Lisa Vitello used to publish a newletter called “New Harvest Homestead” in the early 2000s. She is an excellent writer, and I know many of you will love her writings. They’re priceless!
I don’t have to tell most of you that “vintage” is very popular right now. Just tack that word on to most anything and you can sell it for a good profit on eBay, Vintage dishware, vintage fabrics, vintage clothing; it’s a true phenomenon. All that is old is suddenly new (and very desirable) again.
Have you ever thought about what is behind this craving for all things old-fashioned? This inclination is especially evident among women in the 20-50 year-old age group. Why? There is more to this than just wanting to decorate one’s home in the latest fashion fad. I believe this trend bespeaks a deep and powerful yearning in the hearts of modern women. It is a longing, not just for the trappings of a particular time in our cultural history but for the very lifestyle itself.
It’s not too hard to understand this hunger for simpler times when one considers the current condition of the family, and especially women, in our society.
Here are a just a few of the sad statistics:
Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. Anti-depressants are prescribed for women at twice the rate of men.
Women ages 26-49 are twice as likely as men to have suffered from serious mental illness.
Seventy eight percent of all autoimmune diseases occur in women. The occurrence of autoimmune disorders has dramatically increased in the past few decades.
Women are two to three times more likely than men to have anxiety disorders.
Most of these conditions have increased by two, three, and four times over the past 50 years. And, these are just a few of the statistics I have found. I could list the fact that the divorce rate among Christians is the same as for non-believers, according to the latest Barna research. Read the eye-opening Heritage Foundation report entitled The Breakdown of the Family by Patrick Fagan for a very well-documented accounting of the deterioration of the American family unit over the past half-century.
It is obvious that our enemy has declared an all-out war on God’s plan for the family to be the backbone of any healthy society. And guess what ladies? WE were target number one. Cleverly diabolical adversary that he is, Satan knew that if he was going to get in the home and wreak havoc on the family, he had to take out the gatekeeper first. That’s us, sisters.
We are all familiar with Titus 2:5 in which women are instructed, among other things, to be the “keepers at home.” The Greek word used is “oikourgos.” According to Strong’s dictionary this word is derived from the Greek oikos meaning “home” and “ouros,” literally meaning a guard or a watch. We are like the watch guard and warden of our homes.
I don’t mean to suggest that we are the head of the home. Of course, this is the husband’s place. But, while the man is the head of the home, the woman is its heart. It is we who have been endowed by God with that special sensitivity to the needs of our family. Women have an intuitive “radar” that tells them when a child is getting sick or that a teenager needs to talk. We are the ones who can make our homes a refuge for work-weary fathers, affording them the opportunity to “re-charge” before the next day’s battles. In this sense, we truly do watch over our homes and families, “keeping” them from the many troubles that might otherwise plague them were we not on our guard.
And so, the enemy hatched The Plan. The plan to lure women away from their post so he could steal, kill and destroy the men, women, and children of our culture. The devil hates us with an everlasting hatred, and he’s not kidding around.
The Seeds of Rebellion
Most American historians agree that a monumental cultural shift took place in this country during and after World War II. Before that time, women only represented 25 percent of the workforce and the majority were young and single. But then the United States entered the war and 10 million men joined the Armed Forces. That left a gaping hole in the labor force. Employers desperately needed to fill positions, especially in a wartime economy with huge orders for machinery to be filled.
Did you know that, before World War II, there were laws on the books prohibiting married women from getting jobs in the local government? A survey of 1500 school districts revealed that 77 percent of them refused to hire married women and 63 percent fired women teachers once they got married. Many large employers like insurance companies and banks had policies against married women working. Most Americans believed that a wife should not work if her husband had a job.
But, all of that changed with the war. The defense industry, in particular, needed workers. And so, a massive propaganda campaign was launched by the U.S. Government to change public attitudes towards married women taking jobs, and it worked. Of all the women who joined the labor force in those days, the majority were married women – many with children.
When the war ended, an equally colossal propaganda campaign was launched to get women to go back home. Men had returned from the war, and they wanted their jobs back. But Eve had bitten the apple and she didn’t want to go back home. Many women found they liked the independence and luxuries made possible by the extra money. It made “just being a housewife” seem boring in comparison. The seeds of discontentment with domestic life had been planted.
When the 1950’s rolled around, manufacturers sensed a new demographic in these working moms with money and began to cater to them offering a flood of “time-saving” devices. Swanson introduced their first line of frozen dinners. Fast food was born. Televisions began to appear in the living rooms, along with the commercials enticing people to buy all the newest and latest gadgets. None of these things were necessarily evil in and of themselves, but each step in the march of progress was like one more rail in the track that was leading farther and farther away from the home.
Sensing all the elements in place, the feminist movement came out into the open in the early 60’s. Beginning with the book “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan, women began to be bombarded with the idea that homemaking was an inferior way of life. If a woman really wanted to make a difference in this world, she would cast off the shackles of marriage, child-bearing, and housework and make her mark in the masculine realm of the workplace. Like so many other political movements in this country, I don’t really think the feminists represented the beliefs of the majority at that time, but the leaders were loud and determined and gained the ear of the mainstream media.
