The question seemed to be raised whether a woman who oversees a home is as economically productive, or even if she is -at all, as the woman with a career. This discussion arose in the comments at previously cited, the evangelical
outpost’s “Donâ€™t Marry a Proverbs 31 Woman”. Although this was not the main point of the post, which I happen to agree with: that we should have a Biblical model for the “Virtuous Woman” standard and not a reworked 1950 Sitcom throwback.
But along the way, we found this detour:
It probably started here, in Joe’s post
“This is not to say that marital bliss requires women to become June Cleaver-style stay-at-home moms. In fact, the biblical ideal for a wife, which is clearly presented in Proverbs 31:10-31, shares much in common with what we would nowadays consider a â€œcareer woman.â€ The primary difference is that becoming a â€œprofessional womanâ€ entails acquiring qualities to build an impressive resume, while becoming a â€œProverbs 31 womanâ€ requires obtaining qualities to build an impressive character. But just as Noer warns against marrying a career woman, many Christians would advise (in reality if not in theory) that you avoid marrying a â€œProverbs 31 woman.â€”
but it was in the disucssion that some of the thought was fleshed out
from commenter ‘Boonton’,
“I think for a small minority homeschooling is a perfect fit. I think, though, that for many many others homeschooling would quickly devolve into “just watch TV while I do these chores”.”
“I think getting the job done is the most virtous. That means it’s more virtous to have the humility to admit that you probably can’t homeschool your children very well and therefore let the school do it than it is to neglect your child’s education”
…it started to develop more here
“1. The assumption that God desires a Christian wife to devote herself to maintaining her home, rather than doing economically productive work.”
with a three point clarification from ‘TeresaHT’
as the contrapuntal view of stay at home woman now means one who does not do “economically productive work”
TeresaHT goes on to further elaborate:
“Some housework is economically productive, yes. But most of it, arguably, is not. Rather, it is work spent consuming and maintaining what someone else has already earned. It is not the same kind of work as raising chickens, spinning wool, maintaining a garden, or weaving cloth. All of these latter actions produced raw materials or converted raw materials into goods which could be used, bartered or sold. That’s what I’m calling “economically productive” work. Some housewives do this kind of work, but for many women, if they do it at all, it is only a small part of their work. Going grocery shopping is consumption, not production. Vacuuming the floor is maintance, not production. Do you really not see the difference? I’m not saying such consumming-and-maintaining work is unnecessary or unhelpful. Buying groceries, preparing meals, and clipping coupons is real work, no doubt about that! I’m just saying that I don’t believe God intends for such maintenance-and-consumption work to be the primary work most women do. The “men are producers, women are consumers and maintainers” model is not a Biblical model for division of labor: it is, rather, a result of the Industrial Revolution.”
Then a commenter, ‘giggling’ ( don’t be fooled by the inconequential name, this is one cogent and hard-hitting commenter) answers,
“What’s interesting here is that you seem to be stuck in the Industrial Revolution mindset as well, with your IR distinctions of producers of goods, consumers, and maintainers.
But in today’s society, it seems that the “goods” that people produce are not necessarily physical commodities that you seem to elevate in importance above “services” that people produce.
Services, after all, are what you are describing as somehow lower in importance than the production of physical commodities. Yet what is your justification for such a distinction?
Isn’t it true that companies exist today whose sole purpose, for example, is to go grocery shopping for you and deliver them to your door? They are called service industries and there is simply no reason to say that what they sell are less products than shoes are to Nike.
I seriously believe in light of examples such as this that your own Industrial Revolution perspective limits what you view as production, and therefore taints your view of the legitimate production that wives do (not to mention those employed in service industries).”
I couldn’t have said thngs better myself, not even with time and editing.
There is much more in the comments ( 77 and counting last time I looked), but this is enough quoting to give you the direction that some of the opinion was taking.
There is much made of falsely quantifying criteria for the purpose of rendering soundbytes. That isn’t the fault of a singular blogger, it is the way we deal with information in our society. If you are issuing government statistics or computing taxes, it makes sense to reduce “economic productivity” to the restricted terms used here, but in real life, and in actual computation of what makes the financial cut, there is a whole passive economy that simply isn’t factored in. And the SAHM’s are smack in the middle of that “passive” economy. I thought we had come to a place in our society where we understood that a throw-away consumerism will cost everyone more in the long run. I guess I was wrong, because when you give added weight to those “produce” through creating goods, and marketing only, the ‘career women’…. you have returned to that mode of assessing value.
So instead of outright preaching, I throw it to the common sense and sensibilities of the readers: do those who maintain the wealth, who provide volunteer services, do untold tasks for healthy families which then require less “help” form government and non-profits ,who keep the warp and weft of society strung together count for something economically?
(yes, I kinda preached anyway)