Should Women Work Outside the Home?
An anonymous person posted the following.
Titus 2:5 mentions that a woman is supposed to be a "keeper of the home". Proverbs chapter 31 also describes a wife who is essentially a keeper of the home, yet does make some financial choices like buying a field. She also works in other ways too but it doesn't seem obvious that it is away from home. So the question is, can a wife have a job that takes away time from her home? Does it change if she is no longer raising children? Is the emphasis only that her greatest duty should be for her household? I've been wondering about this because of how many mothers are working mothers in our culture, and I would appreciate your answer!
Let me start my answer with the passage.
“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.” (Tit. 2:4-5 ESV)
In the context of the passage, Paul is teaching the older women how to instruct the younger. There is a clear emphasis that the woman is to be the key homemaker. Her task centers on this above all other concerns.
That gives us some parameters. The mother should consider this her special wheelhouse. It’s her domain. She has a responsibility for seeing that her family is cared for. This is very much in keeping with Proverbs 31.
As you mentioned, the woman of Proverbs 31 conducts various kinds of business that brings income into the home. Business, work, employment is not forbidden.
Keep in mind that modern life has changed many things for both husband and wife. In a pre-modern, agrarian world, both father and mother would have been close to home and children with very few exceptions. In a modern economy, the means of feeding and clothing one’s family are very different indeed. Paul wrote this before public schools, cars, unions, offices, factories, the Internet and all the myriad of ways people have to make a living.
But, the principles, would endure. Can a mother be employed outside the home? Surely, this passage does not forbid this nor does it envision a society with all the employment options of our day. Both the husband and the wife must strongly consider what it means to live by faith, in His grace in this world as it is. When all is said and done, a wife/mother’s chief concern must still be her family. That’s how I would apply it.
The even greater point Paul is making is that a woman’s highest concern, (even above that of her family) is “that the word of God may not be reviled.” In other words, we are to live our lives as children, or husbands, or wives to the glory of God. That is what should concern us most in how we answer the question. Sola Deo Gloria!
I hope this helps.