Aside

How Much Money Does it Take to Be A Good Christian Woman?

When I was in my twenties, I attended a “Bible” study on how to be a Good Christian Woman.

Good Christian Women, I was told, stayed home with their children. Mothers who worked outside the home were compromising, trading their morals for material gain.

Good Christian Women decorated their homes with artistic flair, making a beautiful, comfortable nest for their loved ones to nestle into. If they couldn’t afford magazine-ready furnishings and decorations, they scoured flea-markets for irresistible finds, or got that sewing machine humming!

Good Christian Women put on fresh clothes (or Saran Wrap, if they were still childless), a gloss of lipstick, and a squirt of perfume before their husbands arrived home from work in the evening.

Good Christian Women served their families the best meals money could buy–meats, potatoes, veggies, salads, and delectable desserts, always homemade and preferably organic.

Good Christian Women always said a chirpy “Sure!” to any suggestion their husband made–even if that suggestion was financially irresponsible.

Is it just me, or does that sound expensive?

In fairness, I think being a Good Christian Man must be pretty pricey, too. Being the provider is a big task to shoulder, especially when your wife has to cashflow all those roasts, toss pillows, and rolls of Saran Wrap. And heaven forbid she homeschools–there’s a thousand dollars down the drain, right there!

The real problem, though, comes when we confuse our ability to create certain material circumstances with spiritual success, or failure. If the husband’s spiritual role is to be the provider, what does it say about him when he can’t find a job? If the wife’s spiritual role is to be the manager of her home, what happens when her husband takes off, and she has to work sunrise to sunset to support her children? Is she less virtuous? Less spiritual? Less blessed?

While I tried my best to live up to the “Good Christian Women” standards I was clobbered with in my early twenties, it was the knowledge that most of them would be completely unattainable for my sisters in Liberia, especially in the midst of a brutal civil war, that kept me from accepting them as normative.

Those things are wonderful. But they are a byproduct of privilege, not spirituality.

We live in a society that associates wealth with virtue, and poverty with sloth. Extreme poverty is criminalized as we weigh down our most vulnerable citizens with demands they cannot meet.

What about you? Have you seen this phenomenon in action? How?

How much money DOES it take to be a Good Christian?

 

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82 Responses to How Much Money Does it Take to Be A Good Christian Woman?

  1. Tracey Grimes June 11, 2012 at 8:21 am #

    I refer to this phenomenon as Stepford-Christian-Syndrome. Beyond the specifics you mentioned there is the pressure and expectation to look and sound a certain way. I don’t wear make-up, I like the gray streaks in my hair, I don’t treat shopping like entertainment/sport and I don’t think that a mani/pedi at the local spa is the closest thing to heaven there is on earth; In other words, I do not fit in at church. Well, that and I don’t talk in the weird high-pitched, half-whisper like we’re talking to an infant voice, nor do I continuously spew meaningless cliches. I pray on a regular basis, Lord please don’t ever let me fall into that pit of phoniness. **shudders**

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 11, 2012 at 10:21 am #

      Yikes–that sounds startlingly like junior high!!! I’ve been lucky in that the majority of the Christian women I’ve known have been very authentic–but wow, the books we studied sure didn’t teach us to be! I’ve seen this play out more in creating women who were chronically exhausted, ashamed, and unsure of themselves and their relationships. Not productive for anyone!

  2. Kathy June 11, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Wow – kind of scared to even get started on this one…! But love the line: “Those things are wonderful. But they are a byproduct of privilege, not spirituality.” The west (and sorry I have to say that the US looms large on this one) are so quick to define spirituality in a way that fits their cultural (real or desired) norms. Like Carolyn Custis James says in “Half the Church” if the gospel really is good news it has to be good news for women everywhere and this “Good Christian Woman” is so not good news for a LOT of women.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 11, 2012 at 10:22 am #

      “If the gospel really is good news it has to be good news for women everywhere.” AMEN!!!

