Generation Cedar

To the Lady Who Used Guilt to Undermine Homemaking and the Titus 2 Woman

A friend shared a post on Facebook recently and when I read it, it irritated me. But I sort of didn’t know why at first, because honestly, it was hard to even articulate what the article was about when I tried to tell my husband. Do you feel the same? Here’s a snippet:

“It was the raspberry ices that broke me….the women’s Bible study I was attending was going through A Woman After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George, one of those guides to “biblical womanhood” that offered a few good insights, but mostly just made me feel guilty and inadequate about my fledgling homemaking skills. Something about the theology seemed off, but as a young mom, I took the older, more experienced women’s words to heart. Or at least I did until George described how she served her daughters raspberry ices when they came home from school, and a case of spiritual brain freeze spurred me to righteous rebellion.

See, I had spent much of my childhood in Liberia, a country that was in the midst of a horrific civil war. The women I had grown up with—strong women who loved Jesus and were certainly “women after God’s own heart”—had been forced to flee their concrete block houses and zinc shacks to take refuge in the jungle, or make the long, dangerous trek to Ghana seeking refuge and asylum….They sure weren’t serving up raspberry ices in sparkling goblets….

The dichotomy between what I was being taught about “biblical womanhood” in church and the reality of what my loved ones in Liberia were facing was grotesque, and the insinuation that the measure of a woman’s heart could be in any way related to the privileged frivolities of Western homemaking infuriated me….“If it doesn’t work for African market women, it doesn’t work for me.” The gospel has to be good news for everyone willing to accept it, no matter their circumstances, or it isn’t good news at all….

…when we absolutize our gender expectations, insisting that everyone meet our cultural standards of masculinity and femininity, we run into trouble. Not only do we misrepresent what the Bible has to say about men and women, boiling people down to caricatures, we also crush people under the weight of our human-made traditions, which we have erroneously equated with virtue and godliness. In Matthew 23, Jesus had strong words for the scribes and Pharisees who did just that, accusing them of tying heavy burdens on people’s backs, slamming the door of heaven in people’s faces, and of being white-washed tombs…”

Much of what I find problematic about the article is the way the author, Jenny, (studying to get her Master of Divinity in Theology) uses a sort of guilt-tactic I believe is grossly misplaced, even though the article is supposed to illuminate her anger at being made to feel guilty. Blaring red flag.

From the beginning, the reader is coaxed to agree with the article because no one wants to be associated with “the wrong gospel.”  Likewise, we don’t want to be grouped with the “uppity Western woman” when there are deeply suffering women in Africa. And we sure don’t want to be a burdening Pharisee! 

But the way she uses these tactics is dishonest.

She references a Bible Study about how to practically live out being a wife and mother. Something women are commanded to teach. You’ve seen them, and probably have attended them or read a book about them. I talk about practicalities here. (How to be resourceful, cook more nutritionally, be efficient, find shortcuts to cleaning tile–the never-ending suggestions to help us love our husbands and children better. Good teaching.)

But she villainizes them and uses extreme examples to do so. She jumps to the conclusion that merely teaching about the practicalities of homemaking is “not good news for everyone” since there are suffering women in Africa. Quite a leap.

I think that’s unfair for several reasons:

Firstly, we are Western women and thankfully not in the middle of a war-torn country. Life does look radically different for us, practically speaking, especially as it relates to our homes. But if the African women had that privilege, I’m sure they would appreciate some practical instruction on keeping laundry under control too. They might even enjoy the idea of serving raspberry ices to their children as a little token of love.

Now I would agree wholeheartedly with Jenny that holding up the perfect pearl-clad housewife is not helpful to women, no matter where they live. Because the truth is, we are in our own battles, even if we aren’t fighting starvation. Life is messy, even here. You may battle for your marriage, your children, your health. We fight cultural battles that seek to destroy our homes and families. And these are real. And I submit that we are strong, fighting women too, and that those African women would fight beside us here just like we would if we were there.

None of that changes our admonition to “teach the younger women what is good…” and doing so, as Mrs. George was, most certainly doesn’t imply we are depending on our homemaking skills as a measure of godliness. The stretch is absurd.

This is the blaring error, as I see it:

The article uses the “dichotomy” to undermine (and villainize) Titus 2 teaching. “If it doesn’t work for African market women, it doesn’t work for me.” See, that’s a lovely thought, but it’s not realistic. Because what works for African women also doesn’t work for us.

It’s true, we don’t have to serve raspberry ices in dainty goblets to be more godly. But neither does the act of it (or the suggestion of it in a Bible study) make a woman a hypocrite. That was strongly implied.

