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 Vol. 5, No. 12 

December 2003


~ Page 8 ~

Woman Work Outside the Home?

By Clem Thurman

[Gospel Minutes. 51.12 (2002): 4.]

An elder here has said that, according to 1 Tim. 5:14, the Christian woman is not to work outside the home. This bothers me greatly, for I work at a job and bring in a pay check, and we really need that to live. I want to do what is right. So, is there Bible authority for a woman to leave the home and work at a secular job?

The passage in question reads: "I desire therefore that the younger widows marry, bear children, rule the household, give no occasion to the adversary for reviling" (1 Timothy 5:14). This correlates with Titus 2:3-5, "That the aged women ... train the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sober-minded, chaste, workers at home, kind, being in subjection to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." These passages surely show that the primary work of the wife is to be a "homemaker." But does this mean that it is wrong for her to work outside the home?

"After these things he [Paul] departed from Athens, and came to Corinth. And he found a certain Jew named Aquila, a man of Pontus by race, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome: and he came unto them; and because he was of the same trade, he abode with them, and they wrought, for by their trade they were tentmakers" (Acts 18:1-3). Notice that Aquila and Priscilla were both tentmakers, which certainly involves what we call "working outside the home" whether it was a nearby shop or in their backyard.

Again, when Paul came to Philippi, "A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira, one that worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened to give heed unto the things which were spoken by Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household..." (Acts 16:14-15). This lady was not just working at a job, she was operating her own business seemingly in cities far from her home city. The "worthy woman" of whom Solomon wrote in Proverbs 31 bought and sold items, outside the home. In fact, she was even in the real estate business! So, Priscilla, Lydia and the "worthy woman" worked "outside the home." And there is certainly no indication in the Scriptures that they did wrong by doing so.

While the primary work of the wife and mother is to be a homemaker, fulfilling the needs of her family in various ways, the examples above show that is not wrong for her to work at a job. Some choose to stay home and be a "housewife" (which still involves lots of work!). Others choose to work at a job and bring in a paycheck that helps the family "make ends meet" and have funds to enjoy life. Still others work outside the home because they have no choice! It is either that or starve. But the point is this: each woman must decide for herself, in consultation with her husband (if she has one), whether or not to work outside the home. God has not given anyone on earth the right to make that decision for her.Image

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