Why God cares who does the dishes

“God does not care who does the dishes, the laundry, the cooking, or the changing of diapers and husbands and wives should share equally in these tasks of the home “– this is what is commonly taught in Christian circles.  Another thing we hear today is that “gender roles” are simply a cultural phenomenon and that the gender roles in the Bible were “temporary” and “for those cultures and times only”.   But a closer examination of the Scriptures reveals a very different answer to the question of whether or not gender roles are “cultural” or “Biblical”.

“This has been an issue since we have been married. I believe he works hard while at his job, but his work at home is inconsistent… I don’t resent the hard work, I just struggle with resenting him being OK with me racing around while he just sits there. I feel angry, and I feel hurt. I want to feel like we’re on the same team, working together.”

The previous statement is part of a story I received as a comment from a Christian wife who calls herself ‘M’.

M’s feelings are extremely common among many women today.  Whether they work full time outside the home or are stay at home mom’s many women bear the majority of the load in carrying for the affairs of the home (cooking, cleaning, laundry) and the care of the children.

In her full story below you will read that M has determined that her husband is lazy from the very beginning. This is not in question for her.  You will also read that she feels the domestic affairs of the home (cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry) and caring for the children should be a “team” effort between a husband and wife.

So how should M deal with her husband’s laziness and his lack of a team effort in tackling the affairs of their home? Before we answer M’s dilemma let’s look at her full story in it’s entirety.

M’s Story

“Do you have any advice for a wife with a lazy husband? Obviously since I am not the spiritual head of my household my response should be different. My husband works full time (36 hrs/wk as a nurse). I worked full time also for years but now stay at home with our 1 yr old son. This has been an issue since we have been married. I believe he works hard while at his job, but his work at home is inconsistent. He has been taking classes on and off while working, and he has done some renovations over the years as well, and he does do most of our financial management.

There are times where he has worked hard. But there are also large stretches of time where there is nothing other than his 36 hr/wk job, as well as a period of time between nursing school graduation and his first nursing job, and he contributes very little to the home. This includes the time before I was a stay-at-home-mom. When I was working full time, I was also doing all of the laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning, including basic picking up after him (dishes and trash and clothing left lying around).

Now, as a stay at home mom, I expect to do a majority of the housework, but I often feel alone and abandoned and like we’re not a team. I love a clean house, I love making meals from scratch, and I love to be organized, I love to be frugal, and I love to work hard.

But I do feel hurt when I wake up early in the morning on his days off to try to exercise and spend time with the Lord, and then try to wrangle the kid while I cook breakfast and clean up my husband’s messes from the night before and try to get laundry going, etc, while he just sleeps in. Sometimes I’ll have breakfast on the table and he won’t even get up out of bed to eat it with me (this isn’t unreasonably early, this is between 8 and 9 am), wasting the food that I just went through the effort to make.

Sometimes we’ll make plans to go to the park before the baby’s naptime on his day off, and I’ll be ready to go, and he won’t get out of bed to actually go with me. I feel like he is content to sit and watch movies or surf the internet while I am out of breath racing up and down the stairs juggling many different plates at once.

He does help some with the kid (he will change diapers and bath him sometimes, kind of resists if I ask him to read to the baby before bed). This afternoon, he came home from class and fell asleep on the couch and didn’t want to get up, I took the baby to small group by myself, he’s still on the couch now and has been sleeping for almost 6 hours.

We recently went on vacation, and I did the meal planning, all of the cooking, most of the dishes (he actually did help once or twice when I asked but this is very atypical), all of the cleaning and organizing, packing stuff for us and the baby when we’d go out on hikes and such, as well as being the one to wake up early with the child and during the night with the child.

He just sat on the couch watching TV the majority of the time we were in the cabin. After we got back from vacation, we invited some friends over last minute for dinner who were moving out of the country so that we could see them one last time. An hour before they were supposed to arrive, he laid down to take a nap while I cooked, cleaned, and took care of the kid. I said something so he ended up helping.

I don’t resent the hard work, I just struggle with resenting him being OK with me racing around while he just sits there. I feel angry, and I feel hurt. I want to feel like we’re on the same team, working together. My heart is to be a good helper to him, to be a hard worker for the Lord, and I am happy to serve him and take a load off of him, especially during times where he is taking a class or doing some project in addition to working, however, I feel like even when his load is light (such as between graduation and getting a job, or while on vacation, or when we were both working full-time), he’s content to just let me do it all while he relaxes. He loves to relax.

I wonder if I’m enabling him, but I want to be submissive and respectful, too. I’ve considered getting pastoral counsel on this, but, again, I don’t want to make him look bad, although I genuinely want the counsel as to how I should best respond. I don’t think I’ve ignored his headship and wandered out on some crazy limb away from his authority either and taken on some kind of heavy work load that he didn’t want me to take in the first place. For example, it’s not like I’m running some ministry he didn’t want me to take on in the first place and then complaining about how tired I am. I believe I’m operating in the vision that he has for our home. And my heart is not to nag him.

I’ve talked to him multiple, multiple times, but I feel like it doesn’t end well. He doesn’t get angry, but seems indifferent. He doesn’t seem very repentant, and if he apologizes, it’s the sort of forced-sounding, awkward apology that a young child would give. He tells me he’ll try to do better, and a few small things have changed over the years but largely things are the same. I feel nervous about having more children although we both want more. I don’t want to live in bitterness, but I fight bitterness almost every day over this issue.

What do I do? Should I just silently press on and fight to keep my heart in check and be a servant like Jesus? Set boundaries? Be vocal and ask for help? Talk to my pastor? We’ve gone to marriage counseling once with one of our pastors, and I’ve brought it up multiple times, but he seems indifferent and I finally gave up asking because I felt like I’d be taking the reins in our marriage if I pressed the issue. Should I just go alone to seek help on how I should personally deal with this (that feels weird to me)? I would really love some help. Thank you.”

My Response to M and other wives who feel their husbands should chip in more at home

M, I think it is wonderful that you love to work hard and take care of your home.  I think it is great that you love to make food from scratch which is a forgotten art in many homes today. I am sure you love caring for your child as well.

I know first-hand as a husband who has worked from home for almost a decade how difficult caring for all the affairs of the home can be including having to care for a child while you do other things.  I have watched my first wife and then my second wife have to deal with the affairs of the home sometimes under difficult circumstances.

I can also see in what you wrote a genuine desire to serve your husband and submit to his authority but I also see you struggling with frustration and bitterness toward him in this area of helping out at home and working more together as a “team” in tackling on the affairs of the home.

Before I continue I want to be clear on your husband’s schedule as a nurse. My wife was a nurse for about 15 years before she became disabled after a car accident.  During that time, she sometimes did the 36-hour schedule.  That meant she had to work 12 hours a day for three days in a row and then she was off work for 4 days. The hospital then pays nurses what they would normally make for a 40-hour work week because they worked three twelve hour shifts in a row.  Working that many hours a day for 3 days is very stressful and is much harder than working 8 hours or over 5 days.  Being a nurse is a very mentally and physically challenging job.  I just wanted to clarify that for my audience.

The heart of the matter

I think this statement from you below illustrates the core issue for you:

“I don’t resent the hard work, I just struggle with resenting him being OK with me racing around while he just sits there. I feel angry, and I feel hurt. I want to feel like we’re on the same team, working together. My heart is to be a good helper to him, to be a hard worker for the Lord, and I am happy to serve him and take a load off of him, especially during times where he is taking a class or doing some project in addition to working, however, I feel like even when his load is light (such as between graduation and getting a job, or while on vacation, or when we were both working full-time), he’s content to just let me do it all while he relaxes. He loves to relax.”

You are a hard worker.  You don’t mind doing it all when you see that your husband is busy with classes or projects around the house.  As long as you and he are both working everything is fine for you.  But it bothers you when he has a lighter load going on and he is just sitting there doing other things like surfing the web, watching TV or napping. That is what bugs you.

Before I directly address your feelings on this let me share a couple of stories to try and help put things in perspective.

The hard-working woman

A woman straps her child to her back and goes to the market to buy wool and cloth to make clothing for her family. She gets up early in the morning to prepare made from scratch meals for her family for the day. She goes and buys a field and plants it all while carrying for this child while she works. She then comes home and prepares dinner with the food she had prepared early that morning. Sometimes she stays up half the night working on her spindle making blankets or clothing. The extra blankets and clothing she makes she takes to the markets and sells. She takes the extra food she makes and gives to the poor around her.

You know what her husband is doing during all this? He is sitting as he leads their town and leads her home. When he comes home he has nothing to worry about because she has dinner hot and ready and their home in order.  It is her pride and joy to make sure he never has to worry about anything at home.

The story I have just described is based on the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31.

Does God care who does the dishes?

I remember several years ago, the Pastor of our church was talking to us as men about helping our wives around the house.  He made a comment about a mission trip he had been on to a foreign country.  He said something like this:

“Guys – I went to this foreign country [I can’t remember the country] on a mission trip.  I got up from the table to take my dishes into the kitchen and scrape my plate as I would at home with my wife.  The wife in this home literally stopped me and took my plate from me.  Now that might not seem strange except for the fact that her husband explained this was not just because I was guest in their home.  It was because in their culture men did not do house work – women would find it insulting for men to do anything in the house.

In his culture, men work outside the house and women work inside the house.  He said when he comes home he just puts his feet up and relaxes.  Gentlemen – you might wish your wife was like those women but you need to wake up! We live in a different culture here in America and our wives expect us to help them around the house. God does not care who does the dishes!

You know what that means?  It means when you get home from your job outside the home your job inside the home is just starting! In the same way, it is insulting to that woman in that foreign country for her husband to clean or help around the house – it is insulting to American women if a man comes home from work and just puts his feet up and does not help her around the house.  You are not done working until your wife is.

Christ was a servant leader who washed the feet of his disciples and admonished them to do likewise to their brethren.  If Christ washed his disciple’s feet, the least you can do as a husband is to wash the dishes and serve your wife in helping her to care for the affairs of your home.”

There are three things that are Biblically wrong with this Pastor’s philosophy.

Rebuttal #1 – The Bible trumps culture

There are many different types of cultures in the world.  Each nation, each state, each city or town and each family have their own cultures.  There are also religious and ethnic cultures that transcend all these boundaries.

As Christians, it is not wrong for us blend in with our culture where our cultural values do not conflict with the Bible. The Apostle Paul told us this regarding Christians working within their cultures:

“20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.”

1 Corinthians 9:20-21 (KJV)

However, the same Apostle Paul gave Christians this admonition:

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Romans 12:2 (KJV)

Culture does not always determine what is right.  In fact, sometimes we may have to live as Christians in ways that are counter to our culture.

Rebuttal #2 – Women keeping the home is not just cultural – it is Biblical

So, that brings us to this question – Was this Pastor and the myriads of Christians who agree with him right that “God does not care who does the dishes”?

The Bible answers this question for us several passages of the Scriptures.

“10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil…27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”

Proverbs 31:10-11 & 27(KJV)

“4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

Titus 2:5 (KJV)

“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”

I Timothy 5:14 (KJV)

Who has God given the responsibility for caring for the domestic affairs of the home? The answer as we can see from these passages is the wife.  Now I understand to our modern world this seems petty – and we think roles mean nothing.

But there are certain things God calls us to do as men and women that mean so much more than what we see on the surface.

When a man leads his family in following God’s Word, sets boundaries and limits and corrects them when they don’t live up to God’s Word he is symbolizing the leadership role that God has with his people. When a man provides for his family by working each day and providing the resources for his wife to buy food, clothing and shelter he is symbolizing God’s provision for his people. When he stands up for and protects his wife and children again is he symbolizing God’s protection of his people.

When a woman submits to her husband’s leadership – even when she does not agree or does not understand his positions she is symbolizing the way God’s people are to follow him. When a woman serves her husband by caring for the needs of his children, his home and his body she is symbolizing the service that God’s people are to give to him.

