Three cheers for mothers in Israel and daughters of Sarah...

Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, “Do not delay in coming to us.” So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. - Acts 9:36-39

Nine old men. Nine old men. Nine old men.

(chant of striking unionists in reaction to a 1935 Supreme Court decision declaring the National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional)

My wife, Mrs. Hale (she’s cheerfully taken my pseudonym), recently sent me a link to an article in The Guardian on the travails of women professionals, especially lawyers. She said I just had to read it, suggesting a blog post might be in order.

The article quotes Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s declaration that she won’t be satisfied until there are nine women on the U.S. Supreme Court. (Three currently serve.) The author of The Guardian piece, who used to work for a law firm, heartily agrees. She says, “It's not unreasonable to think that, at some point, nine of the finest legal minds in the country would belong to women.” 

To which my not-so-fine legal mind responds, “Well, duh.” Buried in this non-newsflash is the assumption that the crème de la crème of legal minds would even want to go to law school, or slog their way to a partnership in a swanky law firm, or maneuver their way into a position to be nominated for a seat on the SCOTUS bench.

Speaking for myself, I could come up with nine of the finest legal minds in America faster than you can say the words “It Takes a Village.” And many of them would be widows, mothers, daughters, and sisters of Clearnote Church. Some of them don’t have a college degree, much less—are you ready for this—a JURIS DOCTOR. 

Think of the countless adjudications that take place daily in our homes while husbands are in what the world calls “The Workplace.” Little Billy and Sally are squabbling over the pet rock. Mother must judge: (a) whether to intervene or let the children work it out; (b) whether to give it to Billy because he had it first; (c) whether to give it to Sally because it doesn’t matter whether Billy had it first; (d) whether to put it in the pantry for the day because they shouldn’t be squabbling in the first place; (e) to give the pet rock to Goodwill; (f) which Scriptures apply; (g) whether to cry out to God to work in her children’s hearts; (h) to remind them that many children in Africa don’t have pet rocks; (i) whether one or both children should be spanked; (j) to do some combination of the above; or (k) to do none of the above.

Then think of both the temporal and eternal blessings these maternal adjudications have had for the good of immortal souls, the joy of the home, the sweet, fragrant love of the church, and the peace of the community. 

A successful contemporary of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tried the legal profession and after success gave it up to care for the home, her husband, and children. Carolyn Graglia graduated from Columbia law school, was on law review, landed a job at a major Wall Street law firm, and at one point worked on “cutting edge” First Amendment law. 

Mrs. Graglia writes in her book Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism of the differences between the work of a woman constructing utopia and the work of a woman making a home:

Contemporary feminism would have women devote themselves to reinventing the universe—as Hillary Rodham Clinton urges them to ‘remold society.’ But devotion to grandiose schemes within the public arena necessarily requires relinquishing to others the cultivation of one’s own garden. The essence of the traditional woman is her preference for attending to the welfare of her own small universe, hoping to create therein a simple canvas of quotidian beauty.

Here’s Mrs. Graglia’s description of her own experiences in the law firm factory vis-à-vis the home:

It was clear to me then and remains so today that neither I, nor my husband (even though he has largely been the sole supporter of our family), nor our children would have fared nearly as well as we have if I had followed Friedan's script and turned my children over to a nanny so that I could slave away in a law practice. Legal work sometimes provides an intellectual challenge akin to a good crossword puzzle, with the advantage that doing the puzzles well can bring handsome financial rewards. But at worst—and worst probably occurs with some frequency in most professions—it resembles alphabetizing the Manhattan phone book. To have convinced myself that market production was more gratifying than caring for my children, attending to the needs of my husband, and managing my home would have required me either to deceive myself about what I really did in the workplace or to value a job for its monetary rewards.

Mrs. Graglia continues with the sad account of a woman lawyer who relishes her professional drudgery:

That not all women flourish in the marketplace is evidenced by a female attorney’s description of her life, which appears in an article about a group commuting in a van to Washington, D.C. It is an eighty mile round trip; in winter they leave home in the dark and return in the dark; they see each other more than they see their spouses. What sounds to me like a trip from hell, however, is the highlight of the day for this woman. Her companions are ‘an alternate family’; her ‘hectic job leaves scant time for socializing at work’; she is ‘so weary’ at night that she often will just ‘collapse in front of the TV set.’ Watching the morning traffic grind to a halt, she observed, ‘This is the most exciting part of my day.’ ‘After this we all go sit in our little offices and wait patiently to get back in the van.’ Ah, what joyful liberation from domesticity! In all my years as a mother at home, not one day was so uninteresting that I would have looked forward to that van ride.

