Does the Bible Allow Women to Work Outside the Home?
A question from Louis…
Hi Reverend David, I am a member of first Baptist church of Lincoln Gardens, NJ. I have been following you for a while. I have learned a lot from sermons. I often listen to your commentary, they are very inspiring.
I am part of a Bible study group online with 22 people from 5 different countries (we are Haitians). I have a question that is causing a lot problem between us. Based on Genesis 3:16 most men in the group believe that women must not work. Their duty is to conceive and take care of their household. They believe anyone who let your wife works disobeys God. What do you think? Can you please help me?
Here is the passage Louis and his friends were focused on: Genesis 3:16-19
 To the woman He said:
“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”
 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.”
After the sin of Adam and Eve, and after their hiding from God, then God pronounced curses upon them. First upon the serpent, then upon Eve, and finally upon woman. Part of the curse upon the woman deals with childbearing:  I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children. Part of the curse upon the man deals with work: [17-19] Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.
Because part of the curse upon the woman deals with childbearing and part of the curse upon the man deals with work, some people have concluded, “This is the Bible’s way of saying that women should only bear and raise children, and only men should work.”
Maybe we would think that – if that was the only thing the Bible said about this. But it isn’t the only thing; there are many passages that show us godly women who worked outside of the home.
It is true that God gives women a special role in the most important work in the world: the nurture and raising of children. This is something Paul emphasized in 1 Timothy 3, when writing (by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) about the respective roles of men and women in the church, Paul added a special mention of the unique and important role women have in childbearing – God wanted us to remember that.
- Of course, women do not play the only role – fathers are important also!
- Yet mothers have an irreplaceable role, both biologically and maternally.
We never want to imply that this is the only work women can and should do.
- We do not see this Biblically: The Bible shows women working outside the home.
- We know that not every woman can or will be a mother – these are general
The Proverbs 31 Woman Worked Outside the Home
She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
Lydia Worked Outside the Home
Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.
The Women Who Supported Jesus Worked Outside the Home (Maybe)
And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.
From these examples and more, I don’t think we can say at all that God commands that women should not work outside the home, and that the only work they can do is in the bearing and raising of children.
Now, to properly raise children is a lot of work – and if it is possible for the mother in the family to give that her full attention, it is a blessing for her, the children, and everyone else. I would even say that it is a blessing worth making sacrifices for. There are many times when it would be better for a family to accept a somewhat lower standard of living, with fewer luxuries and niceties, and to have the mom be home for the kids for as long as possible.
Yet, every family is different, and these are things that families should prayerfully seek God’s wisdom for. Jesus warned us about taking the traditions of man and making them the law of God – something we should never do!
- The Bible does give women a special role in childbearing and child raising.
- The Bible does not forbid women to work outside the home, outside that special role, and the Bible shows us many examples of godly women working outside the home.
- We shouldn’t treat one passage as if it says everything the Bible says on a subject. We need to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
- We can’t make religious rules and laws – especially for others – where the Bible does not.
What does it mean that Paul kept the law in Acts 21:24?
According to Acts 21:24, what does it mean when it says that Paul kept the law? Are Christians supposed to keep the law as Paul did? Your thoughts, please?
Acts 21:24 says,
Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law.
I think what this verse tells us, in general, is that Paul continued to observe the Mosaic law. Paul observed the law of Moses, generally, in regard to dietary instructions, in regard to the Sabbath, etc. Paul, in general, continued to keep the Mosaic law.
There were some places where he definitely did not keep the Mosaic law; the Mosaic laws regarding sacrifice. Paul would not have continued to offer animal sacrifice for the Atonement of sin. Although, in the very same context in Acts 21 when Paul visited Jerusalem at the conclusion of one of his missionary journeys, it says that he came with an offering of his hair. This leads us to believe that Paul was keeping a nazirite vow.
