The wife at work

Discussion in 'Family Forum' started by Joseph Scibbe, May 26, 2009.

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  1. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    We are talking about about a noble biblical concept and it is being brought low by reductio ad absurdum . :banghead:
  2. Ex Nihilo

    Ex Nihilo Puritan Board Senior

    Or that the church can't submit to Caesar, because Christ is her head.

    Yet Christ, as our head, has commanded us to submit to Caesar.

    But there are many cases when it would be imprudent for a man to ask his wife to work outside the home. When he does, however, he's still her head: he's exercising his headship by allowing her to be directed by someone else. As long as the husband retains the ultimate authority to decide whether she continues in the job or not, his headship hasn't been supplanted.
  3. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    My wife and I work in the same office.
  4. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Insofar as that does not trespass God's law, yes.
  5. Ex Nihilo

    Ex Nihilo Puritan Board Senior

    An important and relevant qualification. :)
  6. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior


    I really had no intention of doing so. If something is really the truth, it can stand being pushed to extremes of argumentation and any result will still make sense. If something can be brought low by reductio ad absurdum, maybe it is not really the truth.

    How would you define "keepers at home" then, and how would you reconcile your definition with a wife leaving the house for necessary reasons?
  7. Theognome

    Theognome Burrito Bill

    I think it's important to keep in mind that this issue is not one of explicit command in Scripture; and thus is not one that can be addressed in a 'blanket' fashion. Both liberty and conviction are paramount in this. My household does feel very strongly on this issue and for biblical reasons we can readily defend, but it would be very wrong for either Toni or I to pass judgment on those households that do not hold to our convictions. Likewise, the opposite is true.

    Therefore, let all of us plainly state our convictions and, if desired, the biblical reason why or why not workforce wives are appropriate for your household, but at the same time not pass judgment on the households of others who may not feel as you do but none the less love the same Savior and trust in the same resurrection as any and all confessional Christians do.

  8. LadyFlynt

    LadyFlynt Puritan Board Doctor

    Bill, there are those that hold the same conviction, have done everything possible to keep the wife at home while avoiding dependence on the state, but still find themselves at a point where the wife has to work. Her work and her hours can be decided by her husband as to when she is available. Hours and such can be worked around the family. Unfortunately, home business is not always possible or viable.

    There is the ideal that we strive for, but it is not a cut and dry "this is forbidden".
  9. Theognome

    Theognome Burrito Bill

    In my household, it came down to a question of faith. We were both committed to the principles of covenant theology and coverture marriage, yet my employment problems after 9-11 became dire- for three years I made less than $30,000 combined- that's less than ten grand a year. My annual mortgage alone was more than this, much less any other bills, food, etc. So I do understand dire straights.

    I was told by my elders that if I didn't have Toni go get a job, I would be disciplined. I in turn, in writing, gave my biblical reasons (several pages of exegesis) why I did not feel that even under these extreme circumstances I should do so. Toni also wrote to them, exegeting the situation from her perspective. The session did not agree with us, but also could not give a single biblical reason for their position- pragmatism reigned supreme.

    Toni and I both believed that, as bad as we thought the situation was, if we remained faithful to the convictions that the Lord placed in us and worked hard within the confines He presented, He would eventually bless this work and heal or finances. And he has done so. We did lose that house, but we now live with a very good income and are closing in on being debt-free- something unthinkable five years ago.

    We both trusted in His promises as we understood them despite the pressures from elsewhere. This is not an easy thing to do. This is not something everyone can or will do. Not everyone has the same strength of conviction on this issue or the same circumstance. But circumstances do not dictate faith, but rather they reveal it.

  10. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior


    Thanks for sharing that... while I respect your faith and willingness to stick to your convictions, your taking such an uncompromising stand seems to conflict with your earlier statement that it would be wrong for you to pass judgment on those who do not hold your convictions. If something is truly so important from the bible surely it would be a matter of obedience/sin, and not one left to the convictions of each family?
  11. raekwon

    raekwon Puritan Board Junior

    I wasn't bringing the concept low -- only a particular argumentation used to arrive at that conclusion. We'd probably come to at least somewhat similar conclusions on this issue, to be honest, but the "she might be under the authority of another man at some point" route doesn't seem to hold together under either logical or biblical scrutiny.
  12. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Bill, that's exactly the sort of thing that I was going for - what a blessing.