So, the Biblical answer to the question “Does God care who does the dishes?” is a resounding “YES”!

He wants the wife to do this as part of her service to her husband and this service to her husband is symbolic of the Church’s service to God. These women in “old fashioned” cultures around the world that insist on caring for the affairs of the home are not just following tradition – but they are following Biblical command and example toward women even if they don’t realize it.

Rebuttal #3 – Jesus washed his disciple’s feet but his disciples did not EXPECT him to do it

Many Pastors, teachers and other Christians attempt to use the “servant leadership” of Christ to cancel out a large portion of the Scriptures in regard to the duties God has given to wives. In fact, most Christian teaching today makes marriage into a “wife-centric” institution.

If we look at the life of Christ – did he spend the majority of his time cleaning people’s homes, serving people food and washing people’s feet? The answer is no.  It is interesting that even in the story of the feeding of the 5000 – Christ simply provided the food (as men do for their families) but he passed the serving of that food to others. Christ spent the vast majority of his time pursing his mission.

God has given each man a mission.  Some men are called to full time Christian service as Pastors, missionaries, Christian school teachers or other Christian ministries. But many other men are called by God into secular fields such as science, military, engineer, construction or other labors.  While a man’s home (the loving, leading, providing and teaching of his family) is a PART of his mission from God – it does not make up the entirety of his mission.

A man’s career is to do two things. It is to provide for his family and it is to make an impact on his world for God.  The Scriptures exhort us that “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10a) and “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”(1 Corinthians 10:31).

So if a man is a carpenter – then God has called him to be the absolute best carpenter he can be. If he is an engineer – then God has called him to be the best engineer he can be. In his pursuit to do his job to the best of his ability this will sometimes require a man to work more hours or get more education in his off work time. If a man talks with his wife and children and spends time with them yet he fails to provide for his home or make an impact on the world outside his home then he has failed the primary mission that God has given to men in this life.

But for a Christian woman her primary mission from God is very different.  Unless God calls a woman to a celibate life in his service – her primary focus is to be on serving the needs of her husband, her children and her home.  If she becomes distracted by activities outside her home to the neglect of the needs of her husband, her children and her home then she has failed the primary mission God has given to wives.

This is not to say that Christian wives cannot have an impact outside their home for God.  But it can never come at the expense of their first duty to their home.  For instance if a woman has a great ministry at church teaching a woman’s Sunday school class but this causes her to neglect her husband or her children or her home she should step down from such a ministry.

Let’s now return to the topic of Christ washing his Apostle’s feet. You know what another very interesting part of Christ’s washing of his Apostles feet was? Did his Apostles expect him to do this? No.  In fact, they were shocked at him doing this and initially refused until they understood that he was trying to teach them a lesson.

So, what was the real lesson from Christ washing his Apostle’s feet? The lesson was twofold.  The first lesson is that those who are in authority should be willing to help those under their authority. The second lesson is that those under authority should ALLOW, but not EXPECT those in authority to help them with tasks that rightly belong to them.

The Bible tells us this regarding helping one another:

“2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.”

Galatians 6:2-5 (KJV)

While the word “burden” appears in both verse 2 and verse 5 the Greek words behind these English translations are different. The First “burden” in verse 2 is a translation of the Greek word “Baros” which is a “heaviness” or “trouble” and the context indicates a burden that is beyond what someone could reasonably be expected to bear on their own. The second burden in verse 5 is a translation of the Greek word “Phortion” which in this context means a “load” as in the load that might be put on a ship or a cart.

So, when we combine Christ’s washing of his Apostle’s feet (John 13:14) with Paul’s admonition to bear each other’s burdens but also to carry our own load (Galatians 6:2-5) the truth of the Scriptures becomes clearer.

In the context of marriage, husbands should be willing to help their wives when they believe their wife is truly overburdened and in need of assistance. Every good leader should be willing to step in and help those under him when he sees a true need for help.  But those under authority should never EXPECT for their authority to step in and help them – especially when it is something that falls within their sphere of responsibility.  But if their authority wants to help – they should graciously accept this help.

Expectations verses Allowances

My father has said to me many times over the years that “expectations are marriage killers” and he is absolutely right. But let me clarify something.  It is not wrong for us to expect our spouse to do tasks which are part of the primary roles God has given to husbands and wives.

A wife is not having some unreasonable expectation when she is upset that her husband has been sitting on the couch and out of work for 6 months playing video games.  It is reasonable and Biblically backed for a woman to expect that her husband will do his best to provide for their family.

Can a wife have a reasonable expectation that her husband will give her leadership and guidance as to how to handle things in the home? For instance can she expect him to help set policies for their budget or how to discipline their children? Of course she can. Because that is a primary responsibility that God has given to husbands.

But on the flip side – can a wife expect that her husband will just come home from work and that he will just jump in and help with the dishes and making dinner? No she should not because that is not part of the primary responsibilities that God has given to a husband.  Now if he volunteers to help than by all means she should allow him to help.

Wives need to change their perspective and their expectations

M really it is all about perspective.  By your own admission when you feel your husband has worked hard and is busy with classes and other projects around the house besides his job you don’t feel bad about working hard because you know he has worked hard.  But where you feel resentful is when you feel that you are working harder than him and he should be helping you out.

You need to let go of this expectation.

M, earlier I described for my readers what a typical 36 hour week for a nurse looks like working three 12 hour shifts in a row.  I was not saying that your husband is not capable of helping you around the house and with the kids those other four days he does not work.  In fact, I know of many of my wife’s nurse friends who do the 36 hour work week and then during their other four days off they are taking care of all the needs of their home and caring for their children.

So the question is not whether or not your husband would be capable of jumping in and helping you on his days off. The question is do you have a right as his wife to expect this?

When you feel more like a maid than a wife

Let try and frame this another way. There is a popular Christian female blogger named Sheila Wray who runs a blog called “To Love Honor And Vacuum”.  The theme of Sheila Wray’s blog is “when you feel more like a maid than a wife and mother”.

How often do we hear women say things like “I feel more like a maid than wife and mom” or “I feel more like a nanny than a wife” or “I feel more like a sex slave than a wife”?

To her credit Sheila Wray does encourage women to care for the needs of their husbands, their children and their home. She often offers good advice to women in helping them to organize their days better. But there is also some feminist tendencies that poison her teachings. I disagree with her on the basis of Christian marriage, submission and her take on male sexuality (but that is for a whole other series of articles).  But now let’s examine these three common complaints from wives.

What is a maid?

It is a woman who cares for the domestic affairs of the home.  Sometimes maids cook, clean and do laundry. We have previously shown from the Scriptures (Proverbs 31:10-31, Titus 2:5, I Timothy 5:14) that God in fact does expect wives to do the very same things that maids typically do.

What is nanny?

A nanny is a person who cares for the needs of children.  She feeds them, bathes them and weens them.  Again the Scriptures show us that this is part of the primary responsibility that God has given to wives.

What is sex slave?

A sex slave is a woman who is purchased by a man for the sole purpose of having sex.  They is no intimate relationship between the two beyond the act of sex. There is no commitment by this man be a husband to this woman or to be a father to the children this woman might have as a result of their sexual relations.

Contrary to popular belief – the Bible never allowed men to have sex slaves. I wrote an entire article on this subject entitled “Did the Bible allow men to have sex slaves?” where I debunk the common belief today that concubines in the Bible were sex slaves.  If a man wants to have an intimate sexual relationship with a woman then he must take on the full responsibilities of the marriage covenant with that woman.  There are no half measures allowed by God when it comes to sexual relations between men and women.

Concubines were “slave wives”, not “sex slaves”.  In the Bible there were two kinds of wives. “free” wives and “slave” wives.

A “free” wife was a woman who was the daughter of a free man and another man would give her father the Bride price to purchase her as his wife.  Any children they had together would be legally entitled to certain inheritance rights and would bear his family name.  Sometimes a “free” wife was a widow or divorced woman. If a man had to marry his brother’s widow then their first child would carry his brother’s name and not his so that his brother’s line would not die out.

A “slave” wife was acquired in one of two ways.  Either she was purchased as a slave(simply to do domestic work) and the man then decided to take her as a wife or she was captured as a prisoner of war and brought back to be a man’s wife.  Husbands could elevate their “slave” wives to the status of a “free wife” in granting her children his family name and giving them full inheritance rights but they were not required to do so unless the woman was an Israelite servant girl whom they chose to make a wife.  They had to treat Israelite female slaves differently that foreign slaves in this regard.

But you know what both “slave” wives and “free” wives had in common? They were both required to have sex with their husbands whenever their husbands asked for it. He did not have to earn it by doing romantic things for them. It was his right. One of the primary responsibilities of a wife is to submit her body fully to her husband for his sexual pleasure.

So while husbands should never treat their wives as sex slaves – wives should realize that part of the primary duty as a wife is to fully submit themselves sexually to their husbands.

My point in covering these three categories of “maid”, “nanny” and “sex slave” is this:

A wife is called by God to perform the very same services that a maid, a nanny and a sex slave would be expected to do toward a man.

This does not mean she is a maid, a nanny or a sex slave – because a wife is so much more than these things.

Are maids and nannies called by God to submit to her master as unto God himself (Ephesians 5:22)?

No, but wives are.

Are maids and nannies called by God to give their bodies sexually to their masters and do they have the right to sexual access to their master’s bodies (I Corinthians 7:3-5)?

No, but wives have these responsibilities and rights.

Does God call on masters to know their maids and nannies and honor them as they would their wives (I Peter 3:7)?

No, but husbands have these responsibilities toward their wives.

What it really means when a woman says “I feel more like a ____ than a wife?”

When you as a wife allow this thought to go through your head – “I feel more like a [fill in the blank] than a wife” you really need to examine your thoughts closely. If you feel more like a maid than a wife this shows resentment toward the domestic affairs of the home to which God has called you. If you feel more like a nanny than a wife this shows resentment toward your duties to care for the needs of your children.  If you feel more like a sex slave than a wife this shows resentment toward your sexual duties to your husband.

Why do women often feel resentment in these areas? There are two answers to this question:

  1. Lack of praise and gratitude (in whatever form they like praise and gratitude) from their husband for their performance in these areas.
  2. The feeling that he is not doing what they expect is his part in these areas.

Should a husband praise his wife in her various roles as the keeper of his home, the mother of his children and his lover in the bedroom? Absolutely. The Bible gives us this example in Proverbs 31:28 where the husband praises his wife and I Peter 3:7 where the husband honors his wife.

But lack of praise from a husband does not grant a wife the right to harbor resentment in these areas.  Two wrongs never make a right. A woman should always remember that ultimately her service to her husband is her service to God.  While praise makes it easier and gives her energy to do even more – a woman should never use lack of praise from her husband as an excuse to allow bitterness and resentment to grow toward him.

In the same way perhaps a woman feels her husband could do more around the house or more to help the children.  Maybe she feels he could do more in the bedroom to sexually please her.  Again his real or perceived failures in these areas does not grant a wife the right to become bitter and resentful toward her husband.


Yes God does care who does the dishes, the laundry, the cooking and other cleaning around the house.  He cares about which gender is the primary caretaker of the children. He cares about who leads the home.  He cares about who provides for the home.

All of these gender specific responsibilities are symbolic of the relationship of God and his people.  They represent so much more than what we see on the surface.

Are there reasonable expectations that husbands and wives can have toward one another based on the roles God has given husbands and wives? Yes.

A woman can reasonably expect that when she goes to the grocery store to buy food that money will be in the account because her husband has provided it for her.  In the same way a man can reasonably expect that when he comes home from providing for his family that his wife will have dinner on the table and his house and children in order.

But in the context of this discussion of husbands helping with the domestic affairs of the home – wives should NEVER EVER expect this from their husbands. If their husbands want to help (without being nagged to do so) then they should allow them to help. But never should this be expected.

This expectation toward men in regard to the domestic affairs of the home has sown the seeds of resentment and bitterness in the hearts of many wives in culture today.

