"But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:1-5)."
Coming from the mouth of an androgynous specimen of the human race, what I am about to express might incur the wrath of the feminists, as well as those who fallow within the mire of pragmatism and secular humanism. I say unashamedly that women ought to be diligent homemakers, and this statement is especially directed at those who are Christian wives and mothers. It is fairly unimaginable for a mother to find time to educate and care for her child, and at the same time, manage her household and hold a full-time job. But this describes exactly the cultural phenomenon within this country and perhaps for most developed nations as well.
Singapore is one of those countries that give little or no regard to biblical roles of male and female, husbands and wives. As long as the mother can contribute substantially to the economy by working outside the home, it is inconsequential to the nation if the children are taken care of by the parents-in-law, the domestic helper, or Rufus the Labrador Retriever. After all, is it not convenient to plop the toddler onto the sofa in front of the goggle box, and allow Barney or Harry Potter to feed the gullible mind of the prepubertal lad? In the mean time, daddy and mummy have to feed the condominium, the V6 engine, and the Visa bills commensurate with the lifestyle choice of the average Singaporean, Christian parent. And the formative years of the Singaporean, Christian child are built around the television, the maid, the family pet, and his cussing friends from the neighborhood school. But this is all acceptable and manageable, as long as the family receives the blessings of health and wealth allegedly indicative of God’s approval upon the materialistic, carnal, and self-seeking Singaporean family. Of course, the children must remember to be in their "Sunday’s best" behavior. The show will go on, but only for two hours during church service, and after which, things will return to the usual routine of maid, money, and Sunday matinee.
Lea and Griffin have rightly commented that, "It is possible that in the preaching of the gospel, with all of its implications for Christian freedom (variously interpreted) and equality in Christ, the God-given order of authority within marriage and the home life was becoming confused and compromised." (T. D. Lea and H. P. Griffin, The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, p. 302). Likewise, the Danvers Statement expressed concerns regarding "the widespread ambivalence regarding the values of motherhood, vocational homemaking, and the many ministries historically performed by women."
But one might ask, "Where do we find the teaching within the Bible that the mother or wife should be a homemaker?" Inevitably, this is found in Titus chapter two, and particularly, verses 4 and 5 (cf. Proverbs 31). There is little debate amongst conservatives that the Pastoral epistles are authoritative for the church today. I must also clarify that Paul is not requiring the wife or mother to be confined to her home. In other words, I am not saying that the woman cannot work in any capacity within the workforce, and that she must be placed under house arrest. What I am saying is that Paul is emphatic that the married woman must be the manager of the home. Her greatest responsibilities lie with her home, her children, and of course, her husband. The keyword here is "vocational homemaking" in the Danvers Statement. To attempt to wrestle with Paul’s teaching in Titus 2 by asking, "How many hours of work may the mother work outside her domain of vocational homemaking?", or "Does the Bible state a particular time limit for secular work, beyond which the mother disqualifies herself as a homemaker?", or "Is a mother still a homemaker if she is working a certain number of hours outside her home?", is really a red herring.
The emphasis of Paul seems to be the vocation of the mother. To be a homemaker, the mother’s vocation ought to be that of homemaking. This tautology is paradoxically necessary, as there are certain Christian women who argue that having a full time job outside of home does not disqualify one as a homemaker. These ladies contend that, since their greatest priority and desire is for their home, and that they have tried their best to ensure that the home is in order, they are essentially still homemakers. This is despite the fact that they are full-time executives, managers, doctors, nurses or other kinds of professionals. To turn this argument around, is it not logical to say that, since their vocation is that of a full-time manager, doctor or nurse, they are not homemakers, but vocational managers, doctors or nurses who are incidentally part-time homemakers? Just as the Bible does not give the specific job specification of a vocational homemaker, Paul did not feel it necessary to restrict the amount of time spent in the home by the homemaker. This is because, as a matter of clear logic, a vocational homemaker has for her vocation homemaking, and not full-time nursing or doctoring.
Paul’s instructions concerning the "younger women" are clear. They are "to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." Whether the exegete might categorize these qualities into two or three groups is not the point. The point is that these instructions are not the divine suggestions of an inspired misogynist. These are didactic commandments of the Voice of One who speaks from the heavenly throne. These are the roles of the woman according to our Creator’s design and good will. God’s will for the younger women is to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, and also to be obedient to their own husbands. Conversely, to be indiscreet, unchaste, or to be unloving towards their husband and children is to be against the will of God. Similarly, it is against the will of God to reject the vocation of a homemaker for married women, and especially, for those who are mothers.
Again, some might ask, "How young is young?" It seems that Paul’s perception of young widows, as opposed to older ones (1 Tim. 5:9-11), consists of those who are below sixty of age. Happily, this might be an adequate solution according to the principle of analogia fidei (WCF, I:9). So, the aged women are to teach the younger women (or those below sixty years old) concerning the God-ordained roles of a woman within the family (Titus 2:4-5). William Mounce notes that the behavior of these godly young women "contrasts with the conduct of the younger Ephesian widows who were lazy and ran from house to house (1 Tim. 5:13)." (Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, p. 411). In the present society, the younger women are seldom lazy. Contrariwise, the younger female executives run from office to office, and from job to job in a bid to be prosperous.
