ARE WIVES THE SOLE KEEPERS OF THE HOME?

I asked previously, “where did God say it is the duty of the woman to keep the home while the man makes money?” and a fellow responded, “I found this post hilarious, preposterous, and unassuming.” He went ahead to submit Titus 2:4-5 as the place that established wives as the keeper of the home and men as the providers.

I am glad he made this move because it has forced me to dust off my pen to write extensively once more as I have avoided doing so in a while because of how busy I have been trying to get other things done.

First, my post was specific, directly targeted at the idea that it is the woman who does the cooking while the man is only “helping” whenever he makes the dish. Throughout the Bible, we see men cooking. So, an unmarried man cannot cook and fend for himself? Does he have to wait till he gets the keeper of the home to take care of him?

The original word used in the verse you mentioned is oijkourgovß” and it means a couple of things which includes

Caring for the house, working at home

– the (watch or) keeper of the house

– keeping at home and taking care of household affairs

– a domestic

When reading the Bible, there are things we must pay attention to which includes

– What was obtainable at that time?

– What does the writer have in mind?

Many times, believers lift off a place from the Bible and quote it to back up their convictions when the writer didn’t really suppose that his words should be twisted to support an ideology he never had in mind.

So, it is safe to ask, “what did Paul have in mind when saying “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” In Titus 2:5?” Was he establishing that women are solely responsible for cooking? And that men are solely responsible for providing money?

That was not what Paul had in mind. Paul was instructing believers generally on how to be of good conduct for the purpose of the gospel. He started with the older men and women, the younger women and the young men, and also the slaves.

What we see here was that Paul was encouraging believers to be of good conduct. We didn’t see him addressing “husbands” specifically, he was not in any way defining marital roles or gender roles in marriage. It is important that we understand this.

So, while he asked women to be “keepers of the home”, he didn’t say it was their sole responsibility. It will be outrightly wrong to try to define the role of wives using that portion of the Bible. Aside KJV, most other translations of the Bible rendered it as “workers at home”. So, why did Paul mention “workers at home?”. I’ll explain in a bit.

Marriages are shaped by culture, gender roles are also shaped by culture, and culture in itself is shaped by whatever is obtainable at a given time. It is like using 1 Corinthians 11:5 which says “But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved.” To teach that women should cover their heads in Churches without really understanding the purpose of that verse and what it is addressing.

Sometimes when reading the Bible, we should ask ourselves, “if the writer was to write to us today, how will he address this same issue?” The issue of head covering was not really about head covering but about women submitting to their husbands. Head covering in the culture of that day with respect to the people he was writing to signified submission to the husband. Today, it doesn’t mean the same thing, so Paul wouldn’t ask women to cover their heads.

Culturally, women of those days mostly work at home, they were mostly housewives but today the dynamics are changing, the systems are changing and many women will be required to find jobs so that they can support the running of the family.

In essence, Paul was not actually defining the role of women in marriage, he was simply saying “be a good wife.” Paul was not saying that it is solely the woman that qualifies as the “keeper of the home”. Let us look at it logically by examining the words of Paul. I will take it one after another.

  • To be sober: Who ought to be sober? Only wives? No but Paul didn’t specifically ask old women and servants to be sober. Does that mean it is not in their place to be sober? No! But sometimes, when speaking to be people, not every single thing comes to mind. Inasmuch Paul didn’t ask old women and servants to be sober, they still have to be sober because generally, it is a Christian virtue.
  • To love their husbands, children: Paul didn’t ask husbands here to love their wives, he didn’t ask old people to love their grandchildren. But somewhere else in Ephesians 5:25 we see Paul asking husbands to love their wives. I have seen several women say that it is the man’s responsibility to love the woman while it is the woman’s responsibility to submit but the truth is that we are all required to love and submit to one another. So, Paul was not clearly defining roles.
  • To be discreet, chaste: Is it only young women that ought to be chaste? Not at all but Paul addressed this to young women only in this particular text. It doesn’t mean that other believers are not required to be chaste.
  • Keepers at home: Clearly, we can now understand that Paul wasn’t saying “women are the keepers of the home”, he was saying “…be discreet, chaste, keepers of the home…” Isolating one and establishing that Paul was defining roles is wrong.

WOMEN ARE ALSO PROVIDERS

Let me also add that Paul was addressing areas that he felt some people were falling short in those days. For example, if women have been providing for their children while their men go out into the streets to drink and come home drunk, Paul could as well say “men, love your family, provide for them, and don’t be given to drunkenness” It doesn’t mean men are the sole providers.

In Proverbs 31, we see that women too are responsible for providing for the family. In some cultures, men are at a more financial advantage which automatically confers on them the “breadwinner” title. However, it does not mean that it is the sole responsibility of the man. Let’s read

“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ship, bringing her food from afar… She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings, she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable,

and her lamp does not go out at night. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue” 13-14,16-18,24-26

The literal character in Proverbs 31 cannot be a sit-at-home mum and don’t get me wrong, so many sit-at-home mums are also as virtuous as the Proverbs 31 woman. So many women claim they are Proverbs 31 woman but they don’t want to work, they want everything to be provided for them and they think that just being an “oh-yes” wife makes them a Proverbs 31 woman. The Proverbs 31 woman here is not just an international business tycoon, she has authority and has instructions on her lips! Her husband too honors her.

If you are looking for a place where it is the duty of the woman to keep the home while it is the duty of the man to make money, you are mistaken. Paul never meant so and there is nowhere in the Bible where such was meant to be. The man and the woman ought to keep the home, and the man and the woman ought to provide for their family.

However, the man and the woman operate in their capacities with respect to their strong areas and their weak areas. In some families, the man earns better and provides better and the woman compliments understand more about domestic chores and do it more. In this modern-day where both the man and the woman go to work, leaving the domestic work for the woman and blackmailing her with Titus 2:5 is either a result of ignorance or a deliberate attempt to use the Bible to excuse our laziness.

I call you blessed.

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