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    Reading Mary Pride for the First Time*

    December 20, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    She sighed. “See, you read different books than I did at your age,” she said with a smile. And then she pressed two unfamiliar books into my hands and urged me to read them. I took them. Of course I would read them. I am a reader, after all.

    The books she lent me are Mary Pride’s The Way Home and All the Way Home. I had heard of Mary Pride, and was vaguely aware that she began it all in a way–the exodus of Christian women from feminism and its various entrapments, including, but not limited to, the post-Industrial workplace and the government-funded institutional schoolroom.

    It is interesting to read Pride’s words, informed as she was by her own personal {pre-conversion} experience in the feminist movement. Her introduction contained an indictment against the fifties, something I didn’t expect, although I personally have been uncomfortable with the whole wife-as-decoration mentality with which our culture seems to remember that decade. Here is an excerpt:

    Well, who would have believed in 1955 that in twenty short years over one-third of all mothers with children under the age of three would be leaving their infants in day-care? But it happened! The reason it happened, in a land where apple pie and motherhood used to be sacred, is that Christians, along with everyone else, had already accepted the basic outlook on which feminism is based. Feminism is self-consistent; the Christianity of the fifties wasn’t. Feminists had a plan for women; Christians didn’t.

    Although the Bible teaches distinctly what a wife’s role shoud be this teaching had been getting more and more muted in the churches until it was almost muffled entirely. Women did not know their calling or why it was important. They became restless.

    Motherhood in the fifties, for example, had been reduced to a five- or ten-year span, lasting only until the youngest of the two or three “planned” children was in kindergarten. With an empty house full of labor-saving appliances and a family which no longer seemed to need her, it was understandable that a woman felt trapped at home. She was not expected to produce anything at home; her very inactivity was a status symbol for her husband, proving he could afford to maintain her in idleness. All the action seemed to be out there in the men’s world, while she felt bored and useless.

    I have alluded to my disdain for the way culture views the SAHM {stay-at-home-mom}, that women, should they remain home with their children, then exist only to chauffeur said children to and from various activities that are perceived as generally more important than the life of the home. People who believe this about motherhood are the people who ask mothers what they could possibly be doing all day. Unfortunately, the popularly accepted alternative remains the same as it was in the days Mary Pride first wrote her book: ditch the kid with a caregiving “specialist” and work “professionally.” I’ve finished the first book, and might share a few more reflections. For now, let me assure any of you who have not read Pride’s work that she has affirmed that happy, biblical alternative to the housewife and the career woman, balancing being at home with a great work ethic, creativity, and intelligence.

    *NOTE: Quoting or endorsing this book {or any other book for that matter} does not mean that I believe it to be inspired by God or infallible. There were a few places where I disagreed with Pride. However, I appreciated her respect for and her desire to be obedient to the Word of God.

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    10 Comments

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts November 23, 2012 at 2:48 am

    Welcome to Afterthoughts, Liz. 🙂

  • Reply Liz November 23, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Hi ladies, I found this post and it was very timely as I’ve just resigned from my FT desk job to be a ‘stay at home’ Mother.

    I struggled a lot with the decision as financially it’s a huge step of faith but God is faithful.

    I like what Peggy said about doing what is right, regardless of the outcome.

    Salvation is totally of the Lord. Everyone who comes to faith does so because the Father has drawn Him. Homeschooling won’t guarantee saints.

    I come from a non Christian broken home and God graciously opened my eyes to His Son.

    Such a great blog Brandy, keep up the awesome writing.

    Liz from Australia

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Thank you for your comments, Peggy. I agree with you that regardless of what the outcome is, we must obey God’s calling on our lives. I also think there is no reason to think that living according to God’s design would not be rewarding–even when it is sometimes hard.

  • Reply peggy January 10, 2012 at 4:27 am

    Well.. I wouldn’t suppose Kathleen will be following responses nine months later… But I would love to chime in and say that judging other families’ success rates was often a stumbling block for me, too. But really, I think those homeschool families only looked bad to me because I was expecting perfection! Later, of course, I realized that there are no guarantees. There is just no specific list of things that will ensure our children’s places in heaven.

