Keepers at Home

My pastor is preaching systematically through Titus. Within the next few weeks (he goes s..l..o..w..l..y!) he’ll get to Titus 2:3-5, which says that women ought to be “keepers at home”. I know he will do a faithful exposition of this, probably reference 1 Timothy 5:14, and so on, and will preach that women ought to be “keepers at home”. My wife and I were discussing this, as several women in our congregation are employed outside the home.

My wife made a good observation, and since she doesn’t have a blog I thought I would share it.

The Bible does not say “women may not work outside the home”. That’s a negative command, a rule, a restriction. Instead it says that women are to be “keepers at home”. This is a lot broader than saying “women can’t do this or that or that or that”. It tells you what to do, not what you shouldn’t do. A woman who works a regular 40 hour week at a job is not being a “keeper at home”. But neither is the housewife who spends that same amount of time running errands, going to Bible studies, and so forth — even hauling kids around to ballet, karate, play group, the zoo, etc.

Similarly, a few verses later all Christians are told to deny “ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly”. Living “soberly, righteously, and godly” is a lot more than just keeping a list of rules. Does the Bible say I shouldn’t watch this TV show, or spend my money on that thing, or spend my time on this habit? No. But it tells me to be sober, righteous, and godly. That’s a much higher standard than a list of do’s and dont’s.

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10 Responses to Keepers at Home

  1. Ellen says:

    well, I guess I’m up a creek…working a “regular 40 hour week at a job” and all.

    ;-) Ellen

  2. Well, maybe you should consider “what saith the scriptures?”

  3. Anonymous says:

    yeah…you know, I tried to tell my husband that it was pretty rude of him to up and get cancer right in the middle of the marriage…and he went and died anyway…somebody has to put food in my kids mouth…

    it’s a very broad brush that you paint with, and not all situations are the same.

    I am truly a “keeper of the home” – because I work, we get to keep our home…

  4. Phil says:

    Next time, Robert, *BEFORE* you quip off some smart aleck comment intimating that she hasn’t considered the Scriptures… maybe you should consider that Ellen might be a widowed/single mom with two kids trying to make ends meet. (if you’re the Ellen I think you are).

    Robert, do you suggest that she go on government (read: taxpayer) assistance in government housing (more taxpayer $$) so she can “keep the home”? Or, perhaps, the church should support her full-time and she can be a church welfare case? She has to do something because money has to come from somewhere: welfare or work. This brings to mind something about “if a man shall not work, he shall not eat.” Ellen does work, she’s not on welfare, and her family eats. But now you — from your lofty throne of notorious arrogance — quip that she hasn’t considered the Scriptures (saying “maybe you should…” is premised on the basis that she hasn’t).

    Ellen has two choices:

    1) Take welfare — for which many would castigate her for burdening taxpayers or cite the no-work/no-eat verse, yadda yadda; or,
    2) Take a job — for which many would castigate her for working outside the home… never mind the circumstances.

    So, Robert, not matter which choice she makes people will find some demeaning category to which they can assign her for “choices” to put food on the table.

    Given the HUGE number of not-single-by-choice parents — the largest groups below the poverty line — I have absolutely had it up to here with the (so-called) Christian attitude that all working moms deserve all the derision, condemnation and blame-for-family-ills that those above them can heap down upon them.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, Robert, it’s time for this country — and more importantly, the Church — to repent of the choices (read: sins) that have put so many moms in the work-or-starve situation. But, then again, it feels just too darn good to read Titus 2 at them and make personifications out of them.

  5. Robert says:

    Ellen,

    There was nothing in your comment that suggested that you were a widow. I apologize. I didn’t know.

    Phil,

    your lofty throne of notorious arrogance

    If you don’t like my blog, you certainly don’t have to visit. I’m not sure why anyone would visit a notoriously arrogant blog. I sure wouldn’t.

    perhaps, the church should support her full-time and she can be a church welfare case?

    1 Timothy 5:3-16 covers this case fairly well. Maybe Acts 2:44-45 also. Younger widows should remarry. If they can’t for some reason, or if they are older widows, then they should be cared for by their family. If their family cannot or will not take care of them, the church should.

    “Church welfare case” sounds awfully derisive, I don’t know if you meant it that way or not. We have a responsibility to care for one another. There should be no shame in accepting help.

    for which many would castigate her for working outside the home

    I don’t know of anyone who has ever criticized a single mom for working, if her family and church will not take care of her – provided they KNEW she was a single mom.

    The fact that churches do not take care of widows and orphans (see James 1:27) is a failure of the church, not the widows. (I include divorcees and their kids as “widows and orphans” in most cases.) Perhaps if we spent less money on buildings and staff and programs and irresponsible missions work, we’d have more money and time to care for the people of God.

