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Is It Wrong for Wives to Work?

Selected Scriptures QA188

John MacArthur

Should Wives Work?

The issue of wives working is one that she and her husband must come to understand from a biblical perspective, then allow the Holy Spirit to lead in their specific situation.

Titus 2:4-5 teaches women to be sober minded (i.e., to know their priorities). What are the priorities amarried woman should pursue? Her first must be to meet the needs of her family. Verse 4 says wives are to love their husbands and children.

To be "husband‑lovers" and "children‑lovers" (as the Greek literally reads), verse 5 says women should be "workers at home." That phrase is one word in the Greek (oikourgos) and means "home workers" or "workers in the home." First Timothy 5:14 emphasizes the same point by saying wives are to "guide the house." This phrase in the Greek (oikodespoteo) means "to keep house." A wife's first priority, then,is to care for her home. She shows her love for her husband and children by making the home a haven of peace and rest for family, friends, and strangers.

A wife's second priority is found in 1 Timothy 2:15, which teaches that she will find great usefulness in childbearing. The Greek word for childbearing (teknogonia) means not only to give birth to children but also encompasses the idea of rearing them. That verse also teaches that instilling values in children is part of a mother's role. Deuteronomy 6:6‑7, Proverbs 1:8 and 6:20 tell us that children should be taught the principles of Scripture (beginning with the truth of the gospel). Mothers play a crucialpart in that process.

A woman's third priority is found in the description of the industrious woman found in Proverbs 31:10‑21. Verse 21 says she is involved in ministering to the needs of the poor and underprivileged. As a believer, a Christian wife has the privilege and responsibility ofserving others. A primary area in which this works itself outis the church, asshe employsher giftedness within the body of Christ.

A wife who fulfills those three priorities will probably be a very busy individual. If she still has time left over, she then would be free to pursue enterprising and creative activities outside the home. Of course, the women who are most free to do that are single women and married women with no children. But even those women should be sure they are fulfilling their responsibilities at home before they leave it for the work place.