It goes without saying: We should be glad when people do what is needed to build a stable society, to make their fellow humans feel loved, to help those who need help. Young or old, male or female, foreigner or local, it takes the work of a lot of decent, if imperfect, people to make the world liveable. I am glad when these billions of ordinary people are praised for what they do. And sad when their work is slighted.
Now, there is one statement made by reasonably decent people that, to my mind, absolutely dishonors the work done by half of humanity. It is:
Women should not work.
Of course this denies the great work done by women employed for a salary, but that is by far not all. If women really should not work, then…
> you cannot honor the work the home-schooling mother do, teaching her children. If it is something she should do, it cannot be called work.
> If a woman cooks or cleans, you probably deny that she did any work by cooking or cleaning. Because you want her to cook and clean, but she should not work.
> Women should not work at all. The lazy woman, the one sitting at home texting and painting toenails should be honored most, for she is not breaking the rule that women should not work.
How could we honor the work of women, if we do not admit they indeed work?
Refine the statement somewhat, and you may say: “Women should not get paid for their work.” But why would you say that? It sure is not in the Bible. The only remotely relevant verse I can think of right now is:
“the labourer is worthy of his hire. – Luke 10:7, also 1 Timothy 5:18”
Why would Luke 10 and 1 Tim 5 not apply to female laborers?
Anyway, that is not what the women-should-not-work teachers believe either. Many “true womanhood”/ “against feminism” female Christian teachers, who oppose “women working” get some money from their books, DVDs and speaking opportunities. So I really think that they should define better what women should not do. The way they state it, it is just an excuse to condemn other women while they can work for payment in their fields.
Even I believe that – if at all possible – it is good if at least one parent of young children stay at home with them. For several practical reasons, that is more often the mother. (It is not a scriptural command, though. Eph 6:4 may even call firstly fathers to bring children up in nurture. The Greek word there would be “father” if it was single, but the plural “fathers” may mean fathers and mothers, and is translated parents in Heb 11:23. That is the only command to nurture children, and it is given to either both sexes or only fathers.
Neither was it always the case that moms stayed at home with dads gone. Prior to the industrial revolution, both parents usually worked – produced and sold – mostly from home. The woman of virtue in Proverbs was certainly a working woman who spent some time at the market, at the field she bought and planted, etc.)
But the gap between
a)wanting mothers of young children at home if possible, and
b) not wanting women to work
… is vast! The majority of women are not mothers of young children.
That is one good, sensible thing about the Christians who left gender role theology behind: We never dishonor women – wether they work at home or the marketplace – by denying that women work, or should work.
Stay at home woman, whether I agree with you theologically or not, I know you work. Thank you for working!