    I've seen more than one woman get involved with a male boss, and I just can't imagine why it was worth the money to have her in that position. I'm not trying to be hyper-sensitive here, I just think that we've come SO far from what was the norm to what we have today.

    Another article that can perhaps articulate better than I what I am trying to get at:

  13. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    That just simply isn't true. I agree that a woman working outside the home is not optimal, but we've had these conversations before, and the Bible just doesn't forbid it. It's easier to make a case for not eating pork than for a wife to never work outside the home.

    As to the statement bolded, it is the sort of sweeping generalisation that some of our Baptist brethren are inclined to make, and it weakens their argument. Reference has already been made to the Proverbs 31 woman who buys a piece of land, and it boggles my mind that someone thinks there was anything universal about a woman not having property rights in an area of the world where women were regularly queens, duchesses etc...and had huge family holdings.

    Biblical examples of women working outside the home tend to be servants, and there are plenty of verses dealing which encourage the accumulation of wealth so that a family can be free of such work. But not everyone gets there at the same time, or at all. For example to look down on a woman who has to go back to work when her husband is injured is petty and cruel.

    I also think that answering that "hey, it's cool if she's smart" it flippant, and misses the point that a married woman working outside the home isn't optimum, but something Scripture allows in recognition of the Fall.
  14. BertMulder

    BertMulder Puritan Board Junior

    A piece I once wrote on the issue:

    God, right after the fall, judged the man to earn his and his family's bread in the sweat of his face. To the woman God said that in sorrow she shall bring forth children (Gen 3:16-19). It is this present world's folly, especially of the women, that in addition to their own sorrow they want to take upon themselves the curse placed on man. God commanded the man, not the woman, to work to sustain his family.

    While this is not censurable sin, and in that sense it is a matter of Christian liberty, yet God's commandments do have a bearing on this issue. The effect of ignoring it can and does lead to discipline issues, because of the effect and results of not being a keeper at home—on marriage and on the family in the generations.

    I believe that Scripture plainly teaches that the woman must be a keeper at home, not merely a keeper of the home. It is so often the worldly woman's discontent with the position in which God has placed her that causes her to seek work outside the home. Thus she scorns the authority of her husband (sin against the 5th commandment), and desires what the world has to offer (sin against the 8th commandment), in her coveting that which is not hers (the 10th commandment). This is one of the great curses of today's society. It is gradually taking away any remnants of a Christian family life. And it is very hard for anyone, man or woman, to hold down two jobs and do justice to both

    You can read the whole piece here:

    The Standard Bearer
  15. AltogetherLovely

    AltogetherLovely Puritan Board Freshman

    **Edit: Posted by AltogetherLovely's husband (smhbbag) accidentally under her name :lol:

    Theognome (and others of his conviction), I am genuinely curious how you would respond to my situation.

    We both work full-time, with us both freshly out of college while the Lord has not yet given us children. We live like college students in a cheap, small apartment with 10+ year old cars, and plan to live that way the rest of our lives only because a simple life is more enjoyable.

    Because of this, we are able to live entirely off of my (very average) income and still have room to save a good bit. Everything she makes goes straight into the bank, and to pay down student-loan debts (at a furious pace that will, Lord-willing, have us debt free in < 1 year).

    That's the background. My wife is an unbelievably perfect helpmeet for me in every possible way. I eat like a king and she's a coupon-queen - breakfast, lunch, and dinner of home-cooked goodness. Our small place is neat and tidy. In short, if someone put a gun to my head and demanded I tell them how Rachel could be a better wife for me - I genuinely could not come up with a single thing. She teaches individual art lessons as a side job once a week or so, and we are heavily involved in a whole lot of places at church.

    My question: how exactly would she be a better wife for me if she were not working? There are precisely zero needs of mine she is not meeting. Shoot, there are no wants of mine she's not meeting.