      • Lou Lou June 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

        Isn’t that a great line! Amen to that!

  3. Abby June 11, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    I can’t tell you how many times other Christians have told me I am materialistic/selfish/ambitious for wanting to work to help provide for my family. When I got pregnant with my first child, the CEO of my Christian organization used the “you’re just materialistic” line when I asked about the possibilities of flex-time or work-from-home options. He and other men at my company strongly implied that my place from there on out was at home. That message – along with the similar fairy tale that if we just do our God-given roles in life, God will provide everything we need – has resulted in considerable devastation for me and my husband – financially, emotionally, and spiritually. For me, the hardest part has been feeling that I have let God down so badly – obviously I have committed some grave sin for us to have all these financial struggles. If I had done everything right, we would be experiencing God’s blessings and I wouldn’t be so frustrated, with no income, no career, and such a sense of isolation and failure.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 11, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      Oh, Abby, I am so sorry you have gone through/are going through that!!! I’ve had similar feelings, for sure–feeling like a failure when my life doesn’t look the way I think it’s supposed to look. Over the years I’ve begun to recognize that I have spent most of my life thinking that God would only be really, truly pleased with me if I was PERFECT–and the underlying assumption that “perfection” was attainable, if I just worked hard enough, did the right things, lived the right way, etc. :-( It’s called LAW, it’s fueled by equal measures pride and fear, and it brings DEATH!

      Have you ever read Dallas Willard? I love what he says about the Beattitudes–that Jesus is saying that living up to the cultures standards of what it means to be “blessed” (the opposite of what the Beattitudes described) really had nothing to do with true blessing. And people weren’t “blessed” because they were meek, mourning, poor in spirit either–they were blessed because JESUS WAS THERE WITH THEM, because Jesus had come to redeem them, and the Kingdom of God was at hand!!! Isn’t that an incredible thought?

      Hang in there, Abby! Life just stinks sometimes, but that’s no reflection of God’s INCREDIBLE love for you!

      • Abby June 11, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

        Thank you for your encouraging words. I feel that we’re coming out of this tough time (I hope!!), but what troubles me is that I have never felt that Jesus was so distant as when I was in the deepest of our struggles. I will check out Dallas Willard. Thanks for writing this piece and bringing up this important topic!

        • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

          Absolutely! Hey, what you said reminded me of an article my friend Lesa wrote about her “dark night of the soul”–when God seems silent. I guess even Mother Theresa went through it. But we don’t seem to talk about these experiences much–we just paste on a happy face and power through them. :-( Here’s her article: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2011/fall/growingdark.html

        • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

          P.S. Not trying to be “fixy”–I just hate the thought of people going through this sort of stuff alone, or feeling isolated in their experiences. Plus, I’m an oldest child and kinda can’t help it. ;-D

          • Abby June 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

            My struggle has definitely been a dark night of the soul. What has made God’s silence so painful is that it happened when I had babies, and his silence and seeming indifference to my agonized prayers felt like a cruelty I couldn’t imagine doing to my own precious children. Like Lesa experienced, I felt God was directing me to do something but I had no possible way of fulfilling his assignment – which compounded my guilt and frustration. Anyway, it all plays into the trying to be a perfect Christian/wife/mother trap. I am now at a place where I have let go. I’ve let go of my identity and expectations for myself. I fear I have become too disillusioned, but I still hope in God. Thank you for caring and for ministering to me today.

  4. Tim June 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Jen, this is a powerful post. Please pardon me for doing so, but I thougth the best comment I could make is to quote Burt Bacharach and Hal David
    ***
    “Wives And Lovers”
    *
    Hey! Little Girl
    Comb your hair, fix your makeup
    Soon he will open the door
    Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger
    You needn’t try anymore
    *
    For wives should always be lovers too
    Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
    I’m warning you…
    *
    Day after day
    There are girls at the office
    And men will always be men
    Don’t send him off with your hair still in curlers
    You may not see him again
    *
    For wives should always be lovers too
    Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
    He’s almost here…
    *
    Hey! Little girl
    Better wear something pretty
    Something you’d wear to go to the city and
    Dim all the lights, pour the wine, start the music
    Time to get ready for love
    Time to get ready
    Time to get ready for love
    ***

    Chilling, isn’t it?

