“God does not care who does the dishes, the laundry, the cooking, or the changing of diapers and husbands and wives should share equally in these tasks of the home “– this is what is commonly taught in Christian circles. Another thing we hear today is that “gender roles” are simply a cultural phenomenon and that the gender roles in the Bible were “temporary” and “for those cultures and times only”. But a closer examination of the Scriptures reveals a very different answer to the question of whether or not gender roles are “cultural” or “Biblical”.
“This has been an issue since we have been married. I believe he works hard while at his job, but his work at home is inconsistent… I don’t resent the hard work, I just struggle with resenting him being OK with me racing around while he just sits there. I feel angry, and I feel hurt. I want to feel like we’re on the same team, working together.”
The previous statement is part of a story I received as a comment from a Christian wife who calls herself ‘M’.
M’s feelings are extremely common among many women today. Whether they work full time outside the home or are stay at home mom’s many women bear the majority of the load in carrying for the affairs of the home (cooking, cleaning, laundry) and the care of the children.
In her full story below you will read that M has determined that her husband is lazy from the very beginning. This is not in question for her. You will also read that she feels the domestic affairs of the home (cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry) and caring for the children should be a “team” effort between a husband and wife.
So how should M deal with her husband’s laziness and his lack of a team effort in tackling the affairs of their home? Before we answer M’s dilemma let’s look at her full story in it’s entirety.
“Do you have any advice for a wife with a lazy husband? Obviously since I am not the spiritual head of my household my response should be different. My husband works full time (36 hrs/wk as a nurse). I worked full time also for years but now stay at home with our 1 yr old son. This has been an issue since we have been married. I believe he works hard while at his job, but his work at home is inconsistent. He has been taking classes on and off while working, and he has done some renovations over the years as well, and he does do most of our financial management.
There are times where he has worked hard. But there are also large stretches of time where there is nothing other than his 36 hr/wk job, as well as a period of time between nursing school graduation and his first nursing job, and he contributes very little to the home. This includes the time before I was a stay-at-home-mom. When I was working full time, I was also doing all of the laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning, including basic picking up after him (dishes and trash and clothing left lying around).
Now, as a stay at home mom, I expect to do a majority of the housework, but I often feel alone and abandoned and like we’re not a team. I love a clean house, I love making meals from scratch, and I love to be organized, I love to be frugal, and I love to work hard.
But I do feel hurt when I wake up early in the morning on his days off to try to exercise and spend time with the Lord, and then try to wrangle the kid while I cook breakfast and clean up my husband’s messes from the night before and try to get laundry going, etc, while he just sleeps in. Sometimes I’ll have breakfast on the table and he won’t even get up out of bed to eat it with me (this isn’t unreasonably early, this is between 8 and 9 am), wasting the food that I just went through the effort to make.
Sometimes we’ll make plans to go to the park before the baby’s naptime on his day off, and I’ll be ready to go, and he won’t get out of bed to actually go with me. I feel like he is content to sit and watch movies or surf the internet while I am out of breath racing up and down the stairs juggling many different plates at once.
He does help some with the kid (he will change diapers and bath him sometimes, kind of resists if I ask him to read to the baby before bed). This afternoon, he came home from class and fell asleep on the couch and didn’t want to get up, I took the baby to small group by myself, he’s still on the couch now and has been sleeping for almost 6 hours.
We recently went on vacation, and I did the meal planning, all of the cooking, most of the dishes (he actually did help once or twice when I asked but this is very atypical), all of the cleaning and organizing, packing stuff for us and the baby when we’d go out on hikes and such, as well as being the one to wake up early with the child and during the night with the child.
He just sat on the couch watching TV the majority of the time we were in the cabin. After we got back from vacation, we invited some friends over last minute for dinner who were moving out of the country so that we could see them one last time. An hour before they were supposed to arrive, he laid down to take a nap while I cooked, cleaned, and took care of the kid. I said something so he ended up helping.
I don’t resent the hard work, I just struggle with resenting him being OK with me racing around while he just sits there. I feel angry, and I feel hurt. I want to feel like we’re on the same team, working together. My heart is to be a good helper to him, to be a hard worker for the Lord, and I am happy to serve him and take a load off of him, especially during times where he is taking a class or doing some project in addition to working, however, I feel like even when his load is light (such as between graduation and getting a job, or while on vacation, or when we were both working full-time), he’s content to just let me do it all while he relaxes. He loves to relax.
I wonder if I’m enabling him, but I want to be submissive and respectful, too. I’ve considered getting pastoral counsel on this, but, again, I don’t want to make him look bad, although I genuinely want the counsel as to how I should best respond. I don’t think I’ve ignored his headship and wandered out on some crazy limb away from his authority either and taken on some kind of heavy work load that he didn’t want me to take in the first place. For example, it’s not like I’m running some ministry he didn’t want me to take on in the first place and then complaining about how tired I am. I believe I’m operating in the vision that he has for our home. And my heart is not to nag him.
I’ve talked to him multiple, multiple times, but I feel like it doesn’t end well. He doesn’t get angry, but seems indifferent. He doesn’t seem very repentant, and if he apologizes, it’s the sort of forced-sounding, awkward apology that a young child would give. He tells me he’ll try to do better, and a few small things have changed over the years but largely things are the same. I feel nervous about having more children although we both want more. I don’t want to live in bitterness, but I fight bitterness almost every day over this issue.
What do I do? Should I just silently press on and fight to keep my heart in check and be a servant like Jesus? Set boundaries? Be vocal and ask for help? Talk to my pastor? We’ve gone to marriage counseling once with one of our pastors, and I’ve brought it up multiple times, but he seems indifferent and I finally gave up asking because I felt like I’d be taking the reins in our marriage if I pressed the issue. Should I just go alone to seek help on how I should personally deal with this (that feels weird to me)? I would really love some help. Thank you.”
My Response to M and other wives who feel their husbands should chip in more at home
M, I think it is wonderful that you love to work hard and take care of your home. I think it is great that you love to make food from scratch which is a forgotten art in many homes today. I am sure you love caring for your child as well.
I know first-hand as a husband who has worked from home for almost a decade how difficult caring for all the affairs of the home can be including having to care for a child while you do other things. I have watched my first wife and then my second wife have to deal with the affairs of the home sometimes under difficult circumstances.
I can also see in what you wrote a genuine desire to serve your husband and submit to his authority but I also see you struggling with frustration and bitterness toward him in this area of helping out at home and working more together as a “team” in tackling on the affairs of the home.
Before I continue I want to be clear on your husband’s schedule as a nurse. My wife was a nurse for about 15 years before she became disabled after a car accident. During that time, she sometimes did the 36-hour schedule. That meant she had to work 12 hours a day for three days in a row and then she was off work for 4 days. The hospital then pays nurses what they would normally make for a 40-hour work week because they worked three twelve hour shifts in a row. Working that many hours a day for 3 days is very stressful and is much harder than working 8 hours or over 5 days. Being a nurse is a very mentally and physically challenging job. I just wanted to clarify that for my audience.
The heart of the matter
I think this statement from you below illustrates the core issue for you:
“I don’t resent the hard work, I just struggle with resenting him being OK with me racing around while he just sits there. I feel angry, and I feel hurt. I want to feel like we’re on the same team, working together. My heart is to be a good helper to him, to be a hard worker for the Lord, and I am happy to serve him and take a load off of him, especially during times where he is taking a class or doing some project in addition to working, however, I feel like even when his load is light (such as between graduation and getting a job, or while on vacation, or when we were both working full-time), he’s content to just let me do it all while he relaxes. He loves to relax.”
You are a hard worker. You don’t mind doing it all when you see that your husband is busy with classes or projects around the house. As long as you and he are both working everything is fine for you. But it bothers you when he has a lighter load going on and he is just sitting there doing other things like surfing the web, watching TV or napping. That is what bugs you.
Before I directly address your feelings on this let me share a couple of stories to try and help put things in perspective.
The hard-working woman
A woman straps her child to her back and goes to the market to buy wool and cloth to make clothing for her family. She gets up early in the morning to prepare made from scratch meals for her family for the day. She goes and buys a field and plants it all while carrying for this child while she works. She then comes home and prepares dinner with the food she had prepared early that morning. Sometimes she stays up half the night working on her spindle making blankets or clothing. The extra blankets and clothing she makes she takes to the markets and sells. She takes the extra food she makes and gives to the poor around her.
You know what her husband is doing during all this? He is sitting as he leads their town and leads her home. When he comes home he has nothing to worry about because she has dinner hot and ready and their home in order. It is her pride and joy to make sure he never has to worry about anything at home.
The story I have just described is based on the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31.
Does God care who does the dishes?
I remember several years ago, the Pastor of our church was talking to us as men about helping our wives around the house. He made a comment about a mission trip he had been on to a foreign country. He said something like this:
“Guys – I went to this foreign country [I can’t remember the country] on a mission trip. I got up from the table to take my dishes into the kitchen and scrape my plate as I would at home with my wife. The wife in this home literally stopped me and took my plate from me. Now that might not seem strange except for the fact that her husband explained this was not just because I was guest in their home. It was because in their culture men did not do house work – women would find it insulting for men to do anything in the house.
In his culture, men work outside the house and women work inside the house. He said when he comes home he just puts his feet up and relaxes. Gentlemen – you might wish your wife was like those women but you need to wake up! We live in a different culture here in America and our wives expect us to help them around the house. God does not care who does the dishes!
