Labor Outside the Home

by | Feb 28, 2012

Although the Bible reveals that woman was created to be a helper for man, and her role in child bearing and homemaking is set forth as a pattern for the godly woman, there are occasions when Yahweh will direct a woman to labor outside the home. There is a tendency among Christians to seek to reduce all things to doctrines and formulas in a one-size-fits-all manner. The only formula I have found that will universally reveal the will of God for a person’s life is the following:

Do the next thing the Spirit of God directs you to do.

We can ascertain principles and patterns from the word of God, but individual guidance for a person’s life must of necessity come from an intimate communion with God through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

I Corinthians 2:11-1
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

Galatians 5:16
I say then: Walk by the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Some may have concluded from the preceding chapter that the Scriptures, or this author, universally condemns work outside the home. The Bible does not condemn work outside the home, and neither do I. What Yahweh does not approve of is work that is initiated by the soul of man. Most women who work outside the home are not doing so by the commandment of God. They are doing so because their own soul has determined work outside the home to be needful or desirable. The soul is not to be the guide for the Christian. Christ said those who would be His disciples must hate their souls. They must embrace a course in this world that is not soul-directed.

Luke 14:26
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate… even his own life (psuche – soul), he cannot be My disciple.”
Matthew 16:24-26
Then Yahshua said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life (psuche – soul) will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

The Christian woman who chooses college and career because everyone else is doing it, or because it appeals to her soul, has fallen short of the will of God. The road to life is a path of self-denial. To be a disciple of Christ a man or woman must trade the life they would choose for themselves for that life God has chosen. College and career should be pursued ONLY if God has given commandment to do so. What will a woman be profited if she gets the best education, and lands a great job with good pay and the perks that appeal to her, if this is not the course God has chosen for her? Christ says she may gain the whole world and yet lose her soul.

Many a young woman has chosen college and career due to the excitement and worldly promise that such things could bring. Their hearts have been allured by the possibility of being financially independent. It is very attractive to the soul to be able to buy the clothes and possessions that the world says are indispensable to happiness, to participate in the pursuits and entertainments that others are finding so enjoyable. Some women go to college hoping to find a husband, for they see having a husband as necessary for their own personal fulfillment.

There are many motives that influence the life choices of men and women, yet only one motive will earn God’s approval and praise. The woman who seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, she shall be praised. The woman who has devoted herself to knowing God’s will and doing it will be approved by Him. Whether a woman is a devoted wife, mother and homemaker, or is led to work or minister outside the home, she should do all at the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible gives examples of women who worked, or ministered, outside of the home. Some even accompanied Christ in His ministry, and supported Him from their private means.

Luke 8:1-3
Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.

If these women were conducting their lives contrary to the will of God the Father, certainly Christ would have reproved them. Yet, we find no mention of Christ telling these women to return home and attend to their families, or to focus solely on being keepers at home. This reveals an important truth of the kingdom of God. There are exceptions to the role of the woman who remains at home. Nevertheless, there is a universality to the inviolable law that all must discern and do the will of the Father. These women had a love for Christ. It was the Father’s will and pleasure that they should accompany His Son and minister to His needs, and those of His disciples, as they were able.

It should be observed that these women were not out on some soulish escapade. Following Christ in His journeys and ministry was no lark. These women had seen the Savior. They had recognized who He was, and their hearts longed to give back to Him through whatever service He would accept and they could provide. Yahshua accepted this devotion. The apostles also testify that it continues to be acceptable in God’s eyes for a man or woman to choose service to Christ over marriage and family life.

I Corinthians 7:29-35
But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away. But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord – how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world – how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world – how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.

Paul is not endorsing the single life in order to seek things for self. He advocates the single life for the purpose of procuring an undistracted devotion to the Lord. The woman who chooses a life other than being a homemaker to pursue selfish pleasure stands condemned. The life of the woman who is single by choice in order to serve God lives according to the same principle set forth for the godly widow.

I Timothy 5:5-6
Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.

The woman who would be approved by God must live for His pleasure, not her own. She must seek His will, and adopt a servant’s attitude, ministering wherever, and however, Christ directs. If she is using her time, her resources, and her liberty for the pursuit of personal pleasure, then she has fallen away from the path of life. She is dead (spiritually) even while she lives.

Some of the women who accompanied Christ were single, and some were married. What then of the married woman? The married woman is subject to her husband. Although she has Christ as Lord, she also has her husband as head. This governmental order was established by Yahweh and He will not violate it. The married woman must honor and obey her husband. If he gives her leave to devote herself to the ministry of Christ then she is free. However, if he desires her to abide at home, and perform the duties of a homemaker, she must consider herself under authority of her husband.

We find that God does not violate authority where it legitimately exists. There are times when Christians and some in the world deny the legitimacy of certain authority relations, like that between a husband and wife, or between a master and slave. The Bible does not set aside such relationships, but advocates honoring authority where it exists. God’s instructions to slaves was that they honor their masters. He did not declare their service null and void because they became Christians, not even if they had Christians masters.

