. Not a new low... much appreciated practical advice!

I love the quote you mentioned. And the focus for showing them what a Godly family looks like for this age... seems to call us to a higher responsibility each day all while taking a little of the stress of 'doing everything just right' away... if that makes sense.

I am leaning in the direction of how wasteful college is becoming. My husband and live on a christian university campus...in a dorm (I know, crazy with 3 kids) as he works here. I see so much good, but then men & women are leaving here with a chain tied to them, their futures, & there families... called $80,000 debt! This can't be the BEST way.

I don't typically like commenting,(prefering conversations to be heard & to hear more clearly - and sometimes you wonder who in the world am I talking to!! :)) but wanted to let you know I read it, and it is helpful. I'm always amazed when you respond so... well, like we just sat to have some tea & and talk.

This post, along with the discipline series, will be in my 'annual read stack' while I journey through parenting.

I may have already worn out my welcome here, but since I AM actually commenting... I have some questions on family worship & kids church if you are up for it?

The Toplovs said...

Thanks be to God that He has so graciously shown me (and many other women) that true fulfillment lies in training up our children in the Way. Now we pray for many other women who have not yet 'discovered' the satisfaction of being a stay-at-home mother/wife. I venture to say that for many women they lack the confidence to believe that God has ordained and blessed them for training up their children. They feel the need to pursue and accomplish everything (get married, children, work so they can have the white picket fence, 2 cars, toys, etc...). For many, this is the only way to live and they have not yet understood there is a much more fulfillig role in life. It really is a deception that many have bought into. I can't help but feel privileged and grateful that Christ so lovingly revealed His plan for me as a mother and wife: to train up my child(ren) in the Way they should go.....and to joyfully submit to my husband. I have so far to grow yet and this helps me be sympathetic towards many women who are deceived. Were it not for Christ's kindness, we too would be radical feminists.

Thanks for your post and desire to speak Truth!