You know what that means? It means when you get home from your job outside the home your job inside the home is just starting! In the same way, it is insulting to that woman in that foreign country for her husband to clean or help around the house – it is insulting to American women if a man comes home from work and just puts his feet up and does not help her around the house. You are not done working until your wife is.
Christ was a servant leader who washed the feet of his disciples and admonished them to do likewise to their brethren. If Christ washed his disciple’s feet, the least you can do as a husband is to wash the dishes and serve your wife in helping her to care for the affairs of your home.”
There are three things that are Biblically wrong with this Pastor’s philosophy.
Rebuttal #1 – The Bible trumps culture
There are many different types of cultures in the world. Each nation, each state, each city or town and each family have their own cultures. There are also religious and ethnic cultures that transcend all these boundaries.
As Christians, it is not wrong for us blend in with our culture where our cultural values do not conflict with the Bible. The Apostle Paul told us this regarding Christians working within their cultures:
“20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.”
1 Corinthians 9:20-21 (KJV)
However, the same Apostle Paul gave Christians this admonition:
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Romans 12:2 (KJV)
Culture does not always determine what is right. In fact, sometimes we may have to live as Christians in ways that are counter to our culture.
Rebuttal #2 – Women keeping the home is not just cultural – it is Biblical
So, that brings us to this question – Was this Pastor and the myriads of Christians who agree with him right that “God does not care who does the dishes”?
The Bible answers this question for us several passages of the Scriptures.
“10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil…27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”
Proverbs 31:10-11 & 27(KJV)
“4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
Titus 2:5 (KJV)
“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”
I Timothy 5:14 (KJV)
Who has God given the responsibility for caring for the domestic affairs of the home? The answer as we can see from these passages is the wife. Now I understand to our modern world this seems petty – and we think roles mean nothing.
But there are certain things God calls us to do as men and women that mean so much more than what we see on the surface.
When a man leads his family in following God’s Word, sets boundaries and limits and corrects them when they don’t live up to God’s Word he is symbolizing the leadership role that God has with his people. When a man provides for his family by working each day and providing the resources for his wife to buy food, clothing and shelter he is symbolizing God’s provision for his people. When he stands up for and protects his wife and children again is he symbolizing God’s protection of his people.
When a woman submits to her husband’s leadership – even when she does not agree or does not understand his positions she is symbolizing the way God’s people are to follow him. When a woman serves her husband by caring for the needs of his children, his home and his body she is symbolizing the service that God’s people are to give to him.
So, the Biblical answer to the question “Does God care who does the dishes?” is a resounding “YES”!
He wants the wife to do this as part of her service to her husband and this service to her husband is symbolic of the Church’s service to God. These women in “old fashioned” cultures around the world that insist on caring for the affairs of the home are not just following tradition – but they are following Biblical command and example toward women even if they don’t realize it.
Rebuttal #3 – Jesus washed his disciple’s feet but his disciples did not EXPECT him to do it
Many Pastors, teachers and other Christians attempt to use the “servant leadership” of Christ to cancel out a large portion of the Scriptures in regard to the duties God has given to wives. In fact, most Christian teaching today makes marriage into a “wife-centric” institution.
If we look at the life of Christ – did he spend the majority of his time cleaning people’s homes, serving people food and washing people’s feet? The answer is no. It is interesting that even in the story of the feeding of the 5000 – Christ simply provided the food (as men do for their families) but he passed the serving of that food to others. Christ spent the vast majority of his time pursing his mission.
God has given each man a mission. Some men are called to full time Christian service as Pastors, missionaries, Christian school teachers or other Christian ministries. But many other men are called by God into secular fields such as science, military, engineer, construction or other labors. While a man’s home (the loving, leading, providing and teaching of his family) is a PART of his mission from God – it does not make up the entirety of his mission.
A man’s career is to do two things. It is to provide for his family and it is to make an impact on his world for God. The Scriptures exhort us that “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10a) and “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”(1 Corinthians 10:31).
So if a man is a carpenter – then God has called him to be the absolute best carpenter he can be. If he is an engineer – then God has called him to be the best engineer he can be. In his pursuit to do his job to the best of his ability this will sometimes require a man to work more hours or get more education in his off work time. If a man talks with his wife and children and spends time with them yet he fails to provide for his home or make an impact on the world outside his home then he has failed the primary mission that God has given to men in this life.
But for a Christian woman her primary mission from God is very different. Unless God calls a woman to a celibate life in his service – her primary focus is to be on serving the needs of her husband, her children and her home. If she becomes distracted by activities outside her home to the neglect of the needs of her husband, her children and her home then she has failed the primary mission God has given to wives.
This is not to say that Christian wives cannot have an impact outside their home for God. But it can never come at the expense of their first duty to their home. For instance if a woman has a great ministry at church teaching a woman’s Sunday school class but this causes her to neglect her husband or her children or her home she should step down from such a ministry.
Let’s now return to the topic of Christ washing his Apostle’s feet. You know what another very interesting part of Christ’s washing of his Apostles feet was? Did his Apostles expect him to do this? No. In fact, they were shocked at him doing this and initially refused until they understood that he was trying to teach them a lesson.
So, what was the real lesson from Christ washing his Apostle’s feet? The lesson was twofold. The first lesson is that those who are in authority should be willing to help those under their authority. The second lesson is that those under authority should ALLOW, but not EXPECT those in authority to help them with tasks that rightly belong to them.
The Bible tells us this regarding helping one another:
“2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.”
Galatians 6:2-5 (KJV)
While the word “burden” appears in both verse 2 and verse 5 the Greek words behind these English translations are different. The First “burden” in verse 2 is a translation of the Greek word “Baros” which is a “heaviness” or “trouble” and the context indicates a burden that is beyond what someone could reasonably be expected to bear on their own. The second burden in verse 5 is a translation of the Greek word “Phortion” which in this context means a “load” as in the load that might be put on a ship or a cart.
So, when we combine Christ’s washing of his Apostle’s feet (John 13:14) with Paul’s admonition to bear each other’s burdens but also to carry our own load (Galatians 6:2-5) the truth of the Scriptures becomes clearer.
In the context of marriage, husbands should be willing to help their wives when they believe their wife is truly overburdened and in need of assistance. Every good leader should be willing to step in and help those under him when he sees a true need for help. But those under authority should never EXPECT for their authority to step in and help them – especially when it is something that falls within their sphere of responsibility. But if their authority wants to help – they should graciously accept this help.
Expectations verses Allowances
My father has said to me many times over the years that “expectations are marriage killers” and he is absolutely right. But let me clarify something. It is not wrong for us to expect our spouse to do tasks which are part of the primary roles God has given to husbands and wives.
A wife is not having some unreasonable expectation when she is upset that her husband has been sitting on the couch and out of work for 6 months playing video games. It is reasonable and Biblically backed for a woman to expect that her husband will do his best to provide for their family.
Can a wife have a reasonable expectation that her husband will give her leadership and guidance as to how to handle things in the home? For instance can she expect him to help set policies for their budget or how to discipline their children? Of course she can. Because that is a primary responsibility that God has given to husbands.
But on the flip side – can a wife expect that her husband will just come home from work and that he will just jump in and help with the dishes and making dinner? No she should not because that is not part of the primary responsibilities that God has given to a husband. Now if he volunteers to help than by all means she should allow him to help.
Wives need to change their perspective and their expectations
M really it is all about perspective. By your own admission when you feel your husband has worked hard and is busy with classes and other projects around the house besides his job you don’t feel bad about working hard because you know he has worked hard. But where you feel resentful is when you feel that you are working harder than him and he should be helping you out.
You need to let go of this expectation.
M, earlier I described for my readers what a typical 36 hour week for a nurse looks like working three 12 hour shifts in a row. I was not saying that your husband is not capable of helping you around the house and with the kids those other four days he does not work. In fact, I know of many of my wife’s nurse friends who do the 36 hour work week and then during their other four days off they are taking care of all the needs of their home and caring for their children.
So the question is not whether or not your husband would be capable of jumping in and helping you on his days off. The question is do you have a right as his wife to expect this?
When you feel more like a maid than a wife
Let try and frame this another way. There is a popular Christian female blogger named Sheila Wray who runs a blog called “To Love Honor And Vacuum”. The theme of Sheila Wray’s blog is “when you feel more like a maid than a wife and mother”.
How often do we hear women say things like “I feel more like a maid than wife and mom” or “I feel more like a nanny than a wife” or “I feel more like a sex slave than a wife”?
To her credit Sheila Wray does encourage women to care for the needs of their husbands, their children and their home. She often offers good advice to women in helping them to organize their days better. But there is also some feminist tendencies that poison her teachings. I disagree with her on the basis of Christian marriage, submission and her take on male sexuality (but that is for a whole other series of articles). But now let’s examine these three common complaints from wives.
What is a maid?
It is a woman who cares for the domestic affairs of the home. Sometimes maids cook, clean and do laundry. We have previously shown from the Scriptures (Proverbs 31:10-31, Titus 2:5, I Timothy 5:14) that God in fact does expect wives to do the very same things that maids typically do.
What is nanny?
A nanny is a person who cares for the needs of children. She feeds them, bathes them and weens them. Again the Scriptures show us that this is part of the primary responsibility that God has given to wives.
