Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Art of Domesticity

Here is a lovely virtue that women are designed for. It isn’t in found in a list of virtues like some of the others we have discussed, but women are charged to be domestic, to be capable homemakers.

Domestic means simply, home-loving; enjoying household affairs; a devotion to home and family life.

Domesticity encompasses everything that has to do with managing a home.Women need to be trained to be domestic, just like they might be trained for any other job. Though women are designed for this, it does not follow that we know everything instinctively. It is a calling, not a hobby. The older women are to teach the younger women to be homemakers (Titus 2:4). That word 'maker' is an important one. God is our Maker and He has given us the great privilege of making things in imitation of Him, whether it is a poem or a home. Women are given a glorious responsibility in homemaking.

Homekeeping refers to the nuts and bolts of managing a home, and homemaking has more to do with the intangibles; but both are necessary to build God-fearing, trinitarian homes.

Women are called to manage their homes (1 Tim. 5:14) ; this pleases God and keeps the adversary from speaking reproachfully. Women who make homes keep God’s word from being blasphemed (Titus 2:4). The way I understand this is that a home that is well managed is a positive glory; a home in shambles is a poor testimony. But this is not to lay a guilt trip on women; rather, it should inspire us to view our seemingly mundane tasks as a truly worthy calling that God uses to transform the world. We often think of homekeeping as drudgery. But God says it silences our enemies. That is something potent. God always does things backwards from what we think. This requires wisdom.

“The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands” (Prov. 14:1).

“Through wisdom a house is built and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Prov. 24:3-4).

Wisdom and knowledge are not things you can order from Pottery Barn. Consider wisdom when you decorate, make purchases, iron shirts, organize the closet, stock the pantry, clean the fridge, plan the menu, plant the petunias, hang the guest towels. Women are given dominion over a vast amount of territory in their homes. Our homes are to be an oasis to our families, a center of operations to refuel and send out our husbands, a refuge for our children, a delight to our own souls. But sadly, a many women squander their opportunities and abandon their homes for something they think might be more fulfilling. But whenever we run away from what God has given us to do in order to pursue something we think we may like better, we give the enemy opportunity to speak reproachfully and we miss God’s blessing on our lives.

The woman described in Proverbs 31 (vs. 27) “watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Many things can distract us from our duties. It could be a “ministry” somewhere outside the home. It could be getting together with the girls for coffee. It could be working out at the gym. None of these things is bad in itself, but each can be a cover for idleness.

The woman in Proverbs 31 is meant to be an inspiration for us. She is virtuous. If you read through the description, you’ll see she has a very broad job description: She seeks, works willingly, does good, brings food, rises, provides, considers, plants, girds, strengthens, perceives, stretches, extends, reaches out, is not afraid, makes, sells, supplies, rejoices, opens, watches, and fears the Lord. She is prepared. She is wise. She knows what her household needs.

G.K. Chesterton in one of the essays in Brave New Family, says that a homemaker can be good at many things, while a “professional” may be an expert in one thing. Women, he says, have so much more scope at home than they do in a “career” outside the home where they must focus on only one skill.

The unmarried woman has the opportunity to be domestic whether she is living at home with her parents or has her own home. She might have to work outside the home to provide for herself, unless she is independently wealthy (or entrepreneurial), but she can still make her home her central calling. Women are to be home-centered, even if they are not in it all the time.

Mothers need to be preparing their daughters to be excited about homemaking. Many things are required of a homemaker and many skills are needed. Our culture does not give the homemaker the honor she deserves.

But God does.

-Nancy Wilson of Femina, originally titled Home-Loving



  1. Great post and so true. I once had an outside "career" and didn't listen very closely to God telling me I needed to be home with my children. So, He closed all doors to outside opportunities. I was not happy at first, but three years later I find myself a SAHM, homeschooling, and loving life more than I ever imagined possible. I've been so blessed and wouldn't go back for anything. Our home is practically stress-free and I find myself closer to my husband, children and even to God.
    ~Have a blessed day and thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Thank you. I needed to read this today. We are experiencing a major heat wave and the last thing I want to do is clean my house. But, I know it needs it and you have inspired me.

  3. I take great pride in homemaking. I am a working wife/mother, but am off during the summer. I am a teacher. I feel that God has lead me to be a teacher, it is one of my gifts/talents because I'm actually very good at it. But I'm also very good at homemaking and being a mother. I have found a way to juggle the two and provide for my family financially, as well as keeping our home clean, bills paid, children fed, cleaned, etc. I couldn't do it without God's guidance and help. I can do all things through Christ which strenghtens me. I'm proud (not boastful) of my home life, as well as the work I do outside of the home. I'm a mother at home and a mother to children that may not get the attention they need at home. I love my life and thank God for it every day.

  4. Thanks, June, for the reminder. We have been so busy this summer so far that the condition of the house has suffered a bit. Thanks for the nudge I needed to be diligent in the midst of this season of busy-ness. Back to some cleaning/folding before we head out the door! :-)

  5. Thank you for sharing this! What a wonderful reminder!

  6. Loved this! Inspiring and true ~ This in an art that I must diligently and prayerfully practice daily!

  7. Love, love, love this post. I've got to get a hold of that G. K. Chesterton essay.

  8. I can't believe in this day and age that you believe that women have to choose between having a career and keeping their home. Plenty of us have somehow "managed" to have a career, take care of children, and take care of ourselves. Husbands/fathers are capable and should be encouraged to take part in keeping the house and taking care of the children.

    As far as enjoying "household affairs", I don't enjoy them. I didn't enjoy them when I was home full-time, either. Household chores are just something that needs to be done and the whole family pitches in. My house isn't spotless, but my family is happy and healthy and I have a career that I enjoy and makes a difference to the community.