I am against “shaming” women into anything. But we can’t use that word anytime we’re confronted with something we simply don’t like or don’t want to do.

Confession time:

I don’t love keeping house. I love home, I love the idea of having a tidy, organized house, but I don’t like doing the hard part of it. I’m not good at it. If I sit in on a Bible Study that emphasizes how we can be better house-keepers, I can respond either with anger, feeling “shame” for my inadequacies (i.e. my natural disdain for housework), or I can respond with a renewed effort to improve in an area that needs improvement.

I’m sure Jenny is a lovely woman, and I’m sure we would be friends in real life. My intention isn’t to attack her, personally. But I think when we are given a public platform, we have to be very careful about the message we’re delivering.

Excerpts from On Being a Woman After God’s Own Heart

I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. Did the article bother you?

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54 Responses

  1. THANK YOU FOR SAYING THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!! The new shame
    theology that makes us feel guilty about our “priviledged” circumstances
    (Non-poverty, non-war-confronted) is a sham. I absolutely
    hate that this is the new “morality” and even “spirituality.”
    “Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God.”
    Simple, isnt it? And yet every single one of us across race,
    gender, class, and location each have very REAL
    Spiritual battles— regardless of our privileged lives.
    There should be no shame in having joy that we had a small
    Victory while connecting with our kids and winning back
    their hearts for a moment with a special treat
    . It is ludacris– and yet another deceitful arrow of
    False guilt in the quiver of the Enemy.

    1. Jess,

      Thank you for confirming what I see. Sometimes I wonder “Am I the only one who sees this?” Because there are so many affirmative applauses on the sidelines. I appreciate your comment.

  2. The article did not bother me. What she saw “wrong with the American” example, I can see as well with the “African women” example. We all have battles. I too love a neat, clean, and orderly house and I don’t like to clean. But…I don’t struggle with this because I tend to make “cleaning” my idol, trying to keep things clean, shiny, and tidy to the point of burdening my husband and children. If I were to compare myself to the African women or better yet to my own mother, I would absolutely feel ashamed for not doing all that they do. I remember my mother washing our clothes on rocks at the river in Mexico and I am guessing that African women do too. My mom scrubbed our white socks and undies by hand to get white as when they were new. I would be the one in Jenny’s class falling out of Bible study because I could not live upto the standard of the African woman. I agree with you, Generation Cedar, that we each have battles, in our marriages, in our homes, with our children. We are in different parts of the country in many different situations with many struggles–and no we don’t have to fear persecution when we gather at a Bible study, but our struggles are true struggles nonetheless. I read the book by Elizabeth George that was referenced and I did not find it offensive to my home-making capabilities or incapabilities. It was simply an example of what worked for her. My children love it when I bake. I homeschool one and send the other to Bob Jones Academy. When I pick up the older one from Bob Jones, I typically take his water bottle with fresh cold water and a snack, preferably a home-baked treat. It’s what he looks forward to. The other loves cheese and could eat cheese all day long and so I do my best to keep cheese stocked in the home for him. Would I expect another sister in Christ to bake several times per week in order to call her godly? Of course not. Well, I just wanted to say that I agree with your view. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly!
    I have read the book that so offended this girl. And I may not entirely agree with every little thing she suggests but I can plainly see that the “heart” behind it is right.
    My sister went to Africa a few years back and spent a lot of time with orphans and street children. I asked her if she felt guilty for all that we have when she got back. She said. “No. I don’t feel guilty that I have, I just feel sad that they don’t. Nobody should have to live like they do.”
    She’s right. Nobody should have to live that way. Reading that excerpt made me feel as though the author thought we “should” somehow be deprived because other women are. This is sad to me. We should pray, and work, and strive not only to be free of those things but also to help those that aren’t as “free” or “privileged” as we are. We give what we have to those who have not. We love.(that includes loving our own children.)
    She talks about the Gospel and that it has to be good news to all who are willing to accept it. This statement bothers me for some reason.
    I guess because in regard to George’s book it seems out of context. The Gospel is the Gospel and it is GOOD NEWS.
    I somehow don’t think that serving her children raspberry freeze was George’s idea of the Gospel. I think it was just her way of loving up on those kids.

    1. Amanda,

      I thought about it, I left a comment on her article telling her I disagreed (and linked here), but this is why I didn’t do that: Her piece is public. Can’t be undone. She is a teacher on a public platform and so I felt the answer needed to be public also, for the sake of those who read.

