Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Book on Desperate Housewives

Kevin from Building A Theological Library recommends an interesting and, I believe, challenging book for all Christian mothers and mothers-to-be.

This book is entitled, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by co-authors Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald.

Concerning the objectives of her book, co-author Stacy McDonald wrote:

“Still, there are more myths we need to dispel [in this book]. In this book, we take the long-venerated ’50s housewife, wearing high heels and pearls to vacuum the floor, and send her back to the land of fantasy where she belongs. Real women need to know that being helpers to their husbands, raising godly children, and properly managing their homes takes real work, but the rich reward a woman receives by diligently tending to the ways of her household is well worth the effort. ...

“Yet even as the 1950s cardboard caricature of the perfectly polished housewife must be upended, so too must the equally subversive notion of the “desperate housewife” which has made its way into the minds of most Americans. ...

“Hollywood would like for us to believe that a woman who stays home serving her husband and children is not joyful and content, but desperate. Today we have television programs that divulge all the spicy details of what’s supposedly going on behind the closed curtains of those seemingly happy housewives. According to modern thought, although she may be smiling when she checks the mail, the cheerful mom across the street lives a life full of secret disappointment, anger, lust, adultery, insanity, and even murder. “Poor, desperate housewife...if only she had a fulfilling career. If only her family didn’t drag her down. If only she would do something for herself for a change. ...

“This foolish image of sensual despondency on the part of the housewife is a twisted perversion of the beautiful picture of the wise and chaste keeper at home described in Proverbs 31. While every homemaker at times falls short of this scriptural ideal, when the godly keeper at home is faithful, her husband and children rise up and call her blessed (Proverbs 31:28), and her own works praise her in the gates (Proverbs 31:31). The joyful and satisfied life (Proverbs 31:25) that God gives a woman who is surrendered to His will is rich and filling—yes, even passionate!” (Passionate Housewives Desperate for God, xxi-xxii)

I would especially recommend this book to Christian women and mothers in developed countries, particularly Singapore. In Singapore, it has become a norm for mothers to work; in fact, both parents work. It is now easy to find the mother at her workplace, but it is very atypical for us to observe the working mum together with her children and tending to the needs of the family. It is usually the maid or the mother-in-law who takes care of the children in the average Singaporean home. Nevertheless, we cannot expect the mother who spends 7 hours sleeping, 8 to 10 hours working, and two hours traveling to and from work to have much time left for the family’s needs.

But according to McDonald’s study, the godly mother or wife should strive to be a Proverbs 31 woman. “Proverbs 31 reveals to us how a godly housewife impacts her community in various ways— feeding the poor, making purchases for the proper running of her household, dealing in wisdom with employees, and selling her homemade goods. She is known in the community and honors her husband by representing him well while in public, yet her hub of productivity and her primary focus is the place she most loves to be—her home. The godly keeper at home wisely governs the household that God places in her care so that prudence and sound judgment rule her decisions rather than covetousness or folly.”

I hope that some Christian ladies out there would find this book helpful. Finally, here are two endorsements for the book:

“Jesus came that we might have life abundant. Passionate Housewives reminds us where we might find that life: in submitting to our husbands, in serving our children through loving and training them, and in believing the Word of God.” — Denise Sproul, wife of Pastor R.C. Sproul, Jr.

“In an age of constant confusion and conflict over the role of women, Passionate Housewives provides a clear-cut message of biblical encouragement and hope for every woman who truly desires to glorify the Lord as a wife, mother, and homemaker.” — Crystal Paine, wife of Jesse Paine and founder of BiblicalWomanhood.com

3 comments:

Jenson said...

Vincent,

May I suggest a cultural issue here, with regards to the role of women in the Christian family?

We Singaporeans live in an afluent society, and so we tend to live up to a certain standard. When that "living standard" is not met, wives/mothers go out to work.

Moreover, it helps because Singapore is so small, and it is relatively easy to get one's mother or mother-in-law to help look after the children.

It is a work of Grace (and toughened nerves) that one is able to operate counter-culturally.

Just my thoughts...

vincit omnia veritas said...

Dear Jenson,

Point taken and accepted. It is indeed a challenge especially for low (and some middle-low) income groups to struggle with a single salary, taking into account the rising cost of living. Do you know that the LTA is going to increase the number of ERP gantries, not mentioning the exorbitant increase in the price of groceries and daily products in Singapore?

But then again, we know that Christian living isn't easy. The world has their ways, and we have ours. Young kids and teenagers are pressurized by the "contemporary culture" to conform to the values and lifestyle seen on TV and that of their unbelieving friends. Fornication and immodesty are rampant and considered the norm. If it was difficult for our Christian parents to discipline us some decades ago, it is not a comfort to know that things aren't getting any easier today. :(

Mark said...

Hi Vincent,

I wonder if you remember me, I commented before on your blog a while back, on this very topic.

I hope I might, again, be allowed to make some comments, specifically with regard to the part of your response to Jenson regarding lower income families.

I have not read the specific book Passionate Housewives, although I have read some articles and such by the co-authors and others associated with them ministry wise. From some of what I have read of them though, I believe they miss the bible balance, especially with regards to lower income families like the ones you mentioned (as always, I am open to correction).

Sticking for the moment to the context of lower income families, I think many times unnecessary burdens are placed upon both men and women by well meaning Christians. If a family truly has trouble in making ends meet, it is entirely virtuous and right for the wife/mother to work. Proverbs 31:16 and 24 tell us that financial contribution to a family is part of the role of a virtuous wife. I do not believe women who are supporting their families in this way should be automatically criticized for neglecting their families, even if their family picture does not conform to the conservative ideal.

Likewise if we interpret the bible by comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Cor 2:13), Proverbs 31 and other verses help us understand what it means for a man to provide for his family, and we understand that he is not failing in this respect if he needs, or chooses to have his wife help him, which is her primary duty in the first place (Gen 2:18).

It is terrible that today covetousness and pride often results in the family suffering, even within the church. But we should not overreact and go to the other extreme on this topic of the role of women.