    Tim

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

      Scary! *shudders* Yes, woman, live in fear and do everything right, or no one will love you… :-(

      • Tim June 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

        Not only will no one love you, but your husband will leave you and it’s ALL YOUR FAULT!

        Makes me wanna puke.

  5. Mallory June 11, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Wow…thank you for articulating so well everything I’ve been thinking when it comes to this issue. Why is it that the discussion of biblical manhood and womanhood (especially womanhood) quickly degenerates into what we’re supposed to do (especially all the things listed in your post) instead of beginning and focusing on our character/who God calls us to be?

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

      “Why is it that the discussion of biblical manhood and womanhood (especially womanhood) quickly degenerates into what we’re supposed to do (especially all the things listed in your post) instead of beginning and focusing on our character/who God calls us to be?”

      That, right there–you’ve hit the nail on the head!

      Personally, I think we create our own “law” for the same reason the Pharisees did–we are insecure about God’s love for us and our standing before God, so we try to create a sense of safety and security by focusing on issues that we feel we can control.

      • Mallory June 11, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

        Re: insecurity. I wonder if our need for “law” (whether it relates to biblical womanhood or the Christian life in general) stems out of a greater insecurity with God all together and not just God’s love for us. What I mean by that is this: we seek the “laws”/cultural norms and equate them with Christian living/biblical Christianity because it makes God predictable, so to speak. And when God is predictable, easy to explain through “law,” then he’s safe. Yet when we start to realize that the cultural norms we hold up as “biblical Christianity” aren’t really true Christianity, that God is about more than these, we have to realize that we don’t have him (or his love for us) figured out. And all that’s left are the words of Mr. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: “…of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” As a young, single woman in my late 20’s I’m realizing all too well the cultural bill of goods that’s getting passed off for Christianity…that God isn’t safe, but he’s good.

        • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

          I think that you’re a very smart, insightful lady and that you’re exactly right. :-)

          • Mallory June 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

            Why thank you, madam! You’re pretty insightful, yourself :)

  6. Rachel Stone June 11, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    Really love this one, Jen. So, so much. Thank you.

  7. Staci June 11, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    “Good Christian women are fulfilled by meeting their kids needs”
    But what if I’m not?
    What if I don’t relish in the need to be “needed” by my children?
    What if I’m coordinating a class party out of a sense of duty but would rather be….. well just about anywhere else actually!
    What if the second they’re all out the door in the morning, I let a sigh of relief, I can finally breathe again…..

    Does that make me love my children any less? No
    Does yearning to accomplish personal goals and dreams outside of my children make me less of a Good Christian Women/Mother? No
    Most importantly, am I “less of a Good Christian Woman/Mother” in God’s eyes? No

    He made me unique, I don’t fit in a box or a stereotype, never have and I’ve learned there’s no shame in that. I’ve now shed the cloak of what I thought a Good Christian Women ought to be and live how God has made me to be. Geez People….it’s so FREEING!

  8. Pixel June 12, 2012 at 5:51 am #

    This is a beautiful post and I’m so happy that I stumbled upon your blog. I try to be a Good Christian woman too – but in my case, that includes not only being a wife to my husband and mother to my children, but also a kick-ass scientist. I cannot believe that God gave me the drive, dedication, and intelligence to pursue this career if I was *intended* to quit when I first got pregnant. I see the potential good my work can do for myriads of people, in addition to the benefit my family gets from my time. I cannot see that as bad.