  4. Hi Thank you for keeping it real.I am greatful for bloggers like you.You have helped so many of us see how it is supposed to be in our neck of the woods.I hurt for the struggles of mothers that Jenny speaks of however, I am where my father put me and I have to do the best with what I have.My struggles are serious and real and are no less important because I am not living in third world conditions. Being compassionate and helpful to others starts first at home.The mom that serves her family from her heart is also going to be the person that would serve in a missions situation.The mission field starts at home.If I can’t figure out how to serve my family then how can I think of being concerned with others.Titus women have an important job to do in our world and especially in America.Thank God for women who take the time to blog and create Bible studies to teach nurturing and homemaking.I gave up T.V. and secular world view years ago .I hungered for approval and guidance in my desire to be the best wife and mother.The place I found refuge was in Christian women bloggers and Bible studies.My misery was partly due to guilt and self doubt brought on by no real clue of how to do my job as a stay at home mom and wife.Articles like the one Jenny put out seem to add to the negativity of some trying to live good old -fashioned Christian homemakeing way of life .This attitude of “my pain is worse than your pain” comes from a place of immaturity. Our culture has a Babylon type numbness that is frightening and destructive .Women of God in general are trying to succeed in any way possible to counteract the filth that this World is tossing our way.The only chance of survival of this next generation will depend on the efforts we do today as parents .If we have a continuing of strong Godly family values that Our children get today

    like what you

    1. T,

      This: “This attitude of “my pain is worse than your pain” comes from a place of immaturity” is very true.

      After our family lost everything in a tornado 4 years ago, I went through a deep period of depression. My neighbor called me one day–the one who lost her husband in that storm. I felt so guilty about what I struggling with. She rebuked me saying that one’s pain is not measured by another’s, but that God gives different measures of grace to each one. It was such a comfort to me.

      1. Hi Kelly, I sometimes wonder how your neighbor is doing…the one that lost her husband in the storm.

        1. Marie,

          She is doing exceptionally well. They moved to a small farm and stay very busy. Her oldest son got married last year and they leave nearby. I talked to her last week, on the anniversary of the storm, and they were having a sweet time of remembering their husband/father.

  5. Thank you, I appreciated this analysis and agree. For the Lord’s good pleasure we are each in the place he chooses, and certainly in this world as a whole we will be fighting spiritual battles, and whether that looks like survival in a jungle, or in suburban America, we are yet called to the same spiritual standards notwithstanding the circumstances. Sometimes it seems the missionary life overseas in remote places is glorified as more spiritual than for example in my place of suburbia. I love those missions, but I must also love the place we are called to be and embrace each detail, persevering through the certain trials. Thank you Kelly.

    1. Shelley,

      Yes, like I mentioned to Josie below, Oswald Chambers says the most difficult place of ministry is being faithful and obedient in the mundae, where no one is praising you for your work. I think motherhood is exactly that place and one of the very hardest for women to be content.

  6. Kelly, I read Jenny’s whole article, at first I could see some valid points, like we are not all 1950’s robot women. Then I read to the end and it did trigger anger in me and this is why. I felt she was trying to glorify a very feminist view of a Strong Christian woman.”they pledged abstinence… effectively mobilizing men”? Who were the men? Were they their husbands? Where is this sort of thing in the Bible? It was if we should all be standing up and doing what the men wont and bullying them by with holding the Gift God gave to marriage.I do not believe we need anymore of this kind of “encouragement” here in America.I think we all need to get back to reading the Bible to show us how to be true women of God. Personally, I’m sick of feeling pressured to have all kinds of other ministries and ladies meetings without the children when I know I need to be home with a house full of small children and a husband to care for. I believe God sees us serving and loving others and is glorified through it. Thank you again for your blog. I appreciate how you see things through a biblical filter and bring it to light.

    1. Yes, Josie, I agree. Oswald Chambers said the most difficult ministry is that of being faithful and grateful in the mundane place God has called us. I think he’s right.

  7. I have not read that Elizabeth George book, but now I want to, LOL.
    I feel though, that Mrs. George’s point was to teach about having a servant’s heart for your family. It’s not about who’s house is the cleanest and best decorated, or who has the most well behaved children or whether you cook three gormet meals every day for your family…it is about a servant’s heart. Jesus demonstrated love and service to us while He was here on earth, as Christians we are to strive to do the same. By demonstrating selfless acts of love and service to our children they will in turn learn to love and serve others and they will go out into the world to demonstrate what they learned at home….maybe some even going to Africa to serve and all because service was moldeled by a mother who took time to do things like giving them raspberry ice.

