Thursday, February 2, 2012

passionate, joyful homemaking: God's creation of a mother's role

i have been unpleasantly surprised by the number of people who have asked me since esther’s birth, “are you going back to work soon?”
no, i am not.  and i am beginning to realize that there is a lack of literacy (biblically and otherwise) on this topic among christian women that i know, which is why i want to address this in series about being a stay at home mom.

let me make this clear from the outset:  i am writing here to christians.  if you do not follow jesus, you may still reap some benefit from what i write; and i hope you do.  but my passion for this issue stems from the Bible and God’s clear design for marriage and motherhood, so only those who live with God’s word as the authority in their life can glean from all that i am writing.

'Adam and Eve Leave Eden' photo (c) 2008, Cliff - license:
before even beginning to delve into this topic, i want go back to God’s creation of the earth.  as creator, God lovingly designed everything he put on earth, and had a purpose for it all.  as creator, he also has say over how things should be used, just as a carpenter has control over what kind of furniture he is making.  as God created, he designed the sky and the earth, its geography, plants, and animals, calling it all good.  the climax of creation was when God made man.  but when he made man, for the first time he declared it was not good.
it was not good for man to be alone.
so God created woman, a suitable helper for adam.  this word “helper” is not demeaning; in fact God uses this same word to describe himself later in the bible.  but it does indicated that their roles in the relationship are not the same.
before long, paradise is lost.  adam fails in his role of lovingly protecting his wife and they both reject God’s perfect design for how to live in the garden.  their rejection, the first sin, leads to a curse... sometimes referred to as the curse, since it has affected everyone and everything since.  
the result of their disobedience is made clear:
to the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
and to adam he said,
“because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘you shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
by the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
genesis 3:16-19
i will make 3 observations from this text:
1.  woman’s focus is to bear children.  it will be painful.
2. man’s focus is to work to provide for his family.  this work will also be painful.
3. woman will try to take over man’s role.
their work and roles were established before sin entered the world (genesis 2:15, 18).  but what was formerly a blessing (namely, raising children and working) was turned into a burden as a result of the curse.
and now everyone wants to run away from his or her burden, which is where problems start to form.
God created man and woman.  he created us with different skills and giftings, and different work loads: woman was created to bear children, man was created to provide for the home.
to bring this into the context of the question we are exploring, how should a woman fulfill the work God created her for?  should she stay at home or pursue a career?
go on to part two...


  1. I have an interpretation for you. How do you determine whether a passage is to be read as prescriptive or descriptive? Or put a different way, how do you decide if a passage is telling you what to do or if it is just telling you what has happened?

  2. *interpretation question ^^^^

  3. curtis- i respectfully decline your invitation to debate. gallons of ink have been spilled over this topic. it sounds like you are well-read on this, and there is no way that i could defend my position better than the innumerable theologians who have already done so. if you are truly interested to understand more, i can point you to the resources that have helped influence me and helped me clarify my position. but, again, if you are simply trying to bate me into a debate, i respectfully decline.