Note from kmw: I cannot take credit for the entirety of this essay as it is something gleaned, rearranged for clarity and pasted together from many, many conversations with Moms as well as from the printed word in books and online. I read the passages listed below at the suggestion of my pastor during pre-marriage counseling. My husband and I came to the decision that when children arrived in our lives that I would be a full time mother at home. It was one of the first and the best decisions we ever made as a couple.
Question: “What does the Bible say about women working outside the home?”
Answer: Whether or not a woman should work outside the home is a tough-decision for many couples when they start a family. The Bible has instructions regarding the role of women. In Titus 2:3-4 (See entire text below) the apostle Paul gives instructions as to how a young married woman is to be trained by older women: “…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.” I strongly feel In those few words, the Bible is clear that when children come into a couple’s life, that is where the young mother’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 entire text below) Starting at verse 11, the writer praises this woman as one who 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 runs a small business that provides additional income for her family. This woman’s motivation is key. Her work related tasks 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 her peers. Her employment was secondary to her true calling—the stewardship of her husband, children, and home.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say a woman cannot work outside the home. However, 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)
The Woman Who Fears the LORD
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 houseld 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.