    Once we are free of student debt that, very recently, was more than our combined annual income, we are both wanting for her to quit her day job. She looks forward to this to be a better servant of the church - able to offer free day-time babysitting to church members who need it, and other such works of mercy if the Lord tarries in giving us children.

    But, as far as the home is concerned, it seems like folly to assume that there is something lacking in her keeping of it. I've been pondering it for a long time wondering if she should come home - and I still can't think of a single thing we would gain from it as a married couple. We do know the church could use her extra ability to minister, and so we are striving for that. But, strictly in the home, I'm not missing out on a thing.
  16. Theognome

    Theognome Burrito Bill

    My post was concerning the convictions of my family, and not a judgment on other families. As I mentioned, not everyone has the same circumstances or convictions, nor does everyone hold to their convictions in the same manner. The post, in it's entirety, was regarding my family and nothing more.

  17. Knoxienne

    Knoxienne Puritan Board Graduate

    I agree with how you fleshed this out with the 10 commandments, especially the 8th - Thou shalt not steal. I personally believe it is wrong for women to take jobs away from men that those men need in order to support their families. :stirpot::worms: An unpopular belief, I know, but alas...

    The real reason women were encouraged to enter the workforce in the first place was not to grant women liberation, but to tax the other half of the population, and thus this gave the woman the additional curse that the man has.

    If everyone's working and no one's guarding the property, the state is free to seize it. And voila. Try buying your home outright and not paying property taxes and see who really owns your home. That's the key to the whole issue, IMNSHO - who owns women and their labor - their husbands and fathers... or anyone and everyone.
    Last edited: May 27, 2009
  18. Theognome

    Theognome Burrito Bill

    Actually, you already answered that question- with a gun to your head you yourself couldn't come up with anything. I don't see how I or anyone else could do better than you.

    My (and Toni's) understanding of scripture and convictions concerning biblical principles of marriage are what drives our decisions, and it should be likewise for you. We shouldn't interpret Scripture to fit our situations, but rather strive to make our situations align with Scripture. If, in your own study, you have no biblical conviction at this time that your wife should not work outside the home, then be at liberty. If you agree with the biblical principle but are making excuses instead of change, then there would be a problem.


  19. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    Although I am on the side that thinks a woman may work, I just want to say that even without a great wage, a single-income family can work. My husband has a decent wage--it might be good even, if we lived where housing was more affordable. Our desire is for me to be home with the kids and to hopefully school them at home, so our "plan" is for me to be home basically until the kids are all in college/married. In deciding this, we have accepted that we may never own a house and that we may never have a savings and we may never pay off my school loans (thankfully he doesn't have any, thanks to the generosity of his parents...another thing we are accepting as unlikely for us to have for our own children). I am not saying that my anecdotal evidence is evidence at all, but merely that we sometimes do forget that savings aren't supreme, nor is a mortgage.

    Thank you, that was well-thought out! We used to get the Standard Bearer.

    Toni, I agree with the why women have begun to work and will add that it was an employment of communism to get everyone working and put the children with the least effective workers, either grandparents who were tired or daycare with 30 kids to one young woman.

    I do not think, however, that a woman working means that she is stealing.
    If there is dishonesty in hiring her, that is on the boss or the gov't, but not on the individual (unless she did somehow cheat).
  20. Knoxienne

    Knoxienne Puritan Board Graduate

    True, Jessi, it's not stealing in the same sense as going into a department store and shoplifting or stealing money out of someone's purse. Just like the murder of hatred in your heart isn't legally the same as taking someone's life. However, I've spoken to men who've stood in unemployment lines and have seen women's employment be a first priority, because of feminism, etc. As Christian women, we should be especially sensitive to our brothers, and not increase their burden and make it more difficult for them to work than it already is. That's all I'm saying. We are to lighten others' burdens. :)

    It's not so much the women who are stealing as it's the state that is stealing. And just as Jereboam (sp?) seduced the Israelites, telling them it's too much trouble to go down to Jerusalem to worship, our government and our society is seducing women into believing it's too much trouble to work from home. It's a seduction that women and men are buying into.