What is sex slave?
A sex slave is a woman who is purchased by a man for the sole purpose of having sex. They is no intimate relationship between the two beyond the act of sex. There is no commitment by this man be a husband to this woman or to be a father to the children this woman might have as a result of their sexual relations.
Contrary to popular belief – the Bible never allowed men to have sex slaves. I wrote an entire article on this subject entitled “Did the Bible allow men to have sex slaves?” where I debunk the common belief today that concubines in the Bible were sex slaves. If a man wants to have an intimate sexual relationship with a woman then he must take on the full responsibilities of the marriage covenant with that woman. There are no half measures allowed by God when it comes to sexual relations between men and women.
Concubines were “slave wives”, not “sex slaves”. In the Bible there were two kinds of wives. “free” wives and “slave” wives.
A “free” wife was a woman who was the daughter of a free man and another man would give her father the Bride price to purchase her as his wife. Any children they had together would be legally entitled to certain inheritance rights and would bear his family name. Sometimes a “free” wife was a widow or divorced woman. If a man had to marry his brother’s widow then their first child would carry his brother’s name and not his so that his brother’s line would not die out.
A “slave” wife was acquired in one of two ways. Either she was purchased as a slave(simply to do domestic work) and the man then decided to take her as a wife or she was captured as a prisoner of war and brought back to be a man’s wife. Husbands could elevate their “slave” wives to the status of a “free wife” in granting her children his family name and giving them full inheritance rights but they were not required to do so unless the woman was an Israelite servant girl whom they chose to make a wife. They had to treat Israelite female slaves differently that foreign slaves in this regard.
But you know what both “slave” wives and “free” wives had in common? They were both required to have sex with their husbands whenever their husbands asked for it. He did not have to earn it by doing romantic things for them. It was his right. One of the primary responsibilities of a wife is to submit her body fully to her husband for his sexual pleasure.
So while husbands should never treat their wives as sex slaves – wives should realize that part of the primary duty as a wife is to fully submit themselves sexually to their husbands.
My point in covering these three categories of “maid”, “nanny” and “sex slave” is this:
A wife is called by God to perform the very same services that a maid, a nanny and a sex slave would be expected to do toward a man.
This does not mean she is a maid, a nanny or a sex slave – because a wife is so much more than these things.
Are maids and nannies called by God to submit to her master as unto God himself (Ephesians 5:22)?
No, but wives are.
Are maids and nannies called by God to give their bodies sexually to their masters and do they have the right to sexual access to their master’s bodies (I Corinthians 7:3-5)?
No, but wives have these responsibilities and rights.
Does God call on masters to know their maids and nannies and honor them as they would their wives (I Peter 3:7)?
No, but husbands have these responsibilities toward their wives.
What it really means when a woman says “I feel more like a ____ than a wife?”
When you as a wife allow this thought to go through your head – “I feel more like a [fill in the blank] than a wife” you really need to examine your thoughts closely. If you feel more like a maid than a wife this shows resentment toward the domestic affairs of the home to which God has called you. If you feel more like a nanny than a wife this shows resentment toward your duties to care for the needs of your children. If you feel more like a sex slave than a wife this shows resentment toward your sexual duties to your husband.
Why do women often feel resentment in these areas? There are two answers to this question:
- Lack of praise and gratitude (in whatever form they like praise and gratitude) from their husband for their performance in these areas.
- The feeling that he is not doing what they expect is his part in these areas.
Should a husband praise his wife in her various roles as the keeper of his home, the mother of his children and his lover in the bedroom? Absolutely. The Bible gives us this example in Proverbs 31:28 where the husband praises his wife and I Peter 3:7 where the husband honors his wife.
But lack of praise from a husband does not grant a wife the right to harbor resentment in these areas. Two wrongs never make a right. A woman should always remember that ultimately her service to her husband is her service to God. While praise makes it easier and gives her energy to do even more – a woman should never use lack of praise from her husband as an excuse to allow bitterness and resentment to grow toward him.
In the same way perhaps a woman feels her husband could do more around the house or more to help the children. Maybe she feels he could do more in the bedroom to sexually please her. Again his real or perceived failures in these areas does not grant a wife the right to become bitter and resentful toward her husband.
Yes God does care who does the dishes, the laundry, the cooking and other cleaning around the house. He cares about which gender is the primary caretaker of the children. He cares about who leads the home. He cares about who provides for the home.
All of these gender specific responsibilities are symbolic of the relationship of God and his people. They represent so much more than what we see on the surface.
Are there reasonable expectations that husbands and wives can have toward one another based on the roles God has given husbands and wives? Yes.
A woman can reasonably expect that when she goes to the grocery store to buy food that money will be in the account because her husband has provided it for her. In the same way a man can reasonably expect that when he comes home from providing for his family that his wife will have dinner on the table and his house and children in order.
But in the context of this discussion of husbands helping with the domestic affairs of the home – wives should NEVER EVER expect this from their husbands. If their husbands want to help (without being nagged to do so) then they should allow them to help. But never should this be expected.
This expectation toward men in regard to the domestic affairs of the home has sown the seeds of resentment and bitterness in the hearts of many wives in culture today.
M – As exhausting as being a stay at home mom can be sometimes you will find that when you let go of these unbiblical expectations toward your husband and leave him to God you will have more energy to do these things. When you realize these things are your task – and your task alone and any help you get from your husband in these areas is a BONUS and not a right you will feel like a weight has been lifted.
Hand washing fork – free image from pixabay.com
Woman with child on back in market -By Peter van der Sluijs – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Woman washing dishes in sink – Villalobos, Horacio, Photographer
78 thoughts on “Why God cares who does the dishes”
Thanks BGR, love the stuff like this you write because I can really relate.
I should probably add for those who read this and don’t know anything about me or our family… with being a wife to a very busy and very involved in his work kind of man, I totally get that its hard to manage everything on your own 100% of the time. My husband’s schedule as a Police Officer is very hard for us as a family, like most military or other LEO-related jobs tend to be. I’ve read before (from the Pearl’s) that when a wife marries a man with that kind of huge commitment to society and his mission (where it takes him away from home most of the time), that she HAS to be more independent and able to handle more things emotionally and mentally and even sometimes physically on her own to make that life together work. Not all husbands are the same, some are able to help more at their discretion, whereas mine is gone 5 evenings out of the week. Military husbands who are deployed for months to a year also have this dilemma with needing a wife that is able to manage the home completely 100% on her own along with child-raising etc. And she needs to do so with a good attitude otherwise everyone, but especially her children, will suffer.
His work has to come before us at times because its so unpredicatable unfortunately. Many Christian husbands don’t have to live with that reality of needing to put their work above their family, but some do have to – my husband is definitely called to this kind of work, he tells me that all the time. So part of my mission is not only handling the keeping of the home 100%, but also making sure I make it easier for him to do his job without having to worry about whether or not I’m getting mine done. He makes it very easy for me to do mine by being there when he can (especially if I’m sick or exhausted), by being an incredible father, and contributing so well financially (and he’s constantly of mind to promote and raise his pay every few years which I’m not going to lie – is really really nice). I’m extremely lucky that he provides for us so well and rewards my efforts at home, by being 100% present at his work and doing the best he can to support us well. That’s how he contributes honestly… and I don’t expect more of him. He helps SO MUCH by providing us a place to live, all our financial needs being met, food to eat, two cars to drive, a comfortable living, anything our kids needs, etc. All that is a HUGE contribution… to overlook it seems very odd to me. It’d be cruel for me to expect more of him I think. Men no matter their occupation, take their work VERY seriously and they should! It really is their God-given mission to provide through working… so they are often more stressed out about their work than women tend to be. Work often is so tied to their identity and meaning in life. God put that desire there in a man’s heart to be able to provide and provide well. I don’t believe He put that same desire in a woman’s heart, but instead put a strong desire to have children and then take care of the home atmosphere and relationships in the home.
Handling all the morning and afternoon and evening duties and tasks that need to be done with two children and being pregnant with our 3rd is crazy and overwhelming at times, but I try to balance and not have extra random (and unnecessary) activities that will throw us off. I also take naps now when its naptime lol. I find I really need that extra rest especially when pregnant. I do feel a little like a single mom at times, and most police wives admit to feeling that way BUT there’s nothing wrong with that! When a military wife’s husband is deployed, of course she feels like a single mom, but its all part of fulfilling her husband’s God-given mission and work. Its totally normal with my husband’s profession and other ones like it where the man’s mission/God-given work is very daunting and takes 95% of his mental, emotional and physical energy. That leaves us only 5% left of his energy, which is hard but its our life and we fill it with the best memories and happiness we can and try to show each other love to the nth degree because our time together is so precious and valuable.
I maintain the attitude that this is just what has to happen because with him doing something so dangerous, and with this war on police officers (we just burried one of our own a couple of months ago 😥 ), feeling bitter about how much or little he contributes is just petty on my part. It usually doesn’t even bother me how much he can or cannot contribute, its just very trivial compared to all the other real problems in life that he faces or we face together. We’ll be married for 10 years this coming August, so I’ve worked through those emotions of wanting him to help more with housework a long time ago (in our first year or two). A lot of it was just me growing up in spiritual maturity and realizing our different roles and accepting that and accepting what BGR said – to be appreciative of when he DOES help and realize this is not part of his mission, whereas it IS part of mine.
