Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Has Happened to Our Homes

Timeline: Early 1800's

The Ideal of Domesticity ~ "The era's changing economic order brought other pressures to bear on wives and mothers. Most men now worked outside the home, while the rise of factories led to a decline in part-time work such as spinning, which women had once performed to supplement family income. Moreover, except on the fontier, home manufacturing was no longer essential, for the family purchased articles that women previously had made, such as cloth, soap, and candles. 'The transition from mother-and-daughter power to water-and-steam power,' one New England minister noted, produced 'a complete revolution of domestic life.'

"This growing separation of the household from the workplace meant that the home took on a new social identity. It was idealized as a place of 'domesticity,' a haven away from the competitive, workaday world, with the mother firmly at its center. This new view of women's role was elaborated largely by clergy and female authors in sermons, advice manuals, and pieces of sentimental fiction for an urban middle-class audience. But the ideal's significance and acceptance had far-reaching consequences. ...If men's sphere was the world of factories, offices, and fields, women's sphere was the home, where they were to dispense love and comfort and teach moral values to husbands and children. 'Love is our life our reality, business yours,' Mollie Clark told one suitor."

(Quotes from my son's college history text: Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the American Republic: Chapter 12, The Fires of Perfection


Partly I'm surprised how much this history book focuses on religion and women's role in history. Quite a bit, in fact. It is not always dealt with positively; infact, much of it is dealt with negatively but I hear the historical correctness in it as well and I try to discern between my own idealization and the historical truth while searching for the Biblical truth. I have been increasingly aware of the fact that, apart from the Christian context, most of society in the 21st century is turning towards (has been turned towards) factorization of families as parts of whole institutionalized groups, businesses and schools when, in fact, this mindset does not invite or welcome God's plan for the family into the equation.

When we dismember the body of the family, we are, in many ways, disassembling the very body of Christ.

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