Vol. 11 No. 5 May 2009
Tomijo White Brown
The other evening as I was listening to a talk show, a man called in to explain his views on “a woman’s place.” He thought women should stay at home and see that all her family’s needs were met. That was the extent of “a woman’s place.” He probably was not a Christian, but I believe many Christian men and women feel that a Christian woman’s place is very limited. There is no question that God does limit it, but neither in the degree nor manner than some think.
I feel that the Bible is very clear that a concept which limits women to the home is not accurate. When or if we have been taught that, many of us have either accepted it and spent our lives trying to please our families without regard to other activities that may be equal in value to that task, or we may reject the idea, turning in the opposite direction and neglecting our God-given duties to our families for other pursuits.
We should like to present what we believe to be a more balanced and biblical view of the matter. One of the most outstanding examples of women who served God and man outside the home is Deborah, who was the only woman judge. She was apparently quite effective as a judge, for she judged God’s people for 40 years. Her courage and faith were demonstrated when she accompanied Barak to take the army of Sisera (Judges 4). Not many of us would care to be that near to a battlefield. In this instance, she had to encourage Barak to go into battle after God had told him to go, and only after she agreed to go would he go. Often, some men need the encouragement and presence of a godly woman to do the right thing at a crucial moment. Not all of that can be done in merely taking care of household tasks.
Another woman who did much more than stay at home was the “worthy woman” of Proverbs 31. She certainly saw to the needs of her household—and much more. She bought land; she helped the poor; she made and sold fine linen. She was so busy in many things. One may wonder what her husband was doing in addition to sitting with the elders (Proverbs 31:23)!
Esther was another very important woman in Jewish history. Because of her courage and faith, and upon the counsel of Mordecai, she was able to save her people from being destroyed (Esther 3-8). As she was placed in a perfect position for service to God and her people, she used this position to accomplish the physical salvation of her people. When we are given opportunities to serve God, we should rejoice in them and use them to the fullest, especially those that have to do with the spiritual welfare of God’s people. As Esther listened to the advice of Mordecai, it is always good to listen to a man who is interested in God’s people and God’s will. However, the point here is that as Esther had the opportunity to serve God outside the home, so may we.
In Acts 16:13-15, we find Lydia to be an excellent example of a godly woman who was also a businesswoman. There is not the slightest hint that when she became a Christian she had to sell her business and go back home. She was probably very successful as she traveled with her household. She also found time to be hospitable, as she invited Paul and Silas into her home. Although we may not have the same urgency in inviting strangers to our homes (as there were probably few places for food and rest in that age), we should have the same attitude when the need arises. We must demonstrate our Christian love and concern or we really do not have it (Cf. James 2:17). As in other cases, she not only took care of her household responsibilities, she went beyond them. She was not limited to that sphere. Neither are we.
Priscilla was another Christian woman who was involved in things other than duties around the house (Acts 18:1-3). She was a partner in tent making with her husband. More importantly, she was united with her husband in “expounding the word of God” as they taught Apollos more fully (Acts 18:24-26). Although I do not go with my husband every night he is out on a Bible study, I have both the right and responsibility to be with him in teaching, and in the proper circumstances to teach without him.
The women who went to the tomb of Jesus and found it empty were told by the angels of God to go tell his disciples that Christ was risen (Matthew 28:1-8). They were chosen of God for a very important task, as they were the first to know and proclaim that Jesus was risen. We, as Christian women, have the glorious privilege and responsibility of telling people about the risen Lord. This task is not limited to doing it in our own homes.
These examples from God’s Word are evidence that women not only have the right to be involved in activities outside the home, but in some cases have the responsibility to be active. Each of us should be using our opportunities to teach others about Christ and to draw people to him.
In summary, although some of the primary responsibilities of the Christian woman are “to be sober minded, chaste, workers at home” (Titus 2:5) and to be a co-worker with her husband in “nurturing them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) as she trains her children in the traditions of Lois and Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5), we have no right to limit her to that, for God has given her responsibilities and opportunities to go, teach, do deeds of Christian service (1 Timothy 5:10). To “do what you can, where you are, with what you have” (as my husband would have put it) is the responsibility of every Christian woman as well as to work in the home.