    My oldest son is now in his 3rd year od college and is consistently on the Dean's list. He is a classical music major and is doing great. My youngest son is preparing for his senior year of high school. He works part-time this summer and makes honor roll during the school year. They are independent, intelligent, and caring. Many times, my youngest has told me of peers who are in trouble and many of these children are children of mothers who did not WOH. (work outside of the home.)

    I don't buy this line of thinking that you are putting out there. "Building Your Home" isn't about putting out fancy towels or keeping the closets organized.

    I don't expect you to print this comment. I just wanted you to know that I think you are dead wrong.

  9. Dear G.,

    Thank you for your comment. I agree with the writer of this article because she is pointing out truths in scripture. The theme verse is in Titus 2:4-6.

    This is not necessarily an article on working. In fact, if you read carefully, she exhorts the working woman to keep her home central. She states, "many women squander their opportunities and abandon their homes for something they think might be more fulfilling."
    This could be ministry, volunteering, always hanging with the girls and anything else that she might try to use to replace or escape her responsibility of caring for her home, husband and family. Many women need to work--I understand that and support the ones that need to. But there is a difference from needing to work and trying to "get away" from her house and children because she thinks she could be doing something better with her time and hates being there.

    Housework in not something we all enjoy but can learn to do so with a thankful and content heart, understanding that we are serving the Lord. That is why I also agree with Mrs. Wilson statement of the importance of training and not just in the dutiful aspects but also where it counts most-- in the heart. I do not believe a house needs to be spotless. If you come to my house, you will not find that. But I believe that order is important, that we are called to do that to the best of our abilities. That is something that women learn to do over time. As their families get bigger and circumstances change they will learn to adapt. There are also different seasons in a woman's life that she might not be able to do things as well as others. I believe family and the Lord are more important than keeping a house spotless. What you will find on this blog is encouragement and teaching on helping you to be the best wife and mother that you can be as we look together towards scripture.

    If you have read any more of this site you will see that "building a home" is ALOT more than pretty towels. Pretty towels are just a small touch of love in a home. There is much more to it than that and I welcome you to browse the archives to see where my heart is on that issue.

    Many blessings...

  10. Beautiful post~so true and well said~there are so many spheres to homemaking, there's just no time to get bored if you tackle just a few of them:)

  11. Beautifully said.
    I wholeheartedly agree!
    Thank you!
    I LOVE being a homemaker!
    Blessings to you as you make your home!

  12. Thank you for being true to the Word of God and sharing this post with your readers.
    God bless,

  13. Thank-you for your encouraging post.It really helped me. I get so tired of the world looking down on me.I must remember I have a higher calling.I thank God everyday I can be home to help my husband and children.

  14. What an awesome article! Definitely inspires to be a better homemaker! Blessings!


  15. June,

    I liked this post, especially as of late, my daily schedule of homemaking duties have been (do I dare say) slacking, sigh! I really needed this encouragement. I suppose the warm weather is getting to me. At any rate, thanks for sharing this encouragement with us full-time homemakers. :)

    ~Mrs. Lady Sofia~

  16. Thanks for posting this, I needed this so much today! Thanks for letting God speak through you. Have a BLESSED day!

  17. Thanks for sharing that. A clean home and one in order does silence the enemies. And teaching the younger women is what we are to do. I do see keeping the home as also training the children in God's Word. That is of the utmost and to be carried on to the next generation.

  18. Wonderful post .... I love it! It is so refreshing to read about things from a Biblical view instead of a worldly view. What great encouragement this is. Society tells us one thing but the Bible shows us the truth. I might link this page on my blog if that is okay with you.

  19. I work outside the home out of necessity, but I pray daily for the ability to stay home. My husband is the one who is home with my daughter. I think many of those scriptures refer to a virtuous woman to teach her children God's ways.

    Even though I'm the one working all day. I came home yesterday and it was I who suggested we sit down and have a Bible study. I always have to take this initiative--even though my husband had been at home all day. He did the grocery shopping, cooked dinner, washed clothes, mowed the yard. After a long day elsewhere, I made sure my family was spiritually fed, prayed, and spent time with God.

    Our God is so wonderful, He can teach us to be virtuous women and homemakers regardless of where we are during the day. There is a lot to the saying that "Home is where the heart is." Home is our family.

    PS - I love the beautiful images you have on your blog!


  20. Beautifully Said!! Once I found my place in the home, I felt I was no longer struggling to pursue my own way but, HIS way! And I finally found peace!

  21. This is an inspiring and encouraging post. I was convicted before I had my first son that I needed to be a homemaker and left my job when he was born. To tell you the truth, it has been a struggle but I know this is where God wants me.
    I would be grateful if you could suggest some resources on learning the art of domesticity. I truly want to do the best I can in this work I have been given, but often feel clueless. Any wisdom you could give would be so much appreciated!

  22. I loved this post on homemaking. I am a stay at home wife, but due to chronic illness, am not able to do everything around my home that I want to do. It's a difficult thing to adjust to. And I have a daughter who would give anything to be able to stay home with her children, but she can't as her husband abandoned her and doesn't contribute more than an occasional box of diapers. But the ways that God had provided for her, have been miraculous and I'm am blessed for being able to go on this journey with her. We live several states apart which is also hard, because no matter how I feel, I'd take care of those little boys, I love them and miss them so much. But again, God has provided awesome babysitters for her - if the babysitter can't be Grandma, these two ladies are the next best thing. (one regular sitter and a backup)

    I was simply blessed by your post. Thank you :)

  23. Wonderful, biblical post. You have reminded me that it is not a coincidence that I feel more at peace at the end of the day when I have spent my day ordering my home, in a wise fashion, than when I spend it idyl, even when those idyl things make me happy at the time.

  24. Great post. So true and such wisdom. Thanks for sharing.


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