“That they may teach the young women to be wise, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, sober, having a care of the house, gentle, obedient to their husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” St. Paul, Titus 2
It’s obvious that Christian women have historically chosen between two vocations: contemplative life and married life. Married life normally means women spend the majority of their adult lives at home, caring for their families. Women today look back at the fact that women really devoted all of their time and energy to the dmoestic arts and express a similar desire to be a “stay at home Mom”. There are, however problems with this.
First, there were no grocery stores back then. Women were not in kitchens making three meals each day, poring over cookbooks trying to find some new recipe to keep her family’s taste buds stimulated. They were turning raw produce and animals into table food, and it was a very great amount of work. The hours they spent in the kitchen were spent doing the work of the gardener, the butcher, the baker, etc.. Modern women who buy packaged chicken breasts, canned vegetables, sticks of butter and jars of spices really don’t have any of the traditional housewife’s work to do, yet they try to make a full-time job out of it, which tends to leave them more to serve gluttony than any necessity.
Second, there were no convenience appliances back then. Not only did the woman’s work require a great deal of natural wisdom and discipline, it was also a very physical job. All of the washing, cutting, plucking, milling, sweeping, etc., needed to be done by hand. That’s why we find the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 described as one who “strengthens her arms”.
Third, there were domestic servants back then. Housewives did not spend their days alone, in privacy, with their children. There were other adults constantly in and out of the house whom the housewife needed to manage and supervise. She needed to be the regulator of the household.
Modern women who are averse to traditional household work find themselves in an odd situation that doesn’t fit nicely into anything they read in Scripture of traditional manuals on housewifery. They need to examine the pros and cons of the modern context of housewifery and ask whether they are, in fact, better off as they are, or whether it would be better to pass on the modern conveniences for higher purposes.