We can imagine how grateful Mr. Graglia and the Graglia children are that she did forsake those Beltway commutes to paint at home a “simple canvas of quotidian beauty.” It’s easy to imagine because Mrs. Hale and I are so grateful for our mothers and sisters in Christ who have given up the World’s van ride to care for their homes and for the Household of God. What blessings to have their counsel, compassion, meals, rebukes, babysitting of our children for doctors visits and date nights, used children’s clothes, teaching and care and discipline of our children, and on, and on, and on. We give thanks to God for you!

You wonder if the reason Dorcas “fell sick” was from catching a cold one night while taking garments to clothe the naked. Whatever the cause, she was given a foretaste of the glorious resurrection of the saints. So, too, the women who washed her body for burial. So, too, the men who ran to get the Apostle Peter. 

How much poorer the world would have been with a Justice Dorcas.

  

Comments

Buried in this non-newsflash is the assumption that the crème de la crème of legal minds would even want to go to law school, or slog their way to a partnership in a swanky law firm, or maneuver their way into a position to be nominated for a seat on the SCOTUS bench.

 

Good point.  An interesting thing about the Supreme Court is that it takes less legal training than any other court in the country.  The lawyers on each side are always good and always provide the judge all the material necessary to make a decision and write up an opinion. The judge gets 3 brilliant clerks fresh from law school to do the scutwork or even to provide legal excuses for what the judge wants to do. And lots of the cases are really about political questions where your own views count for more than legal reasoning.  None of those things are true for any other court, from small claims court all the way up to federal appellate courts. (State Supreme Courts get closer, but they don't have as good clerks and  duelling lawyers.) 

If Mrs. Graglia were being honest, she'd make a point of telling people that she engaged in periodic "market production" while making a home for her family. Few women have the luxury she did of performing the sort of work she did on a freelance/contract basis for the sort of monetary reward such work can provide. 

I have heard Mrs. Graglia speak. It was an occasion which gave me the opportunity to meet her friend, the gracious Mary Ellen (Mrs. Robert) Bork. The two women couldn't have left me with more different impressions! Mrs. Graglia's manner, as much as the substance of her speech, left the audience deeply divided -- half giving her a standing ovation and half sitting in stunned silence. 

While I agree with much of the substance of her book, I'd wish for a different messenger.

It is worth noting that at least one of Carolyn Graglia's daughters has been a litigator and put her own children in daycare. 

If our women are best to serve within the home, why do we in Christendom make such an effort to send them off to college first?

I don't think you want an honest answer to that question. 

Actually, Kamilla, I do.  The most common answer I have heard is that "we want to prepare for her future in case she doesn't get married." But deep down, I think that most girls and their parents don't see themselves as homemakers.  Even in reformed churches, it is very common to see wives competing with their husbands for a career.

I think the truth is that, with increasing frequency. most boys and their parents don't see young men as husbands and home providers.  

As a young woman she is more likely to encounter young men who fall into one of two groups: Fantasy Football League or Sex-before-marriage. She'll either encounter one who spends more time and money on his hobbies and toys than he's willing to give to her - or someone who expects to play house before he's willing to commit to providing.

Denver,

As a single, Christian young woman, there are a plethora of reasons I decided to spend 4 years of my life perusing higher education. College does not just offer something for women to do while waiting for a husband. It offers education in lifelong lessons.

I chose to go into nursing. In that field I have learned how to insert IVs, the headaches of insurance companies, and how to treat many diseases. But more importantly, I have been in situations where I saw Christian men and women dying, and I hope was able to help. It strengthened my faith to break boundaries and pray with my patients when they asked me to, in the sight of professors who did not necessarily approve of what I was doing! It also strengthened my faith to see these people leave this world in faith. I have had to wrestled with issues surrounding medicine and learned how to think through these things in a Christian perspective.

In addition to the medical side of my education, there is the almost more practical aspect of living on my own.  I have begun to learn how to run a house, balance a budget, clean, and go grocery shopping. You may argue that some of these things could have been done in my parent’s house. However, I needed the extra push of not having the option of relying on my mom to back me up when I burned dinner again. Throughout my four years I have had many roommates, some easy to live with and some not. My wiser sister tells me that learning how to deal with roommates will help once I am married.

My college experience has had its ups and its downs, but overall it has been exceptionally helpful in preparing me for life after school. It has pushed me to live my faith so that every patient I care for and other nurse I work with can see it. My end goal is not to be a career nurse, but the lessons I have learned while being trained are priceless. 

I understand that college may not be right for every girl and it can be a difficult decision. But there are many blessings that college brings that should not be ignored.

Rather than confront individual writers about your career choices, I would like to talk about my perfect world and you all can make your comments about it.  In my perfect world, a family prepares young women to be homemakers so that they are fully prepared for all of those responsibilities from day one.  She enters into a marriage without students debt, and unstained by the culture of the University.  And in my perfect world, the family prepares young men to be leaders and providers for their family, going to University only if necessary for their chosen career, and avoiding student debt at all cost.  Neither the male nor female uses University as a finishing school.  Upon marriage, the two shall be ready to start a family without delay.  That is my perfect world.  I learned about it in bits and pieces at a website called Baylyblog.com.  Those of you who believe the same way are welcome to join me in my world.