Paul was not allergic to the laws and the ceremonies of Judaism, even after he became a Christian, as long as those laws and ceremonies didn’t conflict with what Jesus came and established by the New Covenant.
Paul was probably more observant of the Mosaic law than we might expect. Why? Paul did not do this as the ground of His righteousness with God. Rather, he did it as a demonstration of love and honor to God, wanting to please Him, but not believing that that law observance made him more accepted before God.
Will we actually see and know our loved ones in heaven, such as our husband or wife?
Do we actually see our loved ones in heaven? Do we love them like we did on Earth, specifically a husband or wife? I hear there’s no marriage in heaven.
First of all, we will know each other in heaven. I can base this on a few things. First, somebody asked Charles Spurgeon this question. Am I going to know my loved ones in heaven? Spurgeon said, Do you know them now? The person said, Well, yes, of course, I know them now. I know my father. I know my mother, I know my husband. I know my wife. Spurgeon just simply said this, Well, you’re not going to be more stupid in heaven than you are here on earth. I guess that’s a pretty fair statement, isn’t it? We’re not going to know less in heaven than we know on Earth.
Yes, we will know our friends or relatives. Now, regarding our husband and wife, we will know them in terms of relationship. We just won’t have the marriage relationship we have with them now. As Jesus said, in heaven, we are like the angels in this respect. We don’t marry. We’re not given in marriage. There’s not a marriage relationship that lasts into eternity.
The simple reason for this is that we have a greater relationship that dominates our life. Practically speaking, a marriage relationship tends to play a dominant role in a person’s life, properly so. There’s something wrong if it doesn’t. In heaven, the greatness of our relationship with God and the perfection of our relationship with everybody else will mean that our marriage relationship is not the same in heaven as it is on earth.
We will certainly know one another in heaven. That is going to be one of the chief joys of heaven. We will have unlimited time with those we know and love and delight to spend time with.
Can Christians eat meat with blood in it?
This question comes back to Acts chapter 15. The idea is that the people of God should keep certain dietary regulations. This goes back to the mosaic laws, the kosher laws. The kosher laws were not only about what meat you could and couldn’t eat. They were also about how the meat that you could eat was slaughtered and bled properly.
According to a proper kosher (slaughtering of an animal), you first cut the jugular vein of the animal. You let it bleed out as much as possible so that there is as little blood in the meat as possible. Obviously, there is always some blood remaining in whatever meat you eat, so we’re not talking about getting every molecule of blood. We’re talking about the grotesque eating of meat. This was the Old Testament law.
Now, the question is, do those laws apply to believers under the new covenant? I would say no. We’re not under the old covenant. We don’t have to keep kosher dietary laws. It’s very clear in the New Testament that believers, those under the new covenant, are not under kosher dietary regulations.
There’s one passage that causes people to question that. In Acts 15, it deals with the whole Council of Jerusalem where they speak to the believers in the first century. Acts 15:28-29 says, For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.
On this basis, there are some believers who say we should observe this law. What I want you to understand here, though, is that there is a specific context to this message, and the message is simply this: They were to do this in light of the fact of Jewish presence in the different cities where they live. Acts 15:20-21 says, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.
When you talk about meat sacrificed to idols, things strangled, and things in blood, mentioned in verses 20 and 21, it signifies Jewish presence in all these different cities. What they wrote in this letter to the first century churches was not binding upon all Christians in all places for all ages. It was done specifically so as to not offend the conscience of Jewish believers or Jewish potential believers. It was to not needlessly offend them. It was for an evangelistic purpose.
Now, depending on context, that may or may not be applicable to someone today. We should not do anything that would needlessly offend the people around us and turn them off to the gospel. Again, if you’re going to offend somebody and turn them off, let it be for the right thing. Let it be for the preaching of the gospel. What they wisely told them here with the Jerusalem Council is to not do it to the Gentile believers regarding these things because of the witness to the Jews all around them.
What did Paul mean by “the doers of the law will be justified” in Romans 2:13?
