Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 7 July 2018
Page 16

Questions and Answers

Send your religious questions to editor@gospelgazette.com

Can a Wife and Mother Work Outside
the Home and Be Pleasing to God?

Rebecca Rushmore

I am an engineering student, studying computer science/software engineering. Is it wrong for a daughter of God to go into such a predominately male field? I want to be a homemaker and a good wife and mother if God blesses me with a family.

The above question was posed by a young lady two years into a program of study for her chosen career field. In other comments not included above, she expressed an admirable desire to be obedient to God’s will, even if it means abandoning her last two years of work.

As in all religious matters, one can only know the will of God by studying His Word (2 Timothy 2:15). The young woman’s question concerning the appropriateness of her working outside the home probably arises from reading Titus 2:5. “To be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (NKJV). The word “homemakers” is translated as “keepers at home” in the KJV and “workers at home” in the ASV. The larger context of this verse, Titus 2:1-10, reflects the instructions that the apostle Paul wanted the young preacher, Titus, to give to his fellow Christians. Notice that men and women, young and old, as well as slaves were directed how to conduct their lives. Paul also provided the reason for such conduct: “proper for sound doctrine” (v. 1), “that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (v. 5), “showing yourself to be a pattern of good works” (v. 7), “that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you” (v. 8) and “that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (v. 10).

The focus of Titus 2:4-5 is not that a woman’s only place is a subservient position in the home. The context expresses that a woman’s place is to conduct herself so that others may see Christ living in her (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15). One aspect of her life is to be a homemaker. Her primary responsibility in the home is to oversee the daily operations and any children. This does not mean she cannot have any activities or interests outside the home.

Consider for a moment two biblical examples. First, read about the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31.

Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants. She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, And her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hand holds the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet. She makes tapestry for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants. Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: “Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31:10-31)

This woman was praised for her work. Not only did she see to the feeding, clothing and comfort of her family, she was also involved in activities outside of her home. This virtuous woman found time to see to the needs of the poor. She also conducted business activities (bought land, made and sold garments). All she did brought honor to God, to herself, to her husband and to her family.

Second, notice Lydia from Acts 16:11-15.

Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days. And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.

Lydia was a business woman, “a seller of purple.” This woman lived in Philippi, though she was from the city of Thyatira. Her hometown was well known for the purple dyes harvested from local shellfish. Fabrics dyed in this color were worn mainly by the rich, as they were the only ones who could afford them. Though the details of Lydia’s family life are not recorded in Scripture, the text does indicate she and her household were obedient to the Gospel preached by Paul. After Lydia’s conversion, due to an incident with some unscrupulous men, Paul and Silas spent time in prison (Acts 16:16-39). Upon their release, they returned to Lydia’s home for a brief time (v. 40). The text in no way indicates Lydia was condemned for her work outside of the home. In fact, Paul and his company enjoyed the hospitality she was able to provide because of her business.

From the Scriptures cited, it is evident a woman can work outside the home and still be pleasing to God. However, it is not true that every woman who works outside the home is obedient to God’s will. A woman who desires or needs to work outside the home should carefully consider several factors.

First, will the chosen job violate any of God’s laws? Romans 13:1-7 instructs Christians to abide by the laws of the land, so long as those laws do not go against God’s commands (Acts 5:29). A job that requires one to participate in illegal activities or practices should not be held by a Christian. Additionally, any job that places a Christian in an environment that is opposed to Christian values and morals (i.e., a bar, alcohol manufacturing/distributing, a casino, etc.) or prevents a person from letting her light shine for God (Matthew 5:16) should be avoided.

Second, will the schedule of the chosen job prevent one from participating with the local congregation in worship or other activities on a regular basis or prevent one from taking care of the responsibilities in the home? God commands His people to come together to worship Him (John 4:24; Hebrews 10:25) and to spread the Gospel to others (Matthew 28:19-20). As already noted, a woman’s primary responsibility in the home is to make sure the physical and spiritual needs of the family are met. A job that requires one to regularly be away from home so as to fail in these duties should be avoided.