    I agree that this definition comes only from the affluence of our society. What puzzles me is how other Americans lose sight of how that affluence does NOT exist everywhere and says nothing about our personal worth or spirituality. I just commented to my kids last night – as we sat down to a meal of left-overs – that we were eating better than most people in the world. I think those kinds of reminders – that our position on the planet is priviledged and with that comes responsibility – is much more Christian then making sure the house is ready for a magazine shoot. At least that’s how I read the Gospels.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 12, 2012 at 8:39 am #

      “I cannot believe that God gave me the drive, dedication, and intelligence to pursue this career if I was intended to quit when I first got pregnant.”

      Another reason I could never quite swallow what those books were telling me. I was always taught that gifts were given to be USED for the good of the body of Christ, and the world at large. So why on earth would we tell people NOT to use them to their fullest God-given ability? Not that we have to do everything all the time–but if people feel that the Holy Spirit is calling them to something, who are we to hold them back?

      LOVE what you said about privilege and responsibility, too. So, so true. We have been given so much–we shouldn’t squander it.

  9. from two to one June 12, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    YES! Thank you for writing this, as a newylwed Christian wife and feminist, I’ve struggled with this for some time. The churh has definitely lost sight of reality in this case and has opted to choose some idealized 1950s-esque norm over biblical truth and revelation. Although I am not a mother, I have felt the pressure to consider the cost-benefit analysis of continuing to work in some capacity when having children in ways my husband has not. For instance, for a long time, I thought if daycare/nannies were $X and MY salary was $Y, then if $Y – $X = below some arbitrary number or less, then it would be better to stay home with the children. But I’ve realized that it should be more $Y (my salary) + $Z (my husband’s salary) – $X (childcare) = $ and then make it work based on our career trajetory and family needs, or one of us choose to stay home/sacrifice more at work when our children are young.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 12, 2012 at 8:41 am #

      “The churh has definitely lost sight of reality in this case and has opted to choose some idealized 1950s-esque norm over biblical truth and revelation.”

      And therein lies the problem! You’ve summed it up very nicely. :-)

    • akash January 28, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

      umm but if you work are you also not being focused on material things

      it seems like women in 1950’s had too high standards-like seriously how many men would meet that standard!

      I still believe though that men should bear the responsibility of providing because of titus 2:5

      if it were culturally bound then so are the other requirements of the verse

      this does not mean a woman cannot work-but I think men should enable their wives to have the freedom to work/not work rather than force them to work (happening heaps in China and India-so many women complain about their husbands forcing them wot work and earn money)

      • Carlene Byron March 27, 2013 at 10:09 am #

        umm … until really recently, women in the home really DID work. View the boxed set of “The 1900 House” TV show to get an idea how much work it was to run a house just 100 years ago. Men didn’t give their wives “the freedom not to work.” Couples split the labor of the family — men outside the house, women inside and around the house. Post-industrialization, more of what was in-house labor is accomplished outside the house and needs to be paid for with money, which is what pushes women outside the home to earn money.

        Anyone who wants to spend two full days of the week doing the family laundry in a boiler with hot stove-heated irons won’t need enough money for a washer-dryer, steam iron, or the fuel to run them. So she can definitely afford to be in the home. She will, however, be working. Very hard.

  10. Marla Taviano June 12, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    Holy cow. This really hit me between the eyeballs. I used to believe every one of those things you’re saying (I even wrote a book–that was published–about marriage.). My mind and heart have been so changed lately. This is amazing. And an angle I never, ever thought of. After spending 5 weeks in poverty-stricken Cambodia a few months ago… just yeah.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 12, 2012 at 8:56 am #

      Thanks, Marla. :-) I popped over to your blog and read your post on the first chapter of Evolving in Monkey Town (which I have not read yet)–great stuff! And oh, I can SO relate to your anxiety about shifting opinions–when your eyes are opened to certain things, and you can’t in good conscience stay where you are, but you’re terrified of moving forward! When I was first starting to reevaluate what I believed and why, I had NIGHTMARES about it!!!

