By Clint Oppermann
Irrespective of his thoughts on the level of the stock market, Warren Buffett is an unabashed bull on the future of the United States of America. America enjoys a “political and economic system that unleashes human potential to an extraordinary degree” . Yet, according to him, our country has not yet reached its full potential. He continues:
Still an obstacle remains: Too many women continue to impose limitations on themselves, talking themselves out of achieving their potential . . . . The closer that America comes to fully employing the talents of all its citizens, the greater its output of goods and services will be. We’ve seen what can be accomplished when we use 50% of our human capacity. If you visualize what 100% can do, you’ll join me as an unbridled optimist about America’s future (Buffett).
By employing worldly wisdom, Buffett argues the brightness of America’s economic future lies largely in the hands of her female citizens. He urges all women to stop “limiting themselves” from reaching their “full potential”; women need to continue to come out of their homes, enter the labor force, and add to America’s measured output of goods and services, thereby securing future economic prosperity.
Yet Godly wisdom dictates the exact opposite approach for attaining spiritual prosperity. The apostle Paul writes:
They [older women] are to teach what is good,
4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,
5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled (ESV, Tit. 2:3c-5).
Paul adds in 1 Timothy 5:14, “
14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.”
As we consider these passages, let us apply the Five Ws to discern the appropriate role, if any, for Christian women in the workforce.
Who? The apostle Paul is clearly concerned with the activities of young, married, mothers. Young women are to love their husbands and children (Tit. 2:3c), and young widows ought to marry and bear children (1 Tim. 5:14). Husbands and children are necessarily implied by the texts. Consequently, in the absence of directives elsewhere in scripture, any workplace limitations are binding only on young, married, mothers.
What? Young, married women with children are to be working at home (Tit. 2:5) and managing their households (1 Tim. 5:14). David Lipscomb writes of their responsibilities, “That they be keepers or managers at home; keep a neat, attractive house that will make her husband and children love home. Christian women should be the best of housekeepers and should be models to all who know them” . Young, married, mothers are to be homemakers who coordinate and manage the affairs of their households.
Where? Obviously, working at home and managing a household necessitates spending a great deal of time at home. Accomplishing these tasks ought to be a primary focus for young, married, mothers. Nevertheless, as these things are accomplished and as time allows, enterprising women may have flexibility to add other activities. For example, the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31 continuously fulfilled her responsibilities to her husband and children; however, she also found time to buy a field and plant a vineyard (31:16) and to sell her wares (31:18, 24). Her example shows us it is possible to take on extra tasks without neglecting biblical responsibilities due her family. This is a matter of priority.
When? These words penned by the inspired apostle Paul are as valid today as they were 2000 years ago. Culture may have changed a great deal since then; however, God’s plan for the family and roles within the family have not changed at all. The lives of young, married, mothers ought to continue to revolve around their God and their families, not their careers; work inside the home should take precedence over work outside the home.
Why? The apostle Paul explains that these things must be so in order “that the word of God may not be reviled” (Tit. 2:5) and so “the adversary [has] no occasion for slander” (1 Tim. 5:14). Disregarding plain teachings of the Holy Spirit in how we choose to live our lives causes God’s word to be reviled and blasphemed by others. It provides our enemies occasion to slander us and the cause of Christ. By openly rebelling against the truth, even in this teaching, we may turn others away from Christ and his soul-saving blood!
I fear that many American Christian husbands and wives are openly rebelling against this basic biblical teaching merely for financial reasons. Brother Wayne Jackson correctly notes:
Christian women who have children, and who farm them out to day-care centers and babysitters, simply because they desire a more prosperous lifestyle than they otherwise might have, have little, if any, understanding of the role of wife and mother .
Warren Buffett lays out the case for his economic optimism for the United States of America. His worldly-wise argument is centered upon more and more women leaving their homes to enter the workforce, thereby increasing gross domestic product (GDP). This is, in fact, what we are seeing, even among Christian families. God, however, would have his daughters do the exact opposite to maximize spiritual prosperity. Under normal circumstances, the apostle Paul commands young, married, mothers to work at home, managing their households. Only when these responsibilities are fulfilled should pursuits outside the home even be entertained.
Working at Home
By Clint Oppermann