–Friday, January 1, 1892
Clear and fine. I have a great deal to be thankful for–all the mercies of the year that has just passed. May I be more faithful this year that has just commenced. May my children repent and turn unto thee. Thou knowest how I want my children to give their hearts to thee and in thy good time wilt thou answer my prayers. ~Josephine Jordan
Josephine Jordan was a godly and faithful farm wife. She kept a diary, mostly one or two lines for each day recorded, of her uneventful in worldly terms but very busy life. She cooked on a wood cookstove, washed clothes by hand, sewed for her family with material ordered from a catalog, cared for sick family members, visited neighbors, and even though she didn’t have electricity, she was grateful to God for His many blessings to her. Reading through one year of her life, it appears she was frequently sick and in pain with various maladies, but her April 3 and 4 entries give insight into her faith: “Have a great deal of pain today. Must not complain.” and “Bless the Lord, oh my soul. He is so good to me.” There are many more entries like those. She also worried about her children and appeared to struggle with depression. Getting a small glimpse of how hard her life was, I feel guilty for complaining about the minor inconveniences of my pampered life.
Mrs. Jordan was the great-great-grandmother of Herrick Kimball. He has been republishing her diaries for his children to read, and here is what he says about her:
It’s worth noting that Josephine was not a doctor, scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, or politician (women could not even vote in 1892). She did not travel the world. She was not directly involved in any great historical event. She wasn’t even a good writer. The fact is, she never distinguished herself in any notable way outside the little circle of her home and family.
Which is to say, Josephine was an ordinary farm wife. As such she devoted herself to helping her husband, caring for her home, her family, and, at times, others in her community when they were in
need. She dealt with great tasks of cooking, washing, ironing, feeding, churning, sewing, and so forth–day after day, month after month, year after year.
It is the commonness of her life, her hard work, her self-sacrifice, her hospitality, and her devotion to faith and family that distinguishes Josephine–especially when viewed from the perspective of our modern culture where so many woman have, by choice or circumstance, refocused their daily work away from home and family.
In spite—or because of—all her concerns and prayers for her children, Josephine left a godly legacy of faith as her daughter Blanche did profess her mother’s Christian faith, as did her daughter, as did her daughter, as does her son, Herrick, who is passing on that legacy in his simple way to his sons and sharing his faith with many others through his writings.
What if every married Christian woman today, with far greater resources and comforts than Josephine, but many of the same concerns and trials, as well, was to singlemindedly devote herself to the great task of being a true helpmeet to her husband and relentless caregiver to her children, for the building of God’s kingdom? Why do we take so lightly the impact this would make on the world? I am glad I live in the time God has placed me, but in Josephine’s day, families kept most of their hard-earned money, killing one’s own baby in utero was not considered a woman’s right, sodomy was not celebrated, and divorce was rare. Today, Christians are encouraging a mother of five children to save those “traditional values” by turning her back on one of the foundational tradtional values: that the mother at home is not a luxury, but a necessity, for the health of her family as well as the health of the nation.
This is far more than just a “traditional value,” however. It is rooted in biblical soil that runs thousands of years deep. It is written plainly in many didactic passages of Scripture, through which we must view the anomaly of Deborah, the evangelical feminist’s answer to why women should make their mark without distinction in the business world, the civil sphere, the church, and the home. Now, some of my friends have become what Bill Einwechter calls “semi-complementarian,” to make allowances for Sarah Palin to be a political savior of sorts. Perhaps we should call them “semi-evangelical feminists” because they are using the same reasoning as the evangelical feminists I have been crossing swords with (so to speak) for so long. My friends have given ground by asserting that only in the home and church do women have biblical restrictions from leadership. Having read a great deal on the evolution of feminism, I wonder how long before they concede the church and home, as well. For some, perhaps not long. Al Mohler and D.A. Carson will be sharing the platform at an Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Conference with Dr. Diane Langberg, where the three of them will also be sharing “God’s truths from Scripture.” But if we concede that one woman can defy biblical teaching to be a Deborah in the civil sphere, why not allow for others to be Deborahs, too, even in the pulpit. She was a prophet, you know, as well as a judge.
We need godly women to stop filling the pulpits and political offices, and get to work where we really need them. Homes and families are languishing for the lack of Christian wives and mothers taking their calling to those jobs seriously. Let’s get all hands on deck to fight the war where the battle is raging, where the casualties are piling up. Short-term solutions will not solve our deep-rooted cultural problems which stem from rebelling against God’s created order.