    All that I can do is do what I should right here and now. If someone told me today that my parenting, my example, my efforts, and my homeschooling were going to do nothing and my children were going to grow up to rebel – I would still have to do what I believe is right – right here and now. When I look at the agenda of the government school, when I think of the negative peer pressure, when I realize that I have no idea and no control over who my children’s teachers and role models would be – I would just have to homeschool them today. Although I do expect and hope and pray that my efforts will pay off – that’s really not my motivation day-in and day-out. I’ve just got to do what I know I should because I should, and God will have to take care of the results.

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts September 27, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Anonymous, It may also be that Kathleen has seen the results of seeking our salvation from systems rather than the gospel. I disagreed with some of what she wrote, but I consider her thoughts to be fair warning.

  • Reply Anonymous September 27, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    For Kathleen…I believe you have this distaste towards MP because you are not living according to what the Lord is convicting you of…uh…remember the word of God: Whom the Lord loves, He chastens…and uh how about the one…Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the ROD will remove it far from him…Children are a GIFT from the Lord and are the responsibility of the parents for training AND nurturing, not the states responsibility and a wife and mother’s place is IN the home, protecting it for the husband while he is away. Each will be held accountable…

    • Reply Anonymous March 5, 2013 at 7:23 pm

      Yes, but remember that several times in the bible the TONGUE is referred to as a ROD. It is not necessary to physically punish children to teach them.

      I read “The Way Home” when it was first published and came away with the thought that MP had just swapped her extremist attitudes – feminism for her own brand of Christianity.. When I read her views on sexual intimacy in marriage, that did it for me. The bible even speaks of husbands and wives pleasuring each other. I think her belief that sex is only for procreation is whacked out. I have a feeling her books have harmed a lot of families.

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts April 24, 2011 at 1:32 am

    Kathleen, I can’t say I really remember Mary Pride’s take on childrearing at all. What really struck me about her books was the idea that a woman could run a productive, busy, vibrant household and include her children in that work. It certainly reinforced a new vision I was gaining at the time.

    Homeschooling definitely isn’t a magic bullet. Nothing is. My faith is in the Lord who tells me in His Word that the gospel is for me and for my household. I have faith that the gospel is for my family and God is faithful to bring that about. I homeschool because I believe in Christian paideia {which I do not believe is limited to homeschooling, by the way, though Mary Pride probably did–to be honest I don’t remember exactly}. Those things are connected because I believe they are both a form of walking in faith in the way God has asked me to–of acting upon the gospel, so to speak–, but they are not the same thing. Paideia is an attempt to live in obedience to God, to work out our salvation. Salvation, though, is a free gift that God has promised, and I am merely grateful for it.

  • Reply Kathleen M. April 23, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Wow! I’m so late on commenting but just saw this for the first time. I read all of Mary Pride’s books and home schooled all 3 of our children. I have a good, godly husband and we have a solid marriage. However, I would never recommend MP to anyone. By God’s grace alone all of our children are walking with the Lord, but I’ve seen many, very godly, excellent Mary Pride fans with huge families, home schoolers all, whose children have walked away from the Lord. Many children! I struggled with a LOT of guilt and uncertainty over the years about limiting my family and ultimately sending them to a private school. I now work for and have a ministry in the public schools. There have been many times I wished I had never read Mary’s books. I will tell you that I would never spank one of my children ever again. I did not spank my youngest and he is a caring, deep, soulful, young man who loves the Lord deeply, is self-disciplined, and motivated.

  • Reply Titus 2 October 28, 2009 at 3:55 am

    have you finished “All the Way Home”? I read these books 13 years ago, the Lord used them to change my thoughts and pursue the higher calling of helpmate and mother.
    I’m 52 with a 4 year old, 5 children, 5 grands.
    My life is content, peaceful and joyful. It is not void of difficulties, however, the Lord is at home with me and my family.

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