Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 208—209
Debi is really good at scaring women into doing just as she says. Have you noticed that? If you don’t submit to your husband and have sex with him any time he asks . . . you will end up divorced and living in a dumpy duplex. And so on. Well, this week we begin the chapter titled “Keepers at Home.” And according to Debi, if you are a mother and don’t stay home with your children as commanded by God, well, there will be consequences. Scary consequences.
According to the word of God, I, one of the aged women, an commanded to teach the young women to be keepers at home. This is the sixth of eight mandates for young women. It is not a suggestion; it is God’s will for wives.
Interestingly, the Greek word in question is actually a word the author of Titus made up. It is a combination of the Greek words for home and work. But I think it’s worth noting that the modern home is completely different from the home of two thousand years ago. The home today is a place of leisure; two thousand years ago, it was a place of production. Even several hundred years ago, participated in household production and were considered critical economic producers. Today, unlike two thousand years ago, economic work has been removed from the home and relocated elsewhere. As a result, any suggestion that this passage in Titus is a mandate for women to be homemakers as they exist today is incredibly misleading.
My point is not that homemakers do not contribute to their families. My point is simply that this passage in Titus was never an attempt to ban women from economic production. Today, unless a person runs a small business out of the home, being a stay at home spouse or a stay at home parent removes one from economic production. And I rather think that matters.
You will remember that I wrote earlier about how I asked God to teach me why he used the word blaspheme to describe the consequences of young women not obeying God in these eight areas. This is how God taught me this lesson.
The morning after I prayed and asked God to give me wisdom concerning the word blaspheme, I walked into my office and started wading through my e-mail. I came to one written by a young man whom I know quite well, having spent a lot of time with his wife. Tears streamed down my face as I read the tragic words written by a young man who had been sacrificing to take the gospel to people in a foreign field. He told how their little baby girl, not yet one year old, had been molested, most likely by someone with a terrible disease. It was as though God spoke to me and said, “Is the word blaspheme too strong?” Then I could see so clearly why God hose the word blaspheme for all eight things listed. For a mother to leave her command post, even though the need at another post seems greater, the Word of God will be blasphemed.
The young couple’s tragedy could easily have been my own. I remember when my oldest daughter was about two years old, I found a baby-sitter so I could more easily do my shopping (lack of sobriety). I remember so clearly, even though it was over 28 years ago, walking into that home and putting my daughter down, then looking up into the eyes of an old man, who was the baby-sitter’s husband. Something in my spirit stirred fear, and I picked my daughter back up and walked out. I wonder if I had left her there that day when she was two years old: would she have had the moral courage when she was 22 years old to live alone on a mountain top in Papua New Guinea, translating for a primitive tribe (read Rebekah’s Diary found at nogreaterjoy.org). Eternity will tell.
This missionary couple didn’t drop their child off so they could go shopping or go to a movie. They left their baby behind for less than ten minutes when the wife needed to help with “ministry.” The Word of God is the same yesterday, and today, and forever, and speaks the same truth for all families today. A young mother’s place is in the home, keeping it, guarding it, watching over those entrusted to her. To do otherwise will surely cause the Word of God to be blasphemed. Even if you could disobey God and it not produce visible ill consequences, it would prove only that God is long-suffering as he was with Israel, but the judgement will assuredly come. The Word of God speaks to what is right and true. If you ignore what God says by ignoring the words of God written in scripture, you are blaspheming, speaking evil of his words.
Is Debi seriously saying that a mother should never leave her children with anyone else, even for ten minutes? Is she unaware of how unhealthy this is, or of how historically normal it is for children to have multiple caregivers? As a mother of two young children, I am trying to imagine my life without ever leaving my children with anyone else. Actually, I have a friend who lives like this. Her son has such severe allergies that she never leaves him with anyone but her husband—and I’ve watched it about drive her crazy. Having down time, time away to recharge, is important—and it enables people to be better parents.
More than that, with this section, Debi has planted a seed of fear. Mothers who read Debi’s book and take what she says here seriously will be unable to leave their children with someone else without constant fear lurking at the back of their minds—are my children safe? Mothers worry enough about their children’s safety without needing Debi telling them that if they leave their children with a babysitter their children will end up molested. Now that I’m thinking about it, though, Debi has hinted at this before—and has castigated babysitters before.
I generally don’t do shopping or other errands while my children are at preschool and daycare. I generally try to spend those hours working so that I have more time with my kids later, after I pick them up. Just the other day, though, I broke my rule and went shopping during school hours. Why? Because it is so much easier to go shopping without small children than it is to go shopping with them. It was absolutely blissful to be able to get shopping done without having to constantly be tuned in to my children’s needs—big stores can be a bit of a tough spot for small children.
I say all of this because of Debi’s specific example—her attempt to get a babysitter to watch her young daughter while she did some shopping. Debi is absolutely right that it is important to listen to foreboding and to choose childcare providers that we trust. I do not question Debi for choosing not to leave her daughter with that particular babysitter. What I question, though, is Debi’s wisdom in using that one case as an argument against leaving your children with anyone, ever. It is perfectly reasonable for a stay at home mother to get a sitter so that she can run some errands unencumbered. Debi is shutting that option off.
Note that the missionary woman in her other example left her baby with someone else for ten minutes because her husband called on her to help him out with ministry work. Isn’t Debi big on wives dropping everything and coming to help their husbands when called? She even says that Command Men will want their wives at their beck and call to wait on them at every moment of the day. How do we combine this with the idea that mothers are to never, ever leave their children alone? Should the woman in Debi’s anecdote have told her husband “no,” that she could not help him out with his ministry work? Or should women just always have the baby and toddler on her hips while helping her husband? Would that really even be always plausible? This just feels like putting women into yet another double bind. You have to drop everything when your husband calls . . . but you better not leave your children with anyone else even for a minute.
Speaking of, is it okay to leave your children with your husband, in Debi’s telling? Debi does not clarify, but she has written before about what to do if your husband is molesting your children (send him to jail but visit him there and take him back when he gets out), so she knows it happens. According to Debi, then, is leaving your children with your husband while you go shopping alone acceptable then, or is that shirking your duties as keeper of the home, and putting your children at risk of molestation? I am honestly not sure.
In the end, though, I’m just really taken aback by Debi’s reasoning here. Women should be keepers at home . . . because if they leave their small children at home for any length of time, they’ll end up molested, or worse. This is terrible logic. First, what about women who don’t have children, or women whose children are old enough to be on their own? Do they still have to be keepers at home? If so, why?
Also, note Debi’s heavy use of the blaspheme hammer. :/
Next week we get to what to do if your husband tells you to work, and the following week we get to read about “Leaving Home by Phone, E-mail, and Chat Rooms.” Never a dull moment!