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Keepers at Home

“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Titus 2:4, 5.

“But what should I do?” Hannah sighed.

“Why not consider studying medicine?”

It was not just an academic challenge, but a constructive suggestion by Hannah’s student counsellor. She was a good scholar, particularly in the areas of mathematics and science. In year nine, her future course of study was something she often wondered about. The thought of being a doctor appealed to her. She could help people. She would have unique opportunities to speak to people about her Lord Jesus. She may be able to do missionary work in a foreign country. It seemed the ideal option.

Hannah had grown up in a Christian home. Her parents were dairy farmers, and she enjoyed riding her horse doing stock work. She learned to do the housework, but her sister was more of a help to her mother. With only two girls in the family, they naturally drifted towards the different roles of house and farm work. Her father encouraged her to be involved in the care of the animals. She fed them; helped with milking; vaccinated calves; taught them to drink milk from a bucket, when they were weaned young; and even assisted when cows were having trouble calving. She also did rural science at the local school. All these activities had made her extremely interested in animals and their husbandry. It was a natural step to an interest in caring for people. If individual circumstances are any guide to career choice, medicine, if not veterinary science, was a natural one for Hannah.

People enjoyed seeing Hannah, tall and dark, with her cheerful smile, riding her pony around. She had done so well at the local school that most assumed that she would go on to university. Now that she had set her sights on becoming a doctor, at her teacher’s suggestion, few had any doubts about her attaining her goal. She never really considered not studying further.

Hannah’s mother was a little doubtful about medicine as a career. “Aren’t there a lot of moral problems for a Christian doctor, dear?” Hannah thought that meant that more Christians should study medicine. “Surely, Mother, if more Christians become doctors, then the situation will improve. Patients will feel that they will be properly informed about ethical problems. A Christian doctor would help them make better choices where moral issues are involved.” So, she kept studying.

The years passed, and Hannah was accepted into medical school. She continued to be successful, and finally qualified as a doctor. As a Christian, there were problems for her to deal with. She prayed about them, and talked to others. She was not always happy that other Christians were seeking to glorify God in their actions. She also sometimes felt compromised in her work, where she was not the one to make decisions alone. There was the situation where her seniors decided not to give antibiotics to an elderly patient who had suffered a stroke, and now had pneumonia, without even consulting his family; or when they didn’t want a patient told details of his illness, as if he had no right to know. She knew of things being done in other departments that sickened her. Ladies who had babies were sent home with “contraceptives,” that prevented pregnancies in some instances, by causing any babies conceived to abort. They were not told this. The tablets were simply called “breast feeding pills.”

In the emergency department, doctors were required to give out the “morning after pill,” which is also abortive. Hannah had to work in this area for a time. The nursing and medical staff were very antagonistic when she would not see a patient who had come in for the morning after pill. She felt threatened when she was told that someone else had lost their job for taking this stand. A Christian she had respected for some time, fell in her estimation, when she told Hannah that she took the opportunity to “counsel” a girl before giving her the medication. This doctor would tell the patient about other options, like adopting out the baby if she had one. This never seemed to change the outcome. The doctor always dispensed the drug. Hannah finished her work there without any feedback from administrative staff on her stand, and was glad to leave.

On the whole, Hannah did not enjoy working as she had thought she would. She was so busy that she had few opportunities to say anything of a spiritual nature to patients. She felt that any impact she had in that area was probably on staff, with whom she had disagreed.

Then everything in Hannah’s life changed. A Christian friend she had grown up knowing, named Phillip, moved to her town, and started coming to her church.

He was tall and fair. He worked as a civil engineer. Phillip and Hannah saw quite a bit of each other through church, enjoying their time together immensely. They each admired the others Christian walk, and as time passed, they grew to love each other. Then one day, Phillip asked Hannah to marry him. It happened in the most perfect setting for Hannah. They were on her parents’ farm, by a river. It was a spot that was very special to her, being filled with childhood memories. When she said “Yes,” she felt perfectly happy.

Hannah had always enjoyed challenges, but now she was surprisingly confronted with a very trying one. As a Christian couple, she and Phillip searched the Scriptures for guidance in their marriage. It was clear to them that Phillip should be the spiritual head and physical provider. When they were married and expecting their first baby, Hannah automatically gave up her work, and gladly took on the role of full-time homemaker. It was then that she and Phillip received much criticism and opposition.

They were hurt and surprised that Christian family and friends were against Hannah leaving paid employment. Had she not always wanted to be a doctor? She had studied for many years to achieve her goal, and her career had only just begun! Couldn’t she earn more than Phillip? Wouldn’t they be better provided for if she worked too? Then they could give more to the support of their pastor in their small church. Phillip could surely look after their children just as well as she, especially if she only worked part-time. That way she could keep her hand in, too, for going back to work full-time when the children were at school! It dazzled them that so many people felt compelled to influence them in this way. It was hard work, initially, to continue on when they were evidently holding a minority opinion.

Nevertheless, Phillip and Hannah were comforted by the Bible passages they read about husbands providing for their families and wives being “keepers at home.” Hannah found a contentment she had never expected in doing the daily tasks of housekeeping. She realized how many ladies she knew, who worked, put themselves under more pressure than necessary, sacrificing their families in the process. By exercising moderation, they managed very well on one income. Phillip teased Hannah that, “A little house means less dusting.” She argued that his reasoning was actually that “A little yard meant less lawn to mow!” They were really very pleased that they could afford so much together.

Daily, Phillip and Hannah came to appreciate how the Lord blesses His people when they are walking in obedience to His commands. They thanked Him for His wisdom in providing a wife and mother in their house, to make it a home. ❖