Divorce is a very real threat to our families today. Births to single mothers have skyrocketed, leaving behind a fatherless generation. Children are disconnected from their working parents as we rely more upon schools as nannies. TV commercials have to encourage families to have one meal together every week.
What happened to our families?
I have a theory about that. The problem, as I see it, gained its footing during World War II, when women left the home to help manufacturing keep pace with war needs while men were on the front lines.
Then the men came home – not to the country that they had left but to a new one, one that was quickly morphing from an agrarian to an industrial society, one in which many women had tasted and developed a hunger for financial independence.
Women raised daughters, who themselves pursued careers, as women represented an increasingly larger percentage of the workforce. At the same time, working wives and mothers struggled to balance their increasing demands.
A fissure was developing in families as women were finding life was possible without a man, even within a family. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society inadvertently contributed to that notion by extending welfare benefits to single mothers – a worthy and laudable action that contributed to the trend of the weeding of men from the home. Unwanted and unneeded, men began to lose their way, succumbing often to irresponsibility as their responsibilities waned.
In this climate of independence, feminism was born (though through legalized abortion, babies were not), and divorce escalated. The traditional family was no longer necessarily the norm. Families grew smaller, government grew bigger, and the rest, well, is history.
Am I saying that women shouldn’t work? Obviously not, or I – as a wife and mother who writes for profit – would be the world’s greatest hypocrite. In fact, the Bible elevates the working woman. Proverbs 31, the chapter with which every Christian woman has a love-hate relationship, describes a virtuous and ever-industrious wife:
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household, for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. . . . She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
So let’s look at this in order: This woman is a merchant, a weaver, a cook, a real estate agent, a farmer, a benefactor and a seamstress. That sounds a lot like a working woman to me. However, what’s different is her focus: She keeps her fingers on the pulse of her home, which she alone manages. She alone tends to the needs of her husband and children. She is the core of her home, and home would not be home without her.
Before you launch hate mail my way, remember I’m simply citing history and Scripture. But perhaps it’s time that our broken society gave heed to that biblical model, especially in these days of telecommuting. Not every woman in our society can work primarily from home, of course, but some can. How would our families be different if women once again made home their first priority? Let’s hope we can find out within our lifetime before our society completely crumbles.