This question would seem to evoke laughter in the majority of American and Western households today. Why ask such a silly question when we all know the obvious answer is YES!
This is a serious question though, for those in America and across the world who hold the Bible to be the perfect Word of God. There are still millions across the globe who treasure every word of the Bible, and do not believe it teachings are “outdated” or “antiquated”.
But even among those who believe the Bible is the Word of God there is still some debate on this question. The reality is that women have worked outside the home since the beginning of mankind. In ancient times women helped tend the fields, or care for the livestock.
I believe the real question is not really one of a woman working, but of a woman being a “full time career woman” and thus a “part time mom”. I think Barbara Rainey really summarized this issue well in the book “Starting your marriage right” that she coauthored with her husband Dennis:
“I am not opposed to women working outside the home. But I want to discuss the issue of mothers-especially those with young children-devoting time and energy to another full-time occupation.
A majority of mothers now work outside the home either part-time or full-time. Reasons include survival needs, lifestyle needs, and personal fulfillment needs. Some women work because they fear a possible divorce would leave them unable to provide for themselves. Let’s look at what is really taking place in our culture.
Working mothers are not a new phenomenon. What is new is the shift in career focus: from full-time mother with a job on the side to a full-time career while attempting to mother in whatever time is left over.
I don’t believe Scripture supports this notion. A familiar passage in the New Testament summarizes what young wives and mothers are to do: “To love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.”(Titus 2:4-5).
Notice the priority of commitments given women in this passage: husband first and children second. Based upon this instruction, I think every women needs to ask herself, “Is a job the best use of my time? Will I have more influence for the future through my employment or through my children?””
Starting your marriage Right, pg 126
All I have to say to this sister in Christ is – AMEN, AMEN and AMEN.
No two Christians are going to agree on everything, and I am sure that Dennis and his wife Barbara would not agree with everything I write on my blog, nor would I agree with everything they write in their books or say on their radio shows. But having said that, I consider them to be kindred spirits in the Lord who are fighting the good fight for the family and the Biblical view of marriage.
I think it is wonderful that not only did Mrs. Rainey give her opinion as elder woman in the Lord, but she backed it up with Scripture. She is even doing what the passage says to do – in this same passage she quotes, guess who are the ones to teach women these things?
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”
It’s the older women who should be teaching the younger women these wonderful Biblical truths. But unfortunately, not just in the non-Christian community, but also in the Christian community, feminism is running so rampant in Churches today these truths are all but silenced, instead of being proudly taught from the Scriptures as they once were.
But what about….
So as Mrs. Rainey stated, this is not really about women working outside the home, but about priorities. It is one thing for a mom to work outside the home part time because she has to. Perhaps her husband already works sixty hours a week and he can’t really do more and the bills demand she works, then she must.
But I believe Christian families really have to look at their financial priorities. If a woman is working just to help put food on the table and a roof over her family’s head the Bible does condemn her actions. The Bible never condemns a woman working outside the home for just this reason, God knew sometimes it demanded by the circumstances of the sin-cursed world we live in that woman sometimes have are called on to provide in addition to, or in the absence of a husband.
But the Bible does not release a woman from her duties to the home either. Her husband, her children and her home are always her first priority. That is why I believe it is unfair for a man to have his wife work unless it is absolutely necessary.
Yesterday I heard a Christian’s woman’s heartbreaking story of why she has to work fulltime. Two years after she married her husband some ten years ago he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, he has suffered memory loss and other cognitive abilities ever since and this stops him from being able to work. Her mother helps watch her kids and when she has to travel often her mother will come with the kids and watch them for her while she is working. This woman is a perfect example of why a woman might have to take on the role of providing for her family that normally the husband should be doing.
But the reality is, if we are truthful this is not the case in most instances of women working today. Many women today consciously plan a career and full time work long before they are married. Then when they get married and eventually have children, a few months after the baby is born mom drops her baby off at day care and back to her career she goes. She does this for the next child as well and the probably stops having children(statistics show most full time career women don’t have more than two children).
I know of a man whose wife runs an in-home day care center and he explained how sad this is. He said many of these career moms drop their infants and small children off with his wife at 6 AM each day and most don’t return till at least 6 PM or sometimes 7 PM each night during the week. That means someone else is caring for their infants or small children for twelve to thirteen hours a day!
These are exactly the kind of moms Barbara Rainey is taking about – “Full time career women” and “part time moms”. Yet our society praises this! Women are told this is a fulfilling life!