      Glad to meet a fellow sojourner, and excited to follow your blog!

      • Marla Taviano June 12, 2012 at 10:32 am #

        Well, I’m going to tell you right off the bat that I LOVE YOU. Guess what my favorite word in the world is?? SOJOURNER.

        • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 12, 2012 at 10:47 am #

          Seriously?! Well, it is an excellent word!!!

          Love you right back–I could tell from the moment I saw your blog that we need to be friends! :-)

          • Marla Taviano June 12, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

            Seriously. Favorite word. I love the internet and how quickly we can move from “hello” to “i love you” without a qualm. It’s beautiful.

          • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

            I know, right? It’s kinda like text-based speed-dating–800 words to make a connection. 😀

  11. Dori June 12, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    I am turning 51 this week and reading this post had me reflecting on how much God loves us, do much do he will allow false identity to be stripped away out of our control. He will allow our efforts to have a perfect pretty house become a prison of lonliness if it is for our glory and not a place that is so full of sharing with strangers and neighbors that you couldn’t possibly keep up with a Martha. Recently, my husband and I were convicts that we had landscaped our front yard with flowers for looks instead of planting our veggie gardens in front as a way to meet and share with neighbors. We didn’t even think about it because we automatically just did the cultural norm here, which was based on home value presentation… Money.
    Ladies, we have got to think outside the environment boxes and think like the kingdom of god in us, of whom we belong.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 12, 2012 at 8:57 am #

      Oh, isn’t that true about how he will allow our false identity to be stripped away?! Yeah, been there.

      I love your thought about planting veggies in the front yard, and your comment about thinking in terms of the kingdom of God!

  12. Nancy June 12, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    This is a great article. It does not take money to be a “good Christian woman” because money cannot transform your heart. Way back in the early ’80’s, I came to the conclusion that if you did not look a certain way or have certain possessions that was no way a measure of how spiritual you are despite sitting under a certain pastor and his wife’s teaching saying otherwise. Interesting to note that this pastor had a huge paid staff and when one of his employees was taking side jobs to earn more money, this pastor told him that he was not allowed to do so and had to dedicate all his time and effort for him and his ministry only. I came to conclusion that the true meaning behind the teaching having to to look a certain way is really an issue of control.

    I, too, always thought of Christians in areas where abundance is not the norm and wondered why physical possessions was used to determine whether or not you are blessed. That was conveniently explained that “prosperity” is defined by the culture in which you live. The example given was someone needed transportation and the answer to their prayer was bicycle not a car. What a bunch of hooey!

    It really saddens me to read how this type of teaching has caused so much frustration and despair for some such as Abby. Many life circumstances are beyond our control and in no way should that be a measure of spirituality. Again, great article and a good reminder that in today’s economy many cannot live up the standard of how religion defines a “good Christian woman.” Let’s put the focus where it belongs, on the innerman:

    2Co 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. (17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (18) While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 12, 2012 at 8:59 am #

      “Many life circumstances are beyond our control and in no way should that be a measure of spirituality… Let’s put the focus where it belongs, on the innerman.”

      Amen, amen, AMEN!

  13. Dori June 12, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    Ps. Sorry for all the mispelled words. iPhone auto correct isn’t thinking like me.

