Should a Christian wife work outside of the home?

by Shelley Poston

The Bible does not prohibit a woman from holding a job outside of the home.  In fact, it appears that the Proverbs 31 Woman had her own business that took her away from the home during certain periods of time (31:24).  However, there are biblical principles that should be considered before taking a job outside of the home.  

What is my primary responsibility as a wife?

Paul addresses this in Titus 2.  Paul exhorts the older women to teach the younger women about their roles within the marriage and family unit (v.4).  A wife’s role is to be her husband’s helper (Genesis 2:18). She must ask herself what will be a help to her husband.  This does not mean that she cannot have individual pursuits and hobbies.  However, she places her marriage and her husband’s profit before all else (Proverbs 31:11) and it is her joy to promote him and do him good (v.23).  This is not a subservient position, but one of love.

A wife is also responsible to take care of the children and the home (Titus 2:5,6).  At creation, Eve was placed in the position to bear children.  Woman was also created to nurture her children.  While the Proverbs 31 Wife’s husband was providing for the family, she was supervising home life, profit, and activities (v. 21).  Paul exhorts women to “work at home,” (Titus 2:5, ESV).  During this time, many women were idle, spreading gossip, but it was Paul’s exhortation for women to labor faithfully taking care of their responsibilities.  A woman should ask herself if she can keep home life and its responsibilities while working outside of the home.

What is my reason for working outside of the home?

Many women work outside of the home because of finances.  A husband and wife must decide together what their financial situation requires.  However, it would be wise for families to consider the difference between “needs” and “wants.”  A nurturing home life always outweighs momentary material accumulation that is not necessarily required.  The pattern in the Bible is for a wife to maintain the home, and there is always blessing in God’s relationship structures.  If a family is struggling financially, it may be preferable for a wife to first consider if she can find a job that keeps her closer to home, has convenient hours for the family, or is run out of her home.

What is my season of life?

The daily life of a wife with toddlers differs greatly from a wife who has an “empty nest.”  A family with small children must consider what is best for their children’s development and well-being.  This might mean sacrifices financially for a wife to stay at home in their early years.  A woman with school-aged children may enjoy work during school hours, and an empty nester will have more time to use outside of the home, and also for the church.

What is my energy level?

Not many women can balance a high-profile career with their home life.  A woman with a high energy level may be able to give her all in her home life and also in her job, but it must be remembered that motherhood is a twenty-four hour job, and she is taking on two careers when she works outside of the home.  This is a lot of strain to take into consideration.

Will this create home-life division or unnecessary temptation?

Today, more and more children are raising themselves.  The mark of this is becoming apparent in a spiritually anemic younger generation.  Christian marriages are falling apart at the same rate as those who are unbelievers.  This should cause Christian couples to consider whether their choices will profit their family or harm it.  A woman must consider if working outside of the home will create undue temptation.  Infidelity skyrocketed when women began to join the workforce, and women should be sober in considering their work options.

It must also be considered that a family might profit from a wife’s work outside the home.  She may be able to supplement the income.  She also may have work that she enjoys, and the family can share in that joy.  This is a topic each couple should prayerfully consider, preferably before marriage, so they may be united in what will bring spiritual, emotional, and provisional well-being to the family in a way that will honor Jesus Christ and His Word.