The first time I stumbled across a Christian homemaking blog (also known as a helpmeet blog or a Titus woman’s blog), I thought it was a kind of a joke. Being a feminist of sorts, I was initially horrified by the content featured – wives being submissive to their husbands is generally the main theme, but on occasion I would find things like using prayer to overcome depression (great if you are religious; not great if you refuse to go see a therapist or med provider when you need one) and different ways to exert complete control over your child’s upbringing (commonly homeschooling, but I’ve read blogs that even forbid sleepovers because of the impact it can have on the child). Since at the time I was (and still am) feeling a lot of confusion over my religious leanings, I dismissed the blogs as setting women’s rights back fifty years and not something I would pay much attention to. But if my draw toward orthodox religious practices were to give any indication, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me that I would revisit them over time and take a shining to them.
From a sociological standpoint, the idea of framing the extremely heteronormative and binary gendered “helpmeet” concept is a fascinating one. Let’s say I did buy into the orthodox biblical concept of men and women being separate but equal, and a woman’s job being to submit to and serve her husband as he submits to and serves Christ. Let’s also pretend that there weren’t inherent problems with the way the orthodox interpretation of the Bible views homosexuality. In a male/male or female/female partnership, how does one determine who is the head of the household and who is the helpmeet? Or, in a female/female partnership, are they both helpmeets to one another while also taking on the role of head of the household and making decisions together? The concept of a homosexual or egalitarian household head/helpmeet situation doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense on the surface, but it’s certainly an interesting concept to ponder.
There are certainly other aspects of Christian homemaking blogs that can be found appealing. The homemaking tips are always nice; the pretty, feminine colors and layouts are aesthetically pleasing; the money saving tips come in handy; the old fashioned family values are comforting if one can ignore the underlying homophobia. While I realize if I were to admit to one of these bloggers that one of their readers is a gay Christian they would likely not react well, they’re fun to read if one can ignore the troubling content that pops up now and again. Being a housewife and (G-d willing) someday a stay-at-home mom, the camaraderie and advice offered by these blogs makes me feel less alone in a society that prides dual income families and a college education. But I don’t primarily dive into these blogs in spite of the fact that I’m confused about my religious leanings – I do it because I’m confused. While I feel that Judaism or even potentially Islam would be a better fit for me, and I’m not 100% dedicated to the concept of Christ being my savior, I figure that if I envelop myself in Christian culture nobody can say I didn’t try. It’s sort of my perfectionist tendencies coming out – if I’m stuck being a Christian because I run into issues with a conversion to another, better fitting religion, then damnit, I’m going to be the best Christian I can be – helpmeets and all.