I do see us as a team even though he doesn’t really get to contribute much if at all to housework things or even being there 5 evenings out of the week. We are still very much working together as a team and we both feel it strongly 🙂 We have different roles but are on the same team and working toward the same end goal (a godly, happy family that functions well).
I think what may help with the emotions M is feeling is to make it a priority to focus on meeting with God each day (making time for Him herself – not expecting her husband to wake up early so that she can have time alone… this is something she needs to take responsibility for herself and set an alarm for earlier than the baby wakes up if possible… or just have her quiet time at another time during the day if that works better). But meeting with God daily and talking with Him about her frustrations will help change her own heart toward her mission (one of the main ones being keeping the home with a joyful attitude), and even change how she views her husband’s choice to help or not.
I’m not sure where you’re actually disagreeing with me. A lot of what you said BGR was saying (examples include: a husband is not required to help even if he is relaxing, a husband’s help being up to his discretion, and a wife not insisting that housework be a 50/50 split although I’d take that further and add that a wife shouldn’t be “insisting” at all here in relation to her husband…with her children it’s different). Quick clarification that I’m not actually arguing in reference to M or her husband. Whatever bitterness M is growing (and I agree that it’s there) is not something I’m defending or excusing.
Your second point about having the right heart/attitude is right where I’m at…EXACTLY right. Thank you for phrasing it as well as you did. It’s not about who does the dishes which particular night or who does them more often (substitute trash for dishes if it makes that sentence easier to swallow). It’s about doing what God has called us to do with the right attitude (which of course is part of what God has called us to do so in a sense that part is repetitive). Whether that’s working outside the home, being a SAHM, doing all the housework, doing part of the housework, WHATEVER THAT LOOKS LIKE….that is what we should be doing.
I still wouldn’t call a husband doing housework “wrong” because Jesus never said that (we need to seriously be careful here about adding rules to Scripture…there’s a lot of people on and off this blog who do that flippantly and regularly). But it’s definitely not his responsibility. I also sense that you’re not actually calling it wrong d/t your use of quotation marks. Unnatural role perhaps might be better phrasing here.
I think BGR did a rather unfortunate summary of my position on your blog that may have tainted your view of what I’ve actually been arguing. Because as far as I can tell, there’s no real disagreement between what we are saying.
It is about who does the dishes as a general rule and that person doing them with the right attitude. It is both – not one or the other. If you do something with a rotten attitude – even if that something is required of you – you are not doing all that is required. You keep substituting trash – but that too belongs to the wife. If a husband graciously agrees to that – it is just that him graciously agreeing to do that. Stephanie brought up police wives and military wives having to be away from their husbands for long hours or perhaps days or months. You think the wife does not put the trash out then? Of course she does. The entirety of the home belongs to the wife. And she should be grateful – not expectant for any help she receives from her husband.
But then we also have the symbolism at play. You said “whatever that looks like” -I think if I have read Stephanie’s comments right(and I could be wrong) she agrees with me that Proverbs 31 gives a pretty detailed example of “whatever that looks like”. Stephanie even emphasized what I did that the Proverbs 31 shows “she” – the virtuous wife, doing all these tasks – not her husband.
Lol. Yes, it was a Star Trek reference. And at the end of the day, I think that it really is all about knowing what our priorities are and doing the best that we can in any given situation to meet our God-given role. And of course, we need to trust in God to help us when we are weak or circumstances are overwhelming us. We’ll falter most if we try to make it on our own.
I completely agree that it is important for M to be sure to make time for just herself and God, as well as to make sure that she gets as close to enough rest as she can (like by taking a lie down herself while her child is napping). I think that if she does those two things, they can help alleviate her resentment towards her husband and feel more able to tackle her tasks.
BGR, you choose to take out the trash as a general rule, so why a different husband couldn’t choose to do the dishes as a general rule, I’m still unsure why. I agree that it is the wife’s responsibility and that between her and her husband she is likely to do them FAR more often. That’s all and good. I’m not going to say she needs to do them as a general rule because maybe that’s a responsibility for her children (we had a ‘dishes schedule’ growing up where between whatever number of teenagers were currently at home split up the dishes so I can’t honestly remember my mom doing them that often and my dad even fewer times).
I’m certainly not opposed to a wife taking out the trash and do so on a regular basis (typically whoever is heading out the door takes the trash with them as a courtesy to the other…it’s not a spelled our rule and there is pretty much always appreciation expressed). I absolutely agree that the trash still belongs to the wife. I don’t actually think having a physical disability (whether temporary like post-delivery or more permanent like your wife) takes away the wife’s responsibility to manage her home, and I elaborated on that in a previous comment. I included an example of one way your wife could still be responsible for the trash even if she never personally empties it.
Again, agreeing with the grateful wife rather than the wife with an expectant attitude. I feel like this is the crux of what you are saying and I am in complete agreement.
By ‘whatever that looks like’, I was actually more referring to the Biblical command for a wife to submit to her husband in all non-sinful matters. You’ve said previously that you’re not comfortable with your wife taking out the trash so she probably shouldn’t do that. My husband wants me to do most of the housework on the days I’m off. Pretty much the only thing he has told me he will try to do regularly is the vacuuming and just today he told me he was giving that back to me until after his intensives are over this semester (and I honestly expect this to happen again throughout his program). He is definitely willing to help out at his discretion, but there’s no expectation of what that looks like or that I get to dictate to him. I have yet to meet a man who preferred for his wife to abandon the housework and leave it to him (although I’m sure they are out there). The ones I know want and expect their wives to take ownership of the home in that way and offer help as they see fit. But that help is going to look different for each couple (it certainly looks different for your marriage and mine even though both wives do the majority of the housework). So that’s why I’m unwilling to agree that God specifically cares about who does the dishes, while totally willing to agree that God has given the care of the home to the wife. I think that’s in line with what Proverbs 31 is saying.
Alex’s statement : “And at the end of the day, I think that it really is all about knowing what our priorities are and doing the best that we can in any given situation to meet our God-given role. And of course, we need to trust in God to help us when we are weak or circumstances are overwhelming us. We’ll falter most if we try to make it on our own.”
BGR, you stated both that the trash is your wife’s responsibility and that you or your sons do it instead on a regular basis. I’m assuming you don’t think you are in sin doing so. You’ve also stated that dishes are a wife’s responsibility, so why can’t husbands do so on a regular basis if they so choose without being in sin? Is this likely? No. My husband doesn’t do that. And it doesn’t equate with a wife being ungrateful, lazy, or developing an expectant attitude. We both agreed that was wrong.
Between the time my oldest sister started doing dishes to when my youngest sister left for college was about 25 years. My mom did not do the dishes for the majority of that time. There was no sin in that. Do you really think God cared and was grieved when we did them instead of her?
A key phrase in what you said is “on a regular basis”. So now let’s ask ourselves what the difference is between a man voluntarily taking out the trash on “on a regular basis” and a man doing these tasks other primary tasks on a regular basis:
1. Meal planning
2. Meal preparation
3. Doing dishes
4. Making or Buying the necessary clothing for her family
5. Making sure the clothing her family has is cleaned
Proverbs 31:14-15 & 19-21(KJV)
So here we see the wife is the one who takes the lead in shopping for food for her family and preparing that food as well as giving tasks(that was portions are) to her maidens. To me the Scriptures are clear that when it comes to meal planning and preparation this is a task that wives should be doing “on a regular basis” for their husbands, and their home. Are dishes not a part of meal preparation? If you don’t have clean dishes to cook with and serve with you certainly can’t make meals for your family.
I think most people if we were are being honest would link dishes and meal preparation together – dishes are a tool of meal preparation.
Can she give some parts of these tasks to her maidens or her children? Sure she can. No one is arguing against that. Can a husband even chip in from time to time and help yes and I am not saying that is a sin for him to do so. Or if his wife is sick and physically unable to do it of course he can and should help her in her tasks.
The same goes for the laundry – how can you cloth your family(which is clearly also given to the woman) if they don’t have clean clothes to wear.
So yes it is IMPLIED that if a woman is directly responsible for making sure the food and clothing needs of her family are met that cleaning dishes and doing laundry would be part of those responsibilities. AnnaMS – I am not trying to be mean here. But it boggles my mind how you cannot see this.
You yourself have stated on this comment thread that even amongest non-Christians it seems that that wife typically handles the cooking, cleaning and laundry much more than the men do. In fact even in tribal societies around the world – the men go out an hunt and provide and the woman prepares the meals and makes the clothing. My argument is first based on the Scriptures but I think it can be naturally see in action in less westernized societies which have been poisoned by feminism.
You keep accusing me of adding to the Scriptures – but again this is one of those “letter of the law vs the spirit of the law” things.
Romans 7:6 (KJV)
In another post I believe you completely missed the point of this concept of the letter of the law vs the spirit of the law. You gave an example of a wife submitting with a good attitude – instead of grudgingly submitting to her husband. But this concept of the letter of the law vs the spirit is FAR greater than just doing things with the right attitude. It is looking at Scriptural principles, commands and exhortations and not looking for technicalities to get around it. This is what the pharisees did and it drove Christ nuts.
I believe the spirit of Proverbs 31 in its exhortations to women to care for the food and clothing needs of their family clearly implies that doing dishes and doing laundry are part of those duties. I am sorry you don’t see that or think I am adding to the Scriptures saying that.
