It’s Saturday and my children are playing on the new rope swing the boys hung from our tree. It’s right outside my window, and I can see and hear them as I sit and wonder how to approach this slippery slope. Part of me would rather be outside, swinging with the kids, watering the flowers, weeding the garden, or anything other than this. The other part of me sees the slope ahead and wants to attempt the climb.
It is difficult to broach a topic such as this; should all Christian women be full-time homemakers, for no matter what I say, no matter if I wax eloquent, my words will be misconstrued, misunderstood, or missed altogether. Yet so be it. As a woman approaching older woman status, it is imperative that I “teach the younger women…”
Not to mention, this is a subject of contention between women. We are to encourage one another, not attack and not tear down. It’s a subject that needs to be addressed:
Should All Christian Women Be Full-Time Homemakers?
We always want to go back to the Scripture and do as the Bereans did to see what is true. What does the Bible say about homemakers? If we are going to point to chapter and verse, we would look at 1 Timothy 5:14 and Titus 2:5.
So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.” 1 Timothy 5:14
…to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Titus 2:5
To manage your household, Biblically speaking is to guide the affairs of your house. This verse is speaking to younger women who had been widowed, yet is relevant to those still married.
Verse 13 says that these widowed women have begun to be idle, gossips and busybodies. The remedy is a husband, children and home to manage.
The teaching for the older widows is that, to be cared for by the church, she had to first have been a woman who diligently sought good works, raised children, shown hospitality… cared for the afflicted.
The Titus 2 mandate for being a keeper at home is literally the keeper of a house, as in a guard. She is to guard the dwelling and household her husband has provided her with.
Is A Wife Who Works Outside the Home in Sin?
Since the Bible doesn’t directly say, “Woman shall not be employed outside her home,” we mustn’t add what isn’t there. There are reasons I am, however, against it as a default option. If a wife works prior to children, the danger is relying on that income and job perks after children are born.
A wife and husband can be accustomed to the additional income and it may be quite difficult to give up. A wife may at that point have the desire to be a full-time mother and homemaker, yet her husband may require her to keep on with the job.
Couples may acquire debt that the wife’s paycheck supports. Again, this will produce difficulties when she wants to stay home with her children. And, there is the area of temptation with other men in the workplace.
Is a Mother Who Works Outside the Home in Sin?
A working wife compared to a working mother is a whole other ball of wax. It is most definitely not in her, or her children’s, best interest. As Christians, we are to raise our children to love, fear, and follow the LORD. Women are to provide care for their own. The most meager of creatures does this for their own young. The sparrow goes to great lengths to care for their young offspring.
God designed the mother’s body to grow, nurture and feed an infant. Even without His written Word, we can easily see He meant for mothers to raise their own young children. All throughout Scripture, the overarching message for mothers is that they are the caregivers for their own homes and their own children (those with servants or extenuating circumstances aside).
The LORD in His providence gave Moses back to his mother, and Psalm 113 shows a God who takes the barren woman, puts her in a home to manage and makes her a joyful mother of children. This is to cause us to praise Him.
I’m about to choose one of three roads, which are:
- Yes, it is a sin for a Christian woman to be employed outside her home
- No, it is not a sin for a Christian woman to be employed outside her home
- It’s not black and white
Each of those roads have naysayers and cheering supporters and the lines are clearly divided. The problem with going down the first road and declaring that it is a sin for Christian women to work is that the Bible doesn’t support this, directly. We live in a fallen world where sometimes… women find themselves in a position where they see no other choice. Yet this is not God’s best.
The issues with road number 2 are many. It very well could be a sin for women to work outside the home and be under the authority of other men. The role the LORD designed for His women is to be home-centered, there and caring for her family. Everything in scripture related to motherhood, along with the design of a woman’s body screams: “Mothers are to be in a place that allows them to care for their own young children.” Road number 2 is lined with thorns and misleading signs.
Road number 3. Although I’m generally a dogmatic kind of girl in many ways, I have to say that this particular subject isn’t always black and white. I am not choosing this road as my final say, yet, there is some truth to it. See my response in regards to road number 1.
