Homemaking Is Not Drudgery (Just ask G. K. Chesterton)

Homemaking Is Not Drudgery (Just ask G. K. Chesterton) July 17, 2008

I came across these words from G. K. Chesterton while (briefly) visiting the Girltalk blog (impressive sources, ladies!). For those who have not heard of this blog, I highly recommend it. It’s probably the best resource out there today for women who want to learn about homemaking from a Christian perspective. Best of all, it’s infused with the joy and God-saturated nature characteristic of resources from the world of Sovereign Grace. If you’re a woman wondering what Christian homemaking looks like, you could not do better for a blog-based resource than Girltalk.

Chesterton’s excellent commentary on the dignity and importance of homemaking, the vocation Christians believe stems from the apostle Paul’s comment referring to young women “working at home” (Titus 2:5) :

“[Woman is surrounded] with very young children, who require to be taught not so much anything as everything. Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren’t….”

“[W]hen people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge [at his work]. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean…. I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children [arithmetic], and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.””


Over against cultural derision toward homemaking, a mammoth literary figure affirms the vocation as hugely important. People can speak as they wish, but in my home, the domestic work of motherhood and homemaking will never, ever be spoken of in derogatory terms. How, after all, can I or my family call unholy what the Bible teaches is sacred? My wife does not despise this calling, and neither, I pray, will my daughter.

Of course, when you consider Chesterton’s words and the actual responsibilities of a homemaker, you’ll struggle not to underemphasize the importance of mothering and work around the house but to avoid overemphasizing it! Those who deride this work, in the end, seem to have less information about what it actually entails than do so many of the women I know. As I said recently in a sermon on 1 Timothy 2:11-15, I am called on a daily level to nurture my email account. My wife, on the other hand, is called to nurture a life, a soul, a person with an eternal existence.

Over against what the culture teaches us, does a Christian woman’s work seem weightless and frivolous? You tell me.

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