The purpose of paid work for women.

As I mentioned, I accepted a full-time job this fall, or at least “full time” during the academic year; I won’t work in the summer even though my employer is already saying things like, “Just making sure you know that you can work over the summer, too, if you want!”  This is one reason why my ability to write more detailed essays on my new blog has been curtailed: between work, commuting, housekeeping, and shuttling our children around to the myriad activities they are involved in, I’ve barely even been home, let alone had time to write.

What’s the point of this? Am I doing this because I just love being a speech language pathologist so much? Well, sort of: I’m doing speech therapy for pay, as opposed to say being an auto mechanic for pay, because I like and am good at teaching communication. And I’ve done volunteer work in this area in the past, but the reason I am doing this job full time for pay as opposed to part time as a volunteer is for one reason and one reason only: to earn money for my family.

Feminists with their bloated egos tell women that their paid work is their path to personal fulfillment. This is a lie. Personal fulfillment is found in God and family – nothing more and nothing less. Chasing the elusive and incredibly selfish dream of “personal fulfillment” will leave you empty for the simple reason that – unlike God and your family – your job does not love you.

You may, of course, have some very kind co-workers who will help you out in times of trouble; recently one of the other women in my department was in a serious car accident and I was impressed by how quickly everyone at work rallied to bring flowers and gift cards to the hospital and arrange to bring meals to her husband and children. This type of personal charity is kind and thoughtful but is not sustainable among non-kin in the long run because it is not based on familial love.

My husband had misgivings about me working full time but agreed to let me try it because we want to save money for a very specific purpose: purchasing another ten acres of land across the road. We believe this will be a good investment and inheritance for our children. And as much as I like my job and strive to do excellent work for my employer, my goal in performing work for money is the same as the Proverbs 31 woman’s was: to serve my family, not my ego.

10 An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
    and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
    she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
    and provides food for her household
    and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength
    and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
    for all her household are clothed in scarlet.[c]
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
    when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
    she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
    and let her works praise her in the gates.

My advice to young women: prioritize family formation over education and career. Prepare yourself to earn money as a means of serving your family but don’t get wrapped up in worrying about your personal fulfillment at work because that isn’t why you are there.

33 thoughts on “The purpose of paid work for women.

  1. Whoa, I just now (rather unfortunately) found another really beneficial thing about having a “helper” income from the wife when possible. I hit “post” on this essay, went to check the laundry, and found a minor flood in the laundry room. My husband quickly determined that the crack in our High Efficiency washer basket was not repairable, so he’s off to Heydlauff’s to buy a new washer…

    Having a “helper” income insures that these un-budgeted-for catastrophes won’t cause you to have to decide between paying the propane bill and washing clothes… 🙂


  2. I like the snow on your page.
    As a single guy, it’s hard enough to imagine finding someone cooperative, much less exemplify the Proverbs 31 woman. I should stick to linking happy bear videos. Here’ one of my favorites.


  3. Well, for my part I never worked because I imagined it would fulfill me, I’ve worked all my life because I had bills to pay. Now I stay home looking after my child and find that extremely fulfilling. Does this make me a bad feminist?


    • If you are focusing on what you want to do as opposed to what is best for your family, that makes you a very good feminist, in fact. So if you are staying home because that is what you feel like doing and that is what fulfills you, then your motivation is essentially a feminist one, since the purpose of feminism is to unfetter every inclination of a woman’s heart and allow her to live in rebellion toward God and man.

      If, however, you are staying home because you believe it is your duty to serve your family in this way, it is not feministic if you also find joy in doing this duty. That, I would argue, is an anti-feminist motivation, since you are placing the well-being of your family above your own personal preferences, whatever those may be. You are living in submission rather than rebellion by placing your husband and children’s needs before your own wants.

      Others may disagree with me, but I don’t think whether a woman works or stays home is as paramount as whether she is subsuming her ego and desires to the service of God and family. Sometimes working is what the family needs her to do, even though she might rather stay home. I think Mary Ellen from The Working Home Keeper might be an example of this. Other times a woman might like working but stay home instead because that is what her family needs her to do. And sometimes her preferences will also line up with her duty, which is the sweet spot we all want to be in, I’d guess.

      If I am not mistaken, Sarah’s Daughter somewhat disagrees with me on the subject of women working. Perhaps she will give her opinion at some point if she has time.


      • I didn’t respond right away as I’ve been busy getting everything ready for Christmas this week.

        First off, I’m going to substitute the word ‘selfish’ for ‘feminist’, as I gather that is how you define feminism yes?

        So, it would selfish if I had given up going out to work because I wanted to stay home with my son, but not selfish if I had given up the day job and stayed home out of duty? But if I did it out of duty and just happened to be happy with it as well, that wouldn’t be selfish?

        But isn’t life and family all about balancing everyone’s needs? I mean, if there was something I liked doing that would be detrimental to my son’s well being, then I simply wouldn’t want to do that thing anymore, therefore it wouldn’t be a sacrifice to give it up (that’s purely hypothetical btw). On the other hand if I was really miserable about something in our circumstances, with the best will in the world it would filter through so I should take steps to resolve it.

        Btw I haven’t actually given up working, I just gave up the day job and started working from home. It’s meant a drop in income, though in the long term I think we’ll be better off. But as to whether it was a selfish or unselfish act it’s perhaps a bit of both. Yes I think it’s better that I be the one to do the lion’s share of child raising, but quitting my day job was something I wanted to do anyway, I’d been there too long and after I got back from maternity leave my manager was less than supportive and basically did her best to push me out.

        I guess my original question, which was being a little facetious as I don’t think anyone seriously uses the term ‘bad feminist’, was based on my questioning the idea that women putting work before family was something all feminists believed in, and the idea that a mother deciding to go to back to work once her children are less dependent on her, for whatever reason, is something that needs to be justified.

        Btw, I’d consider buying land too if it wasn’t so monumentally expensive in my part of the world.


  4. Our views on women working are likely in sync.
    In submitting to her husband, it will be his call on whether or not she works – regardless of the logic of it. Once again, this is a very important aspect of being equally yoked with her potential husband. For example, does he understand math?
    Amount of money a woman can potentially add to the family budget minus the following:
    Child care costs
    Increased tax burden
    Potential increased food budget (eating out)
    Increased transportation costs
    Increased clothing costs
    Other things to consider don’t have a monetary value per se but should be considered:
    Increased stress on every member of the family
    Shortage of time to accomplish all household needs (we all only have 24 hours in a day)
    With certain jobs, the reality that his wife must submit to someone other than him

    Other things I think are important for vetting a potential husband are his thoughts concerning the societal impact of married women working jobs that other men/heads of household/providers could/should work.
    Some examples: The burden an employer has to allow for maternity leave. The burden tax payers have if they fund any amount of her education just to have her not contribute enough to compensate for the burden (takes maternity leave, never goes back). One of my daughter’s teachers was on maternity leave for a year, not only did the tax payers have to continue paying for her, they also had to pay for a substitute teacher to replace her. This makes no sense for the community as a whole and is something responsible citizens should consider. The same goes for women in the Military, or any tax payer funded profession.

    The reasoning behind you working I’m in complete agreement with, as you are in submission to your husband. I’m confident that if you find yourself overly stressed from trying to balance it, Phillip will consider the cost and determine if it is worth it.

    Should my husband determine that it would be beneficial to our goals for me to provide extra income from a job, I will do so as well. As it is right now, I maximize every dollar he brings in and work in the home and on the property. He has decided this is most beneficial for now. Between gardening, doing our own landscaping, repairs, remodeling, hauling and cutting wood, and likely becoming a landlord (our home came with an additional apartment), etc. the work I get done here is more valuable than the few hundred dollars a week I would bring in from a job. We have a similar plan as you in purchasing more property. We will also start our orchard in the spring, expand our garden three fold, and start raising chickens.

    My views have likely changed and evolved, one of the many benefits I gained from blogs like yours and the others I read. The concept that some of the men mentioned of a “work mule” really made me consider where my heart was on the matter. I am married to someone who finds it important personally to take on the financial needs of the household. So my perspective never really mattered. I was allowed to have a bit of a pretentious view on it all without correction because the issue was moot in our home. That has changed and I’m grateful for it. And once again it all comes back to obedience to God’s call for a woman. It is out of obedience to Him that she submit to her husband’s authority on the matter.


  5. Oy, this working woman thing…I feel like I’ve been run over by a bus today. Ten hour days are yucky, ladies, just yucky. I could never do this if I had really small children.

    Yeah, I have a million thoughts for things I want to write about here, but I’m just going to bed. 🙂


  6. Let it be known, the only way for a woman to help her husband is to have first gone to college. Hang on, I’m still looking for the supporting Bible verse.

    (Linda is apparently unaware of the millions of people earning several times more than Sunshine does without having obtained a college degree, or doing so with a degree they’ve earned online.)


    • Really? There are “millions of people” earning “several times more” than Sunshine without a degree? Really, millions? Interesting.

      The people I know without a degree do not have flexible, well-paying jobs like a speech pathologist.

      In general, speech pathologists had parents who trusted them enough to attend college and hold onto their values. Those who did not trust their adult children kept them at home to learn “valuable skills” online. Those kids did not generally become speech pathologists.

      And, of course, when you take online courses, there is no way you can ever hook up with someone. Impossible. That’s because their parents keep them in their sight all the time, like they were toddlers.


      • Yes, millions. It is interesting, isn’t it. You aren’t the least bit interested in knowing the details and are certainly intelligent enough to do the research, but it doesn’t fit your narrative.

        Here’s another shocker for you, Linda. Women can attend college after they are married. Even, in fact, after they have children.


  7. I see. Sorry.

    Sunshine’s daughters can help out their husbands financially by working at jobs that don’t require a college degree.

    Sunshine’s daughters cannot become speech therapists, since that requires a college degree and she’d like them to marry in their teens and begin having children.

    Only Sunshine can be a speech therapist, because she got to delay marriage and childbearing till she had a marketable degree.

    However, there are lots of jobs out there that are easy to get and don’t require college degrees. Sunshine’s daughters will get those instead.

    Sunshine’s daughters will be OK with all this and won’t call their mom a hypocrite. They will never ask why she had the chance to become a speech pathologist and they did not.


    • Oops, I forgot.

      Sunshine’s daughters will get those easy-to-find jobs with flexible hours that don’t require a marketable degree. These jobs will pay WAY more than a speech pathologist.


  8. Sunshine, I thought that women who went back to work to buy more stuff were bad.

    “Land” is stuff. It is not special, or more holy, in some way. It is still stuff. You may want a large property so your kids will have a homestead. That’s nice. Other moms want money to buy medicine, or a house in a safe neighborhood, or a big backyard for the kids to play in. It’s all equally “bad” or “good”–land purchases do not fall in a special category (last time I checked the Bible, anyway).


  9. Linda,
    I thought the reason that Sunshine was leery of college for her girls was that they would be exposed to hookup culture. My suggestion to her was to do as much online as possible. This would have the added benefit of minimizing debt.


    • That’s great. Speech pathology can certainly be learned online, am I right, Sunshine. It’s not like you are dealing with people who are hard of hearing. It’s not like you need to hear very subtle differences in speech. I imagine you never have to touch the throat or lips of a hearing impaired person to show them something. Yes, Sunshine, it’s good to be so afraid that your daughters will “hookup” that you deny them the same opportunties you had.


    • No one here has suggested placing family before God. In fact, it has been mentioned that it is out of obedience to God that we do what we do. Your “for what it’s worth” comment does not apply here and raises the question; “what is your point?”


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  11. This is the exact same reason that men work! For money to support their families and help their families reach their goals. The “purpose of paid work” for men isn’t personal satisfaction, either.

    Sounds like you decided to work and so went 180 full circle on your past values and beliefs. So you had to come up with a special reason that women can work and its OK.


    • Linda, I’m not going to approve anymore of your comments now after this. You either have me confused with someone else or you are just making stuff up, but I’ve run two fairly popular semi-pseudonymous blogs before this one, and I’ve always maintained the exact same position I put forth here. I’ve never not worked other than a year a took off after our youngest was born, but I’ve usually worked part-time because that’s what my family needed me to do. I think it’s great if a woman’s husband wants her home full-time and she does that, but my husband has always given me a lot of leeway to decide how much to work based on how much I’m needed around the home. I don’t know exactly what your problem is, but it’s clear you aren’t interested in some kind of genuine dialogue. If you were, you’d sound more like Chloe (from Bodycrimes) or Snorkmaiden, both of whom are feminists and who don’t agree with many of my positions but who are capable of having an actual conversation.

      Anyway, best wishes to you and yours for a peaceful New Year.


  12. Here’s another thing to remember. If a 20 year old goes to college online, they never have an opportunity to hook up.

    They never go to Starbucks and meet a cute assistant manager (“It really helps me to study at Starbucks, mom, I’m going to go more often”)

    They never go to the store to pick up a few groceries and meet a guy in the produce aisle.

    They never go the movies with some girlfriends and meet some guys and decide to ditch the movie.

    They never head to the library and meet men there (“the library’s internet is so much faster, I’m going back tomorrow”)

    They never take your younger ones to an activity and meet a cute divorced dad.

    No, going to college online is completely safe. Living at home and attending a brick and mortar college is also completely safe. That’s because there’s an ironclad rule: young people only want to have sex in college dorms. At night. They are never interested at any other time or place.


  13. @SST: ” … between work, commuting, housekeeping, and shuttling our children around to the myriad activities they are involved in, I’ve barely even been home, let alone had time to write.”

    Maybe time to upgrade your skillset – if you don’t already know how to do this?

    Capture your thoughts while waiting at a stop-light or waiting for the children to be done with their practice, etc. Polish off with your word process, and post. Instant journalistic wonderfulness.


  14. Pingback: Christian women should be helpers, not careerists. | The Sunshine Thiry Blog

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