Now, this tidal wave hit right about the time many of us were born – the mid 40’s through the early 70’s. Our mothers and grandmothers faced a cultural earthquake the likes of which had never been seen before on the American landscape. Husbands, wives, and children were sucked out of the home and into the vortex of social upheaval, blowing them in every direction. No generation of women had ever faced such an insidious attack against the biblical family model and most were blindsided by it. The enemy of our souls had scored a real cultural coup and without a strong anchor to the Rock of Truth, even Christian women found themselves caught up in this storm of societal change.
The generation of children who were born in the aftermath of this “earthquake” became the unfortunate victims of its devastation. Institutionalized daycare and after school programs multiplied as many children no longer had someone waiting for them at home. Terms like “latchkey kids” and “juvenile delinquent” became familiar expressions. A youth subculture emerged as more and more activities, pastimes and clubs were organized to meet this ever-growing need.
When these “culture shock” babies grew up and started having babies of their own, a turnabout of sorts happened. Many of us who had grown up with a working mother knew that ache we had felt for her presence at home. Young mothers of the 1970’s and 80’s began to reject the notion that a woman could “have it all.” Because they had experienced this way of life first hand they knew that no, if truth be told, she could not have it all. In trying to do everything, the working mom usually couldn’t fully focus on anything: not her job, not her family, not her home.
Groups like La Leche League became increasingly popular as they championed the idea that babies need their mommies full-time more than anything else. By this time, however, the belief that a woman who “just stayed home” was somehow not living up to her full potential was deeply entrenched in the public psyche. As of 1990, 75 percent of mothers with school-aged children were in the work force. So, like the operatives in the underground movement, stay-at-home moms began to network and support one another.
The Christian community finally began to sit up and take notice of all of this, and the pro-family movement came into the fore. Some evangelical leaders were still somewhat reluctant to declare unequivocally that mothers, if at all possible, ought to be home to raise their children. However, the Christian homeschooling movement pulled no punches in this regard and, as the movement grew, so did support for the full-time mom.
At this point, many of you are probably thinking this is a good description of where you are (or where you want to be and are praying to be). You have not fallen prey to the feminist party line. You have held your ground. You are a SAHM.
Ah, yes. But remember, we still have that enemy lurking in the shadows, and his goal is to lure the gatekeeper away from her post.
Phase 2 of “The Plan”
Yes, this drift back home for wives and mothers was a very good thing. Too good. The enemy could see that this was going to lead to stronger families, happier marriages, and healthier children, and he wasn’t going to sit still for that. That was when Phase Two of The Plan was implemented.
Here’s another interesting fact: In 1960, only 15 percent of American families owned more than one car. Ten years later, the figure rose to 28 percent, still way less than half the population. Guess who drove that car all day? Right, Dad. The father was still the predominant wage earner and, therefore, used the car to go and from work. That meant that mom was home doing her thing most of the time.
Mothers who had managed to resist the call to the workplace were mostly occupied with duties at home whether she liked it that way or not! Without a car, outside activities were limited. I want you to stop and think for a moment about what your life might be like if you didn’t have a second car. Because, you see, up until around 1975 that was the reality for the majority of American families. The current status of the on-the-go mom is a very new thing historically speaking. It is a deviation from the way things have been, not for hundreds, but literally thousands of years.
These dual ingredients of the working mom, plus the increasing availability of automobiles to every family combined to create a recipe the enemy would exploit to, once again, get mom out of the house.
Remember, the ever-increasing percentage of working women created a need for more and more “out of school” activities to keep children in a supervised environment while the parents were at work. In the past few decades, the variety and number of these kinds of activities has absolutely exploded. After school sports and music programs, religious clubs, private swimming, dance, music, karate, gymnastics, and art classes have become part of everyday life. While this need was created due to the working mother’s absence from home, involvement in multiple extra-curricular activities soon became an absolute necessity for every child, if we wanted them to grow up and be truly well-rounded persons.
Children began to come home from school begging to take lessons or join clubs like their friends. Dutiful mothers, who certainly didn’t want their child to be deprived, enrolled their angels in every after-school activity that came down the pike. It’s the same whether children attend public school, private school, or are homeschooled.
The “Chauffer” mom was born. In his essay entitled “America Since 1945” historian William Chafe rightly observed that the modern suburban family is run by its children.
Phase Two of the enemy’s plan becomes clear here. If he couldn’t lure mothers out of the home with the temptation of an outside job, he would keep her so busy that she ended up spending very little time there anyway. This apple is tied up in the pretty paper and trimmings with a card that reads “For the Children.”
The result of all of this frenetic activity on our collective hearts, minds, and bodies is apparent, in my opinion. Note the statistics I cited at the beginning of this article. Women are anxious, depressed, and fatigued. We feel as if our wheels are always spinning, but we never quite get to where we want to go. We can’t turn off the noise in our heads when we lay them on the pillow at night. We are distracted and have a nagging sense of guilt that somehow, we are letting things slip away from us.