Those of you who believe the same way are welcome to join me in my world.

I'm lovin it! :)

You forgot the directions. Is it north from Indy? Or up?

Dear Todd,

Some slight corrections, dear brother:

>>In my perfect world, a family prepares young women to be homemakers so that they are fully prepared for all of those responsibilities from day one.

Actually, what I and the other pastors of Clearnote Bloomington tell those preparing for an impending (and note that word) marriage is that there is no preparation for marriage other than marriage. Similarly there is no preparation for having a child other than having a child. As there is no preparation for having a third child than having a third child. Which is to say not one--no one at all--is ever partially, let alone fully prepared for marital responsibilities. I distinctly remember the day I was back in my parents' home after getting married and having a daughter, crying (literally) over the weight of my responsibilities as a father and husband.

>>She enters into a marriage without students debt, and unstained by the culture of the University.

If you read the posts about Athanasius College we're founding here in Bloomington, you'd know a central part of our vision is to require students to take courses at Indiana University precisely so that they are in the battle and grow through it. And for years now, we've regularly encouraged readers to send their children to a secular college or university rather than a so-called "Christian" college where the profs spend the parents' tuition tearing down the children's faith in a terribly misguided method of helping those children individuate. But they need to choose a school with a good church nearby because it's likely that church will be their lifeline (as our church should be for each of us) as they debate (which is to study).

But yes, we do think it's best to work hard to minimize student debt. We've often seen students leave IU with upwards of $30,000 in individual debt, and it's not been uncommon to see couples have upwards of $60,000. One couple took the cake with a combined total of $450,000 when they both finished graduate school.

>>And in my perfect world, the family prepares young men to be leaders and providers for their family, going to University only if necessary for their chosen career, and avoiding student debt at all cost.

Actually, I think it's good for young men and women to do university or college in order to learn to think and write and debate, and to engage the sins and righteousness of past centuries and millennia. So no, the proper reason to go to university is not to get a career.

And a little bit of student debt isn't a terrible thing. But I mean a little bit.

Neither the male nor female uses University as a finishing school.

The church is the only finishing school of the Christian:

But because it is now our intention to discuss the visible church, let us learn even from the simple title “mother” how useful, indeed how necessary, it is that we should know her. For there is no other way to enter into life unless this mother conceive us in her womb, give us birth, nourish us at her breast, and lastly, unless she keep us under her care and guidance until, putting off mortal flesh, we become like angels. (n. 18) 

And again:

…the Church, into whose bosom God is pleased to gather his sons, not only that they may be nourished by her help and ministry as long as they are infants and children, but also that they may be guided by her motherly care until they mature and at last reach the goal of faith.

Both quotes are from Calvin's Institutes.

>>Upon marriage, the two shall be ready to start a family without delay.

No one's ever ready. But yes, we believe the Westminster Standards are Scriptural in their declaration that the propagation of a godly seed is one of God's purposes of marriage, and that the unitive and procreative functions of the marriage bed belong together, as God created them to be.

With affection,

Odds and ends...Even though I am not married, I have been offering counsel to a friend who is looking for a wife, mostly on Match.com.  This is the world that he has entered: "I like walks in the park, you like walks in the park, let's go on a date!"  The other day he asked about the introvert/extrovert thing.  I told him that if he wants to go to a party, and she doesn't, then maybe the issue is whether or not she would let him go to the party without her.  But overall, I have been trying to encourage him to find someone who holds the same values.  Does she want to make a home?  Does she want to have children?  Does he see himself in an egalitarian or complementarian relationship?  What does she think about important issues like abortion?  Will she be satisfied to find a career within the home?  I have been unseriously toying with the idea of registering at Match.com myself, but instead of positioning myself as the male equivalent of Oprah, I would be more like the tamer of the shrew, always wearing the pants in the family, desiring daily relations, etc.  I wonder how popular I would be?

When I think of how education is connected to a career, I think of two of my cousins who live in custom homes and live richly with zero college, and the third cousin who is educated, works for a Fortune 500 company, and still rents.  My point is that there are lots of options out there.

College debt can determine the type of job you take after college, so that you can pay the debt. 

I don't know if my friends can think, write, or debate.  We have never done it together.

My perfect world is west of you.

