We have now come to the third part of this article, where we will be able to study yet another most important role graciously bestowed solely to woman by her Creator, Almighty God. This is a sorely misunderstood and belittled role, yet one which is crucial to the health of families, churches and societies. Without a woman fulfilling this critical role, the home, church and state are each weakened, deprived and drained of life. In this fact lies the truth which must spur us on to recapture the beauties of Biblical womanhood, putting into practice a role and responsibility which is designed not only for our comfort and protection, but for the furthering of God's Kingdom and the glorifying of His name. Without further ado, let us now delve into a study of this role.
A Woman is to be...
This is by no means a popular notion in many western cultures today. Homemaking is now seen as a waste of time, something which does not require special knowledge or preparation in order to complete successfully. Being a homemaker is viewed as a sad, enslaving, drudge-filled, unimportant excuse for a vocation. However, while many harbor these beliefs in their minds, our Creator God holds to a far different view regarding homemaking, and it is to His way of thinking which we must submit. We must embrace the high calling of homemaker which our all-wise God has so lovingly given to us (Titus 2:5). Just as our God views homemaking as a work of art which is of lasting importance, so should we. The Designer of homemaking has fashioned homemakers into women who exert a mighty, unparalleled influence on the world around them and upon the generations yet to be born. Let us, too, strive to view homemakers and the art of homemaking in the same glorious light!
It is oftentimes so easy for us to succumb to the world's expectations for females and to believe its terrible lies about and deceptive caricature of God's plan for the lives of women. However, we must refrain from doing so, dear sisters in Christ! We must stand strong on the sure foundation of God's Word, realizing that as homemakers and homemakers-in-training, we are among the most powerful and influential women in the world! We may be relatively few in number today, but because the Sovereign God of the universe is our Lord and Master, we have great power on our side and are given special dominion duty. We will influence the course of history through our faithful, dutiful, visionary work in our homes. The atmospheres of our homes, the training of the children, and encouragement and help of the husband residing there will have a tremendous impact on the future. We must never underestimate the power of influence God gave to us women when He commanded us to be homemakers! The Lord created the home to be a place of dominion work, love, joy, hospitality, creativity, education and training, evangelism, praise and worship of God, commerce, and industry. Our gracious Heavenly Father has chosen to bestow upon woman the high and glorious responsibility of working in and guarding this important sphere. This is a special opportunity, and one which all women should delight in and thank and praise God for, rather than placing the responsibility on others and spending time in an independent career which affords not the same fulfillment, impact or accomplishment.
If we were to succumb to the independent, autonomous careerism of today, we would be guilty of handing over dominion of the world to the enemies of the cross of Christ. Therefore, dear daughters of God, I urge you to relish your high and blessed calling and to not fall prey to the lies of the one who will do whatever it takes to keep you out of your homes. Mrs. Elizabeth George writes on this topic in her book, A Woman's High Calling, "Precious sister-in Christ, God in Titus 2:4-5 is sounding forth His high calling to you and me as His women "to be homemakers". True, we live in the world...but, dear one, we are not of the world (John 17:15-16). We are not to live as worldly women live. We are not to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2). We are not to focus on what worldly women focus on. We are not to seek what worldly women seek. No, as God's women and as women who desire to live godly lives, we are to focus on being homemakers, home lovers, and workers at home." 1. (emphases in original)
A homemaker? What is that?
We have discovered clearly that it is God's will for His women to be homemakers, but what exactly does it mean to be a homemaker? Surprisingly, there are varying definitions in circulation today of a word which ought to be defined rather easily and quickly-it should be a "no brainer"! Despite these various supposed definitions, only one counts and should truly matter to the woman of God-the one which the Holy Scriptures proclaim clearly and unequivocally. Despite the confusion generated by the worldly definitions which abound, we have the opportunity to know exactly what the heart of God is on the topic of homemaking and what is His perfect and beautiful definition of "homemaker".