    In no way do I think the women here who work outside the home are in sin or are thieves. No way. :judge:
  21. asc

    asc Puritan Board Sophomore

    In my humble opinion, by going beyond Scripture in believing married women should
    not be allowed work outside the home and are limited to being "keepers
    at home" (and then by broader implication: cannot own property, cannot
    vote, etc), you're actually inviting blasphemy of unbelievers; which ironically
    is what Paul was trying to avoid in the Titus 2 passage.

    Not that some Biblical conduct isn't going to offend non-Christians,
    but why make it unnecessarily offensive with your man-made rules?
  22. Montanablue

    Montanablue Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't mean to stir the pot more...but I think that one thing we may have lost sight of is that some women love their jobs. I, personally, love love love the field I am in. I know that I glorify God in the work I do and in the love I have for my work. Many other women feel the same. I plan on working after I marry not so much for practical reasons, but because God has gifted me with a talent and a love for what I do. Of course, as its been noted, a career (both the husband and the wife's) shouldn't have an ill effect on the home and family. If that happens, the situation needs to be carefully and prayerfully re-evaluated. But barring a situation like that, I don't think that its Biblical to insist that a woman must leave behind her talents and her education if she wants to get married. :worms:
  23. LawrenceU

    LawrenceU Puritan Board Doctor

    To say that a wife being a keeper at home denies her the right to own property or conduct business is absurd by definition. How does one define the phrase that Paul uses? By Scripture alone. In Scripture we see Godly women owning property and conducting business - from their homes. This is what is going in on Proverbs 31. We cannot understand this issue properly if we ignore the examples from Scripture. In Scripture we see the home as a place of productivity. This concept is almost completely foreign to Westerners today. Now, the home is a place of consumption. Much of this happened when women went into the workplace. I've sat in the office with multitudes of couples in financial counseling. Most of the time the family would have been better off if they downsized to a more moderate house and the women left the job / career she was pursuing. I'm not talking about living in squalour, but modestly. Rarely did the woman's income outweigh the added expenses required by her job: second wardrobe, child care, transportation, more expensive meals, etc. Many times it was not even necessary for them to change housing.

    Regrettably, all too often families 'require' large combined incomes because they desire stuff. They want a lifestyle that matches what American 'success' seems to entail. We have fallen prey to Madison Avenue. We like our toys. We like our sweet rides. We enjoy a lifestyle that was not even available to royalty all that long ago. (If you are a modest middle income family you already do anyway, but that is not enough. . . )

    I fear that we are losing the rich reward of a productive home, a well discipled offspring, a family and church that has time and resources to serve the truly needy in the name of Christ, and so much more all in the pursuit of stuff.

    Add to that the fact that most husbands and wives are chronically exhausted because of their work and home schedules and it is a recipe for disaster.
  24. Knoxienne

    Knoxienne Puritan Board Graduate

    Never should a woman leave behind her talents and education. The question is how she should use it and for whom and in what capacity.
  25. Montanablue

    Montanablue Puritan Board Doctor

    This is a very good point and I am all for women working out of home businesses or using their talents in other ways at home. However, there are some talents/education that almost have to be used outside of the home. I am an archivist and there really isn't a way for me to turn that into a home business. I will always have to be working for the state, a university, or a library. My mother was a physical therapist and starting her own physical therapy business would have been taxing on our home. Her working 15-20 hrs/week doing home health was a way for her to continue to stay in the field while still "keeping the home." (I should add that my father encouraged her to work outside the house if that was her desire. He knew how dedicated she was to her field when he married her)

    Let me be clear that I'm not trying to criticize anyone else's decisions or convictions on this matter. I just wanted to point out that there are also non-practical reasons for women to work - its not always about having to provide money for the family, sometimes women love their field.
  26. bug

    bug Puritan Board Freshman

    I think we have to be a little careful here, for does that mean she shouldn't be in a church, under the authority of an eldership either? Nowhere do I read in my bible that the only person a woman can have in authority over her is her husband. Woman, just like men, are sugject to different authorities, church, government, as well as husbands. It is only when that authority stands in direct opposition to God that such an authority is wrong. Now this is not reductio ad absurdum, as some would suggest, it is the logical conclusion that must be reached when someone takes an arguemnet out of context. A wife is to be subject to her husband, yes, but she she is subject to her husband alone.

