On an idyllic Saturday morning, a husband was heard saying to his wife:
“Honey, this morning I will scrub the toilet for you!” in a tone that intimated a flying kiss to the wife.
This might be expected to trigger a delightful response from the home-making wife.
That was however not the case. Some of you might have already picked up the ignition point:
“What do you mean by for me?” … instead was the response.
I suspect such exchanges are not uncommon and, the dynamics that underlie this genre of domestic sitcom drama are apparent to all of us.
But let’s dissect this a little.
In a Freudian slip of communication, the husband’s attempt at closeness unexpectedly revealed his own conception of things at home. He had assumed that there was a clear division (of labour) and that the task of toilet scrubbing fell nicely onto the wife’s lot.
Volunteering his service was therefore out of his graciousness towards the wife. In his mind, it should not have been his portion to scrub but he nevertheless offered his precious golf-time or soccer-time to sweat it out in the cubicle.
The wife, on the other hand, was likely unhappy that she had to take up the default role of home making: literally “sucking up” everything that belongs to the “HOME”. She had long been wanting to have this role clarified (and perhaps equalized?), especially when no one seemed to be chipping in or even concerned about the homeliness of the home.
This “for you” provided a natural dynamo for the storm in the living room.
This “Let me help you do yours” mentality is not infrequently encountered in the Church as well. To have the willingness to help is commendable in most eyes. However, it turns out that it could be a subtle denial of what in the first place is very much the person’s lot.
Let’s reason a little further. Who does the Church belong to? Whose “job” it is to carry out the mandate and commission/s given to the Church? The pastor’s? The offices bearers’? The full time workers’?
Of course there are specific tasks assigned to certain persons. There are also roles that are defined and open only to certain legally qualified persons. Yet in many instances it is not a matter pertaining to all these, but a mentality of “it is not mine but yours”or “it’s got nothing to do with me” that lies at the heart of tardiness in service. And even when one does step up to help, the assistance remains piecemeal.
What is missing is the sense of OWNERSHIP, something that seems illusive in a world preoccupied with self, selfies, and cell phones. When and how would the body of Christ take ownership and pride of the ministry (of any sort) in the Church?
By the way, it is not the intention here to pass judgment on the rightness or wrongness on the part of the husband, or the wife, in the absence of more data in the above-mentioned scenario. In the era past, for example, many people, including women, might have accepted that it was the housewife’s duty to keep the home (which is complete with the toilet/s) clean and tidy for her husband and children. And in some instances today, the husband can really be very tied up with work, church commitments and not having any rest time for himself, let alone golf or soccer time. Be that as it may, that line drawn with words is likely to irk the lonely housewives who yearn for some help, if not some emotional support.
We are however ALL home-makers for Christ. It is our responsibility to upkeep and serve in the House of God and welcome any that He brings to our midst.
Let us be house proud for our Saviour’s sake!
This article was contributed by Daniel Kwek and an earlier version was first published in a weekly bulletin on the 26th of August 2018.
Daniel Kwek currently serves as an elder in First Evangelical Reformed Church (Singapore). He describes himself as a mental health worker and an unworthy recipient of God’s mercy. Daniel also enjoys musing and mulling over issues!