Let us continue the discussion ...
Some other issues you mentioned
1) Some allegations against the authors of Passionate Housewives.
You wrote in your previous comment on my blog post, “I have not read the specific book Passionate Housewives, although I have read some articles and such by the co-authors and others associated with them ministry wise. From some of what I have read of them though, I believe they miss the bible balance, especially with regards to lower income families like the ones you mentioned (as always, I am open to correction).”
With regard to those two co-authors “missing the biblical balance,” you further clarified, “I was referring to Mrs Chancey and Mrs McDonald. I tried to word my comment carefully to be clear that I was not claiming to be an expert on their views. The balance I refer to is that the bible allows a far greater amount of freedom for wives to work outside the home than Mrs Chancey and Mrs McDonald would allow at least from what I remember of their writings.”
My sincere opinion would be: You should have at least read the book through once before coming to the conclusion that, "I believe they miss the bible balance." Is it the case that they have missed the biblical balance upon your study of their book, or is it your desire to believe that they have indeed “missed the balance” which has finally confounded or rather, prevented your reading of Passionate Housewives? Let me get this correct: you believe that they have "missed the biblical balance," yet you have not read their book. That is an honest admission on your part.
2) Caring of Widows
You wrote, “What does the bible say about widows? 1 Timothy 5 tells me they ought to be cared for but not all widows. As verses 9 and 10 tell us, they must be above sixty, and have lived a certain life of good character.”
Although this is a digression from the subject at hand, I would like to comment briefly on this passage. Of course, a more detailed study would require much more space than the following paragraphs.
I have hinted on this passage in my previous post simply because diaconal responsibilities included the care for widows, and this might relieve the newly widowed women from taking up a full-time job and subsequently delegating the care of her children to someone else.
I was indeed surprised that you have understood 1 Timothy 5:3-16 in this manner. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s renowned commentary on the Bible has this to say concerning 1 Tim. 5:9, “There is a transition here to a new subject. The reference here cannot be, as in 1Ti 5:3, to providing Church sustenance for them. For the restriction to widows above sixty would then be needless and harsh, since many widows might be in need of help at a much earlier age.” I have also mentioned this issue on my brief post on deaconess and the order of widows. It is sensible to understand 1 Tim 5:9-10 as listing out the qualifications of the widow-servant, “an order of ecclesiastical widowhood” as Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown put it.
Furthermore, if we are to accept your interpretation – that the Church is only to care for those widows over 60 years of age – how then would you interpret 1 Tim 5:11? “Also, 1Ti 5:11 would then be senseless, for then their remarrying would be a benefit, not an injury, to the Church, as relieving it of the burden of their sustenance. Tertullian [On the Veiling of Virgins, 9], Hermas [Shepherd, 1.2], and Chrysostom [Homily, 31], mention such an order of ecclesiastical widowhood, each one not less than sixty years old …” (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments).
But even if we are to accept your interpretation, it doesn’t bolster your position on the homemaker. Younger widows are counseled to remarry, and their new husbands would then be their protector and provider. Paul said, “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully (1 Tim. 5:14).” Again, Paul seems to spell out the roles of the “younger women” who has remarried, and these responsibilities are clearly those of a homemaker. Where do we see Paul advising the young widows to work in the marketplace, leaving their children to the care of others? Paul emphasized, “Guide the house.” That is a fairly narrow scope of work prescribed for the wife from the perspective of this inspired, Hellenistic misogynist.
I would also direct you to some commentaries here, here, here and here by John F. MacArthur available on the internet.
You also mentioned that, “Deut 24:19 tells us that sheaves are to be left for widows and other needy peoples, but the widow still needs to go out and collect it. Unless a woman meets the special criteria for full time support in 1 Timothy 5, Christian charity towards her involved providing her with work, or giving her work that would be easier than normal.”
In the situation where the husband is deceased, or is unable to work for health reasons, I have clearly stated that these are exceptions which should not be used to redefine the norm. When the husband is not around, it is obvious that the wife has to assume the husband’s roles, at least for a short while. This is when diaconal assistance should be afforded her according to the mandate of 1 Tim. 5:3-16. The younger widow should remarry; those that qualify for the order of widow-servants would be supported by the church on a permanent basis. But even so, younger widows who have yet to remarry and are in need should be supported by the church as well, at least for a time.