All in all, it’s tough to come to a conclusive decision simply because of the dynamics of life on earth.
My final thoughts are this:
The LORD created women to be a helpmeet to one man, to bear and raise up children, and to keep their homes. Married women with children who are off “doing their own thing” are indeed in sin. Married women with children and burdensome amounts of debt are reaping what they’ve sown if they must work to pay what they owe (although I always recommend they took a long, serious look at their finances and see if some changes can be made that will allow them to stay home and perhaps start a home business). Please raise up the next generation to value family over college and career.
Married women with husbands who are, for whatever reason, unable to provide for the family should be helped by the church (I know, it doesn’t always work out this way). She should explore options that allow her to work from home.
There are so very many things a woman can do from home to earn an income. I know many women who are earning more by working from home than their husbands are earning through their day jobs. It can be done and it often doesn’t take upfront funds, a college education, or 80 hours a week.
If you are working outside the home, talk to your husband, search what God’s Word says about the matter, fall on your knees and beg the LORD for His wisdom… and then explore some other options. You were created to care for your family and home.
Please share, if this would encourage another
I am definitely reaping what I sowed and HAVE to work because of financial burdens but I am praying that God, through his grace and though I don’t deserve it, intervenes and makes it possible for me to be a full time mom.
I am an educated woman and have worked since I was 16. I am now 51. I have children from 4 to 24. I have always wanted to be home with my children. My husband was always against it since I made the most money. Our home always felt off center and I knew this was why. 2 years ago we adopted a 2 and a 3 year old. Suddenly I had no choice but to stay home! My husband became very resentful of both me and the children. He left shortly after that. I now have to trust God for everything. With a special needs child added into the mix, there is no way that I can work right now. God has made it clear that I am to stay home with the little ones. For the first time in my life, under impossible circumstances…We are getting by and so happy and full of peace to be right where I am supposed to be. It is not always easy and does require constant faith, but it is the best place to be! Thank you for speaking the truth when it is hard.
At 63 years old, I can honestly say that God has blessed me with the opportunity not only to stay home with my own children as they were growing up, but now to be able help with homeschooling our 7 grandchildren! Of course there were hard times, but God always provided for our needs. Ladies, do all that you can to be at home for your family. You will never regret it! And thank you, Jennifer, for speaking truth.
I work 2 midnight shifts a week (11p-7a) at a private home where I am able to nap unless my patient needs something. My kids go to bed at 8-9 and save for a few times I’ve not needed a nap or anything the next day. My husband is fine with the job as it is now (just the 2 nights a week) and it does help with bills and food and my college debt.
Can I get some opinions on this? Just as in general what do people feel as far as should I quit? I guess I’ve always felt it was fine since my kids aren’t awake when I’m gone and my husband’s ok with it but I’m running into more and more people who think women should stay home period and it’s making me reevaluate. I appreciate any respectful/constructive criticism.
Hi Beth! Do you feel that on the days after you work the night shifts that you aren’t there mentally? My mom worked nights (though 3 nights a week, 12 hour shift as a nurse and didn’t nap) and she was a permanent zombie. It sounds like what you have is more workable, especially if you can sleep. Are your children homeschooled or still little enough to be at home? I ask because this also makes a huge difference. If the children are off at school and you can catch up on sleep, that is a totally different ball game than if you have to be all eyes on them from 7 a.m. until your spouse gets home. What are your overall goals? Are you doing the job until all of the debt is paid off in hopes to stay at home, or would you do the job even if you weren’t in debt? Would YOU prefer to stay at home or do you just feel pressured by those around you? You probably can evaluate if your home and your children’s upkeep is suffering by you working. My best to you and it is good you are asking questions!
Lori Alexander says
Great post, Jennifer!
I struggle with this, but my husband wants me to work. I work part-time while my kids are in school. My husband is a truck driver and is not home very often, but I know he feels burdened by having to support our family on his own. I want to submit to him, which I have by working. So, I am kind of…agreeing with the post, but at the same time, feeling as though God has another option for me. Hmm. Not sure.