  14. Angela June 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    Spot on, Jenny. It’s taken me nearly two decades to finally reevaluate what I believe and why. I wouldn’t say I’ve arrived on the other side only because, in reality, I never left the other side! I was just uncomfortable on the side I was on – does that make sense? Now, I’m finally accepting it, and reveling in it. Yes, it is incredible the hoops a Good Christian Woman must to through to maintain some kind of self- or society-imposed facade. It DOES cost lots of money, not to mention sleep, sanity, peace of mind, and contentment. I remember going through a devastating time when my husband lost his job and we were days away from losing our home. For months he had been out of work and I did the Good Christian Woman thing by selling off all our possessions, cleaning friends’ homes, bartering services for goods. None of this was bad, of course. However, not one person – friend, family or church member – ever encouraged me to get a job. As a matter of fact, some friends actually paid our mortgage company several months’ worth of payments rather than advise me to work and my husband to stay home. In the end, their “help” wasn’t helpful. In this economy, my husbands skills and experiences are valued in a too-volatile market whereas mine are more stable. I was always self-conscious about getting a job because I am a college drop-out. No one ever supported me going back to school to rectify this. (Unfortunately that piece of paper means a lot on a job application, even though my experience and informal education rival many college grads – but that’s another subject!) I am now going back to school. But even the timing of that was delayed as, once again, my husband is about to be laid off. This time, I am equipped to handle whatever comes my way because I feel that it’s not how I’m dressed, how technologically savvy my kids are, how well put together my home is that makes the difference. A Good Christian Woman follows Christ. Period.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

      Ooh, I feel your pain! re: income–that was one of the things that I noticed about the movie “Courageous,” which I reviewed for Christians for Biblical Equality. One of the families was jobless and down to almost nothing to eat–and yet the idea of the woman looking for work was NEVER mentioned! No, God miraculously provided the husband with a job, just in the nick of time (of course)!!!

      “A Good Christian Woman follows Christ. Period.” Yes. :-)

  15. Joel Zehring June 12, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    Thanks for the candid thoughts.

    Strikes me that this demon can only be cast out by prayer. I don’t think we can self-help our way out of this rut.

    Subsidizing this identity crisis can be incredibly draining and discouraging for men, too. You may not hear about it much though because we’re doing all we can to man up and land that next bonus or promotion.

    Everyone gains when women and men die to themselves and their insecuritites and put their eyes on Jesus.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

      “Everyone gains when women and men die to themselves and their insecurities and put their eyes on Jesus.” AMEN brother!!! Thanks for your insights!

    • erin a. June 12, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

      Excellent comments!

  16. ed cyzewski June 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    spot on observation about the confusion over material blessing and spiritual success/failure. We can do that in all kinds of things. Makes me wonder what we would make of Paul when he was shivering, hungry, and eventually imprisoned.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 12, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      Or Jesus, for that matter. :-) Not very responsible, wandering around the countryside encouraging men to abandon their property and careers, and calling women away from their domestic (or less-reputable) duties. Scandalous.

  17. erin a. June 12, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    Spot on about wealth being so tied to “holiness” for a big part of the Christian church in the US. It is taking eyes off of Jesus & faithful faith filled lives. I love your points here.
    Rather an aside question, but what do you mean homeschooling throws thousands of dollars down the drain? 😉 No schooling is free.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

      Thanks!
      Re: homeschooling–it’s just EXPENSIVE! 😀 I homeschool my oldest (my younger kiddos love public school) and it edges close to $1,000 a year out of pocket. (Cue my other homeschooling friends choking in horror, LOL!) I know some people do it for WAY less, but that’s what it runs me.

      • erin a. June 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

        I hear you about the moneys it can cost. No school is free though, as in, public school costs a tax payers many times what you spend on homeschooling. I’ve read figures of over 8k per child per year, but heard it is really much more than that that is actually spent.
        That to say, a good education usually costs money. :)

        • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 12, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

          Very true! There’s just no spreading the cost around with homeschooling. 😀 When we lived in MN, they reimbursed homeschooling costs, which was INCREDIBLE! Makes me want to run for the border…

          • erin a. June 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

            Ha! Nice. In California there are charter school options for homeschoolers, where you can be reimbursed at least partially for your expenses. You can run this way, too.

  18. Jane Hinrichs June 12, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    Jenny, Tim directed me to your blog via reading his post and I had to read more. This is a great post. I loved your insightful comment about how you knew the women you knew in Liberia wouldn’t be able to reach these standards….so true. And these standards are not God’s standards at all. I think traveling to areas of need across the world helps people get better perspective on what really matters.