And, are our children really benefitting from this constant shuttling about? It’s a wonder that anyone ever became a well-rounded person in the last 5,950 years of human history without all the bells and whistles of multiple scheduled activities. I’m afraid we run the risk of producing children who are just as anxious, fatigued, and distracted as we moms have become. It’s time to step out of the whirlwind. We may not hear the still, small voice of God if we don’t.
“And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman, being quite deceived, fell into transgression.” (1 Timothy 2:14)
We don’t like that verse, We want to find a way to water it down somehow. But Paul is doing us a favor here. He is revealing to us something that is true about a woman’s nature, even true for women who are saved, apparently, because he is directing his comments to the Church in Ephesus. The unvarnished truth is that we can be led astray, deceived, sweet-talked. The forces of this world can contrive smooth sounding rhetoric, and women have more of a tendency to fall for it than men. The beautiful qualities of empathy, loyalty, dutifulness, and trust with which the Lord has endowed us can be used against us if we don’t have our guard up.
So, let’s not make excuses or go into denial mode. Let’s own it, because then we have a starting point from which we can launch a counter attack.
In the introductory issue of New Harvest Homestead, I did my best to list the qualities of a biblical woman, simply by going from scripture to scripture. It becomes obvious that a woman of God is to be mostly busy about her own home, caring for her family, no matter how badly we may want to read our own interpretations into it to the contrary. Again, let me make the point that it wasn’t even possible for the majority of women to do otherwise up until the last half-century.
Is God just a big killjoy who wants us to be tied down? Or, does He, as our Creator, know more about us than we know about ourselves? Is it possible that He gave such instruction in the scripture, because He hard-wired us in such a way that we require a mostly home-centered life in order to attain to the gentle, quiet, meek, and gentle spirit He finds so precious in us?
Is it also possible that our enemy, having some clue as to this inherent need for hearth and home built into the woman’s soul, might be doing his very best to keep her busy elsewhere? After all, the scripture tells us that a woman who is so engaged at home gives the enemy no occasion for reproach and brings honor to God (1 Timothy 5:14, Titus 2:5.) The devil certainly doesn’t want that!
Yes, I think this has been the plan. And, due to the aforementioned propensity we have for falling prey to deception. The plan has been working pretty well. We spend our best energies and give the greatest portion of our time to other places, other people, and other things. It should be the other way around. Our homes and our families should receive the lion’s share of our time and attention with a few carefully chosen outside activities coming way down on the list of priorities.
You need to understand, beloved sisters, in Christ Jesus, that when we make this seemingly simple and humble decision to be obedient to the biblical call to be home-centered, we have really stepped up to the front lines of a vicious spiritual battle. The last thing in the world the enemy wants is for us to be more rested, peaceful, content, and quiet. He knows that spending more days at home, joyfully immersed in the unhurried business of gardening, cooking and baking from scratch, crafting, teaching our children, and other such homekeeping activities, will have multiple benefits for women and their families.
Having fewer days in which we hurry away from home means:
We will have more time for prayer and meditation on the Word.
Our families will eat healthier, because we have more time to spend creating nutritious meals. Our husbands are more likely to come home to a good, home-cooked meal.
We will save money, because we do not have to fill the car up with gas as often. This is huge considering the price of gasoline right now.
We will save more money, because we are not running though fast food joints to eat as we rush from one thing to another or rush home from a busy day out.
Our homes will be better kept.
We are more likely to be rested and ready to fulfill our “wifely duties” should our husband so desire.
We will be available should a need arise among our family, our friends, or our neighbors.
Our children, especially the small ones, will be better rested, happier, and more relaxed. Many discipline problems will disappear after much time as been spent at home dealing with them.
We are called by the Lord Himself to lead a quiet life. Note the following scriptures:
“Oh Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty, nor do I involved myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother; my soul is like a weaned child within me.” (Psalm 131:1,2)
“For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, ‘In repentance and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength…'” (Isaiah 30:15)
“But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10: 41,42)
“Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in a quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (This was a rebuke to “busybodies.”) (2 Thessalonians 3:11)
“…we urge you brethren to excel still more and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you; so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
These words are not suggestions for us to take or leave as we please. These are the loving commands of a Sovereign Creator who knows what is best for those who are the work of His own hands.
In closing, I feel I must make clear that I do not believe that every woman who works outside the home is sinful or disobedient to God. Some women must work because they have been abandoned or widowed, their husbands are disabled, or their husbands require them to work. These are situations I have seen in my own family, and I do understand.
I also do not want to give the impression that every outside activity is wrong. I simply want to urge women to choose very carefully what they do with their time. If you can’t spend even two consecutive days at home because you have so many different activities to attend, that is when I believe we are in danger of straying from the biblical model of the home-centered woman.
The longing for the vintage life is really just the inward call of the soul to live the way the Lord created us to live. So many women are looking for peace in a bottle of pills, in the buying of more and more things, in this or that ministry, in some type of employment, or constant busyness. We are told that the days of the happy, contented homemaker are over. No one really lives that way anymore.
That’s a lie.
Just like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, we need look no further than our own backyard to find the simple and peace-filled life for which our hearts have been yearning.