The Greek word translated "keepers at home" in the KJV is the word (in some manuscripts) "oikouros" (a compilation of "oikos" which means "a house, dwelling" and "ouros", meaning "a keeper or watcher") 2., thus indicating that the Christian woman is called on to be in her home, watching over it (Prov. 31:27a) guarding over it, and keeping it from all ungodly influences and ideas. Other manuscripts of Titus 2 contain the Greek word "oikourgos" (which is translated "homemakers" in the NKJV). The word "oikourgos" is constructed from two words-"oikos" (which we noted above means "a home or dwelling") and "urgos", which is from the root word "ergon" which carries the meaning of "to work or be employed". 3. Thus, put together to form the word oikourgos, we discover that, through the inspiration of God, Paul is commanding women to be, literally, employed at home, working at home, and guarding and watching over the home-a very lofty task! Thus, God's definition of homemaker and the phrase keeper at home is the same traditionally held by the masses-a homemaker is one who remains at home, diligently working there, as opposed to out in the workforce at an independent career.The phrase in the KJV makes this clear-women are not simply commanded to be keepers of the home, but rather keepers at home. They are to be employed at home, that the Word of God be not blasphemed (Tit. 2:5).
A notion prevalent today, especially in evangelical feminist circles, is that Paul is not commanding women to work at home full-time, but rather he is saying that he wants them to make sure they don't neglect the home. "Paul is simply commanding women to pay careful attention to the home and to make it one of their top priorities," they say. However, while it is true that women are to pay careful attention to their homes, the remainder of their belief is by no means faithful to the evident and literal meaning of the Biblical text. Paul did not, when writing Titus 2:5, choose a Greek word which carried the meaning, "to focus much attention on the home". This would have been an easy thing for Paul to do, if this was his (or, ultimately, God's) meaning or what he was wanting to teach. After all, Greek is a very detailed language! Instead, however, he chose, under the inspiration and guidance of God, a word which means "to be employed at home" (as opposed to being employed outside the home).
There is a second common notion which abounds today regarding Paul's meaning, which states that Paul is simply making it clear that it is a woman's duty to dedicate a little time each day to work inside the home. If this had been Paul's intention (which, according to the Greek text itself certainly was not!), there would not have been need for such a command. All women-even the most radically feministic, dedicated career women perform some manner of work in their homes, whether it be making a sandwich, rinsing out a kitchen sink, or rearranging furniture. Not only would such a command have been rendered useless, but there especially would not be needed the sobering phrase "that the Word of God be not blasphemed". This notion, as well, simply cannot hold up under the true teachings of God's holy and unchanging Word.
Despite the above false notions, Paul is clearly revealing to us in Titus 2:5-as he did in 1 Timothy 5:14, where he speaks of the roles God has given to abandoned women (4.)-that God's special place for women (the place He chose and prepared perfectly as her own highly important sphere to keep, care for, guard, and work in) is the home! He is boldly and unequivocally setting forth a picture representing the fact that God created a difference of roles in the family and division of labor in the Kingdom of God.
Beginning at the Beginning...Again!
As we did in part 1 of this article, we need to turn again to Genesis, the Book of Beginnings, this time in order to further study the division of labor God has created within family and society. The existence of a difference of roles between men and women, particularly pertaining to who is to provide for the family and who is to work at and care for the home, was a fact once commonly believed and embraced among Christians and non-Christians alike. A century ago, the vast majority of mankind knew what God's Word proclaimed in this area. They may or may not have all agreed with it and embraced it, but they were aware of it nonetheless. This is illustrated in the account of the 1873 U.S. Supreme Court case Bradwell vs. Illinois, where Justice Bradley proclaimed, "The paramount destiny and mission of woman are to fulfill the noble and benign offices of wife and mother. This is the law of the Creator. The civil law, as well as nature herself, has always recognized a wide difference in the respective spheres and destinies of man and woman. Man is, or should be, woman’s protector and defender." The Justices in this case further stated unequivocally, directly drawing and quoting from Genesis 3, that women were called on to be keepers at home and that men were called on to be the heads of their homes. This is what the U.S. Supreme Court once believed! How far our country and its leaders have fallen from God's Word!