One of those words that grate against the ears of the feminist is "oikourgous" or "homemaker" found in Titus 2:5. This word is derived from the Greek words "oikos" and "ergo(n)." "Oikos" means a house, a dwelling, and by metonymy, a household or family, while "ergo(n)" means "work." "Oikourgous" thus has the meaning of "house-worker," "home-worker," or "one who works at home." As opposed to the variant reading "oikourous," "oikourgous" is the preferred reading by Lackmann, Tischendorf, and Alford. Textually, it is the more difficult reading because of its rarity. And it is understandable why the feminist hates the vocation of an "oikourgous," because this word literally means "working at home" or "busy at home." Some commentators join the next word "good" or "agathas" with "homemaker" to mean "good housewives." For example, Dibelius and Conzelmann state, "The two words [oikourgous] and [agathas] should be taken together and translated ‘fulfill their household duties well.’" (Dibelius and Conzelmann, The Pastoral Epistles, 141). Nevertheless, most translators and translations take these two words separately.
The variant reading "oikourous," on the other hand, is derived from the Greek words "oikos" and "ouros." The word "ouros" refers to a guardian or keeper, and implies direct oversight and responsibility for something. "Oikourous," therefore, has the nuance of "one who actively watches over a household and family." This "housekeeper" sees to it that the husband and children are appropriately cared for, and the home maintained in good order. No matter which variant is preferred, one thing is for certain: it is impossible, be it exegesis or eisegesis, to do away with the thrust and overtone of the word "oikourgous" or "oikourous." Most commentators, including the Puritan scholar Matthew Poole and the Lutheran exegete R. C. H. Lenski, agree with this understanding of the role of the married woman.
The married woman’s household will always be her priority. She is to commit her time and energies to the management of the home, and to the nurture, care, and education of her children. This is inevitably a career all in itself. Kenneth Wuest reinforces the fact that, "‘Keepers at home" is oikourgos, "caring for the home, working at home.’" (Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament). And for the woman to be a keeper at home is not a cultural bias of Paul. As Knight has aptly argued, "Certainly for a wife and mother to love her husband and children and be sensible, pure, and kind (vv. 4-5) are intrinsically right and not just norms of first-century culture. It appears quite arbitrary, then, to single out the requests that women be homemakers and be subject to their husbands (v. 5) as something purely cultural. They are treated on a par with the other items in this list, and elsewhere Paul defends the latter of these two as a creation ordinance in the face of a cultural situation that wanted to go in the opposite direction (1 Cor. 11 :3ff.)." (George W. Knight III, The Pastoral Epistles, 317). If homemaking is a cultural bias of the Apostle Paul, then one has to accept the fact that virtues such as being discreet, chaste, and loving are similarly cultural preferences of first-century Christianity. Perhaps we should remain consistent and swiftly dispose ourselves of the entire requirements of Titus 2:4-5.
My dear sister-in-Christ, if you are married, your primary responsibilities are to manage the home, nurture your children, and be a helpmate for your husband. Your husband has complementary roles, and he is to be a spiritual leader, protector, and provider for your children and yourself. While your husband is away at work to bring back the bread and butter, you are to ensure that the home is in order. Do you think that your children are best educated and taught by your parents-in-law, the maid, or the child-care centre? Which of these options provide godly care and counsel for your children’s growing minds?
When both husband and wife fulfill their appropriate, biblical roles as father and mother, the family is functioning according to the design of our most-wise God. The husband can work with a peace of mind knowing that his children are in the good hands of his able wife. Likewise, the wife need not fret at work, wondering whether the domestic helper or her parents-in-law have disciplined, fed, or taught her children. In like manner, she will not have the surprise of hearing the first cuss-word from her toddler’s mouth, which is acquired through the diligent observation of quarrels between grandpa and grandma. Do allow me to ask you this question, "What would be the very first word you would like to hear from your child’s mouth?" "Would it be something you have taught him, or would it be something learnt from the other carers?"
Ultimately, there is a very good reason why Paul had given us these prescribed duties or roles for the married woman. And that reason is found in Titus 2:5b, "that the word of God be not blasphemed." Sometimes, believers dishonor God and His Word, not by the evil that they have done, but by the good that they have failed to do. As James said, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin (Jas 4:17)." The world judges the Christian faith not by its theological richness or accuracy, but by the lives its professors live. In other words, unbelievers learn about our Savior Jesus Christ, not by the testimony of Scripture alone, but also by the testimonies and lives of those who profess to believe in Him. "Show me your redeemed life and I might be inclined to believe in your Redeemer," declares the German Philosopher Heinrich Heine.
Therefore, within a society that decries the God-ordained roles for the woman, it is paramount that the Christian lady is convicted to live out the commandments of Scripture. When the world sees that there are actually very little differences in attitude and behavior between the heathen woman and the professing Christian mother, what testimony is there left for the world to behold? While the heathen woman strives to earn more money at the expense of her home and children, the Christian mother does likewise. While the heathen mother spends most of her time outside the household at the workforce, the Christian mother does likewise. While the heathen mother leaves her children to the care of God-hating pagans, the Christian mother does likewise. While the heathen mother leaves the indoctrination and education of her children to God-hating teachers, the Christian mother does likewise. It is of little wonder, then, that the Church has now lost her testimony to the unbelieving world. Even as the Church continues to bicker about fine theological difficulties and nuances, the pagans laugh at our disintegrating covenant families, executive Christian mothers, and rebellious children.
Dear Lord, may you give faith to the Christian father and mother to fulfill their respective roles within the covenant home, and may the covenant children be raised in godly counsel. And this is for the sake of the testimony of the Church, and for your Son’s sake, amen.