M – As exhausting as being a stay at home mom can be sometimes you will find that when you let go of these unbiblical expectations toward your husband and leave him to God you will have more energy to do these things.  When you realize these things are your task – and your task alone and any help you get from your husband in these areas is a BONUS and not a right you will feel like a weight has been lifted.

Image sources:

Hand washing fork – free image from pixabay.com

Woman with child on back in market -By Peter van der Sluijs – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Woman washing dishes in sink – Villalobos, Horacio, Photographer

78 thoughts on “Why God cares who does the dishes

  1. Proverbs 19:13 the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.
    Proverbs 21:9 Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
    Proverbs 21:19 Better to dwell in the wilderness, Than with a contentious and angry woman.
    Proverbs 27:15-16 continual dripping on a very rainy day And a contentious woman are alike; Whoever restrains her restrains the wind, And grasps oil with his right hand.
    1 Timothy 6:6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
    James 4:1-3 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

    I suggest that to complain about dishes is narcissism and not a kingdom outlook. It is the idolatry of self! A woman who embitters herself against her husband is no longer his helper, but his burden. She is dissatisfied with what God made her to be and is complaining that life is not fair, that women got the short end of the stick. Grace means little to such because they have an entitlement outlook rather than one of gratitude. Grace is not so amazing when one feels entitled, rather grace is expected. The Word of God is blasphemed (Titus 2:5) when she does not love her husbands, love their children is discreet, chaste, a homemakers, good, obedient to to her own husband – because it pictures an unloving, ungrateful church responding to the Gospel of grace. It is a picture of a synagogue of Satan not the bride of Christ being sanctified to be without a spot or wrinkle.

    Let’s not pussyfoot around, it is past time that men learn to tell women to stop their sinning; Adam failed having feared losing fellowship with Eve more than losing fellowship with God. It is time to reverse this sin and for all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30) by learning to confront women in their sin, exhort them to repentance. In this way we wash and water them with the Word. Washing removes the dirt of sin and watering nurtures them in the truth of God’s revelation. Where Adam failed we must strive to obey and heed God and not the woman. If momma ain’t happy – Momma is probably in sin and ungrateful. Do not fear an unhappy momma, fear the living God and sanctify the ingrate with Biblical reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. (2 Tim 3:16)

  2. It sounds very much like ‘M’ is trying to excuse her rebellious nature. She knows enough about what the scriptures say that she can cover herself with a mock desire to do right, when all she has to do is what IS right.

    I know this is not her situation, but the bible is clear that a Christian women is to be quietly submissive to her husband, even if he is a non-believer and thus, not doing anything in the interest of Christ or his family. Her husband sounds like a tired man, but even if he was lazy as all get out, and completely unashamed about it, what is M’s desire, to satisfy herself or to satisfy God?

    Modern Christian women are taught that the marriage is all about them. Their happiness, their provision, their husbands being a “servant-leader” and tending to their every want – this is simply not biblical. Jesus washed the feet of the disciples as an example that, within the body of Christ – the church, no one should feel he is better than his brother and should be willing to do even the lowest of work when called. If Jesus, the one who is the Word of God, was willing to do the lowest job for his disciples then who are we to deny a brother in need when we can help? However, it was not, in any way, a demonstration that husbands should be willing to serve their wives by denigrating themselves to being the servant in the marriage, and that seems to be right where modern churches want husbands to be.

    If “M” is truly interested in being a God pleasing wife to her husband then she needs to repent of her hateful, prideful and self-centered attitude and do what is required of her. If her husband had the same attitude there would be people lined up to pile on him for not being a “man of God”. Unfortunately there are few women who will approach a fellow woman in Christ and chide her for not being a “woman of Christ”.

  3. To M:

    First of all, it does sound like you and your husband are a team. He’s working hard to provide, and he’s got it set up so that you can stay at home with your new child and not have to worry about having enough money. Plus, he’s managing finances and doing maintenance as needed. Meanwhile, you’re working extremely hard around the house and as a first-time mom, and it sounds like you’re admirably dedicated to making everything as nice as it can be. It doesn’t sound like either one of you is being lazy. AS BGR pointed out, your husband is working a very physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding job, and he needs more R&R after a twelve hour shift than another man would after an eight hour shift. Plus, he’s doing school as well, which would be tough for anyone. It also sounds like you’re really on top of everything. The difference between you and your husband seems to be that he feels all right resting once his work is done whereas you always want to be as productive as possible. It sounds like your approach will make you a good mother and Christian, but it won’t make you a good wife if you impose your standards of work on your husband. Remember that he’s not you, and you can’t expect him or ask him to be you. It’s not sinful or lazy or him to rest and enjoy himself when he’s got time off from a very busy schedule. I also understand why it was frustrating for you when you were working too because he wasn’t yet able to support you both. At that point, I believe that he should have done a bit more around the house because he wasn’t at the point where he could do all that he was supposed to do.

    Now, if you’re feeling overwhelmed as a first-time mom (and believe me, I can understand the feeling–I’m already freaking myself mildly in anticipation for being a first-time mom in about six months), then you may need to be more specific with your husband about what he can do to help. If there’s a specific task that he can do while you’re completing another, then ask him if he can do it. If you really need a nap or a break, then ask him if he can mind the baby. If you need more assistance than he can give with his own schedule, discuss it with him. Maybe he can help you recruit some people to assist you while you’re adjusting. But it sounds like you may be a perfectionist with your home (and I saw my mom go through a lot of anxiety with those tendencies growing up–on the one hand, I learned a lot about housekeeping and cooking; on the other hand, I developed issues with being confident in my ability to effectively do those things until I got married, moved out, adjusted, and realized that I was capable and that my husband had different standards than my mom). If that’s the case, then he may think that the house is in fine shape and that you’re on top of everything because he doesn’t think that you have much more to do. This is where you can help yourself by moderating your own expectations of yourself (and again, if you are struggling, then don’t be afraid to ask for help on specific things) and by being specific with him about what you’re trying to get done and where he can help you if he has the time and energy.

    Finally, if he’s genuinely leaving a lot of stuff lying around, that sounds like something specific that he can do to help you. If he starts putting his clothes in the hamper and his dishes in the sink and if you set that as a single goal for him, then that helps you. Plus, it keeps him from feeling overwhelmed trying to please you. With perfectionists (and maybe you’re not one; maybe you’re just struggling to adjust, so my apologies if I’m reading your post wrong), it can often feel easier to give up and do nothing because you eventually stop believing that you’ll ever get it right. As your husband, he definitely shouldn’t be feeling that way. And as a fellow human being, he should be getting grace, mercy, and empathy.

  4. The key here is “asking” and not “expecting”. It makes a huge difference. I can ask my wife to help me change the tire on our truck, but it’s not really her job to be doing that stuff and if I expect her to come right out and do it then I am setting myself up for frustration. There is no problem with a woman asking her husband for help, but don’t expect him to just get up and do it as though it was part of his job. It sounds like M’s husband DOES help when he can or wants to, but his good will is ruined by his wife’s anger that he doesn’t do MORE.

  5. Well, if my husband asked me to help him change a tire, I would definitely do it, and I would consider that to be part of my helpmeet duties. He hasn’t asked me specifically to do that, but he’s asked me for help while he’s fixing things before or with moving stuff around, and I don’t think that that was untoward. There are jobs that are easier to do with two people rather than with one.

    But I agree that it’s important for wives especially to ask rather than expect or demand. That way, she doesn’t overwork her husband or let bitterness grow.

  6. Snapper,

    I agree completely with this statement you made:

    “The key here is “asking” and not “expecting”.”

    And that was a major theme in this post that I was trying to communicate. Like I said in the post – there are reasonable expectations that husbands and wives can have. A wife can expect when she goes to buy the weekly groceries for the family with her bank card that her husband has provided the money in the account to take care of that need for their home. In the same way a husband should be able to reasonably expect that when he arrives home from work his home will be in order.

    Will men get laid off from their jobs? Sure. Will there be times when money is tight? Yep. Will a wife and mom sometimes have a horrible day with the kids and things around the house and need some help? Sure. But the key for her is to ask and not expect.

    Another point I was trying to communicate was that while I am not against husbands helping their wives with duties that clearly belong to the wife(like those of the home) a woman should always examine why she is having to ask for help from her husband. Is she truly carrying the load that God expects her carry? Is she a disorganized housewife? Does she lay around half the day while he is at work then just rush to start cleaning and doing meal prep a few hours before he is home?

    Jonadab referred to husbands washing their wives with the Word and I agree with him on that. Part of a husband’s washing of his wife is to determine if his wife needs help with affairs of the home because of factors beyond her control or because of laziness or disorganization on her part. If it is laziness or disorganization on her part then if he continually assists her he is enabling her laziness and not forcing her to grow and carry the load that God has given her to carry.

    I find it interesting that M asked if she was enabling her husband’s laziness when in fact even if he was being lazy it is not her position as a wife to confront her husband on this. Ironically is might be her husband who would in fact be enabling her sinful attitude of entitlement and expectation toward him if he were to help her when she nags him or acts disappointed in him.

    I know I have had to do that with my wife at times. My wife knows my rule. If she asks kindly and respectfully for help with something in most cases I will do it. But if she asks with an attitude of expectation I will flat turn her down. There are other times when I will not help her when I feel she has been lazy and disorganized with her time(as I work from home I can see for the most part what she is doing).

    But if my wife has been working hard or she is truly sick and has done what she can then I will step in sometimes without even being asked to do dishes, cook or do laundry. But this is a balancing act for a husband between acting in grace toward our wives and enabling their sin.

    But any husband who makes himself the man-servant of his wife is sinning against God’s design of man and woman and marriage.

  7. My mother and father have been happily married for 52 years. They both were born in a village in Italy and had very little education. They have been excellent parents, including making sure we put God first in our lives. Years ago, when I was married my father told me that he and my mom knew their “roles” when they got married. He would work and provide. She would stay home and take care of my sister and I, and the household. My father performed his duty and worked hard and brought home as much as he could to support the household (which was not a whole lot but the most he could do). My mother was a Proverbs 31 women -plus! She cooked wonderful meals, kept the house clean and neat — and she even worked after my sister and I got older. She never complained. My father always praised her but never lifted a finger. When I got married, I told myself I would never do that. Wrong!

    I was married for 22 years before my divorce 4 years ago and had 5 children (with the same wife). We were both college graduates, loved God and each other. In the beginning, we both worked and so we shared responsibilities at home. However, she was a much better cook so she cooked. But I did everything I could to help at home.

    After our second child was born, she asked if she could stop working. In return, she said she would take care of the household and the cooking entirely. Sounds like a great deal right! Wrong again!

    In the beginning, she did keep her end of the “bargain.” But as years went by the house got messier, the meals took longer to get on the table and she began to resent me coming home from work and not “just pitching right in” even despite the fact that I make a very large salary and that she got everything she wanted. You know where this story goes right? Eventually very little was getting done and guess who had to now help out because she could no longer handle 5 children and her household work load.

    The story ends with her announcing to me that she would no longer have sex with me. She did mention the resentment of my not always helping and she was no longer happy with me. During the last two years of our marriage, when I tried everything to get her to have sex with me, nothing got done for me. I eventually had to do my own laundry even though I worked long hours in Manhattan and brought home an enviable salary.

    Of course, after counseling, going to the church pastor etc, I had no recourse but to divorce her because she stayed in this state of rebellion. Someone who had it all threw it away. Today, she has to work and take care of the entire house herself. But the moral of the story is that unless you have a dedicated Proverbs 31 spouse, it is not going to work by letting your wife be a stay at home mom. I believe both parties should then go to work if one party is not going to take care of the household entirely. At least both will pull their load by providing. Not sure if that is biblical but it is practical.

