“Keeping House” has become a sexist slur. It hasn’t always been that way. In fact, the roots of “to keep” mean to guard, to watch over, to protect. So when Titus 2 urges women to be busy at home (or as the ESV says,”working at home” and the NKJV renders it as “homemaking”), the primary meaning is to watch over and guard the home. To make or keep a home. It is not all about dusting and cooking, but of course, that becomes part of it. It is about protecting a safe place for our closest relationships to flourish.
Unselfishness is a tool for building, protecting this safe place. Proverbs says a wise woman builds her home while a foolish one tears it down with her own hands. Competition and negotiation have become such a part of our relating, cooperation and unselfishness need to be revisited. Watch yourself and your family. Do you see a pattern here? A habitual way of relating?
When we’re after winning or having it our way, self-protection becomes a habit. We negotiate in our best interest; we criticize when it’s not done our way. We demand. We manipulate. Demands, criticism, and giving orders stem from being more interested in yourself than the other person. Listen to your family this week. Hear thr tone of voice, body language, word choice. You can’t keep house if your eyes are closed to what is going on. Some of the most self-absorbed people I’ve met are Christian men.
Unselfishness is putting aside self-absorption. If you discover that winning, getting your way, controling are your chief ways of relating to your husband, you are selfish. Or he has been and now you are getting even. Or both of you are self-absorbed.
The problem is that self-absorption as a habitual way of relating to those we love (or used to love) is destructive. Gordon Livingston, M.D. and psychiatrist, believes, if left unchecked, it can lead to diseaster for the relationship. If you are absorbed with yourself, get over it. It will take some hard work. Habits can be broken, but it takes repetition, support, prayer, forgiveness. Start by thinking of the other person, listening, respecting, regarding. This is where theology steps in. Christians have hope in the promise of the Holy Spirit’s enabling power. Unselfishness will help you keep house.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” (as much as or in the same way as you naturally love yourself).