When my siblings and I were quite young, and even before we were born, my parents started studying the Scriptures for instruction on how to raise a family. They made some decisions that went against what the world calls normal. In some ways, we lived a very sheltered lifestyle and by saying that I mean that my parents were very careful about the influences in our lives. We met all sorts of people with all manner of theology, ideologies, worldviews, etc. In fact, we were recently discussing some of the most unusual and odd characters with whom we had come in contact over the years and we had to laugh about the fact that some people think we are too sheltered or have not been exposed to people who are not just like us!
One of these decisions was that my mother would not work a regular job but would be a keeper at home. My mother has been “at home” since before I was born and as a young girl, I also decided to be a wife and mother and keeper at home one day. It seemed so simple – it was what women were created to do! My father always told people that my mother worked much harder than he did, even though she only worked at home! He honored her (and still does!) for her devotion to her family’s welfare and as I grew up, I was convinced that being a homemaker was the best and most important thing a woman could possibly do.
When I was eight years old, we moved into a community of plain people. These are what most of us would refer to as Amish or Mennonite but our neighbors did not use those titles because they had left their Amish and Mennonite churches. We were able to get some property there and my father built our home off grid. We lived there for six years and it was a wonderful experience. Being in that community helped to form and shape the values with which I grew up. We were surrounded by families, mainly large families. The fathers worked, sometimes in the fields, sometimes in their shops or on construction crews. The mothers took care of their homes and families. It seemed a normal way of life and it made sense! The children, for the most part, lived with their families until they were married.
We moved away from there when I was fourteen but as I entered my upper teens and neared the end of my homeschooling days, I never dreamed of leaving home and going out on my own. It seemed like such a crazy idea! In fact, I remember the night before I turned sixteen we were visiting with some friends. The father of the family, who is a strong supporter of daughters staying at home with their families, heard that I was turning sixteen, and he said, “You have to move out now! Get your own apartment! Get a job! Be independent!”
And we all laughed because … it was laughable! Maybe it was the influence of the people in the plain community but I just could not understand how parents could send their sixteen year old … or eighteen year old … or twenty-one year old daughters off to face the world on their own, instead of letting them stay at home and be part of the family. At that point in time, I really had not given much consideration to what I would do after graduating – I guess I assumed that I would continue on as a part of the family, and perhaps just have more time for some extra projects or studies.
It was also right about then that I was going through a time period that I really wanted to be married. That was kind of laughable too, seeing that I was barely sixteen! But nevertheless, I was struggling with contentment. I remember reading an Above Rubies magazine that was full of suggestions for ways that women could bless their husbands and children, and as much as I enjoyed reading all of the thoughts and ideas, I was really discouraged because none of them applied to me. So I thought to myself how I wished there was a resource that could encourage unmarried young ladies – those who really wanted to be married and have their own families but who were trying to wait patiently and be content in the meantime.
It was out of that desire that the idea for Shining Stars Magazine was born and about one year later, we published our first issue. During that year, I began to realize that my perceptions of what unmarried daughterhood was supposed to look like were very different than most people in our world. I realized that once a girl graduated, she was expected to enroll in college, to move into her own place … even if she lived at home, she was supposed to get a job and start making some income. I found that girls who just wanted to be wives and mommies and keepers at home were looked down on and condemned. I learned that women were expected to prepare for a career, even if they did want to be homemakers, because they might have to provide for themselves one day. If you didn’t get a college degree now before you got married, then what would happen if your husband died or was seriously injured or ran off with someone else? How would you provide for yourself?
I found that the biggest struggle most young ladies were facing was not that of pining away for their Prince Charming, but rather trying to figure out what to do during this in-between time, after school and before marriage. And I realized that I didn’t really know why I believed it was right to stay at home and serve my family, other than it just seemed like the best thing to do! So I had to study and learn and be able to defend my actions with Scripture. There were several resources that were very helpful to me, but what I want to share here are some of the things that I learned from the Bible about a young woman’s role and how these things convinced me of my duty and responsibility as a daughter of the King.
Some things that really got my attention were verses like Colossians 3:20, which says “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord” and verse 18 of the same chapter which says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.”
