Can Women Work Outside of Home?

Can Women Work Outside of Home? Bible Question.

Question:

“An elder here has said that, according to 1 Timothy 5:14, the Christian woman is not to work outside the home. This bothers me greatly, for I work at a job and bring in a paycheck. We really need the money to live. I want to do what is right. Is there Bible authority for a woman to leave the home and work at a secular job?”

Answer:

. . .I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach . . . – 1 Timothy 5:14 (New American Standard Bible)

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” – Titus 2:3 – 5

These passages show that the primary work of the wife is to be a “homemaker”. But does this mean that it is wrong for her to work outside the home?

After these things he [the apostle Paul] left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them, and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers.” – Acts 18:1 – 3

Notice that Aquila and Priscilla were both tent-makers, which certainly involves what we call “working outside the home” – whether it was in a nearby shop or in their backyard. In the city of Philippi . . .

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.” – Acts 16:14, 15

This woman was not just working at a job, she was operating her own business – seemingly in cities far from her hometown. The “excellent wife” of whom Solomon wrote in Proverbs 31 bought and sold items outside the home. In fact, she was in the real estate business!  So Priscilla, Lydia and the “excellent wife” worked outside their homes. And there is certainly no indication in the Scripture that they did wrong by doing so.

While the primary work of the wife and mother is to be a homemaker (fulfilling the needs of her family in various ways), the examples above show that it is not wrong for her to work at a job. Some choose to stay home and be a “housewife” (which involves an incredible amount of work and skill). Others choose to work at a job to bring in a paycheck and/or for personal fulfillment. Still others work outside their home because they have no choice!

It is either that, or starve. But the point is this: each woman must decide for herself (in consultation with her husband – if she has one), whether or not to work at a job outside the home or to pursue a career. God has not given anyone on earth the right to make that decision for her.

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