My husband never wanted a stay at home mother or wife. He has no appreciation for cooking or cleaning and said he can do that himself. He outright told me he married me because I had a degree and it sickened him for me not to use it. I have worked part-time and this is his need. He yells and screams at me if I stay home too much. He thinks I do nothing when our home and garden are immaculate. Many men leave women because they want a woman to help carry the finances now. Anyone whose husband appreciates them in the home is very blessed and lucky. My husband may be a Christian by name but doesn’t believe a woman should be in the home daily. He recently sold my home to shorten his commute and make mine longer because the city we lived in wasn’t “rich” enough for him. I don’t think it is a sin when your husband doesn’t value your home skills but values your money making more.
I understand the point of your article and for the most part, I agree. I’m just curious how you handle the Proverbs 31 woman that has a business of her own that she works simply because that is the talent God has given her. I love staying home with my child and my husband and I are perfectly blessed for me to do so. At the same time, before I became a wife and later mother, I had a specific calling on my life from the Lord that staying home or working from home does not allow me to accomplish. I believe this is the case for many if not the vast majority of women. Even in biblical times there are numerous occasions where women are seen outside of the home fulfilling what was their purpose: Deborah, Priscilla (who was even mentioned BEFORE her husband), Ruth, Lydia, the woman selling oils, etc.
I’m just curious how those who believe that it is a sin for a woman to work outside of the home would respond to these examples.
I see absolutely nothing wrong with a woman working outside the home when she is called to a career (before or after she became a wife or mother) so long as her children and home are not neglected. If we allow ourselves to let our children and home become our final priority we run the risk of those things becoming our identity and our job (as we see in the case of the mother of James and John who, despite her children being in the inner circle of the disciples, was still trying to promote them from within).
I agree that women in a perfect world would be able to stay home when gear children are little. I think women need to work outside the home, after all of her children are in school. What are you going to do all day in an empty home. Just thinking about social security for when you are retired is so important. No church is going to take care of women who could otherwise support her family with a full time job. Women need security in case the husband leaves her or dies.
I think when the children are out of the home a woman can find herself with an empty-nest syndrome but I know LOTS of women that are having the time of their lives spending time on projects or hobbies that they put aside during the years of raising children. Another HUGE blessing of being at home is that if one is blessed with grandchildren, then they are able to be more involved because they simply have more time. When a grown daughter is having a baby and needs postpartum support with meals or help with her children, then Grandma has the time and -hopefully – more energy to be there for her family. The most WONDERFUL memories of my childhood were the ones I made at my grandmother’s home. My mom was a full-time working mom, and for several crucial years of my childhood, she was a single mother. I was a product of a broken home and a mother that was SO tired. Going to Grandma’s and watching her as a WONDERFUL homemaker has now had a huge impact on my life. Today, my mother is remarried and enjoying EVERY single day now that she is retired. She golfs and paints weekly, and has been able to help me after the births of my children. The word “bored” NEVER enters her vocabulary.
Wow Kim, this sounds exactly like me (and my name is Kim!). My Grandparents played a HUGE role, especially my beloved Grandmother in showing me the joys of homemaking. Yes, my mom worked too as a nurse and now that she is remarried, she also paints and golfs (and also makes quilts!). Great post!! Spot on!
I was also wondering about the perspective on the Proverbs 31 woman.
I worked during the first four years of my son’s life out of necessity and prayed daily for God to make a way of escape for me to be home. I learned along the way that there were things I had to accomplish in my job (namely, saving several teens from abusive families and suicide attempts) before he would release me to fulfill my dream. So, like the other commenter pointed out, I was fulfilling part of God’s calling. Now with a third baby coming, I’m blessed to work a flexible job from home. The income is no longer a necessity, but a blessing.