So, what did the judges involved in the above mentioned Court decision see proclaimed in Genesis 3? Why did they believe that according to this chapter women were commanded and fashioned, by their Creator, to be keepers at home? Let us turn to this passage to find out!
Genesis 3 begins with the sad account of man's rebellion against God and the Fall which has affected all mankind through the passing down of sin and destruction. Following the act of explicit disobedience to God in the Garden, man and woman each received a curse as a punishment for their disobedience and insubordination. These curses were different, however, and reflected the differences which were infused into man and woman at the time of creation.
The man's curse was as follows: "And unto Adam He [God] said, 'Because thou has hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I command thee saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.'" (Gen. 3:17-19) The curse on man pertained to his responsibility to provide for the needs of his family. The curse was not that he would now, as a result of sin, have the responsibility of caring for and protecting his family-that was God's design for men from the beginning (1 Tim. 5:18). Rather, the curse was that now, instead of his work and duty of providing for his family coming easily to him and always being enjoyable, he would now work with great difficulty-he would now have to suffer through back-breaking work full of hardships and challenges.
Let us, now that we've grasped the curse released on man, focus on the curse issued to woman. Her curse is given and proclaimed by God in Gen. 3:16, "Unto the woman He [God] said, 'I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.'" The meaning of this curse is commonly misconstrued today. The feminists would have us believe that the curse means that woman would be cursed with children and that she would have to be in subjection to her husband as a result of the fall. Neither notion is Biblical or faithful to this text. 5. The curse is that child-bearing would now be an excruciatingly painful ordeal, and that woman would now, rather than joyfully submitting to her husband's leadership, would desire to rule over her husband and take over their God-given role of leadership, having a great disdain for the headship of man. In other words, the curse given to woman was tied to her family-her husband and children. While man's curse had to do with his role to provide for his family, woman's curse had to do with the people she was with day in and day out and her role to care for them in their home. Her curse is solely focused on her family. There is something very noteworthy here and that is the fact that woman is never commanded or issued the responsibility in the Scriptures to provide for herself. That role is given solely to the man, while the roles to women have to do with caring for and serving her home and family. However, countless women today are subjecting and enslaving themselves to the double curse. They are struggling with the curse given specifically to them as women, but they have also heaped upon themselves the curse given to man. Along with suffering under painful menstrual cycles, labor and childbirth, they are rejecting their lovingly God-given role in the home as well, for the purpose of entering the workforce and having an independent career. This is very sad, and yet it is embraced and praised in many Christian circles today. What makes this yet more tragic is that while women are willfully and blindly subjecting themselves to a life of the double curse, men can never do so! Men have only their own curse to deal with. Because they cannot bear children, they cannot encounter or deal with the woman's curse in addition to their own. Women only can struggle and suffer under the double curse, and many today are doing so-while we cheer them on. What a tragedy and an indictment upon us as Christians! God created one set of roles and responsibilities for men and another entirely different one for women, which, when fulfilled, harmoniously work together for the good of both. This is what Justice Bradley and his colleagues grasped in the 1873 case mentioned above. So may we grasp it and strive to save our sisters from the lack of fulfillment and destruction of the double curse so prevalent today!
The Home-Hardly a Cage!
