So the woman is to keep (to maintain in condition or order, as by care and labor: He keeps his car in good condition.) home. To be busy at home. To work at home. To be a home”maker”.
Apparently, home doesn’t just make itself. It isn’t instant, automatic. It requires work, busy-ness.
Does God’s inclusion of this instruction in the same list as modesty, loving children, and loving husband connote a certain importance? He concludes the list by noting that we should do these things so the Word of God might not be blasphemed. Well, that certainly brings a sense of sobriety to all of this, doesn’t it?
Another question: Does our modern day culture place that same emphasis on homemaking? Is a similar level of importance accorded to homemaking today in America? In other words, are we taught to “keep” home as a primary function along with loving husband and children?
We can find innumerable books, magazine articles, and television segments dedicated to time management, 20-minute menu ideas, “quality time versus quantity”, handling stress, juggling job and home, etc., all of which could be pointed to as proof positive that we are focused on home. But the very subject matter of these articles implies something different: homemaking has been relegated to a secondary position that is now squeezed in between other more important activities. A woman’s career, education, or money-making ability is most important. At the very least, she should give her life to some noble cause intended to relieve the world of hunger or pain, gaining some sort of acknowledgment for her good deed. And then — only then — somehow, somewhere along the line she should help her husband (if she has one) make a home utilizing streamlined, time-efficient methods. Bunk.
Bottom line: we’re being told “it’s all about me and my fulfillment”. This foundational premise is the antithesis of keeping home, an endeavor centered on a service for others who consider a certain place to be their abode, their residence. Keeping home may result in accolades — (Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31.28,29 NIV)
— but most likely you will not be showcased on a magazine cover or given a Christmas bonus. The rewards, instead, are simple but clear. Obedience to God brings Him pleasure. Service to your husband provides him a refuge. A healthy place of growth for your children is established. Around your table there is ample ministry (physical, emotional, and spiritual) freely shared with neighbors and friends. These are the benefits, the fulfillment, the joy, the reward.
Since creation the Hebrew culture has been home-centered. Judeo-Christian morality continues to promote this paradigm. Innumerable generations of Judeo/Christian homes have provided the core for family life and major life events. But today’s culture has shifted the center of living, the core of family life, away from the home. Major events once experienced at home now take place in institutions. At one time we welcomed babies into our world at home. We nursed family members to health at home. We celebrated weddings at home. We died at home. No longer — we have become institutionalized. Homes are now merely pit-stops for refueling, hotels for crashing, closets for storing. But they are not the hub for sharing life experiences.
Sharing momentous occasions intimately, consistently, is a powerful bond. Today, the “glue” that holds family together has been diluted; in many cases it has completely evaporated. The result is not surprising: broken homes, unstable individuals, shattered lives.
I believe that a culture that no longer promotes the keeping of home as a primary function is blaspheming the word of God. Individuals are responsible in spite of culture, no doubt, and will answer to God for their obedience or disobedience. But a culture as a whole either embraces Biblical paradigms of truth or rejects them. I want to strongly suggest that women (and men) flee from this culture’s idea of home and rediscover God’s plan. It is no small matter in His eyes.
Next time we will consider all that home is intended to be. It may not look familiar, but if it is His plan, it is good!