The Great Debate!

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

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When Paul wrote that “young women” with “husbands” and “children” are to be “keepers at home” (Titus 2:4,5), the exact meaning of that latter phrase has inspired debates among Christians of epic proportion!  At the core of this discussion we usually find the issue of whether or not a mom should work outside the home.  And one of the examples of Christian women in the Bible who can help answer this question is a woman the Bible describes as “virtuous,” saying,

“…a virtuous woman… perceiveth that her merchandise is good… she layeth her hands to the spindle, and… the distaff…” (Proverbs 31:10,18,19).

The spindle and distaff were used in making cloth, and that word “merchandise” refers to goods that are bought and sold.  That means this lady was a merchant!  That agrees with how this chapter later says of her, “she maketh fine linen, and selleth it” to other merchants (v. 24).

From her example, I would suggest it is not unvirtuous for a Christian wife to work outside the home.  If it be argued that she ran a home business, as opposed to working for an employer, I would invite you to consider that in those days most men were also self-employed.  It was the Industrial Revolution that led men away from family-owned farms and businesses to work outside the home.  So this virtuous woman was employed in the same way most men were in her day.

Over in the New Testament, we see another merchant named Lydia, “a seller of purple” (Acts 16:14).  She had a “household” (v. 15), a family, as well as a business that took her and her family away from her home in Thyatira to Philippi, where she too worked outside her home.

Beloved, we didn’t create the two-income society in which we live.  Women in the ‘60s were sold a bill of goods when they were told that being a wife and mother wasn’t a high enough ideal to aim at in life.  But when they went to work, prices rose accordingly.  When retailers saw people had more money, they charged more for their products, forcing many wives to work just to make ends meet.  So as I say, we didn’t create this two-income society, but we have to live in it.

And this has caused no end of unhappiness for believers and unbelievers alike.  Back in the ‘90s I heard a radio talk show host tell how he took calls from wives in the ‘60s who felt trapped because they wanted to work outside the home but couldn’t, for in those days jobs for women were scarce.  But in the ‘90s he heard from women who also felt trapped, but for the opposite reason.  They longed to be able to stay home with their children, but couldn’t afford to do so.

If it is your understanding that moms shouldn’t work, I have nothing but respect for your conviction.  It is extremely difficult to raise a family on one income as I did, and those choosing to do so face an uphill climb.  Standing firm in the face of what feminism did to us takes courage.

But whatever your conviction, it is my sincere hope that you will avoid being critical of those who are of a different persuasion.  Paul says,

“Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth… Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 14:4,5).

All Christians belong to the Lord.  He is our Master, we are His servants.  So when you judge another believer, you are judging God’s servant!  And when you do, you should know that the Lord is on his side.  How do I know?  Because Paul went on to say,

“…to his own master he standeth or falleth.  Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).

This means that no matter what your personal conviction is as to the meaning of “keepers at home,” God will uphold you at the Judgment Seat of Christ—that is, if you live by your conviction and don’t judge others.  What do you say we all determine right here and now to be grace believers in deed and not just in word, and be gracious in this sensitive area of life as well.

To the Reader:

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