Some reading this article may assert that the literal interpretation of Titus 2 puts woman into a cage, and binds her to a life of slave-like drudgery in the home. Nothing could be further from the truth! John 10:10 states that our gracious God came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. How does this precious truth relate to Titus 2 and the woman's role in the home? God has placed His daughters into a sphere which provides them with protection, shelter, security, a place to develop and put to use fully their talents and gifts to the glory of God, and a sphere which has been designed so as to exert a great impact upon the surrounding world. The godly, visionary, diligent homemaker and guardian of the home is an extremely dangerous entity to Satan and his minions, for she builds up her husband and trains her children. Truly, a home without a homemaker is like a man without a helpmeet. A husband benefits greatly from his wife's faithful work in the home and her obedience to her God-given role (Proverbs 31:23). Likewise, children desperately need their mother at home, caring for them, loving them, and training them. Many studies (which we will address in a future article) have shown the devastating effects which a life of daycare and after school care exerts upon children. These children need their mothers! Faithful homemakers are not only providing much-needed security and love to their children, but are shaping, forming, training, and teaching the future men and women of the world! Talk about abundant life! The worker at home has an abundant, productive, fulfilling life indeed! You see, commanding women to work at home is not a means of "caging and enslaving women". As sisters Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin have written, "Women were designed by God to be the happiest, most fulfilled, most productive, most appreciated and most honored as homemakers. No other career can come close to the importance of homemaking. Most other careers actually undermine God's order by cheating women out of their first and best calling and taking civilization in the wrong direction. This is because homemakers are so central to guiding and shaping civil society. When women leave that domain to pretend to be men, it's not just silly, it's detrimental to a woman's life and her culture." 6. These words carry such truth. God blessed women greatly when giving them the home to guide, work in, and care for.
Rather than desiring to give us abundant life as Christ did, however, Satan comes to kill, to steal and to destroy (John 10:10). This truth is evident in the mission of Satan to drive women from their homes into lives of wage slavery in the workplace. Rather than leaving her to work in a safe and secure place, serving family and visitors alike, he wishes to push her into an independent career, serving people who hardly know her, don't love her, and care little for her best interests. Let us not buy into Satan's lies any longer, but rather return to-or prepare for, as the case may be-the life of great productivity, ministry, joy, excitement and adventure which can be found through working at home.
Don't Fail to Plan!
There is a saying which goes, "Failing to plan is planning to fail". Too many young ladies are wasting their unmarried years, which should be some of the most fruitful years of their lives (1 Cor. 7:34), in trivial pursuits, rather than putting them to great use preparing for the life of the godly woman. Homemaking is not a vocation composed of simply folding laundry, vacuuming the floor, and working through a pile of dirty dishes! True homemaking Proverbs 31 style requires much work, a servant's heart that is dedicated to ministry, expertise in many areas, intelligence, Scriptural knowledge, and purposeful, Biblical, dominion-minded vision. Biblical homemaking is by no means something we are born knowing how to do! We are naturally sinful, selfish creatures and the last thing we tend to desire is to pour our lives into the lives of others. I will elaborate further on this topic in a future article, but suffice it to say that we as young ladies have a special role to fill in our current homes and must diligently prepare for the important roles we will be responsible to fill in our future homes!
I pray that this article served to give you a glimpse (though it be imperfect and incomplete) of the mercy and greatness of God in commanding women to work at home. It's my heart's desire that we would strive to save our fellow sisters from the life of the double curse by revealing to them as well the height, width, and depth of the great work known as homemaking. I also hope and pray that the young ladies reading this would feel encouraged, and that they'd be spurred on to fine tune their homemaking skills, and to learn what it truly means to be a keeper at home. Lastly, I pray that this article would serve to impress upon you the great impact and influence the godly keeper at home exerts upon the watching world!
