Homemaking and the Biblical View of Work

Where does homemaking fit into the Bible's teaching on work and labor? I've always been happy in my role as a stay-at-home wife and mother. Then I heard a series of messages about the role of productive labor in God's plan for mankind. Since then I've been having doubts. I spend my time preparing meals, wiping the noses of jelly-faced toddlers, and mopping the kitchen floor. As far as I can see, I'm not contributing anything economically, so I'm not sure my efforts have any benefit for the rest of society. How can I take pride in my "work" or view it as having any kind of larger significance? And if I'm not part of that system, how does the biblical concept of the "Sabbath rest" apply to me?

First, it’s important to recognize that God has divided the practical functions of human life into several different “realms” or “spheres.” There’s the sphere of the family, for instance, and the sphere of the state, the sphere of the church, and the sphere of economic activity. It’s true that a homemaker does not contribute directly to the creation of wealth in the economic realm. But that doesn’t mean that she isn’t involved in creative labor. On the contrary, she makes her contribution within the sphere of the family. Through her work in this fundamentally important area she influences the economy indirectly. How does she do this? By raising up a new generation of creative, skilled, and responsible laborers.

That leads to our second point. Economically significant work is not the only kind of labor that counts for something in this world. By way of example, consider the value of the creative arts within the context of the Christian worldview. The arts have long been neglected in many conservative evangelical circles. In spite of this, they are a vital part of our Christian heritage in the western world. And art, as many starving writers, painters, and musicians will tell you, matters a great deal whether or not it generates material “wealth.” It matters because it flows directly out of the Imago Dei – the Image of God in man.

With this thought as background, we’d suggest that a homemaker, as a nurturer of children and a shaper of an environment in which they can grow, thrive, and flourish, is a creative artist of the highest degree. Her medium is neither clay nor paint but impressionable young human lives. From her central role within the sphere of the family she fulfills her destiny as a human being made in God’s image and thus “created to create.”

Where does the concept of Sabbath rest fit into this picture? We’d suggest that it’s important in this realm for the same reason that it’s important in every other field of labor. It’s fundamental to the process of renewal and refreshment that God has built into His plan for the rhythm of human existence.

But perhaps that’s not what concerns you. Maybe what you want to know is how, in a practical sense, a busy mom can find the time to “take a day off.” How can she find renewal and refreshment while trying to meet the needs of young children? Our answer is that this, too, is a challenge that calls for a certain measure of creativity. It may mean that dad needs to step in and shoulder a portion of the domestic responsibilities over the weekend so that mom can get away and enjoy a cup of coffee or a trip to the mall by herself.

If you would like to discuss these concepts further, call our staff of pastoral counselors. They’d love to speak with you over the phone.


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