Does God’s Word Allow Women to Work?

working womanMind if I share part of my resume with you? I have a bachelor’s degree in communication from Missouri State University (go Bears!). I have a master’s degree in education from William Woods University. I have worked as a newspaper reporter, a high school journalism teacher, a public speaker, and a freelance writer. Currently, I work from home as an author and speaker. I also happen to have yogurt smeared on my shirt by my one-year-old, dinner on the stove to take to my hubby at work, and a pile of laundry on my floor nearly as tall as Mt. Everest.

I tell you all of that so you know where I’m coming from. So many of you are just beginning to consider what a godly future looks like. Your desire to embrace God’s calling as women is clear. It tickles me pink to read about your genuine interest in sticking to God’s plan. But amidst a flurry of conflicting opinions, I’m not surprised that you’re feeling unsure about how to manage future careers, marriages, and families.

In the context of God’s plan for us as women, where does education fit? What about working outside the home? What is the right thing to do when kiddos come along?

Even among Christian woman you will find varied answers to these questions. That’s why I think we should look to God’s Word as our standard as we seek to define godly womanhood.

In fact, there is one woman in Scripture who I think has the most to teach us about God’s design for women. She can be found in Proverbs 31. This may be a familiar passage to you. The woman described here is often held up among Christians as the gold standard when defining biblical womanhood. If you don’t mind, I’d like to revisit these verses, especially when considering how to manage work, family, and planning for the future.

I won’t copy the entire passage into this post. But I would encourage you to grab your Bible and read about the Proverbs 31 woman for yourself. You can find the details of her life in Proverbs 31:10-31. For this discussion, I just want to highlight those verses that help us understand the role of work in this woman’s life. We are going to look to these passages for an answer to the question, “Does God’s Word allow women to work outside the home?”

In Proverbs 31:13-18 we read “she seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hand she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.”

What kind of woman is she? She’s a hard worker, accustomed to working with her hands (v. 13). Her work is meaningful and provides for the needs of others (v. 15). She is an investor (v. 16), an entrepreneur (v. 16), a strong and capable woman (v. 17). She earns income (v. 18). If we jump ahead to verse 27, we learn that she doesn’t sit idly by waiting for others to care for her and her family.

But this gal is more than a workhorse. In verse 20 we learn that she ministers to the needy around her. In verses 10, 11, 12, 27, and 28, we see clearly that caring for her husband and children is her highest priority. Much of her effort is spent toward managing the affairs of her household.

Does she work? You betcha. She buys real estate, plants a vineyard, sells garments to merchants. But she also does what is best for her husband, her children, and the needy in her sphere of influence.

In 1 Timothy 5:9-10 we meet a similar woman.

“[She] has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.”

I’d imagine that if the Proverbs 31 woman got together with the woman from 1 Timothy, they’d be fast friends. That’s because they have shared priorities. They work hard to care for the needs of their families. They use their homes to serve others. Despite commitments and relationships outside the home, they are functioning in their design as women by making their households their primary area of focus. I’d love to have lunch with those gals because while I value my education and my work outside the house, my highest priorities and greatest successes are my husband, son, and home.

In Lies Women Believe, Nancy puts it this way, “The Scripture is clear that a married woman’s life and ministry are to be centered in her home. This is not to suggest that it is necessarily wrong for a wife and mother to have a job outside her home—unless that job in any way competes with or diminishes her effectiveness in fulfilling her primary calling at home” (Lies Women Believe, 127-128).

And do you want to know the best part? You don’t have to wait until you’re married with children to live out God’s standard for womanhood. Making your home (and the people in it) your priority, serving others with your time, talents, and resources, and working for God’s glory are all possible within your current circumstances.

In fact, in tomorrow’s post I’ll be challenging you to find ways to live out Proverbs 31 right now!

About Author

Erin Davis

Erin is passionate about pointing young women toward God's Truth. She is the author of several books and a frequent speaker and blogger to women of all ages. Erin lives on a small farm in the midwest with her husband and kids. When she's not writing, you can find her herding goats, chickens, and children.

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  • Pete Watchman

    1. Sigh!
    2. Once a girl attains maturity (16 years was normal) she should get married and build her home by taking care of her family with the help of her close blood relatives or her husband’s close blood relatives
    3. Once a boy attains maturity (16 years was normal) he should love his wife and start providing for his family ASAP until then his father can provide.
    4. Go to point 1 🙂
    5. The above aligns with God’s plan.
    6. Maligning God’s plan as mentioned above causes unimaginable horror in the girl’s or boy’s married life. E.g.: 50% of marriages break-up in a “Christian nation”.
    7. Any clarifications can be made.

    • Jo316

      it is tragic that so many “professing” Christians make God’s Word into what conveniently suits them, and this is a classic but unfortunate example which pours directly out of the visible church and religions. Erin, please read 1 Corinthians 2, and you will immediately discover the source of your confusion.

      • ?!

        • Jo316

          Here is an appropriate and proper exposition of Proverbs 31: 16; we can see the distinct different between which is human opinion and spiritually discerned.
          She considereth a field, and buyeth it,…. The field are the Scriptures, in which are hid the rich treasures of Gospel doctrines and promises; and the church, and all truly enlightened persons, consider to what use this field may be put, to what account it will turn; how profitable the Scriptures are, for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness; what a rich mine and valuable treasure is in them; things more desirable, and of greater worth, than thousands of gold and silver; and therefore will buy this field at any rate, and not sell it; will part with all they have before they will part with that; even life itself, which in an improper sense is called buying of it, though it is without money and without price; see Matthew 13:44;
          And it is observable, that in the Hebrew text there is a double reading; the “Keri”, or marginal reading, is feminine; but the “Cetib”, or writing, is masculine; to show that she did it by means of men, she made use of in her vineyard for that service; it being, as Aben Ezra observes, not the custom and business of women to plant vineyards, but men. It may be rendered, “he planted”, and be applied to her husband, Christ; who, through the ministry of the word in his church, plants souls in it; and happy are they who are the planting of the Lord! trees of righteousness, that he may be glorified, Isaiah 61:3.

          • 80% of my loved country USA is mentally ill. 🙁 women liberation, empowerment, equality are a conspiracy to the greedy to become richer n richer. Sigh!

  • April Smith

    This is kind of confusing. Why do you think that God would give the woman so much responsibility to make an income and to work and to support her household but then to the men only to also support the household? I don’t see how the roles are separate if we have all the same responsibilities and cares except when it comes to the home. This is confusing. And I don’t know why people also encourage women who are not wives to do such things,verses that are about wives are about wives. Why would you burden an unmarried woman with these things?

  • Beth Giesige

    I would like to say that my child is grown and out of the house. I am married and recently became laid-off. My husband recently told me that no woman should not work in a factory as it is biblical. A woman’s place is in the home. My husband likes his toys and without my wages they would not be possible or I would do without what I need. My husband is a professed Christian put does not practice what he preaches. I am not looking for advise but I am thank for the information that you have provided. People interpret the Bible to excuse the way they think.

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      Thank you for sharing, Beth Giesige. We’re thankful the Lord has encouraged you through this post. Know that I’ve prayed for you and your husband today.

      Grace and peace,