Obviously there is a principle here that a daughter who is a child is supposed to be in obedience and submission to her parents and a wife is supposed to be in obedience and submission to her husband. So then does it make sense that a young lady who is no longer a child and not yet married, should be independent and submitted to no one? According to Scripture, the answer is no. In Numbers 30 we find that a father has spiritual authority over his unmarried daughter and can protect her from making a foolish vow or commitment, just as a husband has authority to protect his wife from doing the same.
We find several references to an unmarried daughter being in her father’s house in that same chapter, and in Leviticus 22, we also read that if a woman was divorced or widowed, she was to return to her father’s house as she was in her youth. While these passages would seem to be a clear indication that an unmarried daughter remained in her father’s house, I think it is also important to look at the Scriptural examples that we have. Here are some of the unmarried daughters that I discovered:
• Genesis 19; we find Lot’s daughters were in his house.
• Genesis 24; we find Rebekah serving her family and in so doing, she ended up serving the man who was to introduce her to her husband.
• Genesis 29; we find Rachel caring for her father’s flocks.
• Exodus 2; Zipporah and her sisters were also caring for their father’s flocks.
• Judges 11; we find Jepthah’s daughter in his house.
I also found that the only Biblical examples we have of unmarried women living on their own were Rahab in Jericho and the two harlots that brought the baby to King Solomon. In saying that, I have to add the disclaimer that I am not accusing a woman who lives on her own of being a harlot! Far from it! But it is interesting that the Scriptural examples of unmarried women who were not in their father’s homes were ungodly women.
But the most convincing passage, to me, is Titus 2:3-5, “the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, … teachers of good things — that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”
Everyone is familiar with these verses, they are probably quoted more often than any other verses relating to a woman’s Biblical role. I always understood them to mean that the older women are to teach the young wives how to love their husbands and children and keep their homes, etc. But a brief study of that passage will reveal that the word for “young women” simply means “young, youthful, or recently born” … it does not indicate wifehood at all. Our family came to realize that these things the young women were to learn are things that must be practiced. They are not accomplished overnight.
How can we expect a woman to train herself for a career, to practice being independent and self-sufficient … and then suddenly she is married and must submit to her husband and be a keeper of her home? Personally, I feel that this verse is referring to the unmarried young women. They are the ones that should be learning to love their husbands and children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good and obedient to their husbands … so that once they reach that stage of life, they will have the necessary training and practice for a smooth transition into the role of wife, mother and homemaker.
The exciting thing is – these are things that can be learned at home! You won’t accomplish these traits by paying thousands of dollars of tuition for four years on a college campus. And you can’t practice being a homemaker while working a regular, eight hour a day job. But most young women are provided with the ideal circumstances for learning and practicing these aspects of Godly womanhood … and that is their homes and families. What better way to learn to love and obey your future husband than to treat your father in this way? What better way is there to prepare to love your children than to practice this with your own siblings? What better place is there to learn how to take care of a home? And think about all the things that you can learn and study, whether it be character traits, special skills, etc!
This is why I am convinced that my place as an unmarried daughter is in my parents’ home, under their authority, serving my family. It is the perfect training ground to prepare me for my own home and family one day. Some may think I have a very narrow vision for the future and in some ways, I do. I believe that a woman should be a keeper at home, whether married or unmarried. People often say that you can be anything you want to be. Just believe in yourself, dream big, and you can do whatever you want to do. But this is not a Scriptural mindset. Titus 2:5 says that the young women are to learn these things so that the word of God is not blasphemed. I do not believe that it is pleasing to the heavenly Father when women do not fulfill the role for which He created them. When we do not fulfill the roles for which we were created, we cannot expect positive results.
In saying all that, I must add that while I feel very strongly about what I believe to be right, I also know that there are many exceptions to the rule. We live in an imperfect world and are surrounded by imperfect people and imperfect situations. I know there are some girls who do not have fathers to provide for them, and there are other girls whose fathers want them to work or go to college. I believe that each family and individual must decide how to walk out the convictions the heavenly Father has given them and it is not our place to judge whether they are doing it correctly or not. This path is going to look different for each family … which brings me to the next topic I want to address: what does a daughter at home do?
(stay tuned for Part Two: What Does A Daughter At Home Do?