However, not all mothers find themselves in a position to stay home. Even in the absence of debt, my mother had to work to support me and my siblings because my father’s calling was destined to be one of a low-income church service position. There were few times a church itself helped, but rather individuals loving my family lent aid.
To say that my mother was in sin because she worked to provide diligently for her children and support her husband’s ministry is frankly wrong. I saw God’s favor on her life repeatedly and do to this day. She has a richer relationship with Christ than most women I know and a beauty that comes only from transformation by the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, the woman’s best place is at home. To stretch and say she is sinning to work (especially when not all bosses are male, as the headship angle you mentioned implies) is an unnecessary statement that many Christian women will find offensive and hurtful. Instead, maybe the focus of the article should have been fully on encouraging women to find ways to be at home more and provide specific examples.
Sin, when it is really there and directly spoken against in the Bible, needs to be denounced. Creating it and decrying it to the detriment of our brethren shouldn’t be done.
Our pastor had 10 children and worked another job because our small church could not pay enough. I wonder why your father did not seek other employment to supplement his income. I don’t believe in my heart that your mother had to go to work or that God called her to work outside the home. I think your father should have stepped up and sought a higher paying position or taken on a second job. After all, your mother had to take on a second job, didn’t she?
Melissa M. says
Karen Pansler Lam, J.D. says
The Godly Housewife: A Forgotten Ministry
The godly housewife is a forgotten ministry.
The godly housewife ministers to the needs of her family: sacred and secular. She looks after their spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical welfare. No one can replace her in the home. On the other hand, a secretary, accountant, lawyer, or other job can be done by any qualified woman. No one is irreplaceable. But a godly housewife is irreplaceable.
O, the blessings of a godly woman who strives to make home a place of love, comfort, guidance, peace, enjoyment and refreshment.
The wicked know the home is the foundation of the nation. And they know the homes of every nation are the surest guardians of her internal order and peace. And that is why the wicked are out to destroy the home: destroy the home…destroy America.
A woman who wants to “make a difference in the world” and neglects her home duties is misguided. By raising a healthy, happy family she is contributing to the welfare of the nation. There is no more important work for women than being the founder and guardian of the home.
A godly housewife is a great blessing to a family.
And godly housewives are a great blessing to our nation.
As a nation we rise or fall as the character of our homes, presided over by woman, rises or falls.
The ministry of godly housewives preserves our homes…and preserves our Christian homeland.
Read the entire message @ http://www.libertyadvocate.com/The%20Godly%20Housewife.htm
Grace and peace,
Karen Pansler Lam, J.D.
I am a 38 year old single woman and I have to work outside the home in order to have an income. I am leaning hard on God and Jesus to provide me with the husband I desire but God keeps telling me, ‘Wait’ and ‘I have someone in mind for you’. Even a lovely lady at the Pentacostal church confirmed this and even said ‘You are never alone, God loves you, He’s with you’. So this gave me encouragement. Sometimes I feel desperately alone and there are Christian women who say I need to adopt because my ‘time is growing short’ to have a family of my own. All I know is with God all things are possible and it’ll happen in His timing
Hi! I am a working womanbecouse I amnot married and have no children and I have to pay for my grandparents for accomodation, food and other fincancial fees.
I am not a real family member – I’ve been kicked out by my parents becouseI am an unwanted being.
So that’s it. If I wouldn’t work I wouldn’t have anywhere to sleep or eat… that’s simple and easy. Life is not fair and it is not a fluffy pinky fairy tale :/
I’m a working and unmarried woman without children. I am beyond the normal marriageable age and with chronic illness (which I have had since childhood). I am not sexually active and do not plan to be. My doctor advised against me having a children.
The message I often receive from society both Christian and secular alike is that there is no real place for me. I, recently, listened to a sermon stating that the Bible says women are saved from original sin through child-bearing and marriage.
I had thought the true message of Christianity was that I am saved from sin, because Jesus died for my sins and as long as both men and women trust in Jesus as Lord and follow his teachings as best we can, we are in alignment with God’s purpose for us and may be saved. I had always felt comforted by this. I decided that instead of focusing on what I lack and am unable to give that I should look to other ways I can be of service. That, perhaps, God has a different purpose for me.
