John Calvin on The Heaven-Blessed Priority of Homemaking
?And if men say, ?what is this? A woman playeth the housewife, she spinneth on her distaff, and this is all that women can do.? As in deed there are a number of fools that when they speak of women?s distaffs, of seeing to their children, will make a scorn of it, and despise it. But what then? What saith the heavenly Judge? That he is well pleased with it, and accepteth of it, and putteth it in his reckoning. So then let women learn to rejoice when they do their duty, and though the world despise it, let this comfort sweeten all respect they might have that way, and say, ?God seeth me here, and his Angels, who are sufficient witnesses of my doings, although the world do not allow of them.??[i]
[i] John Calvin, in A Sermon of Master John Caluine, vpon the first Epistle of Paul, toTimothie, published for the benefite and edifying of the Churche of God, ?The 19. A Sermon on 1 Timothy 2:13-15? (London: G. Bishop and T. Woodcoke, 1579).
Apparently the idea that housekeeping is too demeaning for an intelligent woman is not a new one. Certain men have thought so for at least 4 centuries.
But I suspect that this is a relatively new thought pattern among women.
I have been saddened to see many Christian women lately object to the idea that the Biblical pattern is for young women to stay in their father’s house and under his authority until they are married. Under their parents’ supervision they can continue their education, polishing and honing the many skills of the Proverbs 31 woman, preparing to become highly accomplished wives and mothers when they are married.
Likewise, some Christian sisters even take exception to the clear Biblical pattern that a wife’s calling centers around the home.
This is not to say that every young woman will eventually be married, but marriage is the norm. And what if a woman is called to singleness? Did she waste all those years learning “womanly arts,” serving family and friends? Was there no gain for Christ’s kingdom in all the time she spent helping new mothers, cleaning the homes of the widows and elderly, serving the sick and needy, helping with the family business, planning and preparing meals for her parents and siblings, helping with her siblings’ education, furthering her own education in a myriad of ways?
“Do you mean to say that a woman isn’t allowed to have a calling or a career?” they ask, with offended feminine dignity.
Why does this sadden me? Because like many feminist thought patterns, it is demeaning to women. Motherhood and wifehood fit firmly within the definition of both terms (calling and career) and many say that these are high callings. But some women seem to hold the traditional Biblical role of women in such low esteem that they don’t even count these roles as callings or careers.
This is the “respect” that feminism creates for the women of the world.
More on the subject from writers I respect: