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Independentism: The Negative Effects of Self-sufficiency on Women in the Church

If your job is a struggle and you can’t keep up with the workload, the advice from other Christians is usually: “Surrender it to the Lord. He gave you this job, and He’ll make a way.”

If your children are disobedient and you’re struggling to know how to respond, the advice from other Christians is usually, “Surrender the children to the Lord and model loving character before them. He gave you these children, and He will make a way.

If you’re struggling to decide on homeschool curriculum and nothing you try seems to be working, the advice from other Christians is usually, “Trust God. Surrender this to Him. He has called you to homeschool and He will make a way.”

If you’re struggling with keeping your home clean and can’t keep up with the dishes, laundry, cleaning, babies, diapering, budgets, and spending time with your husband, the advice from other Christians is,

“Try harder!”

“Why aren’t you on a schedule?”

“You’re being lazy.”

“How much time do you spend on Facebook?”

“Well, _______(fill in super Christian mom’s name here) manages to do it, and she has more kids than you do!”

“Have you tried once a month meal planning?”

“Have you tried essential oils?”

“Are you eating enough coconut oil?”

“You need to get up earlier.”

“Why haven’t you trained your children better?”

“If you were more consistent with your Bible time you wouldn’t struggle with the house like this.”

Why don’t we say: “Have you surrendered this to the Lord? Have you gone to Him and asked Him what His priorities are? He gave you this home and these responsibilities. He will make a way. Trust Him”?

That is what we should say.

Or how about, “Let me be Jesus to you and help you in this area”?

Our culture has made a woman’s ability to maintain her home by herself to perfection into a point of pride. Even our Christian culture has adopted this unbiblical idea. Not only is this sin of pride ignored, it is encouraged in our churches and ladies meetings.

What does scripture teach?

Older women were to teach the younger to be keepers at home (Titus 2:3-5).

In my understanding, it’s not enough to teach them that they should be keepers at home.

Older women need  to teach the younger how to be keepers at home.

The best teaching is by example. Even Jesus spent three years living with and as a daily example to His disciples.

In the culture of the day when these scriptures were written, families lived in houses grouped together often around a central courtyard area, sometimes with a well shared by those in the encircling houses. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles often all lived in the same home or the same area together. If not family, then the neighbors were close by.

Women would work together on tasks like cleaning, laundry, cooking.

When a young married women began having children, her families and friends were there to help her. She had extra hands within earshot when she needed an extra hand.

She was living and learning alongside generations of women. She was neither alone nor expected to figure it all out on her own.

Many cultures are this way, not only the Hebrew culture of Bible times.

Now, we can’t say that because the Hebrew culture did something a certain way, that it’s a command for us all. An example, or even a pattern, doesn’t make a command.

What we can do is compare how our culture behaves to what scripture does say and see if that lines up.

This idea that we should be able to do everything without any help has it’s roots in American independentism.

Independentism, as I’m using the word, is the idea that we shouldn’t be dependant on or beholding to anyone but should be completely self-reliant.

The pioneer spirit that settled our land relied heavily upon this idea of independentism for its very survival. Pioneers had to be completely self-reliant to survive, but long after that idea was useful, it has prevailed.

The idea that we don’t need anyone is neither helpful nor Biblical.

How can we bear one another’s burdens and minister to each other if we never admit we need anything?

Why would anyone ask for help if they knew they would be judged for less than perfect performance in the home?

Additionally, this becomes a pride issue as one mom compares her ability to accomplish her tasks alone to another mom’s ability.

We judge when we should be lifting up.

We condemn when we should encourage.

It’s so bad that even those who are chronically or terminally ill won’t divulge the condition of their homes!

Rather than support, encourage, and lift up, Christians are turning in other Christians to legal authorities for the condition of their homes.

They should be ministering to these people, and bearing each other’s burdens by showing Jesus’ love through their actions.

Rather than coming to church trying to look perfect, we should come knowing that nobody’s perfect. We should come ready to minister and ready to be ministered to.

This is how the church was supposed to work, but we have fallen quite far from the Biblical model of the church and Christianity, especially in this area.

Independentism is a flaw idea that is crippling our fellow Christian wives and mothers with guilt, judgement, and a sense of never measuring up.

It should be eradicated from our churches like the disease it is: the disease of pride.


Sarah Forbes

Originally written Fall of 2015 for Grace Under Pressure Bible Study Group.


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