Romans 2:13 says, For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
In Romans 2, Paul is explaining what it takes to be justified by law. If you are going to be justified by the law, it can’t just be by hearing the law. It has to be by doing it and doing it in its entirety. Paul’s whole point there is to show his readers that nobody has truly kept the law in that way. That’s why we need Jesus and we need the salvation that only Jesus can bring.
Is the Book of Enoch of any value?
Did you read the Book of Enoch? What are your impressions?
I do remember reading the Book of Enoch many years ago. It belongs to, what is sometimes called, the apocryphal literature of the Old Testament. A line or two from the book of Enoch is actually quoted in the book of Jude. It’s an interesting book. I don’t know if we can say that it’s been well preserved or how much of it is what Enoch actually wrote. We don’t know how much of it has been corrupted. It’s not scripture. It’s not the word of God, and we just make a clear distinction between what might be of historical interest, like the other more classical books of the old testament apocrypha. These books are of historical interest, but they’re not on the same level as scripture. I would just generally put the Book of Enoch in that same category.
What is the abomination of desolation?
We are to look for the abomination of desolation. Can you explain what that is?
Daniel 9 and 12, Matthew 24, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and the book of Revelation, explains the abomination of desolation to be some kind of statue or image. Some people think, given modern technology, it might be a hologram type image. It could be sophisticated technology, but it will be an image set up in a temple, a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
I think that the understanding of what the abomination of desolation is, is one of the key things to get right in our understanding of prophecy. Now, I’ve read widely on this, and you can probably come to 20 or 30 different interpretations of what the abomination of desolation is. I really think that the most plain, straightforward answer is that abomination is a kind of technical word in biblical Hebrew for a terrible idolatry. It is an abomination that brings desolation. In other words, the wrath and the judgment of God.
Totalitarian governments, the standards of Roman soldiers in 70 ad, etc. twist and stretch the idea of what the abomination of desolation is and make it unrecognizable. I think this is the pivotal sign of the Great Tribulation and the, very soon glorious, Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Now, I believe that God will catch away the church before the abomination of desolation is revealed. Now, some people have a hard time with this. They say, Didn’t Jesus tell us to look for the abomination desolation in Matthew 24? Absolutely, he did, but Jesus wasn’t saying that to every Christian throughout all generations. Specifically, that word is spoken to those who believe at that time, and I believe that that will be after the church is caught up to meet Jesus, as is described in 1 Thessalonians 4.
So, I don’t believe that Jesus’ reference to the abomination of desolations means that every Christian will see it, but He does make it very central to His idea of what He’s trying to get across in the Olivet Discourse, found in Matthew 24 and 25.
Should we pay taxes to the government if it uses our money to pay for abortions?
Part of it is given up to the individual Christian conscience. So, I’ll just try to reason through it the way somebody might, regarding their own individual conscience. I could see where somebody would say, “Well, now with a new administration, the government is actually funding abortion, the killing of babies in the womb. I don’t want to be any part of that, so I’m not going to pay taxes.” If a Christian wanted to take that stand and they felt moved by their conscience to do exactly that, I would say, “Do what your conscience tells you to do before God.” How could I say anything different.
However, you have to take your lumps. When they find you and jail you for not paying your taxes, you have to take your punishment and regard it as punishment for the cause of Christ in obeying my conscience before God. Now, there are some people who would say, “Well, I’m just going to not pay a portion of my taxes.” Somebody might say, “Well, I’m going to make contributions to pro life organizations and healthcare services that seek to guide people away from the abortion industry.” Those could be other ways.
I don’t think that that would be a biblical command to not pay your taxes because of that. You could say that there were all sorts of immoral things the Roman government was involved in at the time Jesus said we should render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.
If a person was so moved by their conscience before God, I certainly wouldn’t tell them that they shouldn’t do it. I would say, as boldly and as courageously as possible, take your lumps and count it as obeying your conscience before the Lord.
