“What does the Bible say about women working outside the home and what do you think?”
Whether or not a woman should work outside the home is a dilemma for many couples. The Bible has instructions regarding the role of women. In Titus 2:3-4 (See text below) Paul gives instructions to young married woman, “…train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands so that no one will malign the Word of God.” In this passage, the Bible is clear that when children are in the picture, that is where the young woman’s responsibility lies. The older women are to teach the younger women and to live lives that glorify God. Keeping these responsibilities in mind, an older woman’s time can be spent at the Lord’s leading and her discretion.
Proverbs 31 speaks of “a wife of noble character.” (See text below) Starting at verse 11, the writer praises this woman as she does everything in her power to care for her family. She works hard to keep her house and her family in order. Verses 16, 18, 24, and 25 show that she is so industrious that she also moonlights with a cottage industry that provides additional income for her family. This woman’s motivation is important in that her business activities were the means to an end, not an end in themselves. She was providing for her family, not furthering her career, or working to keep up with the neighbors. Her employment was secondary to her true calling—the stewardship of her husband, children, and home.
The Bible nowhere forbids a woman from working outside the home. I do feel the Bible does teach what a woman’s priorities are to be. If working outside the home causes a woman to neglect her children and husband, then it is wrong for that woman to work outside the home. If a Christian woman can work outside the home and still provide a loving, caring environment for her children and husband, then it is perfectly acceptable for her to work outside the home. With those principles in mind, there is freedom in Christ. Women who work outside the home should not be condemned, and neither should women who focus on the stewardship of the home be treated with condescension.
Titus 2:3-5 – English Standard Version (ESV)
3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Proverbs 31:10-31 – English Standard Version (ESV)
10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. 14 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. 15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. 16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 17 She dresses herself[e] with strength and makes her arms strong. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. 20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
When we got engaged and met with our Pastor, the above question was brought to us. We talked at length about it and prayed without ceasing.
It never occurred to us that we would choose one or the other. We knew that when children came, one of us would be home with them and the other would work. We would not have others care for our children so we could both work. We strongly felt and still do that children are a gift from the Lord and we only get one chance at being their parents. There are no do-overs. We weren’t getting a chance later to do it again so we each gave it 100% from the start.
Either of us could have a career or change careers before children and again after children but one of us would make our career caring for our children full-time once they arrived. Feeling that God gifted women in particular with the nurturing genes parenting requires, Mom was best suited to be primary care giver. Feeling that God gifted men in the protecting and provider role, Dad would work the full time “job”. Dad having the earning ability greater than Mom as a teacher, clearly in this instance it was a no-brainer to have Dad be the major bread winner and provider.
There was a time when I had been home a number of years that we talked of me going back to teaching full-time when our baby went off to 1st grade and maybe finances wouldn’t be so tight all the time. When the time drew near though, it was clear that we would not leave our babies with someone else if they were sick. Who really wants to take care of a child throwing up? We also decided it would not be fair to leave a classroom of students without their teacher should I be home with a sick child. Just didn’t seem right. And though most days all were in school, God did not allow boredom to creep in as there were so many others who needed friendship, help and God’s word through Bible Studies and interaction with us as a couple and as a family. He gave us opportunities for bartering and part-time jobs and more to help financially. He filled our lives with new things and we wonder sometimes had we been too busy would we have been as blessed by these “things” and the people we mentored? Sometimes we need to slow down to let God speak to us and show us His way.
When we married and combined incomes we did two things. 1. We gave 10% of our gross to the Lord every paycheck by giving to our church we were members of. If we came across extra we gave to local and global missions or missionaries. 2. We put my salary in savings. We lived off the rest and lived within our means. It’s how we bought our first home. This means we set a budget and stuck to it. It meant a cheap apartment, frugal shopping, careful eating, When God said he would provide food, clothing and shelter he did not say dinner out 3x a week, designer clothing and a house with a 2-car garage.
We still give 10% to the Lord, put 10% in savings and live off the remaining 80%. The “extra” (my meager pay in the past 10 years or so), has gone to family vacations such as Norway and Nantucket, my truck, windows on the house, etc. True extras…not monthly commitments.
Living on one income is not easy but it is possible and we totally feel that God blessed us in many ways because we made raising our children and not earning money, our priority. The investment in human beings is way more important than the quest for financial abundance or ease.
Knowing how exhausting and stressful it can be on a day to day basis when you have little ones underfoot, not always on schedule, needing more sleep some days than others, neither of us could imagine complicating life more by both of us working outside the home. The running to and fro and rushing out to be on someone else’s time schedule just seems to defeat the quest for peace and harmony in the home. I remember Dad telling someone once when they asked why he didn’t “make” me work, that he appreciated all I did and knew that while he was away working that he would come home to kids and a wife who loved him and were excited to see him and not just a babysitter. He said it gave him the energy and the desire to help with the cooking and the cleaning to balance it all out at the end of the day.
We know it is your decision on what to do once you marry and have children. We respect each of you and your choices though we may not always agree with them. We are your parents, not your dictators. We pray you ask God regularly to lead you in this new area of life. We want you to do what you feel is right and we will pray that the Lord gives you peace in your decision.
When you’re ready for a date night and babies need sitting…we’ll be there!
Babysitting vs. Grandparents as Primary Caregiver
In some cultures one parent stays home with the children while the other parent works part-time. In others, the grandparents automatically care for their grandchildren while the children’s parents work full-time. In other cultures, children are put in daycare from 4 months of age and some even at 6 weeks, as both parents go to work. In the US, it’s a mix of all of the above.
We would love to babysit our grandchildren, but not full-time. We want to be their grandparents, not their nannies. We want to snuggle them, have them overnight, take them to the park, zoo, library, museums and out to ice cream! We know you will need our help from time to time when you are just worn out, going stir crazy and need a break. We will help. We love you and we love them! We do not want to be full-time caregivers while you work full-time. We raised our children already and do not want to raise yours, it’s your job. We will help, assist, complement, be part of their lives and encourage you to not miss a beat. We know sometimes your work will demand you be there and your spouse will be elsewhere so we will chip in occasionally in this case but do not count on us for a regular day or time. We want to enjoy each other at this stage of life too and the flexibility we have (after 30 years of child rearing) to do things together at a moment’s notice.
We are not speaking for anyone but ourselves here. It is each grandparent’s decision how much they will be involved in their children’s/grandchildren’s lives. For some that means babysitting on a regular basis, 1, 2 or even 5 days a week. For us, it doesn’t.
We love you and pray that even if you don’t understand our position, you respect it.
Love, Papa & Bestemor