  8. Thank you so much. This helps sort through the emotion (*and guilt*) to the joyful freedom of walking in His will. May i share that when i first began obeying my sweet husband, i confess that i said to The Lord, “Lord, he will railroad me.” In spite of that expectation, in obedience to God, i began to honor my husband’s desires. The result? After a year, he was more attentive, more considerate, more thoughtful. After five years, he is more open, shares his heart with me, is tender, kind and thoughtful. Oh, what a difference. If you just knew the hardness of our hearts toward one another before. Today, we are close and best friends. I would never have thought that was possible.
    And it is all the result of looking at The Lord’s instructions in His Word, and following them in the Holy Spirit’s strength.
    There are blessings in obeying The Lord!
    Thank you, again, Kelly, for such a well thought article. It has been so helpful. May The Lord bless you and keep you. ~ Melissa

  9. The article did bother me. I really believe it’s all about Perspective. I suppose this is her perspective although she says in her comments that she never meant for it to sound like she was shaming American Women. I left a comment under my official real name that I hardly ever use..lol. It’s Keryn.

  10. I agree with you, Kelly. She’s painting with a very wide brush and then starts to disregard Scripture because of what she’s seeing. Isn’t the point to serve the Lord by serving our husbands, serving our children, & serving our home? That’s going to look different in every home, in every country. I would hope that Christian women in Liberia would be serving their husbands in their homes (or tents or in the jungle or wherever that may be) and raising their children in the training and admonish of the Lord. Their service will have a different appearance then my service but in the end we are all serving our Lord!

  11. I left a comment and question under the original question and I really appreciate how she responded back to me. So much easier to understand now. You might want to check it out Kelly. It might help you to see where she was coming from.

    1. “Keri” responded back to you, but I don’t see a response from the author.

      Even Keri’s response still doesn’t explain the message that was embedded in the article. Doing a study on “biblical womanhood” (which I’m sure was defined by “loving our children and husbands and keeping our homes well” that includes practical examples that only “privileged Western women” have done doesn’t mean we’re saying if you can’t live a privileged life you’re not a biblical woman. That was the stretch that Jenny asserted. It’s hard for me to articulate, really.

      1. I should have clarified that the response back to me was not from the author of the article but from the “other Keri”. I very much understood and appreciated what she had to say.

        I did notice in the comments though that the author of the article tried to clarify what she meant in regards to writing it. I personally didn’t see all of that and don’t agree with everything in her article.

  12. I read her post out of curiosity from what you wrote. I agree with the points you raised and felt her tone towards a gentle writer such as E George was not very kind. She says in her post that people develop what it makes to be a good woman or man from their culture. ( very true I agreed) but then fails to see that George is writing to that culture from where she is from ( western). Not only that, I believe if we are Christian women reading and following Gods word then what makes a good man or woman in Gods eyes will be in his Word for all to see regardless of culture. She had issues with a woman desiring to build up other women,and I see nothing wrong with encouraging women to be the best they can be in the home, as mothers, wife’s etc. I can’t imagine what she would write if she came across Lori Alexander’s blog! 😉
    Blessings to you

    1. I really see her article as trying to share her perspective (life in the country she grew up in) as compared to here in America now. I wonder if she struggles as a mom. Don’t we all. I don’t like the way she comes across sounding as she speaks about the ladies bible study book author. Lori Alexander’s blog really does have a lot of wisdom for wives and moms but sometimes she and her husband(when he writes)come across as a little to sarcastic for me personally and it can be a huge turn off. Just as in the article that Kelly shared. We have to be really careful that when we are sharing things as Christians that it doesn’t come across sarcastic. That’s not really a good Christian example.

  13. I haven’t read Jenny’s whole article, but what she said about teachings only being valid if they work for everyone can only be true if what we’re rejecting isn’t negating scripture. She seems to be rejecting being a “keeper at home” because people in war-torn countries can’t live that out in the same way we do. Scripture isn’t commanding us to have tea parties or to NOT have tea parties. It’s commanding us to flesh out loving our husband and children, being keepers at home, obeying our husbands…in the world we live in. African women can do that too. I recently saw a picture of an African woman carrying a huge bundle of wood on her head. I don’t have to do that, but I would if that was how I could cook and clean for my family. When I see what others in other cultures struggle with, it reminds me to be thankful for God’s blessings and to trust Him with my own struggles.

  14. Wow! I can’t say how much I appreciate you for taking the time to articulate your response to that article. I think many of us reading it would have had the same reaction you did, in that we would have felt uncomfortable about it but not sure exactly how to explain why.
    I don’t want to restate what you’ve already said here, so I’ll just say “well said and thank you!”

  15. Christianity is not about us. It is Christ in you the hope of glory.I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. Whether I am serving raspberry ice to my children, or struggling in a war torn country, it is still the same grace I am depending on. His grace is sufficient for me.