How did Noah know which animals were clean and unclean?
How did Noah know which animals were clean and unclean before Leviticus?
When God spoke to Noah and told him to bring animals on to the ark, He told them to bring a certain number of clean animals, animals fit for sacrifice, and a certain number of other animals. How did Noah know which animals were clean and unclean? Let me give you the answer to that question. We don’t know. The Bible doesn’t tell us.
All I can say is that there were customs of sacrifice that went all the way back to the Garden of Eden. When Cain and Abel brought their sacrifices, they knew there was some custom to follow. They especially knew that sacrifices should be offered by faith. By the way, that’s really the difference between Cain’s sacrifice and Abel’s sacrifice. Abel brought a blood sacrifice of an animal. Cain brought a sacrifice of the produce of the ground. Some people think Abel’s sacrifice was accepted because it was a blood sacrifice. Cain’s sacrifice was rejected, because it was not a blood sacrifice. It was a sacrifice made up of produce from the ground. That’s not the difference between their sacrifices. Hebrews 11 tells us that Able’s sacrifice was accepted by God because it was made in faith. Faith or unbelief was the difference between the two sacrifices, not blood or no blood.
Now, having said that, there was some understanding of sacrifice that we’re just simply not told of. Apparently as part of that understanding of sacrifice was the understanding that some animals are fit to be sacrificed to God and some animals are not. A question that fascinates me that I have no answer to is this: Was Noah’s list of clean animals the same as the list of clean animals in the law of Moses that you’d find in Exodus and Leviticus? Again, we don’t have an answer to that question.
Are you, David, a Calvinist?
No, I’m not a Calvinist. I do not subscribe to the five points, as they are commonly understood by most Calvinists and people in the reformed camp. I also do not believe in what I think is the hinge on which Calvinism or reformed doctrine unfolds. I do not believe that we have to be born again before we believe. I don’t think that that is the natural teaching of the scriptures. I think the natural teaching of the scriptures is that we believe and then we’re born again. Now, I don’t believe that we can believe in and of ourselves on our own. I believe that God has to do prior work in a person before they can believe. I would just argue that that prior work is not the same as being born again. I hope that’s understandable.
So, I’m not a Calvinist. I’m not reformed in my theology, but I want to give two caveats to that. I have learned and gained a lot from Calvinistic or reformed pastors, preachers, teachers, and commentators through the years. One of them is Charles Spurgeon. I gained a lot from Charles Spurgeon through the years. I love Spurgeon’s preaching. I feel like I’ve gained and learned so much without subscribing to every single point of his theology. I’ll say another thing about Spurgeon’s Calvinism. I know there’s people that love to play debating quotes with Spurgeon. There’s a well known quote from Spurgeon where he basically says, “Calvinism is the gospel and the gospel is Calvinism.” More particularly, he said more things like that earlier in his ministry. There are many quotes from Spurgeon where he expresses Calvinism in, what I would say, such a sensible, generous way. For example, there’s a quote from Spurgeon where he basically says, “Some people call me a Calvinistic Armenian. Other people call me an Armenian Calvinist.” He says, “It doesn’t matter to me just as long as I stay close to my Bible.” Another well known quote by Spurgeon says something like this. “If you ask me why a man is saved, I’ll give you the Calvinistic answer. It’s only due to God. If you asked me why a man is damned, I’ll give you the Armenian answer. It’s only due to man alone and it’s not God’s fault in any way.” Again, in many ways, I would say that Spurgeon was a generous Calvinist.
For these reasons above, I don’t consider myself an anti-calvinist, but I’ll debate it if people want. I’m not on a mission to refute Calvinism though. When it comes up, I don’t mind talking about it. I don’t see Calvinists as enemies of the faith. I would suppose in rare circumstances.
What advice does David have for a young pastor?
What I think young pastors need to do is grow in their biblical knowledge. A general observation I have about our younger generation is that I see a generation of young servants of God who know a lot about technology. They know a lot about the culture. They know a lot about innovation and methods and strategies.