  8. I agree with a lot of what’s being said here, but before I go into that, let me be absolutely clear (coming from an actual nurse and not a spouse of a nurse) that M’s husband is either sick with an unknown (or perhaps just unmentioned) disease, or he is lazy. I know that a 12 hr nursing shift is harder than an 8 hr shift at another job (or at least a lot of other jobs), and I know that nursing takes a physical and emotional toll on a person. My husband took me on a date after a shift once and I spent most of the time sobbing over the particularly sad state of one of my patients (although I was also preggo at the time, so who knows what all was going on). My feet and legs get sore too (and extra swollen during pregnancy!) and I am exhausted a lot of the time. But I worked overtime prior to having the baby (including most of the pregnancy) and currently, I am responsible for most of the baby’s waking hours as well as the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, etc. I am also no superwoman. I have lyme and chronic anemia so I know that I am not possessed with some superhuman strength. Maybe M’s husband shouldn’t have to help and maybe he is tired a lot, but if he’s justifying his refusal to do so on the fact that he’s too exhausted from his job, than he is full of crap on that front. Let’s not justify bullshit (which I don’t like using that word often but is justified here) because it better fits this blog’s rhetoric and the majority of frequent male commenter’s experience of ‘good-husband-bad-wife’.

    However, this does not justify M behaving in a manner not suited for a wife. I would definitely NOT recommend taking it to a pastor like she mentioned. But there are things she can do. I’d advise that she write a letter to him both stating her concerns but inviting him to share his and to play an active role. If she asks him what he sees is a wise way to split the home/parenting duties rather than trying to preach a certain agenda, she will likely have more success (and will find it easier to avoid being or sounding rebellious that way). I’d also advise that she back off of certain activities that are proving to be unhelpful. There is no reason to put a lot of time and effort into a breakfast that her husband isn’t even going to be awake for. A simple breakfast for herself and than putting more energy into preparing lunch for both of them might be wiser. Finally, be liberal with praise and appreciation. It is human nature to seek approval and to behave in ways that will bring that result. If M asks her husband’s help on something and he complies, rather than acting like he is just doing his fair share (although that might be true), pour on the praise. Smile, speak kindly, and maybe even take it to the bedroom later. I am not joking. This approach is going to work better than nagging, stewing, etc. ever would.

    Finally…ALEX!!! I didn’t know you were getting ready to be a Mommy. Congrats! 🙂

  9. Shades29,

    I am sorry for what happened with your wife and your marriage. Laziness was a huge problem for my first wife as well(in addition to adultery which happened later in the marriage). We also had five children together and I made a good living for our family as a software developer. She too went into a state of rebellion and because of her unrepentant adultery I had to divorce her.

    She later came to regret her decisions and I am sure your wife will too(if she does not already).

    I partly agree and partly disagree with the moral of your story as you state it:

    “But the moral of the story is that unless you have a dedicated Proverbs 31 spouse, it is not going to work by letting your wife be a stay at home mom. I believe both parties should then go to work if one party is not going to take care of the household entirely. At least both will pull their load by providing.”

    I agree that husbands should seek out Proverbs 31 wives who want to full dedicate themselves to the task that he has given all wives – caring for the needs of their husbands, their children and their homes to the best of their ability. Women who work tirelessly day and night to take care of all these needs and are wives that “…looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”(Proverbs 31:27).

    Where I think we disagree is that I do not believe Christian husbands who understand and believe in the Biblical doctrines concerning gender roles should even entertain dating or marrying a woman with career ambitions. This was the first mistake you made from the beginning of your marriage.

    If you are looking to date a woman and you find this out about her you need to go the other way. No wife will be perfect as no husband is. But agreeing up front about a woman fulfilling her role to her home is critical and this cannot be overlooked. And sending a lazing wife out to work does not really solve the problem – it just goes around it.

    Whether they started that way from the beginning of the marriage or became a stay at home mom later it is our responsibility as the heads of our home to drive our wives to be the homemakers they should be. If there is continual laziness on their part there needs to be consequences.

    This post I wrote deals with this very subject – https://biblicalgenderroles.com/2016/03/29/7-steps-to-dealing-with-a-lazy-wife/

    I don’t see the Bible allowing a man to divorce his wife for laziness – but at the same time he does not have to make her comfortable in her laziness. However in your case you Biblically justified in divorcing your wife for her sexual denial. God allows me to divorce their wives for sexual immorality.

  10. @shades29,

    It sounds like M is working extremely hard at home and doing her part, plus some.


    Thanks! We’re both really excited.

    And I agee that there’s no need for M to make breakfast for her husband when she makes breakfast for herself if he’s going to sleep in. She can either make him something when he wakes up, or, if she’s out with the baby or running errands when he wakes up, he can whip something up for himself. It sounds like there are definitely places where she could step back (especially when he’s sleeping in), and they could likely work it out so that he spends some more time with the baby. I know that M likely has to do most of the childcare, especially if she’s breastfeeding still, but it will be good for him and the baby if they can have some more daddy/baby bonding time. I know that women are often better at calming and reading babies, but I’ve also observed that men tend to be very adept at playing with children in some more exciting ways. For example, I know that our baby will be cycling with my husband as soon as it’s safe. He has big plans there. On the other hand, when we’ve spent time around children together, I’ve noticed that I have more patience and creativity with coming up with stories for the toys. (Although once they hit five, less creativity is best. For example, I was my cousin’s five-year-old daughter’s favorite playmate because I followed her story exactly and stopped trying to add my own ideas.) So, while women tend to be best for many things when it comes to childcare, there are definitely places where fathers can contribute and bond with their young child. And even with me, when my dad was working 80+ hours and commuting 2 hours both ways when I was a toddler and my mom was doing pretty much everything for the house and childcare (even maintenance stuff at times), he still made some great memories with my brother and me.

  11. AnnaMS,

    I totally agree with you that while working three 12 hour shifts in a row as a nurse can be exhausting people still get stuff done on their off time as you do. I mentioned this in the post when I said:

    “M, earlier I described for my readers what a typical 36 hour week for a nurse looks like working three 12 hour shifts in a row. I was not saying that your husband is not capable of helping you around the house and with the kids those other four days he does not work. In fact, I know of many of my wife’s nurse friends who do the 36 hour work week and then during their other four days off they are taking care of all the needs of their home and caring for their children.

    So the question is not whether or not your husband would be capable of jumping in and helping you on his days off. The question is do you have a right as his wife to expect this?”

    So we are in full agreement there that he should have energy for other things after his 36 hour set of work days.

    But respectfully this comment you made shows you missed one of the main points of my post:

    “If she asks him what he sees is a wise way to split the home/parenting duties rather than trying to preach a certain agenda, she will likely have more success (and will find it easier to avoid being or sounding rebellious that way).”

    Let me first say that I am not against husbands helping their wives around with domestic chores like laundry, dishes and cooking. I am also not against husbands helping to care for their children by feeding them, bathing them, changing diapers or other things. I helped out in all these ways with my first wife while raising our five children(in fact I did far more than I should have and actually enabled her laziness). I have helped out my second wife because she is disabled when she is sick or has bad bouts of pain.

    But what I believe you missed is when you use the phrase “split the home/parenting duties”. That is something you believe in and I know that you and your husband practice that concept based on previous discussions and I am not trying to bring up that old fight. But in this post I am directly attacking that concept(and I mean nothing personal toward you and your hubby) but Christian husbands and wives should not be splitting home/parenting duties.

    The home belongs to the wife – period.

    If a husband helps out his wife on different occasions based on his discretion than that is fine. But in my view literally dividing up the household chores(you cook this day, I will cook that day) goes against Biblical gender roles. Caring for the physical needs the children belongs to the wife. The father is to teach and discipline the children and the mother teaches and disciplines the children under his guidance.

    In my understanding of the Scriptures – a man should not be dividing up duties that solely belong to his wife. He can help her, but she should never ever EXPECT him to do so in these areas. Your idea for dividing up the household duties would do just that – put an expectation on him in area that belongs to her.

    I am not saying this to try and change your mind – I know you and I have deep convictions on this that conflict. I am just making this statement for my readers.

  12. The wife’s obligation is to submit to her husband in all things, not negotiate an equitable division of labor.
    Likewise the husband’s obligation is to care for his wife, particularly in sanctifying her but also in protection and provision. If the husband is not obeying God the wife still has the command to be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives when they see your respectful and pure conduct. (1 Peter 3:1-2 )

    This is not an issue for the church to arbitrate. It is not the pastor’s jurisdiction to adjust the amount and type of labor that a husband is doing, it is between the husband and God alone. The family and church are distinct jurisdictions and the church has no authority in the governance of the household, God has made the husband the head not the elders.

    As BGR pointed out the industry of the Proverbs 31 woman allowed her husband to focus his energies on sitting in the gates with the elders. In other words he is focused on a mission that involves more than just his household and he can do so because his wife, who is worth more than rubies, handles the daily administration of the home without his involvement. His heart safely trusts in her, for she does him good and no harm all the days of her life. She executes his vision for home faithfully and without him needing to micro manage or pick up the slack. That is a far cry from entitled wife syndrome or the discontented disrespectful attitude of the contentious women.

    Something that has not been discussed is that the head of the house carries a burden and responsibility to rule his household well according to the Word. This takes prayer, study and meditation – which looks to many observers like being a couch potato, but is really necessary for leadership in the home. Additionally he must make evaluations about how the state of the home, where are the members spiritually, what can be done to lead each member to spiritual growth, what dangers threaten the safety of the home, what memories and events need to be planned, where are the financial resources and what plans should be made to conserve or grow them. Leadership takes thought and time, what some think is lazy is the labor of a leader. Oh did I mention prayer? Yep a husband lifts his household up in prayer often while sitting in the lazy boy, that does not make him a lazy boy, but the spiritual head who like Christ is lifting his charges up to the throne of grace. Ladies do not know the burden of responsibility because they think it is privilege and not duty. Again a woman who is grateful for a husband who leads her is rare – An excellent wife who can find? Proverbs 31:10

  13. @Jonadab,

    Thank you for your last comment. Your reminders about the importance of a husband’s prayer and scriptural studies are valuable for wives everywhere.

  14. BGR, I believe there is a misunderstanding at play here. When I refer to splitting home/parenting duties (the latter of which happen naturally and is part of why a child needs both a father and a mother), I’m not referring to a constant and unchanging 100% even split of duties. I don’t want to get into too many specifics because I do believe this will look differently for each couple, but for M, her asking for her husband’s advice here (in the form of a letter to keep negative emotions at bay), is inviting him to take the lead here. He may come back and say she should be doing all of it. He may come back with a list of chores that are mostly his responsibility and a list of chores that are mostly her’s, or he might come up with something else entirely. At the very least, I’d hope that he would see ways he could be spending more time with their child and prioritize that.

    You say you disagree with splitting household duties, but you do the exact same thing. You’ve said previously that you don’t feel comfortable with your wife taking out the trash. So that’s a household duty that you have taken upon yourself. Now I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a wife taking out the trash, but that’s something that you have voluntarily chosen to do and I’m guessing she expects it at this point (I would hope she still shows gratitude and appreciation but I know better than to assume that).

    The letter approach is basically a chance for a wife to tell her husband ‘these are my concerns, how would you like to address them?’. The husband may choose to do nothing about it if he so chooses, but my approach is not locking couples into some sort of contract based on the false assumption that all household work must be divided evenly. You mentioned how my husband and I handle this in our family, but I honestly don’t remember discussing that. What we do this year is vastly different than what we did last year d/t my husband’s immensely increased workload.

  15. Thank you for this. I appreciate your thoughts and align my beliefs with Biblical teaching, which your post supports. Our society has tarnished gender roles due to the feminist movement. Without these specific differences in men and women set up by The Lord Himself, we can see the deterioration of the family unit it has caused in our society.

  16. AnnaMS,

    First let me say that I completely agree with the “letter approach” to handling issues in marriage. I use this with my wife often and I encourage her to do it as well. In fact sometimes we even use texting to communicate short things. Letters and texting allow us to say some things that need to be said but help to diffuse things emotionally at times.

