For centuries, the cultural norm here in the West was for a daughter to remain under her father's roof until the time when she was given in marriage. This becomes evident through a study of history and through an observance of the books, laws, and other works produced through the ages in the countries of the West (America and the United Kingdom being especially noteworthy). These works portray the cultures of these countries as they were years ago and reflect the fact that stay-at-home daughterhood was once a popular, common-place, and even expected way of life for unmarried daughters.
For example, in Jane Austen's famous novel Emma (published in England in 1816), the central character, 21 year old Emma Woodhouse, joyfully spends her unmarried years in her father's home. She makes it clear time and again throughout the novel that she could not be happy living anywhere else, but rather delights in serving her father and caring for his needs. Likewise, we see in Pride and Prejudice (another of Miss Austen's books, this one published in 1813) that characters Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have five unmarried daughters (who range in age from 15 to 22 when the novel first begins), all of whom are living at home with their parents. This was typical! It was the norm that unmarried daughters would remain at home, caring for the needs of others, furthering their educations, etc. until the day they married. This is how family life operated at that time. Whether a family was Christian or not, during that time period, the family held to and functioned according to Biblical teachings on the subject of the role of unmarried daughters.
- Women are to be helpmeets to their husbands
- Women are to be mothers
- Women are to be homemakers (keepers at home)
- Women are to be under the authority, protection, and provision of men
Through studying the roles our Lord gave to women, we are provided with a glimpse of what unmarried women are to spend their time doing. In fact, the roles given to women are the very foundation upon which stay-at-home daughterhood is built. After all, what should a daughter be doing, but preparing to be a woman and to one day take on the roles and responsibilities of womanhood?
Each of the special roles God designed solely for women is directed towards her home and family-each one! Therefore, is it not clear that, in order to prepare for these roles, unmarried women should remain at home with their families? If a woman's place, according to God's Word, is in the home, then it follows that the place God desires unmarried women to be is in their homes with their families, preparing for the very roles they will be called on to fulfill when they have their own households.
For example, let us address the role of homemaker for a moment. Just as young men should prepare for the vocations, roles, and responsibilities they will have later in life, so should young women! As we would expect a man who wants to be a lawyer to attend law school (or acquire a law degree online!) or to apprentice under a lawyer, so we would expect a woman who is called to be a homemaker to prepare for that high calling. We would by no means expect a young man who desires to be a lawyer to work towards becoming a doctor! We also would have little respect for the man who desires to be a doctor, but is too busy to prepare for that vocation because he is immersed in engineering studies. Likewise, we should not expect a young woman, with a calling from God on her life to be a homemaker, to be preparing for or pursuing a different vocation. So, if God has commanded women to be homemakers (which He certainly did, as we discovered a couple weeks ago), it would make sense for them to prepare for that high calling by remaining in the best training ground and place of apprenticeship available for future homemakers-the home!
Let us now consider the role of helpmeet. This is by no means a responsibility that should be taken lightly. It cannot be fulfilled without much training, as each of us is born as a selfish human being who does not desire to truly serve, help, or strengthen others. Nor are we born knowing how to do so! These characteristics of a Biblical helpmeet must be learned and practiced. Therefore, would it not make much more Biblical sense for a young woman to remain at home with her parents, striving to help and serve them and learning to bend her will to theirs, rather than immersing herself in the college and career lifestyle, both of which provide little to no training for how to be a godly, visionary helpmeet? After all, a young woman's unmarried years are great gifts. For one thing, they prepare her for her future life as a wife, mother, and homemaker. Why, then, do so many advocate a young woman leaving home and preparing for the roles, responsibilites and vocations given to men rather than those given to women? No college or career can prepare us for the offices of helpmeet, mother, homemaker, and submissive, dependent woman. Colleges may offer classes in home economics, but no courses are offered in Godly Motherhood 101, How to be a Helpmeet, or How to Submit to Your Husband. If God desires for women to be helpmeets to their husbands, then it goes without saying that this is something a young woman should plan and prepare for, and the best place to prepare for this role is in the context of the home and family-the sphere where a married woman and helpmeet will spend the majority of her time.
Likewise, as we saw last week and are going to discover in future articles, women are to be under the protection, provision and authority of men. We see that in Numbers 30 and other passages. This, then, would also lead us to say that the place designed for unmarried young women to thrive is the home, under the protection and authority of their fathers.
If God created roles and responsibilities for women which are centered on home and family, then what makes us think that He would support and condone us when we, as young women, leave the place He has so lovingly and wisely designed for us in order to pursue plans and vocations outside the home? The home is the place designed by God for women, so would it not follow then, that this is the place unmarried and married women alike ought to be? Unmarried women are not a different kind of woman. Yes, they are unmarried. But simply because they are unmarried does not mean they are left to assume the roles of men-they are still very much women whether married or not, as marital status does not determine your gender or your roles.
Even if our Lord had not placed passages in His Word which specifically address the very subject of the God-given sphere, duties and roles of unmarried daughters (which we will see in the coming weeks He did do!), it would be clear through His teachings on the roles of women alone that unmarried daughters should remain at home under the care of their fathers. After all, a young girl is in a sense a mini-woman. She is not a man or a pseudo-man. Therefore, she is to prepare for womanhood! If a woman's place is in the home, then a young woman's is, as well.The place God has designed for unmarried women is the home-not the workforce or the dangerous college campus (this is a highly unpopular stance today, but bear with me through the remainder of this series as I appeal to the Scriptures for support of my belief in this area!).
As we have seen, womankind is given the sphere of the home and family in which to operate-all her unique roles are centered on the home and family. This knowledge alone should lead us to assume that God's place for unmarried young women is also in the home with their families. However, our great God did not leave us simply with this knowledge-although it would be enough to defend stay-at-home daughterhood as a Biblical doctrine. In addition, He also placed in His Word verses pertaining to unmarried women, their roles, duties, sphere, etc. We will be studying those beginning next Friday (Lord willing). Until then, study the Word and immerse yourself in the glories of womanhood in preparation for the next few studies we will be undertaking.
God bless you, and may He use these articles to encourage you, strengthen you, and edify you in your great privileges and duties as women bought by Him (1 Cor. 6:19).