Some time ago I read an article about the position of women in Iran. Now I must tell you beforehand that my ideas about life in Iran were based on newspaper horror stories and a book called "Not Without My Daughter" which some of you have probably read. The article in question dispells myths about patriarchal oppression of women in the modern day Iran (warning: language) and presents quite a different picture.
To sum it up, while there are laws in Iran which seem unduly harsh and repressive to a Westerner (like public hanging or prohibition of alcohol), they equally apply to both men and women, and men often have it harder. Women, on the other hand, get all sorts of welfare payments from the government which enable them to stay home if they choose to, even in the case of widowhood and divorce. I was especially impressed by the fact that there is an organisation which will pay salary to a single lower class woman who has no male provider (neither father or husband) and no governmental job, so that she can presumably stay home.
Iran looks like a country where they have socialism for women and capitalism for men. I won't reflect on whether such system is good or bad, or whether certain restrictions of freedom are worth being able to avoid joining the workforce. There is something else I'd like to point out: in Western countries churches run all sorts of charities and collect money mostly for the benefit of the Thirld World, but I have never heard of a charity which would support homemakers, like enabling widows to stay home, for instance.
I'm not saying they don't exist, it's simply that I never heard of one, meanwhile I'm sure there was a verse in the Bible about pure and undefiled religion being visiting widows and orphans in their affliction. Western churches want to do a lot of things for orphans, but usually in some other country, not their own.
To illustrate my point further, my husband once knew a Turkish guy who was self-employed and had a wife and a couple of children to support. He didn't always earn that much and his parents regularly helped him financially so that his wife could stay home. It was simply a normal thing to do. Now how many Western parents would do the same for their daughter-in-law? They'd rather complain that while she is enjoying herself at home, their precious son has to break his back at work.
You see, in our society the default position for a woman whether married or not, and whether she has children, is to have a job. People complain that the government is constantly trying to cut benefits for housewives, but what about the Church? Surely, Christians should know better? To get back to the money question, there are lots of things churches could do for homemakers, besides giving them direct financial help. They could, for instance, start a special free newspaper, supporting housewives, or may be, a ministry for new mothers who choose to stay home and are overwhelmed with responsibilities, because they were never taught homemaking skills.
In the meantime, while the churches are busy with other things, it becomes our responsibility. If you are wealthy, and if you donate to various organised charities, may be you could consider donating to a struggling one income family for a change? If your son's or daughter's family is struggling to pay rent so that the wife and mother has to work and you have a big house, may be you could invite them to stay with you for a while? If you have some free time and know a homemaker who is lonely, may be you could visit her? If a young mother is struggling with her housekeeping, could you give her advice and help?
What have you recently done to support a homemaker?