My freshman year in highschool, I mentioned my dream to become a marine botanist to my best friend, our pastor’s daughter, and she laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous,” she said. “You can’t be a scientist. You have to be a keeper at home.”
Keeper at home.
It’s a phrase from the King James translation of Titus 2, and we interpreted it to mean that it was against God’s laws for women to be employed. Our church, however, took it one step further: if all a woman was allowed to be was a “keeper at home,” then it was utterly pointless for her to try to be anything else. Pursuing an education, or longing for a career, could do nothing but harm her with shattered dreams. For that reason, young women in our church were asked to be “stay-at-home daughters.”
I gave up my dreams. I sacrificed them on the altar of biblical womanhood, fervently believing that the only way I could be blessed by God was to follow the clear guidelines laid out in Scripture. I was committed to remaining at home until I was married, when my father would transfer his ownership of me to my husband, giving me away at the altar with his blessing after a brief, paternally-guided courtship.
Occasionally, a snatch of a dream would intrude. No, Samantha. My inner voice would be harsh, echoing my Sunday school teachers and pastor’s wife. Do not be tempted. That’s just the Devil trying to trick you away from God’s plan.
A few weeks ago, Rachel Held Evans asked if I’d be interested in writing about my experiences with the Stay-at-Home Daughter movement and how I eventually decided to go to college against everything I’d ever been taught. I agreed, and put together a post for her blog. You can read the rest here.