  16. I feel so sad for this situation, because I love mrs. George’s book (I still flip through it for a pick me up sometimes!!) BUT, I can also relate to feeling that a particular calling I have is being minimalized by the status quo around me…even the soundly Christian status quo. My first inclination is to bristle at her defensive tone and hostile reaction. But I have so many times felt a little of that rise up in me when I realize that for instance, the “encouragement for mothers” program expects me to leave my nursing infant in the nursery and offers only “after school tips” for shepherding/discipline/training my homeschooled 6yr old son! We need to keep our eyes on the fact that neither the raspberry ices NOR the war torn African villages will be going with us when we stand before Christ one day!! Thank you for articulating this, Kelly.

  17. Also, women in war-ravaged third-world countries don’t have much opportunity to participate in a ladies’ study and then blog about it. So let’s all be mindful that getting to parse such a thing out from the coziness of our internet connection??? First world problem. Literally.

  18. I wonder how old this woman is. I could have written a article like that 20 years ago.- in my 20’s. Righteous indignation. I can see her point, but now, in my 40’s, I can also see how she is a little misguided and missing Elizabeth George’s point.

  19. You know I am teaching my daughterto pick themes from text at the moment in our language arts lessons.
    She will narrate a passage back that I have read aloud to her, and we will pick through it to get to the essence of what is being communicated. It’s interesting to see her mind work. Little kids often focus on the details and you have to lead them into thinking deeper. ‘Is it really about the stripey shirt getting lost, or is the author trying to point to the virtue of kindness?’ etc.

    Anyway, since doing this more frequently, I am suddenly aware of the glaring lack of critical reading going on out there on the internet.

    Now, I haven’t read Mrs. George’s book- but is she simply teaching about loving your children and husbands and being busy at home (which is biblical) within the cultural context of her readers? Or is it all about the raspberry ice?

    If you can explore the deeper theme of a text- the details are then in context with that theme.

    1. Mrs. L,

      I have read that book and she is simply teaching about loving your husband and children! The raspberry ice was just and Example I believe of what she did to serve her daughters and show them love, when they got home from school!

      I don’t understand how people don’t get that!

  20. Kristen, That is actually an Excellent point! (a little off topic I know) but it reminded me a little of what my son’s ex-fiancé said to me when she told me she was breaking up with him. She said ” She said she Couldn’t serve God and Be a Wife and Mother”!!! Seriously?

    I was like…What – Do – You – Think – The – Rest – Of – Us – Do?????

    Immaturity and Perspective!!!

  21. Oh- I was just reminded of a talk I heard from Voddie Baucham about why his family is moving to Africa.
    He was talking about the need for establishing a printing press over in Zambia where he is headed- because African writers need to address their own culture from sound biblical principles.
    The things they are dealing with (he gives examples of animism and bride price etc) are so different from what American Christians deal with. But the Word of God does not change- although application within different cultures most certainly will!
    It was a blessing to listen to if anyone else is interested-http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=2515118330

  22. I suspect it’s a bit of a young writer with a reasonable amount of limited prospective. When all you wield is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, ykwim? E. George’s books didn’t impact me in my mid 20’s as they do now, and likely your application of them would different than mine….this does not negate their worth; it’s nuance. Hopefully miss Jenny will mature a bit, chill out a bit, and then be able to use her bi-cultural experience to God’s glory. 🙂

  23. Jenny is playing the comparison game that seems to be increasingly more prevalent these days. The one that compares varying demographic groups: privileged vs. underprivileged; rich vs. poor; whites vs. people of color; the marginalized vs. …those who are not (?), etc. She appears to look with disdain on those who presumably live the easy life, replete with “privileged frivolities,” as evidenced by statements like the following one.

    [The African women] sure weren’t serving up raspberry ices in sparkling goblets.

    I can appreciate her heart for the women of other cultures and the challenges they face, but she gives the false impression that those women are better Christians because of their actions in their desperate circumstances.

    She says, “The women I had grown up with—strong women who loved Jesus and were certainly “women after God’s own heart”—had been forced to flee their concrete block houses and zinc shacks to take refuge in the jungle, or make the long, dangerous trek to Ghana seeking refuge and asylum.”

    I don’t doubt that they were strong women who loved Jesus, but is it their forcible removal from their meager dwellings to even more dangerous areas that makes them “certainly ‘women after God’s own heart'”?

    Is it less than certain that women NOT in those circumstances are women after God’s own heart?

    Neither our earthly circumstances nor or actions make us who we are in Christ. It is entirely by God’s grace that we are in Him, and we would not even begin to be able to be women after God’s heart apart from His Spirit’s working in us.

    She levels the charge that the teaching she’d received on Biblical womanhood insinuated that the measure of a woman’s heart was based on “the privileged frivolities of Western homemaking.” If that was indeed the teaching she received, well, she’s doing the same thing, insinuating that the measure of a woman’s heart in Liberia or Ghana, for example, is based on how those women approach their homemaking in the midst of their circumstances.