Taking out the trash is akin to changing light bulbs or fixing things around the house. It is a maintenance item. And Proverbs 21 does not give the focus to trash removal that it gives to a woman tending to food and clothing issues of her family.
If we are honest with what we see in tribal societies today – we can see that the Biblical admonitions to women to take care of the food and clothing needs of their family are something people naturally understand belongs to women. Again you yourself have conceded in these comments that in most cases women seem to better at these tasks of meal planning, preparation, laundry and cleaning of the home and this fits with the role that women have played in these areas in society.
It is only in our modern western societies where we take a uni-sex approach to life that we think men can do anything women do on a regular basis and men can do anything women do on a regular basis. There is nothing sacred anymore that just belongs to realm of masculinity and nothing sacred that belongs just to realm of femininity.
Let me tell you something – in my wife’s family Dad did most of the cooking growing up because both he and her mom worked and he got home from the factory before her mom got home from the office and also she took up college classes as well. So my wife and her sister came to see men as the food prepares of the home. I actually can cook very well(I specialize in homemade pasta dishes and homemade stir fries) and that was something my wife liked about me. I did not realize why until later – it was like pulling teeth to get her to cook when we were first married. Either I cooked or we went out to dinner. I tried to patient at first and then I realized this was setting a bad example for my children based on the Proverbs 31 role I clearly saw in the Scriptures. We have now been married almost 7 years now and now after lots of prodding my wife cooks 90 percent of the time and I cook 10 percent.
So to use your words with mine – my wife cooks on “a regular basis” or in other words – the vast majority of the time while I chip in from time to time. I believe this sets a good example for my children of what a wife is supposed to do. And I while I believe there is definitely room for Christian couples to have slightly different mixes.
But if man has a wife who is physically capable of doing these things yet he choosing to do the majority taking care of the food needs(meal planning, meal prep and dishes) or clothing needs(buying clothes, checking clothes for problems, cleaning clothes) he is enabling his wife to break the model God has set forth for women as the keeper of the home. He is allowing her to be derelict in her duties.
Sorry Anna somehow I thought you were disagreeing with BGR’s comments about the trash etc.
I haven’t read all of BGR’s last comment as of right at this moment, but I do see Anna where you agree with him and things I’ve said almost completely. Let me try to see if I can help translate what he’s saying juxtaposed to what you *do* disagree with:
Ok, so you said: “So that’s why I’m unwilling to agree that God specifically cares about who does the dishes, while totally willing to agree that God has given the care of the home to the wife. I think that’s in line with what Proverbs 31 is saying.”
I DO think you are totally right in many of your comments where you explained that Proverbs 31 wives will look completely different sometimes from each other – you right on and it really does come down to what her husband wants. Sometimes that can go to an extreme though (not that this is what any of us believe here, but just for a good example) where the husband feels like “Shade?” felt going into his marriage, where he **expressly** wants an “equal partnership” and thinks expecting his wife to be a “keeper of the home” like the Bible says is backwards and old-fashioned etc. There are a lot of millenial men who think that way too, and are totally turned off by that kind of idea. I worked closely with some of them so I got a look into what their marriages were like. By and far, their marriages were not going well at all. They complained about their wives being extremely rude to them, unhappy all the time no matter what he tried to do. One guy, it was really sad, his wife was so rude to him (keep in mind they were Christians) that she actually would ridicule his research and refused to go to an award ceremony where he was given an AWARD for his work!!!! I remember he point blank told me that he never wanted his wife to be like a 1950’s wife and was referring to her doing the housework and keeping the home etc.
There’s even been some interesting study that men who do housework actually have less sex and the couples are less satisfied overall. Who knows how accurate that is, but it was true for the couples I knew… we were definitely more satisifed than them, happier, and having lots more sex (which probably made us happier lol).
Anyway, its clear to me you don’t agree with that kind of set up, but I wanted to point out that a lot of people actually feel that way and are still Christian. I do think you can’t prescribe to a T some of the things in Proverbs 31, but then some have general truths that can’t be avoided either. The waking up early verse was an example where I remember talking with you and my husband about how its generally an important thing for a family, but for a small minority like yours, it really will look different in practice. But the deeper meaning (of waking up early in preparation for the day and to make their lives easier) is still there – that she makes it a priority in her life to manage her home and help her husband and children get ready for the day – however that looks. Its **usually** going to mean that for probably 90% of marriages, the wife needs to make it a priority in the morning since children have to get to school and most husbands have to get to work, etc.
With the dishes thing, I think its a little different because of it being a specific work-related task that always needs to get done in every household. Waking up early is very specific and can be done different ways if he absolutely needs her to work a night schedule or something that prevents it. But dishes always have to get done no matter what, so its a definite work-task that is under her responsibility (I know you agree here). Proverbs 31 never says that her husband gets up in the morning and assists her in helping prepare everything for the day. Most men, especially a man that was as important as her husband in his role to their community, did not and do not have time for doing that necessary task. Some men who have normal work schedules may help out during the evening sometimes, but BGR brought up a very critical point that the wife needs to think about if she’s neglecting that area of her work and allowing him to do it **too** much. Instead of doing dishes, which are not part of his mission or work in life, he could be doing something like studying for his school or job or relaxing so that he has enough energy for the next day.
I see it maybe a little differently than you are possibly… I see it as that this is part of her work solely, he can help if she’s overwhelmed or something – but she would never be expected to go to his office or work and come “help” out there to make his life somehow easier (unless it was an exceptional case). In most work places that would be seen as weird and inappropriate for a man to delegate some of his work-related tasks or responsibilities to his wife. It would be overstepping her bounds and the company probably wouldn’t like it at all… there are people hired at his work for those tasks and his coworkers would look at him as if he was lazy if he always expected her to chime in and do something he should really be doing at his work. That’s how I see a man regularly doing the dishes… it would also be like a wife coming in to a man’s office and deciding to volunteer to clean the floors, the bathrooms there, etc. It would be inappropriate and possibly even embarrassing to him that she was that self-sacrificing and acting like a martyr. So for a man regularly doing the dishes just to help out, I think that would be overstepping his role and taking away from him doing his own preparations for HIS day. And I don’t think God would really desire that for him, just like I don’t think God would desire for a wife to make a fool of herself and go to her husband’s work everyday and act like volunteer janitor there. Most wives/mothers would be too busy to do that work anyway – and it would take her away from making sure their home was in order and clean. So for men doing dishes regularly even just to help out their wife in her work, they’re taking away from their own time to relax so that they’re efficient at work, or time to study or prepare for their work or be with their kids. They already did their work and contribution as a team player in the family (a MAJOR team player may I add). So it does seem very strange and foreign to me to have a husband who regularly helps (or grow resentful because he doesn’t), but then again, I used to be like that, but God changed my heart about the issue.
A woman doing the dishes or making sure they get done by servants (back then) or children is a part of HER day and her tasks. A man doing his work for his employer would NEVER think of handing off part of his job that his boss assigned to *him* to his wife to cover for him. So that’s kind of how I see the division of labor in a marriage, and why I think that women who work full time have it extremely hard to try to manage everything and do well at it. I know they can manage it, but its definitely harder and more stressful/emotionally painful for them. I don’t think God wanted women to have that much on their plate… and we can tell with all the health problems women have now that are stress-related 😦 I watched my mom try to do both (even with my dad helping sometimes) and it really negatively affected her health and she’s still paying for that decision. She looks at our life and how I’m choosing to stay home even though it was sometimes financially hard, and she’s actually told me before that I’m doing what she “should’ve done.” I’m so much happier just having to focus on one thing, too, and I did work for a little while when I had my first and it was very hard.
Sorry I wrote like a book about this stuff….
BGR and Stephanie, I pretty much agree with Stephanie’s last comment although I still wouldn’t dictate to other couples exactly who should be doing what cuz you run the very real chance of going against a husband’s authority.
While we were dating, we lived 2.5 hrs apart. I rented a bedroom from a Christian family near the hospital, and he was renting a room with a bunch of other guys. I always visited him and his kitchen was always a WRECK. He insisted I didn’t use it and we are out most of the time or he would cook. That did not sit well with me and kept fighting him on it until I found myself ripping a spatula out of his hand
At that point, I realized that we were either going to keep fighting (which added a ton of unnecessary stress), or I could let him cook when he wanted. Now that we’re married, I do most of the cooking, so not every couple is like BGR and his first wife (BGR, you’ve said before that she struggled with laziness and I’m guessing that’s part of it).
Also, Stephanie, you said that a man would NEVER think of passing off part of his job to his wife, and you are right, but I think the authority structure makes it different for a wife. I can’t tell my husband, “the kitchen is my job, get out”. I tried the equivalent when we were dating with no success. If a husband decides it is best for him to take on a particular duty (while she of course maintains responsibility), that is his perogative.
Totally agree with not following couples who are egalitarian in this way and see how that could hurt a marriage. But we’ve been married less than 2 years and already have done 2 very different housework assignments that my husband chose. So I have a hard time believing that all happy Christian couples (excluding the unhappy ones Stephanie mentioned) follow the exact same blueprint.
And don’t worry about writing a book on stuff, Stephanie, I always appreciate your words of wisdom.
