Question & Answer Forum

Is it right for a wife to be employed outside of the home?

Some have taken the expression, “keepers at home” (Titus 2:5) to mean staying at home. M. R. Vincents “Word Studies in the New Testament” disagrees with this and indicates it means of the household.” There is support for translating the expression “workers at home.” The other words in this series of descriptions are moral characteristics: discreet; chaste; good. The verses surrounding it are primarily the same. Rather than a command for a woman to stay at home, Paul seems to be addressing her character. In a similar setting in 1 Timothy 5:13, 14, where young women are to “guide the house,” this responsibility is a preservation from idleness, wandering from house to house, and being a busybody. Wholesome character in a young wife will keep her focus on her responsibilities in the home. The principle of 1 Timothy 2:15 likewise directs a sister to her domestic cares. If, therefore, a sister manages her home (1 Timothy 5:14) and cares for her children (1 Timothy 2:15), working outside her home does not violate the teaching of these passages. Her industriousness is commendable. She is carrying on the traditions of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 and joins that noble sister who with her husband, was a tentmaker.

On the other hand, a sister who places equal or greater value on her career than on her home and family has stepped outside Scriptural guidelines.

D. Oliver

To what extent should a woman pursue an education?

God can use each of His children, no matter how limited. Nevertheless, God evidently used the education of a Moses or a Saul of Tarsus for His glory. Higher education prepares believers for honest occupations (Titus 3:14, Weymouth) and, in Gods hand, can be effective in developing a believers usefulness. All believers, male or female, need to exercise care that career aspirations do not eclipse their appreciation of the will of God.

A sister may never marry, may marry and be widowed, or may need to work because of an injury to her husband or some other difficulty. She should be adequately prepared for this, consistent with her abilities.

If married, the development of her capabilities through education enables her to more fully understand the field in which her husband works. She is better suited as his helper (Genesis 2:18).

A good education may likewise enable wife to contribute more to the mental development of the children the Lord has given to her.

A believer, whether male or female, should pursue an education to the degree it is consistent with these three conditions: it is within his means; it is appropriate to his capabilities; it will enhance his usefulness to the Lord.

D. Oliver

Where is the fine line between submission and personal identity?

Scriptural teaching does not present contradictions. God intends a woman to submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22). God intends each believer to fully develop emotionally, socially, and mentally; He has ordained ultimate likeness to Christ for each one (Romans 8:29).

A husband whose view of his wifes submission includes squelching her personhood needs to submit his thinking to the Word of God. His headship gives him the responsibility of lovingly nurturing her toward full development of all that will give her honor at the Judgment Seat of Christ. She is a believer who has equal standing with him in Christ (Galatians 3:28).

Her submission to the leadership God entrusted to Him will not limit her functioning in life, if she were suddenly widowed.

D. Oliver

If a husband does not fulfill his responsibilities, does his wife have the right to leave him for a time?

No. Apart from threats or abuse that give justifiable concern for her physical well-being, separation is not an option. Paul writes about a mutually agreed separation so that a couple may more fully give themselves to spiritual pursuits (1 Corinthians 7:5). Even in this, he warns of the danger of temptation because of the separation. It is only “for a time.”

A wife is not responsible for her husbands fulfilling his responsibilities; she is only responsible to fulfill hers before the Lord.

Separating to resolve problems not only opens both partners to temptation, but it moves them further apart emotionally and may reduce the motivation to resolve the issues in the fear of the Lord. Too often, a couple may end a separation in order to avoid temptation and in their rush, fail to actually resolve any issues. The net result is to more firmly entrench the bad habits that create the problem.

The wifes (or husbands) first resource is prayer, and a first step of progress is a mutual agreement to pray together for the help of God and for grace to be changed by Him. If there seems to be no resolution of the difficulties, seek the help of a trusted, trustworthy, wise, spiritual believer (or couple) who can effectively bring the Word of God into the circumstances.

D. Oliver