If I must work, am unmarried, and unable to bare children, is there no hope for a woman like me?
Jesus is Lord says
There’s hope for you! Christ died for you and took the penalty for your sin! Repent and believe the gospel!
Wait… what? I know your comment is old, but your pastor actually said that? Did he misinterpret 1 Timothy 2:15 or something while ignoring 1 Corinthians 7?
I wanted to add another angle to this which is the woman that works from home and also homeschools children. This is also a difficult model, especially when trying to homeschool. I think what is forgotten is that it is still a JOB, albeit at home, mixed in with the JOB of being a mother. Two jobs. The few friends I have that do this are overworked and struggle to balance it. In one case, the income is so good that I don’t ever see her quitting. Has anyone else noticed this trend and how it just doesn’t seem to work?
I have definitely noticed this and you’re right, it totally doesn’t work. I lived it for 2 years (hence my absence from the blog for that period of time). If I had a wife who was home full time, sure… it would have worked fine. I’m joking of course, but really… that is what I needed. If I was going to work so much in our family business, I really needed someone to be home and homeschool the kids, cook decent meals, keep up on laundry… all the things I was slacking on. And I was home full time, but like you said, it’s 2 jobs. And no one can do 2 full time jobs well.
I appreciate your comment, thank you!!
I had the hardest time leaving my business in order to stay home with my children. Oh-how I wish I had known what God’s word said about it all back then! I was so blinded by the ways of the culture and world. Even the church spoke little of it all.
I am so grateful, however, that as I sought God and His truths, He called me home to homeschool and be the keeper of my home. I love being my husband’s helpmeet!
I am also so grateful for the Godly women, who have since been faithful in teaching the younger women about Biblical womanhood. Thank you for being such a strong voice for truth. As I too have become the older woman, it is my hope to continue to share His truths. His ways are so good.
Praise the Lord for showing you truth and leading you home! This is the reason I blog and podcast, because there just aren’t a lot of people talking about it. Especially in our own churches (sadly). Some women don’t know there is even an option to not take the career path. Some women aren’t sure how to transition out of careers. And some desperately want out but have so much debt, they can’t quit their jobs.
In that last case though, I have seen the Lord be faithful time and time again. He makes a way for the woman who truly desires to live a Godly life.
In foreign countries throughout the world, many impoverished women struggle to feed and support their families. Is that “unChristian”? In other circumstances, some men become ill or can no longer work, and the wife must go back to support her family. Is that “unChristian”? Women who are widowed or who are single but who have had children (or have adopted children) must work to support their families. Is that “unChristian”? College expenses are exorbitant and trying to pay tuition and housing for several kids to attend school often requires additional funds beyond a single income. (Not all students qualify for scholarships). Is it “unChristian” for a married mom to work to help send her kids to college?
We now live in an economy where most college-educated women cannot slip in and out of the workforce without having continuing education credits. So at some level, women need to stay somewhat current in their professions. If a young mother is not planning on going back to work once she has a family, should she have ever bothered to attend to college at all? If a husband dies young or divorces wife, is she prepared for the grown-up world of work? How does one educate and prepare her children for real-life experiences and employment without understanding it herself? While I am a firm believer in mothers staying home if possible, that is simply not always possible. (And so we honestly think it’s fair to expect young men to be wise and inspirational family leaders, total providers [successful and competent in their careers], fix-it men, co-educators, great husbands, loving companions, good friends, and all-knowing dads? That’s a tall order and might not necessarily be God’s plan for him, despite what we think.)
