Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Are Working Mothers Biblical?

The other day, John Piper answered a question concerning if it is biblical for mothers to hold full time jobs outside of the home. I know that a lot of women out there have this question, and a lot of times as Christians we feel conflicted on this issue. Our church seems to have an answer but our society has a different one. It sometimes is hard to discern what is biblical and what is not. John Piper did a decent job at answering the question. Love, love, love this part of his response:
"It is a great and glorious calling to be a mother and a homemaker and a wife and a neighborhood make-it-happen kind of person and a church minister. Who knows what God might be pleased to do."
I am always refreshed and encouraged when I am reminded of what being a stay at home mom is.

Here is Piper's full response:

So I know some of you who read this blog might actually be interested in this question a bit more. Although I loved Piper's response because it encouraged me, I think Doug Wilson answers it better. Doug answers a more general question, should women work outside of the home at all? Check his answer out, he explains a lot more:

Ask Doug: Women working outside the home from Canon Wired on Vimeo.


Daniel and Robin said...

Laura (hope you remember me from college education classes - sometimes I check out your blog!! your girls are SO CUTE!) -

I'm not offended by your post in ANY way, but I wanted to pose a question:

What do you think he'd say about the opposite - about a father being home full time and a mother being at work full time? I know some would argue that mothers and fathers each have unique parenting gifts that the other cannot replace. However, if the mother is able to provide financially for the household, while father is not, would that be wrong? Maybe 'wrong' isn't the correct word but you know what I mean. I'm sort of just playing Devil's Advocate here.

I'd say that if it's possible, by all means mother should stay at home. However, at times that isn't possible. I certainly don't think that those families are less Christian, although it's probably easier for things church-related to slip through the cracks when both parents are working because there's just less time each day with your child(ren).

(BTW, we are family where I work and my husband is finishing school and stays home to care for our daughter.)

Zach and Laura Hanlon said...

Great question. I think that in the Bible, God clearly defines roles for men and women. For women, Titus 2 defines the role of a woman. One of them being managing her household and another, submitting to her husband.

For men, 1 Timothy 5 states that men should be able to provide for his household. Men are called continually to provide for their family (physically (1 tim. 5:8), spiritually (eph. 5:26-27), and through leadership (eph. 6:4).

From what I have learned through God's word, I think he has designed us for certain things. He has designed women to manage the household and care for the children, he has designed men to be leaders and provide for the family.

Being a Christian is based solely on your faith in Christ and his atoning work on your behalf, but to experience the fullness of that identity you need to be committed to God's design/plan for your life. I don't think you can fully glorify God or experience full joy unless you are submitting to God's design.

There are certain seasons or circumstances where his design isn't possible for your life. I think your circumstances are probably one of them. However, if this were a permanent arrangement I would tend to question if this were sinful in light of those defined roles.

Joanna Swanson said...

Hey Laura,
After experimenting with 14 years of full-time Engineering work, while raising children...I testify to the wisdom that the woman must be able to attend to the needs of the home.
We had several issues with me working full time outside the home.
1. As an Engineer, I made more money than Eric. This may sound wonderful...but there is an innate need in men to provide. I had no desire to be the "leader" of the home...but so many times Eric treated me as if I was trying to take away his leadership role. I think it was because we were both "climbing the career ladder". It simply doesn't work - One person's career has to be the central focus, and if the other has work - it must be supplemental income only, so that the needs of the home are met. I also believe that if a man is the one who is meeting the needs at home, then he will eventually feel resentment as his "provider" instinct is challenged. That is obviously my opinion - but also from my experience.
2. The longer a woman has a career...the more responsibility she gets. I was certainly capable of all of the challenges of my job...but the responsibility started to become a huge burden (and not a source of pleasure). Then to add in the home responsibilities (EVEN IF THE HUSBAND HELPS) - it is overwhelming. At the end of the day, I was exhausted and still had to go get groceries, and get Lindsay to soccer practice, and do the laundry. I was exhausted when I got to be with Eric & the kids, and many times snapped at them for small things. And then when I felt God's call - (to cook a meal for a friend with a new baby, to visit someone in the hospital, to teach a children's choir)- there were not enough hours in the day to serve HIM!
3. I was called to be my husband's helper. Hmmm...now keep in mind that I was raised by a feminist divorced working Mom who told me never to depend on a man. But I believe that my job is to help my husband to be successful. My marriage became so much happier once I quit my "career", and started working for Eric's business. It is "Eric's business" - so it would appear that he gets all of the credit...but oh, how my marriage has improved since changing to this helper mentality. The feminists will tell me that I am giving up all of my power - but Eric and I don't have any more power struggles. Eric bends over backwards now to listen to me, and I don't have to demand it. I believe that this is because he feels respected, and that he is successful in providing financially. By working part-time (with a flexible work schedule where I can pick the 25 hours I work and/or work from home), I can meet the needs of my family (picking up kids from school, running errands) while still contributing to and interacting with the world. To put it simply - me stepping back from the "Dual-Career" mentality has been the best move for my family - and I believe we are now following God's plan. (Sorry for writing a novel here...good topic!)

Daniel and Robin said...

Laura, what I love most about your blog is posts like this - that make us all think and the fact that we can discuss them without hurt feelings and such!!