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.

.

Must Wife Be In Subjection?

Must Wife Be In Subjection? Bible Question.

Question:

“What must a wife do to be in subjection to her husband? Must she have permission from him to plant flowers, go to the grocery store, etc. Must she get his permission to spend her social security money (which she earned before she married him)? This may seem strange, but it is real to me. To what extent must one go to be in subjection?”

Answer:

The passage of Scripture that deals directly with this subject is Ephesians 5:21 – 25 . . .

and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, (New American Standard Bible)

Note that the wife is to be subject to her husband as the church is subject to Christ. But note that husbands and wives are to “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ”. The Lord never authorized husbands to be dictators over the lives of their wives! There is to be mutual love, mutual respect, mutual consideration and there is also to be mutual subjection.

The husband is the head of the wife, but only because he loves his wife just as Christ does the church. When a husband loves his wife as he loves his own body (Ephesians 5:28), it will be easy for the wife to submit to his leadership!

To what extent a wife must go in submitting to her husband is something that must be worked out between the two of them. But neither should insist on “rules” for the other to which they do not submit for themselves! When either the husband or the wife acts arbitrarily, ignoring the needs and desires of the other, that marriage is in trouble.

I believe if a man demands that he controls the social security money which a wife has earned before their marriage, there is something really cockeyed about his concept of what “love” and “subjection” mean! Neither the husband nor wife should insist on his or her spouse “clearing” every little thing before acting. The husband who makes such demands as are listed in the question can expect a miserable marriage!

.

Espoused, Engaged or Married?

(Espoused, engaged or married?) Bible Question.

Question:

“In Matthew 1:18, 19 the Bible says that Mary was espoused to Joseph, and that he was called her husband. Does this mean that, today, an engaged couple are actually married?”

Answer:

The term “espoused” (or “betrothed” as some other translations have it) in Scripture does not exactly mean “engaged” nor “married”. It is kind of “in between” in our use of the terms. The espousal or betrothal was actually a contract to be married. This was usually arranged by the parents of the groom and the bride

The young couple did not choose each other, but the choice was made for them. Sometimes children of eight years or ten years or fourteen years would be “espoused” or “betrothed” to each other by their families. Then, when the time came (at about eighteen or twenty for young men, from fourteen to seventeen for young women), the actual “wedding” took place.

An example of this is found in Deuteronomy 20:7, when God gave directions about a young man who might be chosen to go to war:

Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her. (New International Version)

The wedding had not yet taken place, and thus the marriage had not yet be consummated. The same principle is found with regard to the relationship of Joseph and Mary.

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. – Matthew 1:18, 19

Notice that Joseph was her husband, even though they had not “came together”.

The betrothed couple was considered to be (by contract) married, so if Joseph wanted to end the relationship, he had to divorce her. Even though there had not yet been a wedding and they had not yet consummated their relationship, they were still considered “bound” to each other. And the only way to release that bond was divorce.

Our engagements of today are not like that. The marriages customs (and laws) of modern, Western cultures are different. With us, it is the wedding, with its vows and official pronouncements, that the contract is made and sealed. And then the sexual union usually follows immediately, not years later.

Related articles concerning dating and marriage found on this blog:

Can I Ever Get Married?

Sex Without Getting Married

Did God Allow Polygamy?

Will We Know Each Other in Heaven?

Maintaining Sexual Self-Control

How Long Should a Couple Date Before Getting Married?

Dating and the Single Christian (Part 1)

Dating and the Single Christian (Part 2)

.