    And I applaud you and other homeschooling moms. I just have no desire to do that at all. I have six kids and I homeschool only one — my middle child. And I homeschool him because his disabilities are very extensive and he needs to be at home. He and I have a fine time together — but I sure couldn’t homeschool the rest of my kids. I am one of those moms who get quite excited for school to start in the fall. That sounds quite horrible doesn’t it? I love my kids truly….but I like a bit of quiet too.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong June 12, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

      Ha–it doesn’t sound horrible, Jane–it sounds HUMAN! 😀 And as a mom of four (1.5 of whom have special needs) I SO get it!!! I do sometimes wish I could homeschool my other kids (if for no other reason than to avoid the morning scramble!), but I don’t have the time to put into that and work that would be necessary. AND my 10 year old in particular will have none of it. He ADORES school!

      I’m so glad you wandered over! I’ve always appreciated your comments on Her.Meneutics!

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  20. Shelley May 6, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Hi Jenny Rae! It seems with your comments to your readers that you are a kind and thoughtful person. I found your blog from a friend’s facebook post and felt like I wanted to comment on this particular article. I agree that there are certainly Christian women out there like the one you described except that I don’t think anyone looks down on the husband ” when he can’t find a job” or the woman whose ” husband takes off, and she has to work sunrise to sunset to support her children”. Those are really different circumstances than what you are speaking of. I think the problem is that people do associate wealth and material things with having a successful family and those things are typically gained by a two-income couple, not the one-income couple homeschooling family. There are certainly homeschooling families in spades that live a grander life than I do but my family’s home is operated on a one-income social worker’s salary. I know there are certainly salaries lower than this but this is not one of the higher ones I have friends homeschooling on much more and some on much, much less. The “1,000 dollars down the drain” is incorrect is several ways. I don’t spend nearly that much on our homeschooling; the public school is what drains away so called “educational dollars”. But even if I did, it would not be down the drain, it would be for my children’s education.

    I just don’t know exactly the point of your article. I know you set out to try to make the point that being a good Christian woman as laid out by some fundamental Baptists, I’m presuming, ( I think this is a pretty good guess; I used to be one), is expensive. There are certainly elite, shiny, happy Christians. I think most people would agree that this has nothing to do with Christianity and if the only reasons not to stay-at-home or homeschool have to do with losing a job or a spouse, are there no other reasons? Is it just because it’s expensive? I think the cost of a family member not being with the children is probably much greater.

    I don’t think this is a question of monetary cost but much deeper costs. I think that is such a problem in our society, that everything seems to come down to money. Spending time with my children, reading to them, these things are virtually free; something seems to be missing from this argument. What am I missing?

    I am not lashing out at you personally but just at this idea that staying at home must be just for the elite.

    Thank you,
    Shelley Dorman

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong May 6, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

      Hi Shelley,

      Thanks for your comment! You are right about the sacrifices people make financially to have a parent at home, homeschool, etc. often being very worth it. I was a SAHM for many years, and loved it. I also homeschool my oldest, and while it could be done cheaper, I always wind up spending about $1000 on it, because I’m just not that resourceful when it comes to setting curriculum, etc. 😉

      My point was not that it necessarily costs a lot of money to do those things (though it can), my point was that sometimes Christians nurture a legalistic impression of what Christian women are supposed to do and be that is not universally applicable. If being a Christian woman is about creating a certain set of outcomes (like homeschooling, homemade meals, a sparkling suburban home), then being a Christian woman isn’t attainable to women in different situations. Basically, I was trying to make the point that our ministry to women tends to focus more on the outside than the inside. Does that help clarify?

      • Shelley May 7, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

        Thanks for the reply Jenny Rae.

  21. Eric June 10, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    There was a early theologian who said, “He who has two robes when his neighbour has none is in danger of hellfire”.

    Guess most of the first world, medium- to upper-class attendees can count on getting a little singed… (1 Cor 3.15)

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