BGR, if you’re fine with the children doing the vast majority of the dishes (as you seemed to be in my mom’s case), it doesn’t seem to be so much that the wife should as it is that the husband shouldn’t. In which case, you’re gonna have to hunt outside of Proverbs 31, as that doesn’t detail what a husband is and isn’t supposed to do.
I realize it’s unintentional, but it seems a bit emotionally manipulative to tell a wife that God wants her to do the dishes while simultaneously agreeing that others can as well. Almost like, “I guess you can let them help, but I hope you know God wants you to be the one doing them. Mean, don’t feel bad that you’re teaching your kids well, but that’s your job and you might be lazy”. How about not doing that?
First of all – don’t worry about writing a book – I am the king of writing book comments and articles. In fact most of the time when I write a post I write it first in Word and try to keep it to 6 pages or less. It is like murder for me to do that. This article ended up being 12 pages in Word and I cut two pages out to shrink it down a bit. That is why I really enjoy working on my book(title still to be determined) because I don’t have to worry about cutting things out. I can say everything God puts on my heart to say(and hopefully it won’t sound like rambling….LOL).
I agree with you that marriage often comes down to what the husband wants. But there is a danger there – or an “extreme” as you put it where the husband is trying to be modern and sophisticated so he convinces himself he does not want a 50’s wife that takes care of everything and waits on him – when in fact instinctively that is exactly what most men actually want. But men have been taught today that to have such desires is sexist and selfish. The servant leadership of Christ is twisted into a pretzel to feminize men and turn them into butlers serving their wives as queens.
I don’t deny there is some wiggle room for husbands to work in and things might be slightly different from house to house – but when a man is the one doing the majority of these feminine tasks that are given to women he assaults his own masculinity in do so and sets a bad example for his family.
Yea BGR, I agree that they feel that way falsely because they don’t really understand how overwhelmed their wife will be (and possibly resentful or bitter) in trying to handle managing a full time job and kids and housework (even part of housework). That one guy that specificaly said that – he also talked about how they made a lot of money, but they were spending ALL of it and saving none – which on two good incomes was ridiculous. But the wife was always too tired to cook after work so they ate out all the time. She constantly complained that she wanted to be a stay at home mom, but he didn’t think she’d have the discipline to cut back her spending to be able to handle that (and I’m sure she probably wasn’t mentally prepared to really keep a home full time as a job).
It just amazed me that here he was thinking he was “better” than Christians who do divide up the roles traditionally, and yet he and many of the other men were MISERABLE because of that and living far less happy lives or sex-filled lives. I felt really sorry for them, but they chose that life themselves.
It can go to an extreme to be sure. But I think the wife is limited in how she handles that. If she is clearly willing to do housework, delights in serving her husband, assures him that he doesn’t need to help in that way and already does so much for the family, but he still chooses to do the dishes, that’s on him not her. Maybe he’s an egalitarian, maybe he has time/energy and is just trying to help his wife, maybe it makes him feel more involved in family life, we honestly don’t know. I don’t think it’s on the wife (much less us as complete strangers) to presume she knows where his heads at and dictate what he is or is not allowed to do. Especially if the goal is getting away from being an egalitarian, it’s truly ironic.
That is the lesson I had to learn. My husband knows he does not have to help. So now when he does, I can be grateful rather than fighting him on it, but also be totally fine if he doesn’t.
AnnaMS – pretty much short of your husband telling you to deny your faith, to murder someone, have sex with another man, publicly disrespect him or belittle him or things like this you must follow your husband’s leadership. Even if you think he is wrong or even if I think or another man or woman thinks he is wrong. That is not what Stephanie or I are saying.
My message to women is – if you are the problem fix it to the degree you have the power to do so. But if your husband is the one asking you to handle things in a way that you think is not based on the Biblical model of marriage and masculinity and femininity – then you must follow him. So if your husband insists on cooking most of the time and he wants to put his little apron and go for it – then you must let him. If he insists on doing most of the laundry then you must let him. If he insists on you working in a career outside the home and helping in his provider role then you must obey him.
The only area where I personally believe divorce bells can begin to ring is if a perfectly healthy man just comes home one day because he just decided he does not want to work outside the home anymore. So he says to his wife “you go work – and I will take care of the kids and the house.”. I actually had a man tell me he did this in an email. He later came to regret it as it destroyed his marriage.
I can give what I believe to be Biblical advice to any person – man, woman or child. But no I cannot tell another man’s wife or child that “you must do this or that” – he is their spiritual authority I am not.
But I can say to another man, another husband – “Based upon the Word of God you are wrong sir in how you are handling things at home with your wife or your children and here is why”. There are some gray areas in Scripture – I don’t claim that there are not. But when we make everything gray – we strip the power from the Bible.
Your previous statement:
You previously have said your mom was a SAHM. So her being called on to work outside the home by your father was not a factor in this. I agree that it is good for children(especially female children) to learn to do the dishes. It is important for them to learn how to do laundry and as well as cook and clean. I am not even against even male children learning these things. I think they are life skills we all should have. I just taught my 11 year old son how to make hamburgers on the stove this weekend. It it is very likely that they may live on their own for a while before marrying and they should know how to cook for themselves and do their laundry.
But having said that I have made it crystal clear to my children that while these are all good life skills to have that things like cooking, cleaning, dishes as far as the home and specifically marriage are concerned belong to the woman. That is why I push my soon to be 15 year old daughter much harder on her learning good cooking skills and her regularly doing the dishes and helping out around the house.
But this brings us back to your mom not doing the dishes for pretty much 25 years. It is one thing to teach your children responsibility and life skills and it is quite another to abdicate that responsibility entirely. So apart from some health related issue that prevented your mom from doing the dishes for 25 years I believe it was a wrong for her to put all of it on you and your sister.
You see for many women – doing the dishes is actually their most hated home task. I know it is for my wife – if you ask my wife which task of the home she hates the most she will say “Dishes – hands down”. And that is why I try to remember to have my daughter to help with dishes on the weekends but at the same time I want to see my wife doing the dishes on a regular basis. My wife while accepting help from my daughter needs to be taking the lead in doing all these tasks to be a good example for my daughter.
I realize what I have just said is offensive. It hurts when anyone says they think our parent, our spouse or our child have done what they think violates God’s Word. It hurt when I told my wife I believed based on the Word of God her mother – while being a kind and good woman – set a bad example for her in many areas including cooking. You may disagree that it does. But I must stand by what I believe to be right because this is so much more than about someone washing dirty dishes. It is about the symbolism of man and woman, marriage and Christ and his church.
And yes I have said to my wife “I believe the Word of God shows that as the wife and a step mother in this home you need to be doing the majority of the dishes and the cooking and the laundry. It is not about serving me – it is about serving God and fulfilling the role God has given you to play out. You are setting an example for our children by your actions. I agree the kids should help out as well and clean their own rooms and our daughter and I will help with cooking and dishes but the vast majority should fall on you except for those times when you are physically unable to do it.”
I stand on this – it is my conviction before God.
I wish that Christian men and women, husbands and wives could truly understand the symbolism in the roles God has given us.
When they do they will understand that a woman doing dishes is so much more than it appears on the surface.
When a woman cooks it is so much more than it appears on the surface.
When a man goes to work and fixes a car engine it is so much more that it appears to be.
We serve a God who loves to teach through symbolism. The Scriptures as well as God’s creation are just filled with symbolisms.
Saying a wife doing the dishes is just someone cleaning plates in a sink is like saying when we take communion at church we are just eating a cracker and drinking some grape juice. These things mean so much more and God has burdened me with presenting this message. I feel it even stronger after this discussion.
I believe that if wives looked at things like doing the dishes, doing the laundry, cooking and cleaning for the beautiful spiritual symbols they represent they would not have such an attitude of drudgery toward them. They would do them with joy knowing they are not just serving their husband and children – but ultimately they are serving God.
And to the millennial husbands who think if they have their wives do the majority of these tasks they are somehow “backward” or treating their wives as house slaves let me say this. You are wrong sir. Very very wrong. We need to stop tip toeing around this. By hindering your wife in these tasks – or not strongly encouraging her to do these things and praising her for doing them you are breaking one of God’s many beautiful symbolisms. You might as well go to church and tell the Pastor you don’t need to have communion anymore – that you can buy your own crackers and grape juice and just drink it at home.
BGR, you said “But no I cannot tell another man’s wife or child that “you must do this or that”. But that is EXACTLY what you have been doing with this entire post. That the wives must do the dishes. That is the issue I have been having this entire time. Can the wives do the dishes? Sure! Is that probably going to be part of being a homemaker for the vast majority of women? Sure! But we don’t have the responsibility or authority to dictate to individual women (outside of you with your wife) what that looks like. I can’t believe it has taken this long to get you to admit that simple sentence. I almost feel like my job here is finished.
But before I go, I will say that I don’t appreciate your comments about my mom. Do they hurt? Sure. Because you know next to nothing about her. You don’t know that she had a spinal fusion as a young child (a procedure that has been radically changed in the medical field since that time and would not be done in her case in 2017) that makes standing still for periods of time extraordinarily painful for her. You don’t know that she ran a piano teaching business out of her home that my dad fully supported and encouraged her in. You don’t know that she had 8 children (7 of whom are daughters) so splitting the dishes was more than just me and a sister and never ended up being that much work for us. You don’t know that my dad told her he didn’t want her standing still at the sink for periods of time and he came up with the dishes schedule just for that. But let’s say none of that was true (which it all is). It was her prerogative to train her children as she saw fit following her husband’s guidance and that included passing on dishes duty to her children. You might not implement that in your house, but you have no right to condemn it in somebody else’s. I have no idea whether dishes duty was her least favorite part of being a homemaker (it certainly isn’t mine). I never heard my mom complain about any of it. I get that there are lazy and whiny women out there and in many ways you drew two sour apples, but you really shouldn’t paint all women with the same brush.