    But even if the duties are not 100% evenly split or in the form of an unchanging contract women must be careful of having an expectant attitude toward their husbands in regard to the affairs of the home. A Christian woman should always have this attitude about the affairs of her home:

    “If my husband steps in and helps with a particular thing – I will be grateful and accept his help. If he chooses not to step in and help I will not grow bitter or angry at him for not doing so but will pray for strength from God to help me do the duties he has given me.”

    Your statement:

    “You say you disagree with splitting household duties, but you do the exact same thing. You’ve said previously that you don’t feel comfortable with your wife taking out the trash. So that’s a household duty that you have taken upon yourself. Now I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a wife taking out the trash, but that’s something that you have voluntarily chosen to do and I’m guessing she expects it at this point (I would hope she still shows gratitude and appreciation but I know better than to assume that).”

    You are correct that I previously stated this about taking out the trash at my house:

    If u look at what Jamie said she was clear that it was about what the men in her house did. Her husband as the head of her house has determined that for their house the men will do those things.

    In my house I would not be comfortable with my wife taking out the trash or mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. I consider those tasks for me or my boys to do. But in another man’s house he may have no problem with his wife doing those things. I think based on Jamie’s comments she respects this concept.

    Now based on the fact that God calls the woman the keeper of the home I think that women should handle the majority of domestic duties but there is still some room for discretion by husbands.”


    So yes I or my teenage sons take care of taking out the trash, shoveling snow in the winter and mowing the lawn during the Summer.

    Here is the reason I take out the trash or have my boys do it. It is because we have a 33 gallon trash can that we use as our main trash can in our Kitchen and dining room area. Then we have many little trash cans(like in the bathroom or bedrooms) that are perhaps 2 gallon cans. The bags from these smaller cans are taken and put into our main large 33 gallon can and then that trash goes out to big plastic dumpsters we have from the city.

    My wife has always had back issues – even before she had the car accident back in 2012. Is she capable of taking out the trash – sure. But it is very difficult on her back so I voluntarily have told her not to do it and if I am not around I have asked her to ask one my teenage sons.

    I still allow her to take the small 2 gallon cans from the bathroom or bedroom and dump those into the 33 gallon can. There are other maintenance related tasks around the house that I take care of as well.

    So yes is this technically a division of labor with things that happen to do with the care of the home? Yes. However there are some key points to make. My wife is not allowed to have an expectant attitude with me. If it takes me a little bit to put the trash out then she can wait. Because of my wife’s physical disabilities – I truly feel this is an example bearing anothers burden that is too difficult for them to bear. Lastly – lets remember that one of the things that God wants us as men to do is to demonstrate his strength. I believe when men step in and help women take care of heavy labor things(like taking out the trash, moving furniture, shoveling snow) that we are playing out the symbolism of God being our strength.

    When I think of the affairs of the home – I am looking at what it is included in Proverbs 31. The woman makes or buys clothing, she plants a garden, she prepares food and she goes shopping for the needs of the home. So in my home – based on the Proverbs 31 model – I expect my wife to be keeping a list of what we need in our home and going to the grocery store and getting those things. I expect her to be coming up with meals and making sure the laundry is done. I expect her to be telling me when new clothes are needed for herself or my children, or towels or bed sheets. These are all the affairs of the home that I should not have to worry about and know that she has in hand.

    Now are there weeks will I voluntarily step in and say “hey babe – give me the grocery list and I will go take care that today”. Sure. But it is not expected. If I do not ask – she takes care of it. Are there days when my wife is hurting and I tell her “take it easy and I will cook tonight” – Sure. But again this should not be expected.

    I work from home and I have a home office. There are some days when I have a very mentally stressful day at my job and I come up out of my office and I don’t want to lift a finger around the house. I am ready to sit on the couch – turn on the news and just veg out. Even if my wife has had a stressful day as well and would like my help with dinner(sometimes we do it together) should I feel guilty because I have sat on the couch? No. It is my discretion. Are there times when I help even in my state – sure.

    If a wife gets to the point that whenever she is tired or has issues that she expects her husband to automatically jump in and help or she will get angry if he sits that is big problem on her part. That is wrong. That is expecting something that she has no right to expect.

    Women need to look at their husband’s assistance in the affairs of the home as a gift, not an expectation.

    My wife can have an expectation that to the best of my ability I will work and provide for our family. That when she goes shopping for our food that money will be there. But she does NOT have the right to become angry at me for getting off work – sitting on the couch and not helping with various things around the house where she things I should be.

    That was my point here with M. Was her husband being lazy and sleeping too much – maybe, maybe not. But as Jonadab said this is between him and God and it is not her responsibility. But she is not owed his help with things around the house. What if he was not sleeping so much but instead spent all his time educating himself further for his job, or reading the Scriptures, or engaging in things other than helping her? He certainly could not be accused of laziness – but at the same time would not be helping her either.

    My point in all of this is this. Can men help their wives around the house – sure. In fact I would argue that sometimes they absolutely should. But this is between them and God – it is their discretion and a wife should never have an expectation toward her husband in regard to him helping with things like cooking, laundry(clothing issues) and cleaning the house. These are things that Proverbs 31 shows us clearly belong to the domain of the home which God has given to the wife.

  17. I agree with your recent comment, BGR, and you had stated previously that this was an area under a husband’s discretion rather than a one size fits all approach. What I don’t agree with is that a husband assuming responsibility for a particular household duty/ies violates the concept of biblical gender roles.

    I agree with what you and others have said about wives having particular expectations.

  18. AnnaMs,
    I agree that this is a perfect example of an area where u as a wife should follow your husbands spiritual leadership as in all areas.

    Really my target audience for this particular post would not be a woman like you. You follow your husband’s leadership in these and other areas as God would have you to do.

    My target audience in this post is all Christian husbands including yours asking them to prayerfully consider the positions I have posited here although I am not kidding myself that a Christian man with as strong convictions as your husband will change his position.

    But other Christian husbands who have never heard some of these scriptures might so this is for them. But it is also for wives who unlike yourself do not follow their husbands leadership but instead have a unisex and partnership view of marriage. This is to challenge them as well.

  19. I understand your target audience and appreciate your willingness to highlight effects of feminism on our society and on Christian families. But stating possible solutions as across-the-board Biblical truths is disingenuous (and, taken to an extreme, can lead to heresy although I am NOT accusing you of that).

    It does not “go against the Biblical gender roles” for you to take out the trash (or to delegate it to another non-wife person). Nor was it for my husband to make dinners last year when I worked during the day, would come home around 8 pm, and was highly sensitive to smells. Nor is it for my husband to make dinner simply because he enjoys preparing a particular dish even if I’m not particularly busy that day. Nor is it for men like Don Aslett to have a highly successful career based on janitorial work. Nor is it for a wife to hire a servant to do household jobs (cue Proverbs 31 woman here). I think you catch my drift.

    Fixing heart issues (which is the real problem with M here) is very rarely helped by insisting on very specific cookie cutter solutions when the Bible doesn’t go nearly that in detail.

  20. AnnaMS,

    I think you are missing something I repeatedly said. It is not wrong for a man to cook or a woman to take out the trash. There will be times when husbands have to step into their wife’s domain and wife’s have to step into their husband’s domain. For instance if a woman’s husband becomes permanently disabled she may have to pull double duty and work and take care of the home. On the flip side – if a man’s wife becomes disabled he may have to step into his wife’s domain and take care of the needs of the home as well as working to provide – again double duty.

    Again this is about so much more than who does what. It is about the fact that God calls woman the “keeper of the home” and this is described in Proverbs 31. I always find it interesting that people point to the reference in Proverbs 31:15 about the virtuous wife’s “maidens”(female servants) as if somehow this justifies a woman hiring out her household duties. What is missed in Proverbs 31 is it says the virtuous wife, and NOT her maidens, is the one doing all these activities.

    Your husband helping you out while you were pregnant and sick was a noble act and does not contradict my point. I have conceded that husbands should help their wife’s in these situations. And even if you were not sick and your husband occasionally feels like cooking a certain meal he enjoys cooking again – this does not conflict with my point I am trying to make.

    Your example of Don Aslett also misses my point. A man cleaning other people’s homes(such as a butler) or a man being a janitor is a noble profession. A man working at a laundry in hotel or a laundry mat doing laundry is also a nobel profession.

    Remember this is not about a man cooking, cleaning or doing laundry. It is about God saying the woman is the keeper of the home. It is about the fact that Proverbs 31 tells us many other things she does including the fact that this woman takes care of the clothing needs of her home(which would include laundry), she takes care of the cooking for the home, and looks well to the way of her household. If she is not the one doing the vast majority of these tasks it breaks God’s command that she is to be the keeper of the home and it also breaks the symbolism of marriage.

    We are not talking about exceptions like when a man chips in on the duties of the keeper of the home(the wife) – we are talking about this being the pattern of a couple’s married life. If you want to call Proverbs 31 a “cookie cutter solution” then that is your prerogative. But I and a host of other Christians world wide and historically see it as a Biblical example of a wife’s responsibilities to her husband and his home.

    I know you and I(and your husband) have a common faith and a common love for the Lord. We also have a common belief in male headship and the submission of a wife although we often disagree on what those things look like when we get into the details. This is just going to be one of those times where we will have to agree to disagree on the particulars of the roles God meant men and women to play out in marriage.

  21. I don’t think that AnnaMS was saying that Proverbs 31 proves that it’s okay for a wife to hire a maid and then sit back and play Candy Crush while the maid cleans the house. I think that she was saying if the wife needs help with household chores (either because her husband owns a very large house and/or estate, like the Proverbs 31 wife, or because she’s disabled), then it’s okay if she, like the Proverbs 31 wife, hires help, supervises that help, and works alongside that help so that her household can be as productive as possible. For example, I imagine that the Proverbs 31 wife’s maidservants were weaving along with her to produce surplus linen and cloth to sell.

  22. AnnaMS,

    There was a couple of other things I wanted to address.

    First I wanted to bring up a few more points about the “maidens”(female servants) of Proverbs 31:15. The Bible did not forbid men from taking on male and female servants or slaves to assist with farming or domestic issues. In fact we see many famous women including Sarah, and Rachel and Leah having maidens(they got their maidens from their father). However what Proverbs 31 shows us is that these women used these maidens as a support in doing their work as the keeper of their homes. They did not abandon these tasks to these women as we see so many women today do.

    Whether it is a famous movie star couple or other wealthy women today who have never so much as boiled a pot of water in the service of their home or changed a diaper on their own child – this is not what God intended. This constitutes a dereliction of duty on the part of a wife and a mother.

    On the flip side we have the Mr. Mom phenomenon. Men who actually seek out a woman to marry that will go out and provide so they can stay home and take care of the children and the affairs of the home. Our world says “hey why not – if it makes them both happy what is the big deal?” The “big deal” is that it breaks the model of a husband and wife as God meant them to be.

    God’s design matters. It is our sin nature which corrupts that design making men want to pursue things God meant for women and making women pursue things God meant for men. Sin makes some men have a desire to submit to their wives and it makes some women have a desire to lead their husbands.
    Sin corrupts God’s design and we must recognize those corruptions and fight against them and conform ourselves not to this world – but the pattern of his design.

  23. My point is that the Proverbs 31 woman isn’t a cookie cutter role. To attempt to force it to be one is to grossly misuse the passage. Also keep in mind that I believe that a mom should seek to be at home with her children to the extent that she can. So if a woman can afford to hire tons of outside help, my guess is she can also afford (or perhaps instead afford) to stay home with her children. I’m not advocating for moms to be lazy or to leave the home because they have someone else there to pick up the slack.

    I’ve also mentioned here (not on this post but on previous ones) that my mom was a SAHM and I was immensely blessed by it (and in some ways, probably still am). But I want to be very clear on this: my mom was not a Proverbs 31 woman because she stayed home and took care of the house. She stayed home and took care of the house because she was a Proverbs 31 woman. The difference is key. I work 3 nights a week because I try to be a Proverbs 31 woman (if I randomly quit, I would be doing my husband evil and he would not be able to safely trust me). My friend from church works 1 night a week because she tries to be a Proverbs 31 woman. My care group is led by 2 men. One of their wives is a SAHM and a Proverbs 31 woman. The other one has no children yet but nobody who knows her (least of all her husband) would deny that she is also a Proverbs 31 women.

