What do we say about women working outside of the home?
Our analysis of how gender and family dynamics relate to work pursued beyond the home begins with the recognition that the Lutheran Confessions identify marriage (and with it the family roles of wife/mother as well as husband/father) as the highest estate, surpassing both the church and all civil estates (Large Catechism, Sixth Commandment, 209-10). Men and women are taught not to regard ecclesiastical vows of celibacy as more God-pleasing than marriage or procreation (AC XXIII; AC XXVI, 8-11; Apol. XXIII; SA III, XI). Marriage and childbearing are emphasized as the chief vocations for the sanctified lives of Christian women (1 Timothy 2:15; Apol. XXIII, 32). The Bible explicitly calls upon older women to "train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God" (Titus 2:4-5). Notice that fulfillment of these domestic responsibilities has the added value of preserving a good reputation for God's word!
Of course, even while serving her husband and children, a married woman can also find ways to serve the larger community with her talents. The biblical "wife of noble character" (Proverbs 31:10-31) shared the surplus of her domestic productivity, both as charity and in business transactions. In view of the principles outlined above, it may be expected that work outside of the home would be more common and more extensive among those women who are not married or do not have children, particularly those women receiving what the Lutheran Confessions call a divine "gift" for lifelong celibacy (AC XXIII, 6; Apol. XXIII (XXI), 16-22, 38-39, 53-55; Apol. XXVII (XIII), 51).
We are concerned, however, about the trend in both society and the church to look down on women who devote themselves to the vocations of housewife or "stay-at-home mom" (as if this somehow "wastes" their education or other talents). With St. Paul, we "counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander." (1 Timothy 5:14)
Finally, it must be emphasized, we are equally concerned about workaholic men who neglect their wives and children.
TAGS: Motherhood, Womanhood
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