I am writing this post in response to a question I received. This post in no way condemns working mothers and I gracefully ask that before you assume that it does, to please read the whole post before commenting.
If you are a stay-at-home mom, you know the feeling that comes over you when you see "Occupation" on paperwork. I've always filled it out as "Homemaker" and, sadly, I've been questioned many times about what I do all day....as if managing a home and raising children are a breeze and not even considered a job. It's a little disheartening and, sometimes, even offensive when people pummel me with questions about how it feels to give up dreams and hobbies for the sake of washing dishes, ironing work shirts, and scrubbing kool-aid stains out of the carpet. In the spirit of humility, I'd like to make one thing very clear: The gifts and talents God gives to women are not meant to take away from the family and the home, but to build up the family and the home.
In the 1950's it's estimated that only 19% of young mothers worked outside the home. Now, roughly 80% of mothers are out in the work force. Motherhood has been stripped of its glory and made into a guilt-riddled, raging battle of the Mom's over who's the better parent. The career moms think the stay-at-home mom's are lazy and uneducated and the stay-at-home mom's believe the working mom's are selfish and careless about their children. The media is largely to blame for the tension and I, for one, would like it to stop.
I'm going to go ahead and clearly say that there is nothing wrong with working wives and mothers. Many women in Scripture held jobs - both small and great. Deborah and Esther were in politics, Lydia was in commercial trade, Priscilla was a tentmaker, many were midwives and nurses, the Proverbs 31 woman was industrious and worked to bring in extra income for her family. Nowhere in Scripture are women condemned from holding a job outside the walls of her house. However, though we have the freedom to go out into the career world, what is commanded by God in Scripture has become demonized by society - even by those inside the Church! Let's explore that...
God's Word does not condemn the working women, but it is very, very clear on where a wife and mother's priorities ought to be. In Titus 2, we find the older women commanded to teach the younger women some pretty important things:
Titus 2:3-5 - 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, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (emphasis mine)
Here we see that women are commanded to be keepers at home. The word "keeper" comes from the greek work Oikouros which means a guardian. It also means to be domestically inclined. This whole passage is teaching us our place as married women and mothers of children. We may want to work out of the home, we may HAVE to work outside the home, but our primary focus should be to look after our home - both spiritually and physically - and to manage our house with wisdom and godliness. The Proverbs 31 woman is a beautiful picture of a woman of God fulfilling Titus 2 while also holding a job. She is described as a strong woman with integrity and wisdom. Her husband trusts her, her children adore her, and she uses her gifts and talents, not in ways that will steal from her family but in ways that will bless them.
It's very difficult for a woman to fully keep watch over her house and her family when she is struggling to bring in income. That's why we ought to always seek the wisdom and guidance of God and let Him lead us. Our culture as a whole is anti-home and anti-family. Women all over America are pressured and expected to leave their children at a daycare and go out and "find themselves" by having a thriving career. Many times, the attitude behind it is pure selfishness and greed. Though there's absolutely nothing wrong with daycares and being out in the work force, if our children and our homes suffer, we are not in God's will. In fact, according to Scripture, God's Word is blasphemed!
1 Timothy 5:14 says something very similar as Titus:
I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
Now, we can get mad and come up with lots of exceptions, but the truth remains. If we say we ought to obey God and yet pick and choose what we want to obey out of the Scriptures, we become hypocrites and we cause unbelievers to speak evil of the Word of God because they see our outright disobedience to His commands. When we ignore the words of God, we are blaspheming that Word by not taking it seriously. Notice that in both Titus 2 and 1 Timothy 5, women are specifically commanded to care for their children and oversee their homes. I would venture to say that it is not only important to fix peanut butter sandwiches and scrub the floors, but it's honorable. In the midst of the messes, the busyness, and the tiring days, it's beautiful.
I have many hobbies. I have many goals and dreams of my own. But God gave me those things to honor Him in His way, not my way. If I go out and become a Grammy-award winning singer and yet neglect to nurture my children and train them up according to the principles of Scripture like I am commanded to do in Proverbs 22:6, I have blasphemed the Word of God. I can venture to write best-selling novels or travel all over the world for business but if my home suffers, my husband lacks affection, and my children are not trained by the authority God gave them - me and their daddy! - I have caused the watching world to speak evil about the Gospel of Christ. My job is to purposefully make my little ones the priority over musical (or any other!) aspirations. It doesn't matter if I'm singing in a stadium or singing a lullaby to my baby girl, if it is in line with the precepts of the Bible, I am in obedience.
When women of God delve into His Word and obey it, they will be honored. The Proverbs 31 woman was up before daybreak (something I have yet to master) cooking and cleaning and training her children all while selling merchandise. That's honorable. It's time to quit foolishly attacking each other and subtly looking at the home-all-day moms and the at-the-desk-all-day moms with arrogance or mean spirited resentment. It's not a competition on who's more holy. All that matters is if we are obeying God's Word.