Just like abortion, I believe many career women block out what they are doing to their infants and small children. They tell themselves “it is for the best, I am setting a good example for my kids, especially my daughters on how successful a woman can be. I am providing a better life for them than if we just had their father’s income. In fact if we had only his income, we would not be able to afford the new cars and the big house and nice family trips, those things are more important than me looking after them right now, I have left them in good hands.” This is what millions of woman across America tell themselves everyday as they go to achieve “great things” in their careers. But does God see this as a “great”? Or is he saddened by this instead? Is this what he meant them for, to leave their mothering and nurturing duties to someone else?
A mother is not just someone who reads a bed time story to her kid each night. Especially in the first few years of life a mother is everything to a young child. So every time that child falls, or is scared, or needs comfort for those 12 hours a day she spends “fulfilling her dreams” – who is the one who comforts them? I can tell you this, it is not the person that God designed for this privilege. A mom is the one is makes the young child their favorite lunch, who reads them stories during the day, who holds them when they are sick or scared. She bathes them, she teaches them about God and the world. A mom is there when her child takes their first step, who hears their first word, in fact moms usually get to see most of their kids “firsts” and they get to deliver the happy messages to Dad.
Instead today many women sacrifice all these beautiful moments for a career, for paycheck. How sad. Instead mom gets to hear second hand from someone else, someone who got to experience the special moments that God meant for her.
So women can’t use their talents?
The next question I am often asked is, do I believe then that women just have to sit home knitting, cooking and cleaning for the entirety of their lives?
No way. Even the Bible shows a woman using her talents in Proverbs:
An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 13 She looks for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight. 14 She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar. 15 She rises also while it is still night And gives food to her household And portions to her maidens. 16 She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. 18 She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. 20 She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. 26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: 29 “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.
Some have mistakenly tried to point to Proverbs 31 as showing a full time career woman and this passage shows nothing of the kind. The woman in this passage is intelligent – “she opens her mouth in wisdom”. She is resourceful when she “She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard” and when she “makes linen garments and sells them”.
So I would agree with my Christian feminist and Egalitarian friends that this woman is not always at home, however the passage shows the focus of her life is in fact her home. Every one of these things she does is focused on her home. In fact the vast majority of things she does here would allow her to work from home. A few times she may go out to buy things, or plant a vineyard, but in now ways does this show a woman that is gone from her home 40 to 50 hours a week pursing some career and leaving her house undone or duties to her husband, children and home to others.
Just as back then women could run a business out of their home (such as selling fine clothes), so to today women can run businesses out of their home. They can have in-home daycare, do telemarketing and host of other things. They can write books, they can run blog sites.
My daughter who is in the fifth grade (at the time of writing this post) is a very talented writer. Her teachers tell me how she excels in English and creative writing and I am very proud of her accomplishments. I am teaching her though that she needs to channel her gifts and use them in a way that would honor God and his commands.
I encourage my daughter to go to college and expand her writing abilities, but I also tell her that a career outside the home and without a family is not what God teaches in his Word is right for her.
I Timothy 5:14
“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”
I teach my daughter than unless she is called to full time Christian ministry, and also called to be celibate in life(as few are called too) she needs to marry and have children. When we combine the teaching of Titus 2:3-5 with this passage from I Timothy 5, as well as the example of women throughout the Bible going back to the Garden of Eden we see God’s Word is clear on his priorities and design for woman.
Woman are to marry, love their husbands, bear children, love their children, be workers at home, manage the home and be respectful to their husband’s guidance. A husband is not commanded to be a keeper of the home, or to raise children at home, but instead he is to go out and provide for his family. He is called to be the head of his home, and to protect his home.
So no I do not believe every case of a woman working outside the home is wrong. Many are necessary and for good reason. Some women are able to work part-time and not neglect their husbands, their children or their home and in this case a woman working outside the home would be fine. Some women are forced to work, because their husband is either unable, or unwilling to work to provide, or they are a single parent. God understands all these situations.
But a woman who works outside the home, simply to get more material things and because being a house wife and mom are just “dull and boring to her”, should examine God’s Word. A woman who is unwilling to sacrifice her career to care for her children – needs to examine her priorities in light of the Scriptures. She should open her heart to God’s design for her life, only then can she find the true joy that only he can offer. But it will require a surrender to her creator’s will. I pray if you are that woman reading this, you will let God speak to your heart today.