Who is a Virtuous Woman? Can a Christian woman work outside the home? By Jack Kettler
The Scriptures and Women who worked outside the home:
The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:
“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.” (Proverbs 31:12-16 ESV)
The virtuous woman in the above passage is also one who “guides the house” as we read in (1Timothy 5:14). This “guiding the house” in no way conflicts with buying, restate, planting crops or selling merchandise.
More on the virtuous woman:
“She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.” (Proverbs 31:18 ESV)
“She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.” (Proverbs 31:24 ESV)
Women mentioned in the New Testament:
“And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” (Acts 16:14)
“And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.” (Acts 18:2–3)
It almost seems incidental to the text about the two women from the Acts passages and their work. Nevertheless, the two women Lydia and Priscilla who worked outside the home were not admonished for doing so.
Texts used to prove that Women should not work outside the home:
“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” (1Timothy 5:14)
Guiding the house supposedly means only to work as a homemaker.
“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, workers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:3-5)
“Workers at home” supposedly rule out earning income outside the home. In these two examples, it can be said that more is being taken from the text that is said.
The above two passage set-forth the Godly wife’s primary duties. These texts are the primary passages used to argue for women to stay at home. In these texts, there is no direct command for a woman not to work outside or in the home. The virtuous of Proverbs 31 did both.
A wife can be a “worker at home” and still run a home business, or work outside the home. A married woman’s principal role should be to help her husband. This can mean financial help. Helping her husband by bringing in extra income cannot be excluded. The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 is a perfect example of this. Proverbs 31 and 1Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:3-5 are not contradictory.
To maintain a dogma against women working is undermined with examples of single moms, or women whose husbands are disabled. Even the strict doctrinaires are forced to give ground to these particular cases.
The case of farming families:
The women stay at home doctrinaires also run into trouble with women milking cows and a host of other farm chores.
Admittedly, young women staying home and raising children is the best of the best options. Homeschooling of the children is a full-time job and along with other duties, it is hard to see how more could be asked. Life is not that simple; many situations arise that call for sacrifices to be made, which may involve a woman working outside the home.
A woman working outside the home should not be judged. In addition, she should not be made to feel like a second class in a church that has many stay at home moms. What is ideally right is not always possible in the way God’s providence works out. Because of God’s providence and special cases is why we should not be quick to judge.
“But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1Timothy 5:8)
Does this command only apply to a man? What about single moms? What about a woman whose husband has died and has children in the home? Whatever the circumstance this admonition can apply to both men and women. This closing Scripture gives further support to the idea that a woman can work outside to home. The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is biblical woman par excellence. The Bible does not forbid a woman from working outside the home.
“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com