    The comparison game is futile and unbiblical. It takes our eyes off Christ and what He’s done for all His people, and puts the focus on the lives and actions of humans. No where in the Bible are we told that those who suffer “more” (how ever one defines that) are more spiritual.

    We all suffer. Not everyone suffers the same way, of course, but the remedy is the same for all of us: Jesus.

    For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)

    Jenny would be wise to consider that there are ways to call attention to the plight of any particular group without calling into question the desire of other Christian women to serve and obey the Lord in their callings, wherever they live in the world. It does not build up one group of Christians to tear down another Christian group.

    And she should also understand that it is not distasteful to the Lord to show our gratitude for the blessings He has given. Should we apologize for being blessed in ways others have not been? If we are able to give our daughters raspberry ice, should we not because others can’t? Or do it and never ever share that we did, as if we’re ashamed that God gave us that opportunity when He didn’t others?

    My post has gotten long enough, but for Jenny and any others who wish to illuminate the distressful situations under which members of other cultures may live, I submit the following article as a superior example of how to highlight situations few of us could ever fully comprehend, without speaking disdainfully of folks who do not endure these circumstances.

    http://www.timkeesee.com/journal/2015/4/20/who-can-be-against-us

    Blessings to all.

  24. I’ve not finished reading all the comments, so if I’m making a comment that is similar to another, forgive me.

    I have a good friend who refers to our problems as “first-world problems” on a continuum. I get that. However, after thinking about it, I was finally able to articulate my thoughts in a text.

    “I get that our problems may be minimal, but they’re still mini trials that try our faith. Will I trust God, and be obedient and joyful in spite of my crcumstatnce?”

    To compare my trials w/someone else’s trials is a silly notion. This is where God has placed me. And, as you stated, we ALL have struggles…a son is dating an unbeliever, and I’d like to knock him into the middle of next week. Those kinds of struggles can be wearing, but I’m not about to wish that I lived in Africa so that I can experience abject poverty in addition to feeling stressed (when I begin to try to wrest control from God) about my son. However, what it DOES help me do is to realize how good I have it, and stop griping about having to unload the dishwasher (which takes all of five minutes, but I deplore it)! Maybe I’ve got it all wrong, and taking this thing far afield, but I think as believers, and women at that, we need to be careful at comparing ourselves w/others, and stop feeling guilty because we have things like indoor plumbing. BTW, we have NO idea what struggles that others are undergoing…I have to remind myself of that constantly.

  25. It isn’t because she has a problem with “privileged” Americans, it is because she has a problem with God; the Bible. Nature itself teaches us what a man and woman is and what masculinity and femininity is as the Bible talks about nature teaches these things as well, even with hair! A woman that obeys God’s Word is a woman after God’s own heart no matter the country or living conditions. Her doctrine is heresy and error to God’s Word.

    People will use any excuse they can come up with to fight God’s Word but it will still be there and we will all be judged by it in the end.

  26. I agree with you.

    This whole idea that one must feel guilty for whatever good we have in our life is certainly from Satan. To feel guilt for what God has given is to partially reject His gifts.

    I delight in blessing my family with little surprises. I don’t feel guilty that I can afford special things once in a while. Even knowing full well Christians in other countries are being persecuted for their faith. My job is to pray for them, support ministries tat help them as God leads. To withhold blessings from my family would in no way honor them. Its a twisted thinking. Should I whip myself as well to suffer as they do?

    I fear Socialistic thinking is creeping in more and more into Christianity. And even those who love Christ can fall victim should the Word not be ever on their heart, ears, mouth, eyes.

  27. I don’t need an article like that to shame me into being an American housewife, because for the longest time I was quite adept at doing it to myself!
    I would constantly say things like, “What are we still doing here in America when so many brothers and sisters need us in other countries.” Or, “This American housewife stuff is silly-look at how those beautiful, strong African ladies work so hard and live off of so little!”
    I use to cry after reading about the plight of others and would begin to loathe my cushy life, (which is rich compared to third world country standards, but just above poverty level here.)

    I could give you dozens more examples of the shaming self-talk I went through for the past two years, but the truth of the matter is that we aren’t called to foreign missions. My pastor husband has prayed extensively over it for a long time, and there is absolutely no sense of a calling anywhere but the U.S.

    In the meantime, what good did all those admonitions do to love God and others more?

    Absolutely none.
    I also grew to hate many biblical homemaking books because of the American wife persona and the fact that I deal with chronic illness that always keeps me behind. (Yet another reason foreign missions are probably not in our future any time soon!)