A little story for pondering: I was in college and wrestling with the faith we call evangelicalism, or neo-evangelicalism (a name applied by one of their own), and its various manifestations: it's a problematic morass of non-commital beliefs that center around John 3:16 and destroys souls in the name of getting men saved, and ruins many a young Christian by encouraging them in singleness when they aren't gifted with continence, "for the sake of the gospel" (and "serving the kingdom"--you know, those being built by their pastors, and by famous personalities). I was heartsick and despondent over it, in fact, and eventually too sick to continue struggling with divided attentions.

What I've noticed since is largely what the Bayly's here put to words: "Reformed" isn't Reformed; many of the "Reforming" are just warmed-over dispensationalism and sometimes charismaticism: all in all, much of what passes as Calvinistic is...centering around John 3:16, and men tutored in the finest of Christian schools--John MacArthur's included--have imbibed deeply the worldly prudence as though it is wisdom.

I've been struggling for years: depression and anxiety/urticaria attacks are consistent and interfere in building a normal live. Yet it all has permitted me to have an observer's view of things: on the subject of the churches not being churchly or Christian, they're just warmed-over unbelievers (many times) who wanted to build "conservative"-ish culture, and that's not enough to fend-off feminism: it takes a deeper commitment to Jesus than getting saved and getting men saved, and having a guidebook/purpose/satisfaction found, in the name of Christ, within this world, in whatever form, such that men know their purpose is to be godly and a pleasant savor for God, to satisfy Him who bought us, falling upon His strength and works (and works with us continuing) to make it happen; that women know their part in this is, indeed, being mothers and bearing children, and supporting their husbands, and raising them.

But it's not as though this can't be known from reason (or nature): I live with roommates who also found one other just before my return to my current residence; this person is Chinese, a post-graduate doc who does research at a local university, who had the blessing of being heavily influenced by her pre-revolution (i.e. the cultural one by Mao) grandparents more than her parents (by living with them more than her parents, I guess): she despises that the modern world looks down upon women who want to be devoted to wives and mothers, and if I read her right, desperately wants to be that--rather than in the careerist role that the rest of her family urges upon her, and this despite being godless: occasionally we talk and, due to some not-unexpected ideological differences (stinks being stuck in that ideological prison of Rand-like Marxists I bet, but the people getting dumped upon by constant state propaganda, even when angry, hardly know it) I often fall back on taking things to "nature", and working from there. She readily agrees to that, naturally women are wives and mothers: it's their best fit. The influence of "the west" in her homeland and "liberalism" here has been no good in her homeland, or the entire world, due to America's reach.

If only she understood...that influence we also call by another name, "Marxism": I doubt she'd hear that though.

But my point is this: a Chinese girl, essentially Confuscian--an ancient culture with affinities to that we read, admire, and seek to emulate, in the Old Testament--who is godless, and despite the toxic environment that is China (hard to say that, insult China, insult a Chinaperson too), I've found, has more in common with the virtues espoused also in the New Testament, and commands for them, than any "Christian" woman I've ever known or found in person. I haven't found the environments necessary to support such women, either, and in the various Reformed (baptist and paedo), fathers openly brag upon sending their girls to college, and then the med-school, and so on. Kill the John 3:16 centrality and idolatry of man, and you may begin to reverse this situation.

I'm only 25, so you can imagine I appreciate the Baylyblog a lot.

p.s. parents aren't just failing to prepare women for the home, but men in anything: I struggle daily for lacking basic competencies due to being raised by a single-mother, having a absentee/hands-off father, and which are still aloof: they apparently believe the western lie that children should be kicked from the nest unprepared and considered their own independents as soon as they hit 18. Oh well.

Having half a degree and no other skills (I even begged my mother while growing up to let me go work in a shop, "focus on your education" she would say, but I would have homework done quickly and have nothing else to do!) basically leaves the modern American man in the same condition as someone in the third world: constantly scheming just to make a little to get-by, and you require a lot of help--or at least consideration--to do that.

Wow, John, what an essay! 

ps: John, there is always tech/vocational school to learn a skill.  I got a BA at 25 and went back to school for a lesser degree about 10 years later, and I have never been unemployed since.  The school I went to was part of a community college system, so tuition was less than $400 per quarter.  I worked at a grocery store to earn extra cash.  Upon graduation, I worked for a large company for about 15 years total, and now I work for myself, and have the worse boss and employee ever!

Karen,

Although I'm late to respond to this topic, I have a comment about your post, where you said:

It is worth noting that at least one of Carolyn Graglia's daughters has been a litigator and put her own children in daycare.

I'm not sure what you meant by this comment. That Ms./Mrs. Gaglia is actually more career-oriented than she lets on and has influenced her daughter to follow in her (former) footsteps. Or that Ms./Mrs. Gaglia has somehow failed because her daughter has such a high-powered career that she rejected the idea of being a stay-at-home mom to her children in spite of Ms./Mrs. Gaglia's example?  

Or were you just stating a fact and I'm just too "densa" to see your point when it's past my bedtime :)?

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