    Some churches actually _do_ this, you know.

  6. Ellen says:

    apology accepted…with a comment, then it will be mentioned no more.

    You made your judgement before you bothered to find out why I work. How many working moms have you passed, never finding out what their situation is before deciding that they need to take Scripture more seriously? Just a thought – I know that my situation has taught me *much* more empathy that I had as a married person.

    thank you,
    Ellen

  7. Robert says:

    Ellen, to be honest I feel pretty much like you tricked me, like you decided to teach me a lesson because you decided I was too judgmental and not very empathetic. I don’t think you’ve been fair at all.

    My post was not “Women must not work”, but instead about my wife’s point that housewives who are never at home are not any more obedient to Titus 2.

  8. Ellen says:

    I’m sorry, I guess I was confused. When you wrote “A woman who works a regular 40 hour week at a job is not being a ?keeper at home,? it didn’t specify *wives*, only women.

    as far as tricking you, I’m sorry you feel that way. I rarely put out that information, when talking about women in general (and you were), marital status should not be an issue. I share many things in common with wives (exect my husband is in a grave, not my bed) and the way a person responds to women in general is, many times, in indication of how they respond to people in general.

    Even more to the point, some women use the “widow” demographic to gain unwarranted sympathy and that is a card that I don’t normally play.

    Children of a widow or divorced parent that work still have nobody at home, just as much as the children of a working wife; so in a very real way, my demographic should not matter, other than using it to gain sympathy (which again, I don’t do).

    I’m sorry you felt fooled.

    Ellen

  9. Robert says:

    it didn?t specify wives, only women

    I referenced Titus 2:3-5 which mentions “husbands” TWICE and “children” once – clearly speaking of married women with children. 1 Timothy 5:14, which I also referenced, says younger women should MARRY, bear CHILDREN, and guide the house. Again, married women with children.

    Only 20% of working women are divorced, separated, or widowed. Over half of working women are married. The remainder have never been married, and this includes women 16 and up so I figure a lot of that would be younger ladies in their teens and twenties.

    Taking those scriptures, the text of my post, those statistics, and assuming I am not insane, should lead one to the conclusion that I was clearly referring to women, with children, who have husbands present who are able to work.

    Someone (GK Chesterton?) has written that we are unable to say much of anything at all unless we are permitted to speak in generalities sometimes. I do not feel any compulsion to add boilerplate exceptions and exclusions to all statements I make.

    To be clear: If remarriage is not a viable option, and if your church will not support you (which it should), then – like Ruth – of course you must provide for yourself. Did you seriously think I was of the opinion you should starve?

    Children of a widow or divorced parent that work still have nobody at home, just as much as the children of a working wife; so in a very real way, my demographic should not matter

    But I am not saying _anything_ about children having someone at home. It’s not about that. It’s about what the Bible says should be the NORMAL case for husbands and wives.

    Look, I think women belong at home and men belong at work. Do you seriously think I have ANY criticism for the paraplegic veteran and his wife that I used to go to church with? I also think kids are good and people should have lots of them. Do you think I am critical of the couple in my church that tried for NINE YEARS before they could have a baby, because the husband had cancer as a child? Do you think I was critical of my wife for laying around all day instead of taking care of the house and kids when the doctor put her on bedrest during part of her last pregnancy?

    when talking about women in general (and you were), marital status should not be an issue.

    No, I wasn’t, and yes, it should. There is a world of difference between an unmarried woman, a single mom, and a married woman. The Bible treats them differently and so do I.

    I rarely put out that information

    If you are going to discuss marital issues like this, then it is very pertinent. Witholding it in the manner you did is deceptive.

    Imagine this conversation:
    A: “Whosoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God has God made man.”
    B: “Oh, so you think we should kill my brother? He killed someone.”
    A: “What saith the scriptures?”
    B: “You jerk, he’s a cop and shot a criminal during a holdup to save a child’s life.”

    Surely you can see that would not be fair. Any reasonable person would interpret the first statement in a reasonable way.

    the way a person responds to women in general is, many times, in indication of how they respond to people in general.

    So you came over here to set me straight, is that it?

    Do you agree that the Bible teaches that the NORMAL case is for moms to stay at home and dads to support the family? Or does the exception of widows with kids at home and no other moral means of support, invalidate this position?

  10. David says:

    Robert,

    I know this is an older post, but I just read it. You must remember (and I’m sure you know) that there is no greater sin in this day than to seem “judgemental” or paint “generalizations”.

    See, before our hypersensitivity kicked in, folks (I’m guessing, and don’t want to generalize) used to understand that when people spoke in the manner you did, that there were also situations that were exceptions, but that MOST of the time the rule should/would apply.

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