    I finally came to a lot of the same conclusions you did about such “godly” shaming methods and instead seek God’s will about what my part really is in reaching out to and helping others globally in the name of Christ.

    Even Shawn Groves,the Christian singer and ambassador for Compassion International once stated in a blog post he wrote: “First world problems are still real problems.”

    However, in all fairness to the author of that article, I was wondering if I could have a link to it. I don’t really like just reading snippets of anything.

    Sorry for the book, and thank you for this article! God bless

    1. Michelle,

      Click anywhere on the bold print On Being a Woman After God’s Own Heart in the second to the last line of Kelly’s post, and it will take you to the full article.

  28. Ya know, I had a great comment all thought up, but with the comments you’ve already gotten, I think most of that would be redundant. This woman’s thinking is just a complete non-sequitur. By that logic, any individual who finds himself in a more comfortable position than his fellow man should just chuck the whole Jesus thing overboard, because his way of being a Christian will necessarily look different than his fellow in worse circumstances. Or a woman with children should put them in boarding school because a woman without any finds herself needing a ride to work. Or I should drown my pet fish because some people have lice. Really, it’s just that nonsensical.

  29. I read Jenny Armstrong’s article and I took away a completely different point. Her main premise is that we cannot use a culturally-bound stereotype to define godliness in women. Being a woman after God’s own heart is about “hat(ing) violence and injustice, act(ing) on behalf of the vulnerable and oppressed, and (being) willing to lay down their lives to bring about reconciliation.” Ms. Armstrong uses the extreme example of the women in Liberia to make her point – which I found to be very powerful.

    Her vehemence against the stereotypical homemaker is not a rejection of God’s word–but a rejection of the expectations often associated with white, middle-class American values. “The dichotomy between what I was being taught about “biblical womanhood” in church and the reality of what my loved ones in Liberia were facing was grotesque, and the insinuation that the measure of a woman’s heart could be in any way related to the privileged frivolities of Western homemaking infuriated me.”

    She’s not saying ‘don’t love your children – don’t be a homemaker’ – she’s pointing out that when one standard is used to measure all women – we are the poorer for it. When we are so focused on the raspberry ices – we can be at risk to miss the Kingdom.

    I think you made some valid points on her rhetorical devices – using pathos of the Liberian women to bring the readers to her side- but I think you missed the central message of her article.

    I’m going to go one further. Both these blogs are frivolous. In fact this whole discussion about godly womanhood is stupid. Being a godly woman isn’t about acting a certain way or standing for certain things, or conforming to a certain lifestyle – it’s about knowing Christ – and anything that distracts us from Christ is bullshit. (I am quoting the apostle Paul here…Philippians 3:7-9) Knowing Him is the key to knowing God’s heart and being transformed into the sort of person who glorifies Him and enjoys Him forever.

    1. Jean,

      I appreciate your points and agree in part with them (I knew what point she was trying to make but I also maintain she took a shot at homemakers that I think was unfair).

      I take issue with your statement : “Both these blogs are frivolous…being a godly woman isn’t about acting a certain way.” This blog (I can’t speak for Jenny’s) isn’t about “acting” a certain way. But when Paul instructed older women to teach the younger women “what is good….to be chaste (acting a certain way), self-controlled (also acting a certain way), pure, subject to their husbands, loving their husbands and children and being busy (keepers) at home”, well that is most definitely a practical command for practical application and living that out (via this blog or otherwise) is obedience to Scripture, not frivolity.

      Knowing Him is key...that part you have right. But you can’t just throw out the other part. It’s all or nothing.

  30. Jenny,

    I would contend that being a godly woman IS about acting a certain way. Otherwise, there would have been no need for there to be a litany of sinful actions that we are to put off, and godly ones that we are to put on. And those dictates aren’t exclusive to women–men are to adhere to the mandate of Scripture, as well. Knowing Christ is part of that. Our faith is manifested by what we do.

    BTW, I am not offended, but pretty sure that when you were “quoting (your word)” Paul, you didn’t get it quite right. I looked @ the passage that you cited just for fun (even though I knew it w/out having to look), and, yup, there was no “bullshit” to be found.

  31. You know, I’m not much of a decorator. I try, but somehow it still looks like it was done by a colorblind man. I scrub a mean shower, though.

    I’m not much of a landscaper. I plant flowers… And they’re colorful… And I’m not going to be featured in BHG any time soon. I’m better with veggies.

    No matter how hard I try, my food isn’t beautiful. It tastes pretty good, and it’s healthy, and there’s always enough to share. It’s just not much to look at.