I notice you left out a very important disclaimer I put in front my statement ““But no I cannot tell another man’s wife or child that “you must do this or that””. Here is the full context of this statement:
Any Christian has the right to state to other believers – even men’s wives and children what they believe is right and wrong based upon the Word of God.
If your husband were loaning you out to his friends at work for sex would I not have the right to tell you that I believe your husband is sinning in doing so? Of course I would. In the same way I have every right to teach both men, women and children what I believe is righteous living or sinful living. What I believe are gray areas in the Scriptures and not gray areas in the Scriptures. You and I disagree on this dishes issue. You think it is gray area – I do not believe it is.
There are many that have this philosophy – “Keep to yourself what you think about God, marriage and the responsibilities of men and women and husbands and wives”. You think I don’t hear that on a daily basis in emails I receive? You bet I do. I do not claim perfection – I am not an Apostle of God. No Pastor or Christian teacher is inerrant today. But that does not mean we as Christians must be afraid to make public stands for what we believe is right – not just for our family but for all families just because it might offend some people.
AnnaMS – this is the problem in our churches today. Pastors are afraid to teach anything but the Gospel and things that everyone will agree on. That is why Pastors like mine avoid talking about submission or Biblical gender roles when they preach. They are also scared to preach on holy living in general anymore for fear of offending people in the church. This is not the way God meant it to be. Christian preachers and teachers need to follow Paul’s example when he wrote:
Acts 20:27 (KJV)
You know what Anna? The more of God’s Word we teach the more people will be offended – the less of God’s Word we teach the less people will be offended. But we have to obey God rather than man.
There are things that you and I and your husband as fellow believers in Christ believe that are very offensive to non-Christians around us. Should we just stop publicly saying what we believe is right so we don’t offend them? Of course not. Should we as Christians not talk about what we believe is sinful even if other Christians might be offended by that? Of course not.
Part of Christian maturity is accepting the fact there will be times when my brother or sister in Christ thinks I am sinning by doing something(or not doing something) – but I am convinced before God it is not sin. For instance I have great friends in the Lord who believe I am sinning by not tithing. They believe all Christians are required to tithe. I do not believe that and I have made my Scriptural case for that. We accept this difference as friends.
We have to accept the reality of these types of situations occurring between Christian brothers and sisters. In those cases I will vigorously defend what I believe to be right in the same way I expect my brother or sister on the other side to vigorously defend what they believe is right based upon our understanding of the Scriptures.
At the same time being sensitive to the Holy Spirit knowing that in some cases one of us is right and the other is wrong and I need consider the possibility I could be wrong. But as believers we can’t be afraid of taking strong stands while at the same time remembering we are only human.
I only started talking to you again on this subject due to Stephanie’s input. I will leave the last word after this to you and Stephanie and then I will move on.
This is what I will leave with you with that I believe applies to this topic and any other holy living topic(and following Biblical gender roles are a part of holy living).
There are some things that we as believers will believe are right just for ourselves or our families. We don’t necessarily think other Christians have to follow these practices. These are our standards.
But then there are beliefs we have that we believe are not just right for ourselves and our family – but they are things that right for all Christians, all Christian families and all Christian marriages. These are our convictions. An example of this that I think that most every Christians would agree on is that husbands should not loan out their wives for sex to their friends. We hold this as a conviction – not a standard. Some Christians(like some of my friends) hold to tithing as a conviction. It is not just a standard for their family – but they believe it is required for all Christians.
We don’t have to take a poll of what most Christians think on a subject and go “Well if most Christians disagree on this subject – then I can’t treat it is as conviction – I must regard it as my personal standard.” No – if we see something in the Scriptures and it is very plain to us and we are convicted before God that this is his absolute right way for all believers then we can stand on that. But in Christian maturity we must be able to accept that other believers might not hold that conviction and we have to be able to agree to disagree.
There are some convictions though that would forbid certain churches or Christian organizations from working together. Like if one church teaches you can loose your salvation while another church is adamantly teaching eternal security you are going to have problems. Sometimes convictions separate believers in their corporate work. But as individuals Christians I think it is rare when convictions should cause us to have to separate.
Anyway – that is my last word on the subject. I leave the final words to you and Stephanie. And I don’t mean to limit your conversation with her on this thread – feel free to continue. I just need to move on to other posts(and working on my book).
Yes you absolutely can give advice…even if it winds up being unBiblical and you retract it. Nobody has the right to silence you. My debut on this blog was about my story of persevering through painful sex…that is considered highly offense to many women today, so I’m not afraid of offensive speech. Giving advice that women are responsible for the home is good and Biblical. Giving advice that men are not required to help in the home as they do not bear that responsibility is also good and Biblical. Telling women that dishes are included in housework is purely logical (for pretty much every culture that I am aware of). Telling women that God cares that they do the dishes when it is possible that He in fact very much does NOT want them to do the dishes because that would fly in the face of what their husband is teaching, is not good and Biblical. That last part is where you cross the line from merely giving Biblical ADVICE, into instead telling wives what to do. You were not advising them to do the dishes. You were flat out telling them they were in sin if they didn’t (as going against what God cares about is sinful). That’s not just advice. I’d absolutely advise a wife that the dishes were very likely going to be her job and she shouldn’t have expectations or bitterness towards her husband for not doing them. If I gave that advice to someone like my mom, she would take that advice and realize that, while normally true, it didn’t apply to her. She would not go away thinking that she was going against what God cared about. Fine line? Sure, but a very important one.
OK I know I said I would give the last word – and I will. You can respond to this. I am not trying to change your mind anymore on the validity of my conviction in this matter. I only want to clarify where our difference is.
Yes I know I used the word “advice” and that was a mistake on my part. I apologize as that may have caused some confusion. When a person gives advice – they are giving their preference, their standard but not speaking about convictions. When a person shares their convictions – then they are sharing what they believe to be absolute truth – absolutely what is right for all people. For instance if you told your Christian girlfriend at work that she should not be cheating on her husband with a doctor at work – is that advice or a conviction? It is a conviction.
So to be clear – I believe I have the right to share not only my advice but also my convictions with any man, woman or child that want to listen to what I write. If it is a man – then he can go and consider if my conviction truly has Biblical backing or if it lacks Biblical support and then he if he agrees he can implement that for his family or if he disagrees then he can disregard it. For a wife – she falls under the spiritual authority of her husband. So again she can weigh my conviction against the Scriptures and also ask her husband at home about it. But he is her spiritual authority and she must abide by his judgment in the matter. The same goes for children.
So yes both my advice(preferences and standards) as well as my convictions may be offensive to some but I must share what I believe to be the whole counsel of God.
I believe based on Proverbs 31 that God does care if a woman does the dishes. However that is tempered by the fact that her husband is her spiritual head and sometimes husbands stop their wives from doing what they believe God wants them to do. Dr. John R Rice years ago brought up the situation of a wife believing that not tithing was a sin and her husband did not. So the wife literally stole money from her husband’s wallet each week to tithe. When the man brought his wife to Dr. Rice he condemned the woman for doing that. He said if her husband forbid her from doing what was right then the sin lay at his feet not hers.
So if we are going to disagree let’s be clear on our disagreement.
My conviction – not my advice – is that if it is in a woman’s power to do the dishes the vast majority of the time and she out of her own choice chooses not to but instead delegates this to others and decides she just does not want to do dishes YES I believe she is sinning against God based on my interpretation of Proverbs 31. However if it is NOT in her power to do the dishes either because she physically cannot do them, her husband insists on doing them the majority of the time or he insists that workers or her children do them and she not do them then she is NOT sinning. The sin is then on her husband’s part and she is innocent. I do not believe it is a sin for a husband to occasionally help or have his children or others help – but if he allows his wife to completely not do the dishes when she is fully capable of doing it he as her head is sinning in hindering her or not encouraging her to fulfill her duties.
You could substitute “cooking” or “laundry” for “dishes” in the above statement and it would be the same by my conviction. I believe that a critical part of the duties of a wife is for her to directly take part in feeding and clothing her family and dishes and laundry would be including those things.
You do not believe the evidence from Proverbs 31 or any other part of the Scriptures is strong enough to support my conviction. You believe it could support a preference or standard as to how a certain family does things – but not a conviction. And that is OK. Christians will disagree on the validity of convictions.
I am not going into people’s homes and telling wives to contradict their husbands. I tell wives to obey their husbands. What I write here is sort of like an interactive book. I share my advice(preferences and standards) as well as my deeply held convictions of right and wrong. I have every right to tell a woman who approaches me as to what I believe is right and what is sinful if I think her behavior is sinful. If a woman describes to me what I think is disrespectful behavior toward her husband I have every right if she comes here and asks me a question that I believe she has sinned by being disrespectful. If she asks me what I think about her doing house work and wanting more help from her husband and part of my response to that it is my conviction is that any woman(including her) that is able bodied and is not forbidden by her husband from doing dishes on a regular basis – if she does not do them is sinning that again is my right to say. If she comes to my blog or opens my Ebook I have every right to share my convictions – and if it pricks her heart in doing so then I consider that a success.