    Seeking to force a particular Proverbs 31 mold can only be done if one takes every part of the passage extremely literally (or if they pick and choose portions but that’s very intellectually dishonest and arguing in bad faith). So if there is in fact one Proverbs 31 woman, she’d better not get any sleep (v18), be into real estate (v16), and her husband better be a wealthy politician (v23). One can no more say “God intended wives to handle the clothes, see Proverbs 31:22”, than they can say “if you want a virtuous wife, be a wealthy politician, see Proverbs 31:23”.

    I do believe that God gives men and women different talents and women are quite often better at domestic skills. This is why even secular families often split the labor that way even though it’s not part of their religion. I don’t have a problem with that, and I definitely see that wives are supposed to be managing the home (which is not the same as doing all the work). But that’s a very broad phrase. So I’d argue that God doesn’t actually care who does the dishes. He puts the home as the wive’s responsibility and if she delegates it to a willing husband, a child, outside help, or does it herself (provided she is acting according to her husband’s leadership), there is no sin in it.

    I am all about husband/wife relationships as outlined in the Bible. But I will fight the idea that a particular application is better than another where the Bible is actually silent, any day of the week. It is VERY toxic to get an idea of what a “masculine man” or a “feminine woman” looks like where the Bible does not give specifics. Growing up, my church choir had the idea that women/girls had high feminine voices and men and boys past puberty had low masculine ones. So they thought all females should be soprano. My sister was not and they kept trying to shame her and tell her she was trying to be someone God hadn’t intended her to be. She had a lovely voice, just not a huge range, but if they had left her alone, she would have been a huge asset to their choir. Shortly after that, she walked away from the faith. That was her own choice and I hold nobody else responsible, but the people who tried to make Christianity all about how low a woman could sing without violating a Biblical gender role, did not do her any favors.

  24. AnnaMS,

    Your Statement:

    “Seeking to force a particular Proverbs 31 mold can only be done if one takes every part of the passage extremely literally (or if they pick and choose portions but that’s very intellectually dishonest and arguing in bad faith). So if there is in fact one Proverbs 31 woman, she’d better not get any sleep (v18), be into real estate (v16), and her husband better be a wealthy politician (v23). One can no more say “God intended wives to handle the clothes, see Proverbs 31:22”, than they can say “if you want a virtuous wife, be a wealthy politician, see Proverbs 31:23”.”

    I make no apologies for being a Biblical literalist. I have been one my whole life and certainly do not stand alone in this school of thought. If you have not read my three part series here on my philosophy of Biblical hermeneutics I highly encourage you to do so. Not that it will necessarily change your mind on these or other issues – but it will give you insight into my thoughts and understanding of Scripture as God has revealed it to me in my life.


    One thing that all Biblical literalists(including myself) recognize is the occurrence of allegory and hyperboles(exagerations to make a point) in Scripture. They are found throughout the Old and New Testaments. So when Proverbs 31:18 says “her candle goeth not out by night.” inferring she stays up all night it is not saying she does this every night. It is saying such a woman would be willing to stay up all night when it is required.

    But just because in that one statement a hyperbole or allegory is made we cannot write off the entire chapter, or book as being allegorical and hyperbole. To do so is to take the power from the Scriptures. Her husband being a wealthy politician is “descriptive”, not “prescriptive”. Now his action of praising her in verse 28 is actually prescriptive and I have used it many times to teach men that they should praise their wives for the excellent job they do in taking care of their homes. The Bible does not say she was real estate agent(or the ancient equivalent of it)- it says she bought a field and planted it. Again – I have never ever said on this site that women cannot go outside of the home to work. But nothing they do outside the home should result in them neglecting what they must do in their homes – that is my point.

    There is no doubt that the Proverbs 31 woman is a very industrious and ambitious woman. But she is industrious and ambitious toward serving her husband and her home – not her own interests.

    I have also repeatedly said on this site that I recognize there will be situations where women have to take jobs outside the home. It might because the husband is ill or becomes disabled. It might be because the family has fallen on hard times and the husband asks his wife to seek income by working outside the home.

    On the issue of being a “Proverbs 31 woman” – I don’t think any wife can perfectly live up to that standard anymore than any man can perfectly live up to being an Ephesians 5:25-29 husband. However these things should be the standard to which we ascribe to be even if we will never reach perfection in this life.

    Also as far as your job situation goes – No you should not quit your job. Your husband wants you to work outside the home – he has made that determination so you should. He is your spiritual leader. But if he asks you to work outside the home then you should – if asks you to give up your career and stay home then you should.

    The situation with your sister is indeed a sad one – but it is a bad example. There is nothing in the Scriptures about women having to sing low or high parts – so those Church folks went beyond the Scriptures. But Proverbs 31 does describe a woman who while even if she has maids to help her takes the lead – gets her hands dirty and is involved in every aspect of her home. It also shows a man who has nothing to worry about when he comes home – not a man who gets delegated tasks by his wife when he comes home.

    So yes you see Proverbs 31 as more of an allegorical guideline to being a good wife where I see it as a blueprint set of instructions.

    If I am right that it is in fact a literal blue print, as opposed to an allegorical guideline, then God in fact DOES care who does the dishes as my theme of my post posits.

  25. It seems as though part of what you’re debating here is the applicability of Proverbs 31 to women today. As BGR has said, there are descriptive elements and hyperbole contained in the verses, but that doesn’t override the prescriptive elements. To start, even when that chapter was first given, most women would not have had the means to literally do everything described in the verses. They wouldn’t necessarily have maidservants to feed, and they certainly wouldn’t be able to clothe their servants in rich colors like scarlet or themselves in purple and gold. They also wouldn’t have the means to buy a choice plot of land and hire workers to plant a vineyard. (After all, even Jezebel, a queen, was willing t kill to get her husband a choice vineyard when the owner wouldn’t sell it.) But they still could have applied some of the principles from those examples. Even if they didn’t a wealthy husband or hired help, they could still mobilize their children and make their household as productive as possible. They could still produce some surprlus fabric to sell at the markets and make the best clothes and bed coverings that they could afford.

    And in a modern context, women can apply those same principles of making the household productive without trying to plant a literal vineyard. They probably won’t be weaving surplus linen, but they could potentially knit goods to sell online (if it’s profitable, of course) or make jewelry or maintain a rental property with their spare time. But even if they don’t have the time or the money to engage in these projects to bring in more income, they can still take pride in their home and make it the best, most presentable, and most comfortable home that it can be.

  26. Well proverbs 31 doesn’t even mention dishes, so there’s nothing literal about that. She is very involved in her home and should be, but the main emphasis is that things were done, not on who did them (example being her family is clothed vs she clothed them). Obviously women and men should be willing to get their hands dirty. I’ve never advocated otherwise. Should women be focused on home to the extent they can? Absolutely! But trying to say the Bible gives specifics on exactly how housework should be broken down is adding to Scripture every bit as much as my former church did.

    You might not like that example, but it’s only one of many. Christians today get sidetracked into whether women should wear pants, how long their hair should be, how much time they spend doing housework (both too much and too little), etc. I know you’ve seen at least some of this on your blog. There are a rather large number of people who view Christianity that way. Not exactly examples of being good witnesses to a watching world.

    There was a book my parents had when I was a kid that interpreted “keepers at home ” to mean girls shouldn’t learn to drive because it enabled them to leave home (not as in running away, but they were even opposed to grocery shopping because it was not staying at home and could be raped). Their book was chock full of Scripture, but they were clearly off the deep end. I hate to think how many unbelievers read that with rightful scorn.

    If God cares who does the dishes, why are you okay with my husband doing dinner dishes after I leave for work? I tell him he can leave them for me, but at least half the time he does them if I couldn’t before I left? Exactly how often can he do them before it’s sin (with Biblical support, of course)? Cuz it seems that women are supposed to do dishes, but every example of men doing so here has been totally cool with you. Coming from the same person who argues God never changes what he wants so OT laws are applicable today? How do you not see the blatant contradiction?

  27. @Anna,

    I think that BGR is okay with your husband doing the dishes in the circumstances that you described for the same reason that he understands why you work outside the home at this moment. It’s not ideal, but sometimes Christians, especially husbands and wives, need to help others with their burden. A man doing the dishes for his sick wife or a man pitching in more around the house because he has judged that his wife needs to work outside the home is very different from a man doing the dishes all the time because his wife doesn’t budget her time well or is just being lazy.

  28. Oh I get that’s why he’s okay with it. What I don’t see is Biblical support for exactly how much help a husband should give and how much is on the wife. Which is why I don’t give specific suggestions and call them Biblical commands. There’s no getting around the fact that there is extra-Biblical teaching here and while I think it is helpful and is how I do things, phrasing it as something God commands is…well, you know how God feels about adding to Scripture.

    I’m not actually arguing the cultural relevance of Proverbs 31, and try to use it in my life. But the very fact that a lot of women were unable to follow it in its ever since it was written, shows that it’s not a list of specific “must do ” for wives. I see it more as highlighting how women are to be God-focused, family-focused, and wise (the latter helping make the first 2 successful and not on its own). Is that not the goal?

  29. Alex,

    Your Statement:

    “It seems as though part of what you’re debating here is the applicability of Proverbs 31 to women today. As BGR has said, there are descriptive elements and hyperbole contained in the verses, but that doesn’t override the prescriptive elements.”

    This exactly what I am trying to communicate. Well said.
    And you are absolutely right that while few if any one woman could do everything prescribed in Proverbs 31 we cannot throw it away because it is too hard or seems impossible. Trust me – from a man’s perspective it is very hard to love our wives as Christ loved the church – talk about a high standard!

    For some men it is difficult to show them grace and mercy, and yes some men are lazy. Other men are fearful of disciplining their wives and calling them out. Some men don’t know how to tell their wives “no”.

    It is hard to meet God’s standards both as husbands and as wives. But just because it is hard does not mean we can change the standard to make it fit our modern perceptions of gender and marriage.

  30. Alex,

    Your Statement:

    “A man doing the dishes for his sick wife or a man pitching in more around the house because he has judged that his wife needs to work outside the home is very different from a man doing the dishes all the time because his wife doesn’t budget her time well or is just being lazy.”

    Again – you have understood well what I have been saying.

  31. AnnaMS,

    Your Statement:

    “Oh I get that’s why he’s okay with it. What I don’t see is Biblical support for exactly how much help a husband should give and how much is on the wife. Which is why I don’t give specific suggestions and call them Biblical commands.”

    Let me see if I can be very concise here(at least in answer to your formula question):

    In the Scriptural admonitions of Titus 2:5 and I Timothy 5:14 God reaffirms that the entire responsibility of keeping the home is given to the wife. He had previously given a description of this role in Proverbs 31.

    So this the formula to answer your question “how much is on the wife”.

    It is ALL on the wife.

    A wife should approach the affairs of the home as if her husband is not going to lift a finger and SHE IS OK WITH THAT. Your example of you telling your telling your husband not to worry about the dishes when you leave for work and you will get them later is a perfect example of what a woman should do if she is following the Proverbs 31 example.

    But then your husband doing them for you while you were gone to work was an act of love on his part. How often should he do it? Well that is less of an exact formula and more a principled decision on his part. The Bible says we should help those with burdens they could not be reasonably expected to bear on their own. But if a person can bear a load – we should allow them to carry their own load else we may enable laziness and dereliction of their duties.

    The big problem I was focusing on in this post was not husbands helping their wives from time to time – there is nothing wrong with that and in fact it can be the right thing to do when he is following the Holy Spirit’s direction. The main target of my post was women expecting these things from their husbands.