    My grandma used to make excuses for me. “It’s because you didn’t have a mother,” she’d say. But the fact is that I DID have a mother. For eleven years. And my decorating, landscaping, and plating skills exasperated her, too. She had an eye for beauty, a golden touch, and a waterfall of lush African violets in the living room.

    I kill philodendrons. The only house plants I can keep are seedlings, started on top of the fridge and destined for the garden.

    The fact is, I take after my dad. Passable with a hammer, a good plain cook, great with small people, disabled people, mentally ill people, and old people. Shoulda been a boy? Obviously not. If I shoulda been, i woulda been.

    I’ve struggled with guilt over not being a “real woman” for years. I don’t judge “real women.” In fact, I’m intimidated. I still feel like a lesser creature in the shadow of a woman who can decorate like a magazine spread and makes petits fours to serve at a tea party where her dress is matched to the tablecloth and the napkins.

    I’ve prayed and prayed…

    …and the only answer I get is Jeremiah 1:5. I take this to mean that, in fact, I do not love God or my family any less because I’m serving cabbage for the third time in a week, or because my bookshelves are made of lumber and covered in books instead of beautiful things, or because that border of birds in my living room seriously DOES NOT look like I envisioned it. God does not love me any less because I’m wielding a hammer instead of a hot glue gun. I think that’s the point– not that raspberry ices and unnecessary housework are Pharisaic, but that dainty dishes and beautiful decor aren’t requirements for Biblical womanhood.

  32. I think most likely what bothered the writer of that article was Elizabeth George’s over-bearing, flowery voice in that book, which she used even when lecturing women or giving extreme examples herself of a wife’s role. Jenny probably took the example of strawberry ices as part of that grating style and felt like it painted too singular a picture altogether of womanhood, so she reacted strongly, but on the wrong point.

  33. Could it be that her feelings towards the raspberry ices and other such homemaking delights were not because of Elizabeth George’s words, but because of the general atmosphere of the bible study group that she was undertaking the study with? Sometimes the context of where you read something makes it sound different all of a sudden. If the other women in the bible study group were acting like ‘pharisees’, or had a ‘holier than thou’ attitude about housework, then I can certainly understand where she is coming from. There are a lot of women in the Western church who battle with pride when it comes to their housekeeping and families!
    As has already been said, I think the heart attitude is the most important – serving raspberry ices is good when done with a servants heart, not so good when it is done with a ‘look at me and how good I am’ attitude. I am not a girly girl, but whether I am baking in the kitchen, or servicing a car, I must take care to do it from a servants heart, working as unto the Lord, instead of looking for human praise.

  34. While I realize this is an older article I feel like I need to comment. I was inwardly cheering while I read through the “friends” Facebook post. I am all for wives being godly homemakers and don’t buy into feminism at all. But I did not see the friend’s message in the same way the article author here did. My own walk in godly womanhood, homemaking and motherhood has been brutal to say the least. I began full of fire and zeal. I was going to be a counter cultural rebel stay home, have lots of kids, be a godly wife and serve God by changing my world from my own house. Then life happened and tore those rose colored glasses right off my face! I struggled with being able to get the basics of homemaking done with babies and toddlers. While pregnant with my third child(I have 6 now) I developed a chronic illness that causes pain and intense fatigue. I went undiagnosed for 11 years! All the while I was struggling and trying to just survive my day and not drown us in filth. Surrounding me were the studies books and blogs that tied making everything from scratch, gardening, canning, hospitality, homeschooling, sewing crafting and in some cases online home business, tying all this to how we live out our being keepers at home. The “gospel” of homemaking had developed an Americanized, modern flair pulling in the glamourous bits from history without the whole picture and saying “Do it this way to be pleasing to God and to fulfil your calling!”. Hardly something a woman living in the jungle running for her life can emulate. Hardly something a mother who cannot move without pain and who falls asleep reading story books can even consider emulating unless she wishes to stay bedridden for 6 days out of 7.
    Somewhere along the way the good wholesome, but cultural, ways of how we manifest our calling to be godly wives and mothers became from many(most) authors “THE” way of being godly wives and mothers. The burden was too great to bear. My daughters for a time did not want to have children when they grew up because all they saw was the bondage and life killing stress that went with it.
    Now that all of us have healed(physically, emotionally and spiritually) they have come full circle and can now sift the wheat from the chaff. Both are looking forward to eventually getting married and bearing children. Good intentions gone wrong is how I characterize the books, blogs and studies I used to read. They all meant well and no one specifically taught anything sinful. However with misguided zeal they mixed up how we live out our callings with the calling itself. We must be very careful to separate cultural and historical applications of God Ways from the Ways themselves. Because if we do not we are creating little idols in the images we desire.:(
    My apologies for this being so long.

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