Women’s roles

I was reading a blog post by a Christian father, and found myself simultaneously agreeing and disagreeing with him. Unfortunately, my ideas of how and why I was disagreeing with him were unclear. Result: I get to share with you what’s inside my head.

[NOTE: I wrote this post, then saved it to think about for a long time, both because I needed to be sure I was reading him properly and because I needed to calm down enough to do so. Even when I disagree and critique someone, I need to do it in love, and when I first started writing, I found myself growing angry. That wasn’t good.]

The distress in his statements had to do with the underlying societal assumptions that going to college and getting a career was assumed to be the best choice for young women as they graduate from high school, including the homeschoolers to which he was specifically referring. He was alarmed that so many seemed to be happy to send off their daughters to college, despite the fact that in so doing they were exposed to the extreme sin, especially sexual promiscuity, that are rampant in such places. Indeed, the attitudes of the parents that the highest goal of these young women should be to go out and get a degree and consequent career horrified him, since his current beliefs (by current I don’t mean that he is changeable but that his beliefs twenty years ago would have been different, but that he has slowly changed his mind over time) lead him to the conclusion that the highest calling of a woman is to be a wife and mother, according to God’s plan.

Some of the statements in his blog post and following comments distressed me, not so much because I disagreed with his reasons for distress, but with some of his premises.

  1. He seemed to feel that a woman should never live without the authority of either a father or husband.
  2. Sending his daughters out to face the world, once they were grown adults, was negligent parenting on his part.
  3. Now I’m not sure about this one, but there seemed to be an implication of it in the comments: women should not even desire something different than caring for the home. A career of any kind is contrary to God’s plan.

In a perfect world, I might not disagree with most of his premises. But this world is far from perfect, and I have fundamental problems with some of his ideas.

At least, I think I do.

My biggest problem is basic: where am I in the vision of the world he has created? A single woman who has never had the prospect of marriage anywhere in sight doesn’t have the option of being a wife and mother and staying home to take care of the children. And I find I resent deeply his opinion that I should never be exposed to the challenges of living in a sinful world, or that I should still be at home, living with my parents. I’m an adult, with a good brain that God has granted to me, and I am firmly of the opinion that He expects me to use it. (Certainly my father does! So I suppose in a way I am living under my father’s authority, it’s just that he has assigned all decision-making ot me.) And God gave me free will for a reason, so I get to make my own choices, even if they have the potential to be wrong ones. (By the way, the Virginia tech example is not a good one. Comparing physical harm and spiritual harm is apples to oranges. Bad logic.)

Of course, there are other underlying assumptions that he has that also bothered me.

  1. There is less sexual promiscuity for women in a world that expects them to be wives and mothers.
  2. God’s plan is for a woman to be a wife and mother.

For assumption #1 here, all I can say is, huh??? We’ve lived in that kind of world before feminism came along, and I really don’t think sexual promiscuity was any less. Adultery and fornication are a constant in the human condition. Nowadays, I believe the biggest difference is not in the amount of it, but rather in the boldness of it.

As for assumptions #2, I repeat, huh??? While these are definitely two of the most important roles that God has assigned to us, I do not think that they are the ONLY roles that God has assigned to us. Nor are they required roles.

I will agree most definitely to one point: parents should be raising their daughters up to regard being a wife and mother as an excellent life. But it must be a choice. Paul makes it clear that it is just as desirable for a woman to be single and devoted to the Lord as a man. Being single gives me flexibilities and opportunities to serve that a married woman just does not have. I do NOT think that being married is what God mandates for me.

Before anyone walks away thinking I don’t want marriage, let me be clear. I would welcome marriage and children, even at this late date, if God provides the right person. I have prayed about it more than once, and placed the control for it in His hands, since I have not the wisdom to know what I need.