    Like many women who in your exact situation would get angry if they left and came home to find the dishes had not been washed and their husband was on the couch watching TV. That is extremely common for women to today and it is Biblically wrong. If M and other Christian women had the attitude “The home is my God given responsibility and any help I get from my husband I will consider a bonus” we would solve a lot of marital strife.

    But yes there is secondary message in this post for Christian men. Some Christian men do need to help their wives – but they can only know when it is right by following the spirit. If a man is helping is wife just because she is nagging him and expecting him too that is the wrong reason to help her. He may be helping to enable a lazy wife in this case. He also needs to teach his wife not to expect his help – but instead be grateful whenever it is offered.

    There is another Christian man – the Mr. Mom that needs to heed this message as well. It is one thing to help your wife from time to time – it is quite another to assume her role and give yours to her. God has called men to provide for their wives and he has called women to serve their husbands through their domestic service to the home. A woman who delegates all her responsibilities in these areas to others(including hired workers, her children and her husband) while she goes out and pursues a career has broken God’s model for marriage and the Proverbs 31 model of what the keeper of the home is.

  32. BGR, I get what you’re saying and I obviously apply the same thing in my own marriage with a good deal of success. However, I still think you are adding to Scripture and contradicting yourself in places. I see 2 main areas.

    1: you said in a previous comment that the home belongs to the wife–period. However, in previous posts, you have discussed that a husband cannot “have it both ways” in expecting a wife to both work outside the home and handle everything in the home as well. This is why focusing on a wife’s managing a home is much better (and more Biblical) than splitting hairs over who cleans the silverware. It is still her responsibility to make sure the home runs smoothly, just as our finances are ultimately my husband’s responsibility. He may do the dishes sometimes, and I might work 3 nights a week, but we still know who has which responsibilities. Not ideal, but not unbiblical either.

    2: you said that literally dividing up the housework goes against Biblical gender roles. However, there is simply no verse that says that. Again, you can split hairs, but essentially you have split duties with your wife where you are responsible for the trash (either doing it yourself or finding someone else to). My parents split duties where my dad handled the grill, the vacuuming, the mowing, and anything too heavy for my mom who also has back problems. She was responsible for the rest. As their kids got older, we took on responsibilities from both of them. It was still my mom’s ultimate responsibility, and she kept a cleaning schedule so things stayed up to date, and ensured the house was ready when company came. That’s all as it should be, but arguing that God cares about who does which duties, especially when it’s apparently fine for either person to do it, is extra-biblical and illogical. If you’re a hardcore Biblical literalist, find the word dishes before saying that God cares about who does them. God cares that they get done, that the wife manages the home, and that she’s following her husband’s leadership on this. But that provides a ton of leeway not recognized in the phrase”God cares who does the dishes.”

    I get that you’re trying to address wrongful expectations on the part of the wife and I completely agree with that (although I don’t think it would be wrong to ask my husband to do the dishes instead of offering to do them the next day). But when you branch off of that, it seems to make the errors outlined above.

  33. Let me try to clarify this. It seems like you are starting with the Biblical phrase “keepers at home” referring to the wife and drawing the following conclusions. 1: the wife needs to do the dishes. 2: actually, the husband can as well. 3: wives can respectfully ask for help with the dishes. 4: actually, the Proverbs 31 model is for the wife to instead offer to do them later. 5: the husband should help in some situations. 6: actually, the husband is fine not lifting a finger to help.

    Other than the nearly constant contradicting, the Bible doesn’t say anything about it except for #3.

    This is really not so different from the couple who started with the keepers at home phrase and wound up saying a woman being able to drive was unbiblical. Same game, different name.

  34. Not just Proverbs 31 calls a woman to keep the home it is in the NT as well.

    Titus 2:3-5 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things — that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

  35. To further clarify (and I do apologise for 3 comments in a row), each of the 6 conclusions in my last comment can be completely accurate in a variety of situations. That’s why I think we need to avoid a cookie cutter solution or labeling one as the biblical solution (where does that leave the others???)

    Honestly, this is going to look completely different for a lot of families for reasons and situations we know nothing about. That’s not a bad thing.

  36. Jonadab,

    I have referenced Titus 2:3-5 as well as I Timothy 5:14 previously. AnnaMS is not arguing against women being the keepers of the home – she is simply arguing what it means. That is why our argument has focused on Proverbs 31 as to the particulars of what that looks like. She is arguing that we cannot have a cookie-cutter approach and apply Proverbs 31 too literally. She has argued that the phrase “keeper of the home” nor references to the woman various chores in the house in Proverbs means women have to do any particular chores – i.e. because dishes are not mentioned in Proverbs 31 God does not care if the wife does them.

    I am arguing that it is obvious that the keeper of the home would handle all these types of domestic affairs – cooking, cleaning(including dishes) and laundry. I have argued that men that turn themselves into Mr. Moms are violating the Biblical model of marriage.

  37. AnnaMS,

    Your Statement:

    “1: the wife needs to do the dishes. 2: actually, the husband can as well. 3: wives can respectfully ask for help with the dishes. 4: actually, the Proverbs 31 model is for the wife to instead offer to do them later. 5: the husband should help in some situations. 6: actually, the husband is fine not lifting a finger to help.”

    These points do not conflict at all.

    1. By default the wife needs to do the dishes. She should never have an expectant attitude that he should chip in and do them.

    2. The husband can at his own discretion do the dishes for his wife – but this should be the exception – not the norm.

    3. Yes a wife can respectfully ask for her husband for help with the dishes. However she should not do this lightly. Before she asks him she ask herself some questions – “Am I asking for help because I was disorganized with my time and did not do them as I should have? Is the reason I am asking because my husband is sending me out to help with the providing role of our home or because I have a problem with laziness? Is this a pattern of behavior for me or this an exception to the norm that I normally take care of these things?” Lastly on this point number 3. The wife should make sure not only asks respectfully – but also not in an expectant way. She should ask in way that if he were to say no for any reason she would not be angry at him.

    4. I think the word “offering” is a bit incorrect in the context of the wife. It implies she does not have to do the dishes later if her husband does not. Instead “offer” would be best use in the case of the husband who “offers” to do something that belongs to his wife that she cannot expect him to do.

    5. Yes do I think the husband should help in some situations? Absolutely. But that is not for his wife to expect or demand. That decision is between him and God alone. There is no contradiction. Him helping her though should be for exceptional circumstances – otherwise he runs the risk of allowing wife to break the model of marriage which includes her be the keeper of the home.

    6. A husband not lifting a finger to help could be absolutely fine in some situations. If a wife has been lazy and disorganized and her husband believes this is the reason she is needing help he should not help her. To do so is to further enable her laziness and disorganization. She must learn from her own mistakes. Again a husband needs to prayerfully look at the circumstances before he steps in to help. He must ask himself these questions “Am I just doing this to appease my wife even though I know she is lazy and disorganized? Is she truly overburdened in this situation or is she trying to take the easy way out? Even if my wife is overburdened and this was not a result laziness or disorganization on her part – is she asking in a disrespectful or expectant way? If she is asking in the wrong way is this rare for her and I should just show her mercy and grace in this situation and do this for her? Did I bring this situation on her by asking her to help me with providing for the home?” You see there are a lot of questions a husband should ask himself before helping his wife. There are many ways in the answers to these questions and other questions could make his answer “no” and there would be no sin on his part in saying no to his wife.

    Your Statement:

    “This is really not so different from the couple who started with the keepers at home phrase and wound up saying a woman being able to drive was unbiblical. Same game, different name.”

    Nothing in the Scriptures forbids a woman from leaving her home to shop or do other things. Even Proverbs 31 show the wife leaving the home but her focus was always back on her home. Sorry but it is very different. I am arguing that the domestic duties of the home(which includes washing dishes) belong to the wife. That is the keeper of the home.

    You can try and continue to argue technicalities like husbands taking on taking out the trash because to make people feel that all the duties of the home are interchangeable and God does not care but I believe I have presented a compelling case from these passages why they are not.

    You keep saying the Bible says nothing about this because it does not have the word “dishes” – but I truly believe that anyone who takes a honest look at Proverbs 31:10-31, Titus 2:5, I Timothy 5:14 understands that it is obvious that washing dishes is a part of the keeping the home. Proverbs 31 talks about a woman making sure her family is properly clothed and property fed and that “she looks well to the ways of her household” and you want to claim the that the “ways of her household” does not include doing dishes. If you want to tell yourself that then keep doing that.

    The fact is that Proverbs 31 is an extremely convicting passage for modern women. It strikes at the core of our feminist, uni-sex and “interchangeable roles” society. The push back against the Proverbs 31 duties of a wife only proves how the passage starts out – “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”. It was difficult back then to find women who would accept and live up to this standard and it not just difficult today with the poisonous influences of feminism on our society – it is practically impossible. That is why Christian men truly have their work cut out for them in training in their wives in the Word of God.

  38. First, you didn’t address how the home is always on the wife all the time but how the husband can’t have it both ways if she needs to work outside the home.

    Second, the six conclusions are not contradictory in that they can be acceptable at different times. They are contradictory in that they cannot be across the board true. A wife cannot need to do the dishes and have God care about it and at the exact same time have it be totally cool for the husband to do it instead. More simply, a wife cannot need to do the dishes and not need to at the same time.

    Thirdly, you seem to be under the impression that God cares that the wife does the dishes but somehow doesn’t care if she takes out the trash. I can’t help but notice that you didn’t name this post about trash. Why it is OK for you to always handle the trash but it’s not OK for my husband to decide to always handle the dishes is beyond me.

    If you’re such a Biblical literalist, than go with what the Bible actually says (that the wife is responsible to look after the home) and stop adding requirements that aren’t in there.

    Again, I think your points about a wife having false expectations and the husband not becoming Mr. Mom are both valid. Leave it at that and let the small details be decided by individual husbands.

  39. Nothing in Scripture forbids a wife from driving and nothing in Scripture commands that a wife needs to be the one doing the dishes. You are both interpreting specific details into the verse that aren’t there. And yes, your version is more sane at face value, but make no mistake, you’re doing the exact same thing.

    Ironically, they consider themselves Biblical literalist as well so the wife has to actually keep at home. Somehow they of course made exceptions for things that were important to them like going to church, just like you are with the trash.

    It’s the exact same mistake. Made different ways.

  40. The Greek term in 1 Tim 5:14 is transliterated oikodespoteo (I don’t know how to embed greek fonts in the comments) which is a compound word from oikos meaning home and despoteo from which we get the english word despot which means ruler. Paul tells Timothy that women should manage the home so that the adversary has no occasion to slander. Now a woman does not rule her husband who is her head but she does rule the home. She may have servants, children or appliances to help her, but the duty of the home is hers.

    I see the husband like the captain of the ship, he is responsible for every thing that happens on that ship, the crew, the maintenance and the mission of the ship all are his, but he delegates much of the work to his executive officer aka his wife. She interacts with the crew more often, (children and servants) over seeing training, discipline and work assignments and executes the captains orders on maintenance schedules and his emphases on culture and readiness. The XO has great responsibility and answers to the captain, the captain answers to his superiors and takes ownership of everything that happens on the ship. A bad XO makes the captain ineffective, yet he alone takes the blame, that is part of leadership. It is far better for the mission to have a dependable XO that one’s heart safely trusts in, that does him good and not evil all the days of her life. What is very good is for the captain to have the respect of and admiration of his xo and a close relationship with her where authority is not questioned, but under the right circumstances opinion is free shared and valued. It would be a dereliction for the XO to complain about the workload of the captain compared to their own or to let the galley become disorganized as a protest. It would be like the disciples refusing to preach the Gospel until Christ washed their feet and told them He loved them enough times that they felt appreciated and valued. We would all call them ungrateful with a false sense of entitlement with a deplorable lack of enthusiasm for their mission. But wives often seem to think in these terms, placing themselves above the mission and their feelings over honor for their lord.