The women I know who have been the most strident in their assertion that Christian women should stay home full-time are all very comfortable financially. Once their kids were in school, these women went to exercise classes, shopped, had lunch out with the girls, gardened and enjoyed numerous free-time hobbies. Vacations, insurance, etc. , were all paid for by hubbies, too. When they or their kids were sick, none of these ladies quibbled about whether the nurses or doctors were working mothers. When they shopped or dined out, none of them thought about the clerks or waitresses being working mothers. (Oddly, none of them are now concerned about taking Social Security benefits they didn’t earn or contribute to but were paid for by many working mothers! ) I am an older woman (almost 70…yikes! and the daughter of a working mother) who was widowed young (before we had children) and returned to college to finish my degrees out of necessity. Many years later, I married and raised three intelligent, kind and loving daughters. When they were in elementary school, I returned to work as my husband requested. (And it was very, very hard. Now I had two full-time jobs! Much more self-sacrifice required than my bed-making/cookie baking/stay-at-home days.) Putting three through college in 8 years was killer expensive and required years of savings.
Family is all important to me. As a mother, it was my responsibility to raise Christian, caring, intelligent, and non-dependent adults whether or not I was working. One of our daughters has a husband who now has serious health issues. Her full-time work is essential for the stability of their family. (Families should not be dependent upon the “good will” and money of friends, family, neighbors, and Church members to carry them through tough times simply because they are financially unprepared or choose not to work.) Let’s be clear: if being a “stay-at-home” mother is not possible for EVERY Christian mother in EVERY country under EVERY circumstance, then what we have is merely an issue for debate for those who have adequate resources and the free time to kibitz about it. Women followed and served Christ. We are called to love Him and one another. THAT is what what makes strong families.
Can you speak into the issue of women who are not able to have children? I would love nothing more than to have children and raise them at home. But after more than 5 years of experiencing infertility, I am not sure where to go from here. I dread getting a job outside of the home – literally dread it. And yet I am unsure what else I should be doing at this point since we have a small home and there is only the two of us. I’ve been wrestling with this for years now and have dabbled in part-time work. Do you have any wisdom for this? My husband is very sweet and would never pressure me to get a job outside of the home, however, I feel guilty knowing that I could get a job and contribute to the income but really only have a desire to be at home.
Hanna, she only replies to easy comments, or those who agree with her. She has no answers, doesn’t know other families circumstances and has a very narrow view of life.
Dearest sister, please remember that even Ruth worked outside the home before she got married. Lydia in the Bible also worked: she was a ”dealer in purple”. Nowhere did Paul tell her to quit her job. The world isn’t as black-and-white as some people might think. I believe that as long as a woman isn’t neglecting her family, she most certainly CAN use her talents to get an income of sorts. And a kind-hearted husband should never be threatened by that. Another commenter said that it’s the husbands who ought to get extra jobs, but what if the men are already working so much that they’re just so tired?! Of course a kind-hearted wife will want to take some of the load off his shoulders: and if the most efficient way to do so is generate a new source of income, then so be it. It’s NOT a sin for women to have a job as long as they don’t neglect their families. (This is my opinion, by the way – you needn’t agree with it. But do please note that if I quit working, I would find myself on the streets – and how then will I be able to help the poor, or my own family, if I were trapped on the streets?)
I do hope that the owner of this blog takes no offence at my words; I mean absolutely no harm. May God be kind and patient with us all, despite our shortcomings. (Amen.)
The command to be homemakers applies to wives, not single women. The biggest problem is this is not being taught or expected by parents and pastors. Having an epiphany a few years after marriage is often way too late due to expenses and household debt based on two incomes. Sometimes we cannot unscramble an egg. Instead of saying scripture and history is wrong why not admit nobody told us anything different and teach others to do better.
I worked and saved money and my future husband worked and saved money and I quit my job on my wedding day. My husband also got extra life insurance and also long and short term disability insurance which on top of his union insurance we would make more money if he was injured than working.
Is it sinful for women to be sexually active and work? Yes of course because this is the entire basis of premarital sex, cohabitation and adultery.
What is the sin of premarital sex? Babies? Nope! How can babies be sinful? Babies are a natural aspect of sex in the same way that digestion and absorption is natural to eating. The sin of premarital sex and cohabitation is children are unnaturally conceived when the women is not the object of her man’s work. A helper!