If a husband does not want his wife hearing my advice or convictions he has every right as her spiritual head to forbid her from coming to my site and asking for my beliefs on various subjects. He can forbid her from reading blog entirely. It is the same as if a couple were attending a Church and the Pastor regularly preaches things that are in direct conflict with what the husband believes and he decides to remove his family from that church and move them to another. That is his prerogative as the head of his home. But what he does not have the right to do is to forbid a Pastor or teacher of the Word of God from preaching or teaching their standards or convictions.
I hope that you and I can at least agree on upon what we disagree upon.
Ok, that actually makes a lot more sense. I still disagree that the husband is in sin if he delegates the dishes to a non-wife person the “majority” of the time because the Bible doesn’t give specific numbers (is 4 dinners a week too much? 5? 6? 3?). If the wife is delegating the dishes to a child out of a selfish desire to avoid doing a job that is distasteful to her, than I’d say her selfishness was a sin there. I really don’t have experience with women doing that so I’m unable to meet you on an equal level here. But it seems rather ungracious to assume that is what most women are doing.
It might have been different for my mom having 7 daughters. If she did the majority of all the housework, there wouldn’t have been a lot of learning opportunities for the rest of us (and she wouldn’t have been able to devote time to homeschooling and teaching piano lessons which were both things my dad wanted her to do). As a teenager there were a few things I wanted her to teach me that she was unable to get to as they got wrapped up in my brother’s legal issues around that time, so I guess the thought of her doing more and my learning even less doesn’t sit well with me. Most women that don’t have that many children will naturally find themselves doing more of the housework from a purely numerical standpoint. Someone has to do it and if there aren’t enough people to go around, it will fall on her as she has the ultimate responsibility here. A lot less of the actual housework (although I still have a ton of memories of her doing it) fell on my mom but she had to spend a lot more time training and educating 8 children than one might spend with fewer. Again, this was all what my dad wanted.
I think you summarized the root of our disagreement very well when you gave an excellent definition of the word conviction: a belief that is true for ALL PEOPLE. And that’s where, while it’s perfectly fine to have a conviction for your own family, I don’t think it actually works outside of that because you’re making exceptions. If something is true for ALL PEOPLE, it implies that it is false for none. And I’ve already given the example of my mom submitting to my dad in this way, and you’ve agreed that a wife can delegate dishes occasionally, and that a husband can even offer occasionally.
I have absolutely no problem with the advice here being tailored to M. It seems obvious to me that her husband wants her to be doing most/all of the housework so her doing the dishes with a cheerful attitude is part of submitting to her husband. In her marriage, God DOES care that it is her who does it…absolutely without a doubt! But you generalized it from there, and that’s when I think you run into Biblical issues.
I’m not a mathematician, but my dad and brother both were so I picked up some along the way. When you’re talking percentage of something being true for all people in a control group, the bigger the control group is, the lower the percentage of it being true for all of them is. So this advice here is 100% when M alone is in the control group. But when you went beyond that and added all the married women in the world, the odds of it being true dropped, because you have to either take everyone’s situation into account or choose to ignore some. That’s why I don’t think it should be treated as a conviction even though I’d likely give the same advice to a large majority of women.
God bless your efforts on your book! Still can’t wait to read it (although I know i’ll have to be patient, lol).
It is interesting to me how our God given role relates to God’s design for us, in our creation and in our dress. We are created physically weaker than men. Period. As Men are also designed to be the heads of our house, it only makes sense that they are designed to conduct business “at the gate” while we are to prepare the home for them.
I realize that this is God’s ideal, and may not be financially possible in many families. However, if we follow the precepts of Proverbs 31, it is amazing how we can lower the costs of our household and perhaps make it on one salary.
For, us (and we discussed it before), Jim has me adhere to a dress code of only dresses and skirts. He has me in comfortable heels throughout the day, and then high heels when we are together in the evenings. So, even Jims choice of what I wear reinforces God’s design and purpose for me. Can I do household chores in a dress and heels? Yes. I do it every day. Can I climb a ladder, take out the trash, do major yard work in my daily outfit? No, not safely. That kind of stuff is his domain (Although I do maintain a small vegetable garden and herb garden in my heels and work dress (the heels have the advantage of aerating the garden!!! 🙂
I am NOT prescribing this for everyone. But for us, God’s design in creation and my husband’s conviction in my dress reinforces the allocation of my roles around our home.
I’m a military wife whose husband was deployed most of last year. I had to do everything on my own. It definitely puts things into perspective. My husband sacrifices a lot to provide for us–he does reserves each month and year, deployment, in addition to his full-time civilian job and soon will be taking college classes online. The *least* I can do is to take care of the homemaking! I work a small part time job–but my full time job is my home, my child, and being a wife to him. He has got enough on his plate to worry about dishes. I actually try to stop him if he tries to help. He does help out a bit, but he knows it’s not his concern. Although even if he had a regular civilian job, I would still want to be the homemaker.
I had another thought for M. Since her husband doesn’t have to get up early for work every day of the week, maybe he can help her out on nights when he doesn’t have to get up early the next morning. By this, I mean going to check on the baby if he or she starts crying, changing the baby’s diaper if it’s a diaper issue, and getting M if it’s an issue that he can’t handle (like a breastfeeding one). This will work differently for different couples depending on the husband’s work schedule, if the wife has to work outside the home too, and their childrens’ ages. But at this point, they both have to get up early to work in the morning. M isn’t getting days off from her job of home making and childcare, while her husband is, so it might help them both if he can do more night duty when he has a day off the next day. Plus, as I said in another comment, I think that it is important for fathers to engage and bond with their children from an early age, even though the mother, by virtue of being home and fulfilling her role, will do most of the childcare. A lot of times, this means doing things like reading to or playing with the baby and teaching the young child certain skills (although the mother will do much more of this day-to-day because she’ll be home), but in situations with M’s husband’s work schedule, the occasional bottle feeding or diaper change.
I stumbled on this article when looking for encouragement and wisdom in how to respond to the circumstances I find myself in.
I agree with your position and thank you for your bold statements.
In your article, you state:
“A wife is not having some unreasonable expectation when she is upset that her husband has been sitting on the couch and out of work for 6 months playing video games. It is reasonable and Biblically backed for a woman to expect that her husband will do his best to provide for their family.”
This is where I find myself. And my question is – How does a wife respond if she finds herself in this circumstance with her husband?
When my husband has worked full time, I have always needed to work to supplement our income. I have found creative ways to do that while staying home with our three children.
Almost 6 years ago, my husband was laid off from his position. He was insistent on not going back to a “job” and we worked together to help him get a business up and running around a passion he had. I continued to work my business very part time, but it wasn’t enough to pay the bills. After 6 months we had exhausted most of our financial resources to make ends meet. He was just starting to get some momentum (although no revenue) with what he was building and then suddenly, a program in my business took off and overnight provided for 3 months of living expenses.
My husband stepped back and stopped putting effort into what he was trying to build.
He doesn’t look for work. He hardly helps with the kids. He doesn’t even know when bills are due. He watches movies and plays video games. He does laundry and sometimes the dishes.
At first I was encouraged to give him his space – so I did. I continued to do what I was doing and it was growing. About 6 more months in, I found out that my husband had told our pastor that I was happy and content with the arrangement. I was shocked by this.
We have had many hard talks since then where I have been very blunt to say that we need him to get a job or find a way to provide for our family… that the burden is too heavy for me to carry… that I believe I am created to be caring for the home and the kids for my family. I want to do those things – but I cannot do it all.
But he wants to be home with the kids too and be around for them… he cries at the thought of going to a job… all while opportunity keeps falling on my lap in my business and it continues to grow.
I enjoy what I do and am grateful for the opportunity. I do feel called to the community I serve in my work – but not at the cost of my family… and that is where I find myself.
I imagine I have stepped into enabling this behavior from him now… and I am not sure how to encourage him and step back.
We can’t talk about it without him getting extremely defensive and “hurt”… and that leads to anger.
I have sought counseling (he is in counseling as well to work out his issues with anger) and wasn’t comfortable with the direction and encouragement I was having to leave him. I believe there may be a time for that – but am not convinced that this is a biblical reason… I am wrestling.
As a believer… as a wife… as a mother… I am at a loss for how to respond to this in a biblical manner.
So when I read that paragraph in your article that I copied above, I couldn’t help but comment and reach out. How does a wife biblically respond to that type of behavior from her husband? If it is a reasonable expectation for a husband to provide and work… and he doesn’t, how does the wife biblically deal with this?
Thank you. I know this is an older article – it just really resonated with where I am right now.
I am sorry to hear of the situation with your husband’s laziness and unwillingness to do one of the core things God has called husbands to do and that is to be the provider for his family. I have written two articles that will give you a battle plan for dealing with this problem from a Biblical perspective:
REALLY helpful and challenging post, which I thoroughly appreciate and need as a new wife. This goes in my ‘to keep’ folder for continual encouragement!! :))))
If only my wife could read and take this to heart. Her name also begins with the letter M.
Please pray for my M to figure this stuff out. She won’t listen to reason and had her mind and expectations poisoned by others she observed 😦