    Being a home despot is not easy, neither is being an XO or a disciple, but complaining, shirking duty and micro-mutiny are not making the mission easier, not honoring the captain, not honoring the Lord, but undermining the captain and the mission. For all his faults captain Bligh was acquitted and his XO Fletcher Christian received a death sentence for his mutiny. But Bligh did stand trial, he had to answer and it was only a vigorous defense that led the tribunal to acquit him. Bligh in part to his disciplined leadership took a small crew over 4000 miles in a small craft to safety after being set adrift by the mutineers. God looks at submission and leadership from a mission standpoint, women from a “how does it affect me” standpoint, those vantages are in conflict.

  41. AnnaMS,

    Your Statement:

    “First, you didn’t address how the home is always on the wife all the time but how the husband can’t have it both ways if she needs to work outside the home.”

    This is actually an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast the duties of a husband and wife.

    1. The duty to provide for the home is ALWAYS on the husband.
    2. The duty to keep the home is ALWAYS on the wife.

    However sometimes a husband will have to ask his wife to help with his provision role by sending her to work outside the home. Other times a wife will feel the need to ask her husband for help with her duty to keep the home. The difference between the two is that the husband as his wife’s authority can expect that she will dutifully comply with his request to assist in his provision role. If a wife asks her husband for help with her duties of the home(even if she has been called upon by her husband to assist in his provision duties) as the one that is subject to her husband she cannot ask him in an expectant way because she does not command him – he commands her.

    A Christian husband should always have at the forefront of his mind before he ever asks his wife for assistance in the provider role he is causing that picture of “provider/keeper of the home” to break down. Sometimes because we live in a sin cursed world – husbands get sick or disabled, or husbands make bad financial decisions, or medical bills pile up because children were sick, or perhaps other extended family needs help.

    In the same way because we live in a cursed world – women sometimes have bad backs, get in car accident, have surgeries and other things happen that make it difficult for them to full their duties to the home. Husbands may need to assist their wives in these situations.

    AnnaMS – in a way you are doing exactly what many other people do in attacking the Biblical teaching of the submission of a wife to her husband(something you and I both believe in). They come in and say “you say wives have to submit to their husbands, but what if the husband does this…” and they provide a list of things that you and I would agree are exceptions to the submission rule.

    In the same way as a rule – husbands are to provide for their homes and wives are to keep their homes. So yes that means God DOES care who provides for the home and God DOES care who keeps the home – and part of keeping the home is doing the dishes. So yes God DOES care who does the dishes.

    Are there exceptions to that rule because of the fact we live in a sin cursed world just as there are exceptions to the rule of a wife submitting to her husband? Yes. But exceptions NEVER negate rules. They are just that – exceptions.

    You think it is a small detail – I think it is detail based on a larger command. We are not going to agree on this Anna. I think at this point we will have to agree to disagree. I will leave the last word to you. I have asked Dragonfly to weigh in here when she gets time as she has spent a lot of time studying Proverbs 31 and this subject is one that is close to her heart. I have no idea whether she will agree with me or you or come somewhere in the middle. I am just curious where she stands on this.

  42. Jonadab,

    I wrote a whole article about the wife as the Oikodespoteo.


    I agree with your analogy of the wife being the XO to the Captain of a ship. I have also used a different analogy with sports teams. It is very common for people to compare the husband and wife to a team – M even alluded to not feeling as “a team” with her husband because of the need for him to chip in more around the house. But usually the way people think of “team” is two equal players. The correct team analogy to marriage based on the Biblical world view is that the husband is the coach, the wife is the team captain and the other players are the children(or possibility hired workers). The husband as the coach sets the vision and the wife as the team captain executes that vision. The same way that we would think it strange for a Coach to run out on the field and start playing or we would think it strange for the team Captain to take on the coaches role coaching the team while the coach plays is how we should see it when husbands and wives have to help in each others roles. Yes it happens because we live in a sin cursed world. But we should see it as the exception and not the design of God.

  43. I am not actually trying to keep wives from doing housework. As I mentioned previously, a lot of secular families split the labor as described here (wife more likely to stay home or work part time while husband is more career focused), and even while having a full time job, I still do most of the housework. Women trying to use what I’m saying to get out of doing housework are barking up the wrong tree.

    I like how Jonadab said that wives “manage the home”. That is exactly what I’m advocating for. Most wives will manage by doing most of the work themselves. Some do it all, some hire it out, some have help from husbands or friends, and a lot pass on duties to children (which I think is important…I’ve met too many young adults who have never touched a scrubber). They still manage it. And that’s what God is commanding and how He normally skills women. Even when I had just had a baby and was very limited physically, I still had a mental inventory of what was in the house that my husband could prepare easily, when friends were bringing food, and what all needed to be done for normal upkeep of the house and what could wait a bit. Granted, my husband could have chosen not to follow my suggestions, and I’m sure he did in some areas, but I was still fulfilling my role as a wife. Obviously I wasn’t as efficient than as I am now, but I don’t see physical limitations as an excuse not to manage the home. So for your wife, she should monitor the trash and politely request for it to be emptied when it’s ready. She should then be respectful as to how and when you choose to do so.

    So whether the wife does the dishes or the trash on any given day isn’t mandated in Scripture. She needs to manage her home (which will likely involve doing a lot of housework herself), and she needs to submit to her husband in how he wants their home managed.

    I am excited to see what dragonfly has to say. Thanks for inviting her!

  44. I just realized that what I’m saying sounds really familiar to me, and it occurred to me that it’s a lot like what happens in a hospital. Think of the doctor as the husband, the nurse as the wife, the CNA as the child/ren, and the patient/hospital floor as the home. The doctor/husband has his own role that is different from the nurse/wife but they work together with the same goal. He sometimes instructs her to help him with his duties which is his prerogative as doctor/husband. I have had multiple doctors to this with me. The nurse/wife has her own role. She is responsible to manage the care of the patient and her floor in general. She may choose to delegate duties to the CNA and sometimes requests assistance from her doctor/husband (the doctor/husband is of course able to volunteer as well and, irregular as it is, I have had that happen). If the CNA/child is not adequately performing in his/her role, there are consequences for doing so, but the nurse/wife is ultimately responsible to make sure that the care is done even if she delegated it to her CNA/child, or the doctor/husband offered to do it.

    Does God care who bathes the patient? No. But He has given the nurse more skills in that area than the doctor and it is her responsibility to make sure that the patient is bathed. If a doctor offers to do it (and i’ve never had a doctor offer to do that, lol) or if she delegates it to a CNA, that is perfectly acceptable and God doesn’t have a problem with that, but it is still ultimately her responsibility.

  45. Ok, finally got through all of the comments… I definitely agree with Jonadab’s comments toward the beginning, and BGR’s extensive comments explaining his reasoning behind everything he’s said.

    Anna, I don’t know if you are understanding exactly what BGR is saying, but he’s 100% right on this. He’s not adding to Scripture at all from my point of view. And he’s not making this into a “cookie-cutter” recipe because he’s admitting frequently that its up to the huband’s discretion what he helps with and how often he decides to help as an act of love.

    About Biblical gender roles concerning this discussion:
    1. It is true that God does say women are to be keepers of the home and there are many examples of husbands being able to do their work/mission in life without having to worry at all about their home. So having an attitude that he must help her even if he’s relaxing more than he should, is wrong like BGR said before. His main mission is his work and fulfilling what God has him to do there, even if he’s not accomplishing that yet due to heart issues (attitude), another of his main missions is to lead his family of course.

    2. Does God care about who does the dishes (housework in general)? You know… I think He cares is people’s attitudes are right. There are many examples in Scripture of men and women doing something “right” but not being accepted because their hearts were not right (bad attitude). M taking on all the work and working with frustration and growing bitter everyday 😦 is not having the right heart attitude. She should be working as if she is working for the Lord. Being a keeper of the home is a wife’s mission along with being a godly wife and mother. Its right up there in importance. Working outside the home REALLY really hinders her mission, but she can still accomplish it. It will just be that much more painful and hard on her to really do it all though.

    3. There are examples of people doing something “wrong” where they were accepted because their hearts were in the right place. This would be like a husband helping the wife with housework because she’s pregnant – its not his mission, its not helping him in any real way, its a total sacrifice on his part and technically “wrong” for his biblical role, however its deemed right and noble because his heart is in the right place. BGR answered you well already that its up to the husband’s total discretion as to how much or what he helps with. But I DO think God does not approve of women living in a marriage where their husband does 50% of the housework and they insist its always equal (they’ve set it up that way). I believe its just the wrong attitude there that would expect a man who already has a main mission (God-given mission) to do his work, to also have to contribute 50% or even 40 or 30% to cleaning the house. The house is actually 100% her thing, and BGR went through all the exceptions including a husband helping just because he wants to.

  46. Stephanie,

    Like Alex before you – you have summed up my position correctly.

    You did make a very interesting yet controversial statement though in your remarks:

    “Working outside the home REALLY really hinders her mission, but she can still accomplish it. It will just be that much more painful and hard on her to really do it all though.”

    Specifically I am zooming in on the word “hinders”. I think you are hitting the nail on the head. While the Bible does not condemn women working outside the home – it does give them their primary mission. So while working outside the home, or really a woman doing any other kinds of activities out side the home may not be wrong in and of themselves sometimes they can become wrong if they hinder her in her primary mission. Yes some women absolutely have to work for economic reasons beyond their or their husbands control or perhaps because their husband became disabled. But this is because we live in a fallen world where these things happen. But in my view of the Scriptures a woman should not plan from day one to put the “hinderance” of a career in her path as a wife. I know that is offensive to many Christian women but it is the truth.

    Let me put it another way a young teenage girl saying “I am going to have a career as [fill in the blank]” knowing that career will take her out of her home for a substantial amount of hours every week and not only that is like a person running a race and purposefully adding weights on to their arms and legs that will slow them down.

    “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us”

    Hebrews 12:1 (KJV)

    Again I am not saying a woman having a career is automatically a sin. If her husband asks her too he is her head and she must follow him. Or perhaps she is older or her children are gone and she has the time without it affecting her home life then it might be ok. But the Scriptures tell us in this race that we run in this life – we need to set aside any weights that will slow us down and cause us to have difficulty in running the race God has given us to run. And as I previously demonstrated from the Scriptures in my post https://biblicalgenderroles.com/2015/11/20/young-ladies-if-you-pursue-a-career-you-may-fail-the-christian-race/ God has given men and women different races to run.

    Again great comment and an excellent point about careers often times being a hinderance to women in their primary missions as wives and mothers.

  47. @Stephanie,

    My favorite point that you made is about the importance of intentions and motives. You’re completely correct on that! I also think that when it comes to gender roles in marriage, there are “prime directives” for husbands and wives. The husband’s prime directive is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church, which means caring for and providing for her spiritual and physical needs, protecting her, and making her as holy as she can be through good teachings and discipline. The wife’s prime directive is to submit herself to her husband in everything and to show his glory and good leadership to the world and to God. The most godly and ideal way for men and women to do this is exactly the model that BGR has outlined in this post. But in less ideal circumstances, the husband can still love his wife and care for her needs by helping her in her tasks when she is physically unable to do them. Similarly, a wife can still submit to her husband in everything and glorify him by working outside the home when he and her family need her to.

  48. Alex,

    Another great comment and I like your use of the word “prime directive” as it describes the situation well and as avid Star Trek fan I just like hearing it said. If you don’t know what the prime directive was in Star Trek just google it.

    I also think intent is a very important word here as well. It should be every Christian husband and wife’s goal to play out the roles God has given them to the best of their ability. If a husband truly is disabled or sick his wife might have to work. So his intent in sending her out is a pure one all while knowing it will be a great hinderance to his wife in her prime directive to be the keeper of the home. But as I have mentioned in some previous posts – some men are very materialistic and have their wives work not out of necessity – but out of greed. The want the two brand new cars in the drive way, the big home and the fancy vacations and the only way they can do that is if she and both work and have careers. So in doing so this husband and put a hinderance upon his wife not out of nobel intent – but out of selfish ambition.

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