Third, is a job outside the home one that is approved by one’s husband (if married)? In addition to the responsibility of a homemaker, a wife is to be obedient to her husband (Titus 2:5) and to submit to him (Ephesians 5:22, 33). Husbands and wives are partners who work together in the home, though God has given the husband the role of head of the home (Ephesians 5:22-33). If a husband and a wife are not in agreement on the wife working outside the home, the job should be avoided.

In today’s culture, where a woman is not expected to live at home with her parents or other male relative until marriage, a job outside the home is reasonable. Additionally, with the uncertainties and tragedies of life, it may be prudent for a woman to have some job skills in the event her husband is unable to physically provide for the family due to illness or injury. With a careful and honest consideration of God’s Word, a woman can work outside the home and still be pleasing to God.

With a careful and honest consideration of God’s Word, a woman can work outside the home and still be pleasing to God. For further study on the text of Proverbs 31, please see the following links to other articles in the pages of Gospel Gazette Online.

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2002/jul/page16.htm

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/jul/page10.shtml

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2012/jul/page15.html

Likewise, further study on the roles of women and the text of Ephesians 5 can be found at the links provided.

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2012/jun/page15.html

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2000/may/page5.shtml

http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/apr/page13.shtml

[Editor’s Note: Some of the foregoing information regarding the type and nature of jobs is likewise applicable to male Christians, too. Occupations that are either illegal or biblically impermissible ought not to be chosen by either Christian men or Christian women; Christian men must permit their light to shine, too. In addition, Christian men ought to avoid work that habitually prevents them from assembling with God’s people or infringes upon one’s homelife to the extent that he cannot effectively function as the head of the home, a husband to his wife or a father to his children. Christian men must not opt for success in this physical world at the expense of the spiritual welfare of either themselves or their families. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]


Can a Woman Officiate a Marriage?

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Hello. Is ok for a female pastor/minister/officiant to marry a couple? It doesn’t specifically say in the Bible, however, it does say females shouldn’t be pastors etc. I am really confused on this. If the woman officiant isn’t preaching in a church but is only ordained to perform marriages is that ok as well? Please advise; doing this correctly under God means a lot to me. Thanks, Ms. Robinson

Louis RushmoreYou are correct that the Bible does not authorize a woman to preach the Gospel to an assembly in which men are present. The New Testament makes a distinction between the religious roles of women and men. For instance, sisters in Christ must remain silent in the worship assemblies (1 Corinthians 14:34), except for their part in congregational singing (Ephesians 5:19), confessing their faults (James 5:16) and professing Christ (Romans 10:9-10). Further, Scripture forbids a woman to teach or have dominion over a man (1 Timothy 2:12). The New Testament makes no provision for female preachers, teachers, elders, deacons, song leaders, leading prayer, Scripture reading or any other religious activity in which men are subject to a woman. (Women, of course, may preach, teach, lead singing, etc. in the presence of women exclusively, e.g., Ladies’ Days, Ladies’ Bible Classes.) In addition, a woman may participate in teaching God’s Word to a man in a private setting as long as the man is not subjected to her (e.g., Bible study, conversation, etc.) per the examples of Priscilla (Acts 18:26) or a grandmother or mother of a grandson or son (2 Timothy 1:5).

Marriage, though, is not described in the Bible as a religious ceremony. Today, however, officiating marriages occurs in both religious settings and also in wholly secular scenarios, at the discretion of the participants. The Bible does not regulate the marriage ceremony, but it does require that couples must be married to avoid immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2). We are obligated to obey the laws of the land in which we live (Romans 13:1-7), which includes those laws pertaining to marriage ceremonies.

Incidentally, the New Testament uses the word “pastor” (Ephesians 4:11; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4) as a synonym for an “elder” (Titus 1:4-9) or a “bishop” (1 Timothy 3:1-7), rather than for a preacher (Romans 10:13), an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5) or a Gospel minister (1 Corinthians 3:5). Finally, even appointing a woman to be minister solely for the purpose of officiating marriages would likely appear to be disregarding the religiously differing biblical roles of men and women. Furthermore, it is likely that to appoint a woman as a minister, though only for officiating marriages, would lead to the eventual disregard religiously for the differing biblical roles of men and women. However, in a secular capacity (e.g., a female judge), a woman could certainly officiate a marriage without appearing to or in actuality compromising diverse biblical roles for men and for women.


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