    I know many pastors whose churches cannot afford to pay them enough to support their families, there wives are forced to work part time, many with children (at school). Should we reduce the number of reformed pastors still more so that their wives can stay at home whilst they go out and earn enough money to keep their familes. For many this is a sacrifice the wife chooses to make so that her husband can continue to serve in the church, personnaly I believe that is a sacrifice that should be commended. Most local churches in this country are in middleclass areas, to be able to afford to live near to your church you will need to earn more then twice the average salary to be able to secure a mortgage. It is a necessity for most christain couples for the wife to work. I am sad to say she usually has little choice in the matter.

    Have you noticed, that in the story of Ruth, it is naomi who nurses the the child, was that so Ruth could continue her work I wonder? Perhaps, just perhaps, it is worth thinking about just hoew influenced by the modern nuclear family our view of family has become. Too often these issues are viewed through a lense of victorian lifestyles, rather then a strictly biblical teaching on the matter I feel. Did woman work in the bible? Was that work always based in their husband's (or fathers business) - where woman ever condemend for such enterpise?

    Yes, a woman who becomes so career focussed that she neglects her responsibilities of being a wife is sinning, but then a husband is sinning if his career is such that he neglects his responsibility to be a husband as well is he not? I see nowhere in my bible that says woman must stay at home, and cannot have a job at all. I feel sure if it was displeasing to God, that he would have made it clear in his word. Perhaps the ideal is that the man works, and the wife stays home to raise the children, but how often is life ideal, just like every other aspect of our lives there is balance that needs to be struck in these matters, to my mind as long at that balance is right, and the woman is being a wife, and an active church member, as well as a homemaker, she can work.
    Last edited: May 27, 2009
  27. Knoxienne

    Knoxienne Puritan Board Graduate

    True - being a keeper at home doesn't mean being in the house all the time. I love helping out with homeschooling, tutoring a variety of subjects, piano lessons, etc and often these things have to take place in lots of other places!

    BTW, :offtopic:, but glad to have another hot topic-type dialogue with you and Jessi. I think we're almost ready for a Crossfire or similiar type news show - but not so fast - not until I'm completely rehabilitated! :D
  28. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Talents should not be thrown out the window, I wholeheartedly agree. That being said, I have a friend who is an MIT grad (holds a doctorate in engineering) and she homeschools her children because there is no more valuable expression or avenue for her skills than in the home. Their legacy is their children. That being said, she does help her husband with the family business, but it is under his headship and still with children in tow.

    The other issue is that few in the situation you describe see the ill effects on the children because it is just business as usual. When you're in the rat race, these things happen. We've gone through this exact issue. I tried to do my Master's degree while working a very demanding job and saw no ill effects. It was only when I switched jobs that I saw the incredible damage I had done.

    As an addition to all this, I simply cannot conceive how a woman can leave her children in day care to work. That's me. I just don't see an upshot to it. My mom worked in the family business and we stayed with grandparents during the day when we were young. I look back on that time with them fondly. I think I would look back on things with resentment if I were in day care, and that seems to be the new norm. I don't see that as a cure-all to the issue, but it made the best of a less-than-ideal situation in my case.

    I'm not trying to get off-topic with the whole day-care thing, I'm just saying that there are so many detrimental aspects to this sort of action.
  29. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    I know many smart, competent, well educated women (my wife is one) that stay at home and care for their families.

    I respect & admire them. They have made a God honouring choice, in my opinion.

    However, they are not REQUIRED by scripture to follow this path. I can see many circumstances that could result in an other, just as God honouring choice.
  30. LadyFlynt

    LadyFlynt Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm not up to reading the last few replies, but here are my comments on what I see at a glance.

    Bill: at this moment, I'm not going to comment, because anything I say would eventually turn not so nice.

    on the other side

    To whomever equated women staying at home with not being allowed to own property, etc: that is just plain ignorance.

    *removing herself from the conversation*
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