What I don’t see them always so strong with is their basic biblical knowledge, their mastery of the Bible. That’s really what I would exhort. Go deep in the scriptures. Meditate on the scriptures. Think your way through the Bible. Here’s the way that I recommend to people to think their way through the Bible. Get out some kind of journal or notebook. Read through the Bible chapter by chapter. Start at Genesis, and go to Revelation. Read through the Bible chapter by chapter, and write a one sentence summary of every chapter of the Bible. If you do that, you will grow in your Bible knowledge remarkably. Again, only one sentence, because that’ll make you think it through and really have to boil it down. You’ll think your way through the whole Bible, learn how to grow deep, go deep, and really meditate on the scriptures.
Why does Jesus tell us to pray that God would not lead us into temptation?
Why does Jesus teach His disciples to pray (in Matthew 6:13), “do not lead us into temptation”? Would the Lord not always deliver us from temptation instead of leading us into it?
The word that’s translated temptation is the same word for testing, proving. It’s the same idea. God will never entice us to evil. The book of James makes it very clear, but there are times when God will allow our faith to be tested in any number of ways. Taking with the broadness of the word temptation (test, proving), this is the prayer. “Lord, don’t allow anything in my life beyond what I can handle. Don’t allow me any testing that is beyond my ability.”
We don’t have to read or understand that, especially in light of the broadness of the term temptation and what the rest of the Scriptures tell us about God and temptation, especially in James. We don’t have to think that God might tempt us to evil or entice us to evil unless we pray like this. That’s not the idea at all. It’s really a prayer to God that we would not be allowed anything beyond our ability to endure and resist as we trust in Him.
I left a profitable business deal because there were too many lies, and missed out on a lot of money. What does the Bible say to me in this situation?
I backed out of a lucrative business deal because there were lies involved. Now I feel dumb, because the other party profited big time since they kept my cut. Now, I feel strange. What does the Bible say?
I would just remind you of what Jesus said. He said, what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? I don’t want to underestimate the fact that you’re out some money that you would have had. Somebody else got what you might have gained had you remained in that deal, but the integrity of your life and your soul before God is even more valuable and even more precious.
Don’t ever forget that there are things that money can’t buy, and a clean conscience before God is one of those things that money can’t buy. Peace in the soul that flows from a clean conscience with God is something that money can’t buy. It’s true, you’re out some money, and that never feels good, but remember what Jesus said, what does it profit a man if he were to gain the whole world and lose his soul?
I would just tell you to surrender this to God as a glad sacrifice unto Him. Trust that God will deal with it and rewards you as you should be rewarded. Remember that Jesus said, there’s nobody who gives up anything for His sake who is not more than rewarded more than compensated in this age and in the age to come. We can’t outgive God. There is a sense in which you gave this up for the Lord. He’ll find a way either now or in eternity to more than make it up for you, so may that help lessen the sting of what you think about when you think about that particular sense of loss.
Ephesians 1:10 speaks of all things being brought together in Jesus Christ. Did that happen at the cross, or will it happen at the end of a future kingdom?
Was Ephesians 1:10 fulfilled at Calvary? Or is it still for the future, perhaps at the end of the millennium?
Ephesians 1:10 says,
that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.
To me, that is, sort of, a critical verse in understanding God’s great plan of the ages. In its ultimate sense, that’s only going to be fulfilled at the glorious return and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. I would say it’s only going to be finally fulfilled at the end of what we see God’s plan of the ages, at least as it is given to us in the Scriptures, after the Great White Throne Judgment, after all these things are resolved. Jesus is the answer to every question. That is true now, but it has not yet been displayed to the entire universe as it will be displayed, given that coming day.
There is certainly a sense in which God began that reconciliation began that work long ago, but it is not in fact completed until God’s redemptive plan of the ages is completed and all things are finished in Jesu