Ephesians 6:5-8
Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

A servant may be a Christian, but he/she has to honor their master. They cannot abandon their service to their master to serve Christ, nor act rebelliously. Rebellion is the principle of Satan, and God does not sanction rebellion.

I Peter 2:18-19
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable…   
Titus 2:9
Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.
I Timothy 6:1-2
Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed. And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.
Having given the instructions to servants above, the apostles give similar instructions to wives, for they too are under authority.

I Peter 3:1-2
Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.

Titus 2:4-5
Admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

The word of God would come into great reproach if wives began using service to God as an excuse to disobey and dishonor their husbands. Such an act would be similar to that deceit practiced by the Jews which Christ condemned.

Mark 7:9-13
He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban (that is, a gift to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

I do not believe Yahweh will approve of a woman running away from her husband to serve Him anymore than He would approve of a servant running away from his master. In Paul’s epistle to Philemon, he wrote about a run away servant named Onesimus. Onesimus had converted to the faith and was devoted to Paul. He had fled from his master, but Paul sent him back with a plea to Philemon to treat Onesimus as a brother in Christ. Yet, Paul did not command Philemon to set him free. Paul only entreated Philemon to treat Onesimus with kindness. Service to God is not an excuse for violate that authority that exists in other areas of our lives.

(For those who question why the Bible does not condemn slavery, I recommend the following post:

In the Old Testament a daughter’s vow of service to Yahweh was subject to her father’s approval. Similarly, a wife’s vow of service to Yahweh was subject to her husband’s approval. (Numbers 30:3-16) The father, or husband, could declare the woman’s vow of service to be invalid. She would then be released from her vow of service to God. God would not consider her an oath breaker for not keeping her commitment to Him, for Yahweh upholds the authority of the man in the life of the woman. Similarly, the married Christian woman is under the authority of her husband. She must seek his approval to serve Christ if that service would take her away from her duties as a wife and mother. If her husband approves, she is free to serve the Lord according to the leading of the Spirit of Christ.

There are times when Yahweh will also approve of a woman working in some field of secular employment. The Proverbs 31 woman is set forth as an example of a godly woman. She was very industrious.

Proverbs 31:16-18
She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night.

Although the work described here could be considered a “cottage industry,” something that can be done from home, there are women who are guided by the Father to labor outside the home. The godly woman will seek to discern the will of God for her life, and to follow wherever He guides. She will not view the world and its opportunities as a means to pursue a selfish agenda. She will seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

It must be considered an unusual event for a married woman with children to work outside the home, however. The admonition of the apostles is for women to be “keepers at home.” A woman should not abdicate her role as teacher, nurturer, nutritional supervisor, spiritual counselor, or home front prayer warrior, etc., for any other reason than because Yahweh has given her command to do so. Most women today are abandoning the role of homemaker for soulish reasons. Yahweh will judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Society, and even the Federal government of the United States, has put a lot of pressure upon women to abandon the home and enter the work force. This push began in earnest during the two world wars at the beginning of the 20th century. So many men were sent overseas in the military that the government began advocating it to be the patriotic duty of the woman to enter the workforce. Some rather bizarre arguments were set forth. They would be comical if not for the terrible toll that has resulted as families have disintegrated. Following is an excerpt from a government brochure put out during World War II. It was published to convince the women of Mobile, Alabama, a major munitions and shipbuilding area, to leave home and enter the workforce.

If Hitler Came to Mobile…

Every woman would defend her home with a gun, a knife, or her bare fingers.
Hitler and his hordes will not come if women will help to build ships, more ships to transport our men, tanks, planes and munitions to the battle lines on other continents – or if women take other jobs directly aiding the war effort…
To the Women of Mobile…
You are needed in the war jobs, and in other essential civilian jobs directly aiding the war effort in Mobile NOW. Manpower has been practically exhausted. Housing available at this time will not permit the bringing into Mobile of the thousands of additional workers required for the shipyards and other war and essential industries. We must depend upon you – upon womanpower. There are idle machines in war plants which you can operate. There are idle jobs in the shipyards which you can fill. There are jobs in stores, offices, transportation, restaurants, hospitals in which you can render essential war service.
Hitler will not come to our shores if we build the ships which can transport our soldiers and our war material overseas…


These words, and many more, were used to persuade women to leave the occupation of homemaker. Many found that earning their own money, and laboring outside the home, was attractive in various ways. Satan has battered the image of the stay-at-home mother while glamorizing the image of the career woman. Even the most arduous, dirty, and dangerous jobs were portrayed as a fitting pursuit for women, while staying home was cast as something less appealing. Following is an image taken from the Internet of one of the war time ads that were used to lure women out of the homes and into the labor force.

Rosie the Riveter
(Note that the image above was taken from the website called Jezebel. They tag all of their images with their website name. I thought it was fitting to leave it in place.)