In closing, I want to leave you with the beautiful, eloquent words of Baptist pastor William H. Felix (1838-1912), as written in his work, "The Work and Sphere of True Womanhood":
"Woman's work is foundation work for society, for the state, for the kingdom of Heaven. In the homes of America are born the children of America; and from them goes forth American life. Who has the hand upon these springs of life? Woman. These children of American homes go out with the stamp of these homes upon them, and only as these homes are what they ought to be will these children be what they ought to be. ...Woman may think her sphere and work are limited and contracted, but in this she never found in a graver mistake. In the home she is imprinting herself upon the man; in him she builds up society, in him she builds up the state, in him she legislates, in him she executes, in him she rules. She makes man what he is, so far as human power can operate. Yes, if she never does anything else but "nurse babes,' she can do no grander work. May God impress upon our women the high, heavenly, holy duty of rearing the children of our country, and making our homes places of joy and comfort. Alas! for the state! if our women are to leave the work of our homes and run hither and thither in search of larger rights and larger powers." 7. (emphasis my own)
Lastly, dwell with me upon the articulate words of former President Theodore Roosevelt, as proclaimed in a speech given on March 13th, 1905:
"No piled up wealth, no splendor of material growth, no brilliance of artistic development, will permanently avail any people unless home life is healthy...unless the average woman is a good wife, a good mother, able and willing to perform the first and greatest duty of womanhood, able and willing to bear, and to bring up as they should be brought up, healthy children, sound in body, mind, and character, and numerous enough so that the race shall increase and not decrease. There are certain old truths which will be true as long as this world endures, and which no amount of progress can alter. One of these is the truth that the primary duty of the husband is the home-maker, the breadwinner for his wife and children, and that the primary duty of woman is to be the helpmate, the housewife, and mother...Into the womans' keeping is committed the destiny of the generations to come after us...The woman's task is not easy-no task worth doing is easy-but in doing it, and when she has done it, there shall come to her the highest and holiest joy known to mankind; and having done it, she shall have the reward prophesied in Scripture; for her husband and her children, yes, and all people who realize that her work lies at the foundation of all natural happiness and greatness, shall rise up and call her blessed." (emphasis my own) 8.
Please return next Friday for our 4th and final part of this article!
1. Elizabeth George, A Woman's High Calling, pg. 237 (Harvest House Publishers, 2001)
2. W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White, Jr., Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testaments pg. 309 (Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996)
3. See, for example, http://www.raptureready.com/faq/faq259.html and Martha Peace, The Excellent Wife, pg. 72 (Focus Publishing, Inc., 2005)
4. I'm aware that the word used in our English Bibles in 1 Tim. 5:3-16 is "widows". However, as John MacArthur points out, "The English word widow describes a woman whose husband is dead. The Greek word chera ("widow") includes that meaning, but is not limited to it. It is an adjective used as a noun, and means "bereft", "robbed", "having suffered loss", of "left alone". The word does not speak of how a woman was left alone, it merely describes the situation. It is broad enough to encompass those who lost their husbands through death, desertion, divorce, or imprisonment. It could even encompass those cases where a polygamist came to Christ and sent away his extra wives". (courtesy of The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Timothy, pg. 196 published by the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 1995)
5. Children are not to be viewed as curses, but rather as the great blessings they truly are (Ps. 127:3-5). The phrase in Gen. 3:16 referring to the cursed woman's desire for her husband has to do with a desire to rule over him and to take his leadership role; it is not a sexual desire as some like to claim. Nor does it somehow prove the false notion that male headship is a result of the curse. Notes John MacArthur, "Just as the woman and her seed will engage in a war with the serpent, i.e. Satan, and his seed (vs. 15), because of sin and the curse, the man and woman will face struggles in their own relationship. Sin has turned the harmonious system of God-ordained roles into distasteful struggles of self-will. Lifelong companions, husbands and wives, will need God's help in getting along as a result. The woman's desire will be to lord it over her husband, but the husband will rule by divine design (Eph. 5:22-25). This interpretation of the curse is based upon the identical Heb. words and grammar being used in 4:7 to show the conflict man will have with sin as it seeks to rule him." (The MacArthur Study Bible (NKJV) pg. 21 (published by Word Publishing, 1997)
6. Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin, So Much More: The Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God, pgs. 108 and 109 (The Vision Forum, Inc., 2005)