I want to start by saying that the main purpose of this
website is to support and encourage mothers in what I
believe to be godly children rearing. The "Should
mothers work outside of the home?" issue is a side
issue, so I have been somewhat reluctant to get into it
to any great extent. I am understanding of the moms who
come here, who work. I am not in their shoes, so I don't
know all the issues involved in each case, and I am very
willing to assume they have good reasons for doing what
they are doing. I'd rather just move on to childrearing
issues and help them where they are at. However, because
repeated questions have been raised in this area, and
because whether a mom works or doesn't work may have a
profound influence upon how her children are raised, I
feel it is best for me to at least express my general
views on the subject. Again, I do not know all the
particulars of every case so I make it a point to try to
assume the best of everyone, and I also try to assume
that I don't know everything and I could
be wrong, please be patient as you all read this,
and try not to take anything too personally. If you have
questions, please ask, and I will try to explain my
point of view more clearly.
This is long, so I have broken it up into several parts.
I would also like to note that what I have written is
basically pertaining to mothers of young children
who would have to place them in the care of others if
they were to go to work.
To work or not to work:
I believe that God's ideal is that the husband be the
primary provider and protector for and of his family.
The wife is to be his "helper", and therefore
it is reasonable to assume that she is to
"help" in these areas as needed, but she is
not to be the head or even equal with her husband. In
exceptional cases she may be forced to do more than is
ideal, or even to take over her husband's job for a
period of time, but this is an exception, not the norm,
and certainly not the ideal way God set things up.
This picture of the husband as the provider and
protector, is the consistent example given to us
throughout all of scripture. The Bible covers a long
time span, so I don't think one can claim that this had
to do with the "culture of the times". This is
God's ideal picture for all of us, always.
We no longer live in the Garden of Eden, and because of
the many sins of mankind including our own, our modern
society is far from God's ideal, still, I believe that
as Christians we should be striving for God's ideal in
every area of life including this one. If we want the
ideal Christian marriage and family, we can start by
aiming at God's ideal picture of the husband being the
provider and protector, and the wife being the helper
and keeper in the home.
Where we are today:
Now that we've discussed God's original plan let's fast
forward to the way it is today. Today the mainstream
thought is that women are the same as men, and are to be
judged according to the standard set forth for men.
Generally speaking, a woman's worth nowadays, is based
on her ability to succeed as a man. In short, her
ability to bring in a good cash income. If she does not
work, or is not highly educated and therefore able to
bring in a good income if desired, she is considered
inferior. Her skills as a keeper in the home are
considered insignificant. Her skills as a mother and
wife are taken for granted. Her God given role has been
devalued almost down to nothing.
Sadly, both men and women seem to have embraced this
distortion of God's plan. While one might expect it
where it is found in worldly educational institutions,
we also find this viewpoint being strongly supported
within the Christian church as well. Indeed, it is very
rare to find a place where motherhood and the role of a
wife as a true "helpmeet" is being held in the
high esteem God originally gave it.
"But today the wife must work":
We have all been told that it is "different"
in today's world, and that women "have" to
work, and that a family can not survive on one income.
Frankly, I don't believe it, and I would strongly
counsel my daughters not to marry a man who believed it.
I think that is mostly a smoke screen for the
devaluation of the God given role of women. It is an
easy out for men who lack the ambition or sense of
responsibility to support their families adequately. It
is an easy out for wives who are not happy with their
role as mother and keeper in the home, or for wives who
are not content with what their husbands are able to
provide. It is also a clear sign that that there is a
lack of understand and appreciation for the God
prescribed role of a wife and mother.
We live in one of the most prosperous periods of history
and in one of the most prosperous countries in the world
(for me, the USA). If an unmarried man can support
himself without assistance (and I really don't know many
who can't), I think he can support a wife too. Yes, and
children. When they are little they cost almost nothing,
and when they are older they can help work to support
the family as needed. My own father quit school in the
10th grade in order to support his widowed mother and
his brother. The old saying "two can live as
cheaply as one" is often very true. By saving and
spending wisely and in many other ways, a helpmeet/wife
can "help" her husband make ends meet. I will
get to exceptions later, but for now, I think I can
safely say that most men can support a wife and children
without his wife having to work outside the home, if
only he has a mind to do it, and if only she is
agreeable. And of course she may (and should)
"help" as needed, but the key word is
"help", not "share and share alike".
They might have to make some sacrifices, or lower their
standard of living, but it can be done.
I will be the first one to agree that, because of the
sin of Adam, and because of the sins of all of mankind,
there are exceptions to this perfect picture of the wife
staying home raising the children and the husband
supporting the family with his income alone. The husband
may become sick or injured. The wife may become
abandoned or widowed. The husband may temporarily be out
of work, or some special family crisis may arise. If
frugality is not enough to make ends meet, then the
simple answer in many cases is for the wife to seek
employment outside of the home. If it is very short
term, and if the children are being adequately cared for
(preferable by dad) then I might reluctantly agree.
However, I think it is better to first consider other
options such as:
- Asking family or the church for assistance.
- Seeking work that can be done from the home.
- Seeking outside work that allows the mother to bring
her children with her (as opposed to leaving them in
- Downsizing to a smaller/less expensive home or to an
- Selling off possessions like second cars, etc.
- Seeking advice from other godly Christian couples who
have found creative ways to overcome financial
As time allows, I will try to address the following
issues more fully, but for now here are some brief
questions and answers:
What about moms with no children or older children?
As I said in the beginning, I am mostly speaking about
mothers with young children. If there are no children
then it may become more of a personal issue between
husband and wife. If the children are older, and not in
the home anyway, then again, it may become more of a
personal issue between husband and wife.
What if my husband wants me to work?
I believe that submission to one's husband comes before
the staying home ideal. Therefore, if your husband
insists that you work, and you are unable to persuade
him otherwise, then I'd say you must work.
What if it is unpaid work?
All mothers do things beside sit and stare at their
children all day. The question is whether they can
adequately raise and care for their homes and children
while doing these other things. If church volunteer
work, or hobbies, or home businesses, or any other
thing, gets in the way of her main job of mothering and
being a godly wife, then I think it is wrong.
What about church daycares?
I am generally against church daycares as I feel they
encourage mothers to work outside the home, who do not
strictly have to work. I am all for helping out moms who
truly must work, with daycare, or job offers that allow
her to bring her children along, or various other
creative alternatives, or even with direct financial
assistance, but I am against encouraging moms who to do
not have to work, to work outside of their homes and
leave their children in the care of others.
I just finished reading The
Mouse That Roared, by Leonard Wibberley, and therein
found a very interesting exchange I'd like to share.
Near the very end of the book, after the tiny country of
Grand Fenwick mistakenly conquers the United States of
America, and inadvertently becomes the most powerful
country in the world, the Count of Mountjoy calls upon
the beautiful young Duchess of Grand Fenwick, Glorianna
XII, to do her duty to her country and marry.
"I hope", said
Gloriana warily, "that you are not going to suggest
that I marry the American minister, because I won't do
it. I've been reading about the Americans in a women's
magazine and they're all cruel to their wives."
"Cruel to their wives?" echoed the count.
"Precisely. They treat them as equals. They
refuse to make any decisions without consulting them.
They load them up with worries they should keep to
themselves. And when there isn't enough money,
they send them out to work instead of earning more by
their own efforts. Some of them even make their
wives work so they can go to college. They are not
men at all. They are men-women. And their
wives are women-men. If I am to marry, I want a
husband who will be a man and let me be a woman.
I'll be able to handle him better that way."