This iconic image drawn by Norman Rockwell has become a symbol of the women’s movement. It is fitting that she appears very masculine. She has the arms and the mannerisms of a man. Notice that Rosie has a copy of Mein Kampf, Hitler’s autobiography, under her feet. What a ridiculous ploy Satan used to draw women into the workforce and out of the home; Women need to abandon the role of homemaker to defeat Hitler. Yet it succeeded.

The second world war became the gateway for millions of women to enter the labor force. A critical mass was reached whereby women working outside the home was no longer considered unusual, or undesirable. The entire attitude of the country was altered. During World War II the female labor force grew by 6.5 million. At the height of the war, there were 19,170,000 women in the labor force. One in ten married women entered the labor force. The percentage of married women working outside the home increased from 13.9 to 22.5. The percentage of working women with children under 10 years of age increased from 7.8 to 12.1 from 1940 to 1944.  From 1940 to 1944, the percentage of women workers employed in factories increased from 20 to 30 percent. Female employment in defense industries grew by 462 percent from 1940 to 1944. Between 1943 and 1945, polls indicated that 61 to 85 percent of women workers wanted to keep their jobs after the war.

The genie is now out of the bottle. Christian women today give little thought to working outside the home. This is a matter that should be given deep consideration. Yahweh has a plan and purpose for every one of His daughters. It is important that they discover what path He has chosen for them.

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  1. pj

    What about the woman whose heart is at home providing nutritious home cooked meals, growing organic produce, and caring for her 87 year old mother in law, but whose husband wants her to go to work outside the home full time now that the children, whom she had homeschooled, are in college? She is bound to honor her husband's wishes, is she not?

  2. Joseph Herrin

    Dear PJ,

    There are a lot of scenarios that could be described. Many will seem unfair, undesirable, or even unjust. Nevertheless, it is Yahweh's will for the wife to honor and obey her husband.

    Ephesians 5:22-24
    Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

    There are things the Father required of the Son that were not what Yahshua would have chosen for Himself. Isaiah says it was the Father's good pleasure to crush Him. We will all be led to experiences where our own desires, the will of our soul, will have to be crushed in order to produce in us that sweet fragrance of the humble and obedient and selfless life of Christ.

  3. Rozi

    I really need some help with the issue of a wife being obedient to her husband in all things. I do not want to be rebellious, I want understanding. I met a Christian woman who told me a sad story of how her husband, (an upstanding citizen in the community) molested all three of her daughters….regularly. He also impregnated her niece. My question is this; Does God want her to be obedient to her husband? I think that Jesus and the apostles where speaking to people who had fear of God. The Jewish community and those desiring to follow Christ. Some Christian women find themselves married to men who are foul and abusive with no interest whatsoever, in God or godliness. To be totally obedient to a man like that can destroy a woman….and her children. I know the bible says that we should not be unequally yoked, but when one is married and turns her life over to the Lord and her husband does not, should she allow herself to be abused? Does she have a case in refusing perverted sex? Should the woman submit to verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and humiliation? A lot of this sort of thing is going on in the homes of some Christian women who are earnestly seeking to do the will of God. I need help to understand.

  4. Joseph Herrin

    Dear Rozi,

    You have asked some excellent questions. Although I have not addressed these specific questions in this book, I have done so in the book Sarah's Children. I would recommend the following chapters as they address the things you area asking.

    May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

  5. Rozi

    In the past I have read articles and heard sermons about a woman being obedient and submissive to her husband. I have always walked away feeling as if something was missing, or thinking why would anyone want to be a woman and if so, why would she even bother with marriage,(just being honest). What is often left out of these sermons is that women are not required to be obedient to a husband or any other authority if that authority requires her to sin against God. I had a real problem with that. The examples of scripture I read from the excerpts of your book gave me more understanding. Thank you! I also believe that when a husband abuses his wife, he damages his own soul and will be called to account by God.
    I think,(correct me if I am wrong), that if a woman fears God and loves her husband she would resist abusive behaviors. I'm not trying to skirt around obedience and submission, I just want clarity and to know how women are to apply the principles of God to our daily lives.

  6. Joseph Herrin

    Dear Rozi,

    As the chapters of the book I referred you to declare, I believe it is NOT the Father's will for a woman to resist abusive behavior toward herself. Even as Christ bore up patiently when suffering unjustly, Christians (male and female) are called to do the same. Read I Peter chapter 2.

    1 Peter 2:18-3:2
    Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps… In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

    Much rebellion has occurred under the guise of "resisting abuse." Yahweh is not the author of rebellion. As Christians we must adopt a mindset that suffering injustice is not a threat to our spiritual growth. Indeed, it is one of the greatest catalysts for promoting spiritual growth in the saints.

    Consider the words of Christ in the sermon on the mount. What did He instruct people to do when someone cursed them, despitefully used them, reviled them, or persecuted them? It was always to meet abuse with forgiveness and love.

    May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.


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