Abandoning Children For the Workforce Violates Scripture
Preached By John MacArthur
Women are to be workers at home; workers at home. What does that mean? That means what it says: workers at home, home workers. God must have written that for our day, when millions and millions and millions of women are working mothers outside the home. Millions of them have young children. In fact, the statistics of the number of women who work outside the home and have children under three is staggering. It’s something like a third of all mothers with children under three work outside the home.
You wonder why there are delinquents? This is a very fascinating term, workers at home – oikourgos, from ergo, to work; and oikos, home – work at home. Your task is at home. A woman’s task, a woman’s work, a woman’s employment, a woman’s calling, is to be at home. I mentioned 1 Timothy 5:14: “I want younger” – widows, of course, implied here, but it touches, then, all women – “to get married.” Younger women, get married – that’s where I got my introduction. Get married. Bear children. You hate this: keep house.
That’s what it says: get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no cause, no occasion, for reproach. A married woman is in a safer place, a more spiritually beneficial place, a more protected place; and she must care for her husband and it’s more selfless. This isn’t hard to figure out. This is a divine principle. Abandoning children to work outside the home is a violation of Scripture.
You say, “Well, my kids aren’t home while I’m at work.” That’s not the point. That doesn’t change the obligation because they went to school. It’s the home that you prepare when they aren’t there that makes the home a home. If you arrive when they arrive and leave when they leave, it’s unlikely that the home will be the kind of home the children need. Working women contribute to lost children, delinquent children, children who have lack of proper understanding of God-ordained roles in the home, terrible decline, drugs; we don’t even talk about the working woman phenomenon of adultery and divorce.
And for a woman to be the breadwinner? You say, “Well, our house payment requires two jobs; we both have to work.” Then get another house and have a family. In fact for men, 1 Timothy 5:8 says, “If anyone” – meaning a man – “doesn’t provide for his own, especially for those of his household, he’s denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” The point is the man is the provider, the protector, and the security, and the woman is there to care for the children and the home. Working outside removes her from under her husband and puts her under other men to whom she is forced to submit.
And I’m just talking in very specific terms; as specific as Scripture, no more, no less, and I know in your mind, you’re wondering, “Well, what about this, and what about that, and what about this?” Is there any room for doing something part-time, serving in a ministry? Of course. When you read Proverbs 31, you know that that lady had all kinds of things going, but the home was the base, the center, and the focus of all of it.
She’d go a long way to get food cheaper. She worked hard with her hands to make garments and things for her family, and also to provide for other people who had need. She was so enterprising she bought a field. But it was all about the home, and from the home, and for the home, and this is the standard that God has ordained; and we’re a long way from it, aren’t we? Speaking of the Proverbs 31 woman, we can’t do this without at least looking at that passage for just a moment.
“An excellent wife” – verse 10 – “who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” And what is the first thing that makes her valuable? You can trust her. You can trust her with your money, with your children, with your possessions – listen – you can trust her with your reputation. You can trust in her purity. You can trust in her character. “The heart of her husband trusts in her; she’ll have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.”
“She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. She’s like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar.” I don’t think they had coupons in those days, but if they had, she’d have had a little bag of those, and she’d go wherever she needed to, to get the best price. “She rises also while it is still night to prepare food for her household, portions to her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings plants a vineyard.”
“She girds herself with strength and her arms are strong. She senses that her gain is good; and her lamp doesn’t go out at night.” She gets up before daybreak and she goes to bed after the sun has gone down, and it’s all for the family. “She stretches out her hand to the distaff” – that’s weaving thread – “her hands grasp the spindle” – she has to make her own cloth. “She extends her generous hand to the poor and stretches out her hands to the needy. She’s not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her family are clothed with scarlet.
“She makes coverings for herself; and her clothing is fine linen and purple.” Yes, she adorns herself in a beautiful way and even with her children. “Her husband is known in the gates” and he’s known as her husband “when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, supplies belts to the tradesmen. Strength and dignity are her clothing, she smiles at the future.” Why? She’s prepared for it. “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
“She looks well to the ways of her household, and doesn’t eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying, ‘Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” That’s what everyone would want in a marriage, right? Children who rise up and call you blessed; a husband who praises you? “Charm is deceitful, beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”
Enterprising, clever, energetic, compassionate, kind, works well with her hands, artistic; all those things are true of her, but the home is the focus of all of it. This is God’s design for women, who are intended to be married, and who are married.
I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
1 Timothy 5:14