3) Aquila and Priscilla
You wrote, “Verse 3 says that by their occupation they were tentmakers. Both Aquila, and Priscilla were tentmakers by occupation. Was Priscilla a vocational homemaker? Given Paul’s hearty commendation of the couple in his other Epistles, she must have been. Did she have another occupation or vocation? Yes, she was a tentmaker. I think this example does show that being a homemaker as the bible commands is not incompatible with a woman having another vocation.”
Let us peruse this passage of Scripture. Even as we read it, please keep in mind my words concerning hermeneutics in the previous post.
“1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. 3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers (Acts 18:1-3, KJV).”
Whichever translation of the Bible you use, the following information is gleaned concerning Aquila and Priscilla in those verses:
a. Aquila is not Singaporean; he is a Jew born in Pontus;
b. His wife is Priscilla; and,
c. Their craft or occupation was tent-making.
Nothing more should be read into those verses. Points a and b are not very helpful for our current discussion. Perhaps point c might shed some light. The crux of the problem is: what is meant by the Greek word underlying the English word “occupation” in the KJV? Does it mean “full-time vocation?” Or does it mean that Priscilla was working full-time from 9 to 5 as a tent-maker, yet retaining her priorities as a homemaker and mother? And yes, we do not know if she had any children, and we do not know if she spent her time working in the marketplace from 9 to 5.
The Greek word for “occupation” is the feminine noun “techne.” There are three occurrences in the NT, “AV translates as “art” once, “occupation” once, and “craft” once. 1 of the plastic art. 2 of a trade (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).” The exact meaning of this word is, “An art, trade, craft, skill (Acts 17:29; 18:3; Rev. 18:22; Sept.: 1 Kgs. 7:14).” (Complete Word Study Dictionary, NT by S. Zodhiates)
In other words, “techne” means the art, trade, craft or skill in which the couple was originally trained in. For example, my ex-pastor’s wife was an accountant by training or craft. Does this mean that she is currently working as an accountant full-time, and merely spends a small portion of her time as a homemaker? Aquila’s and Priscilla’s trade or skill was tent-making, but the Bible is at the every best silent on how much time Priscilla puts into her tent-making craft. It is absolutely probable that she is now taking care of her children full-time, with only minutes to spare in tent-making. There are a number of plausible scenarios, and I had urged that in the understanding of Scripture (hermeneutics), the clearer verses should interpret the more obscure ones. Like in this case, we have no reason to buttress your “working mother hypothesis” using this example, as the passage says nothing about Priscilla’s commitment as a homemaker, or the amount of time she spends in homemaking. Such speculation or eisegesis should be avoided.
4) Concluding remarks
You mentioned, “A woman should not have a career at the expense of her husband, children or home. However, I would disagree that the very fact that she has a career is automatically at the expense of her husband, children or home. It might well be, but again, it is something that must be looked at on a case to case basis.”
You are once again imposing your pragmatic concerns in the exegesis of Scripture. As Christians, we must first understand what the Bible is saying on God’s terms. Only then should we consider the “biblical balance” you mentioned, which must include clear biblical passages elucidating such exceptions you had reiterated in our interaction. You have provided no such passages thus far.
You had claimed, “I never said they [the husband and wife] had similar responsibilities.” But throughout your post, you had insisted that the wife can be the full-time bread earner despite being a nominal homemaker. You have reiterated that the wife can perform responsibilities which the husband's role requires him to do e.g. working full-time in the marketplace, being the provider etc.
Lastly, you concluded that “the bible neither forbids [the wife] from working outside the home nor commands her to be totally focused on the home.”
No matter what her motives are, the Bible clearly instructs the wife to be a vocational homemaker. Complementarian exegetes have consistently agreed that this is the understanding of the term “homemakers,” “keepers at home” or “workers at home” found in Titus 2:5. My brief exposition of Titus 2 is found in a previous post; please do consider it.
I would like to conclude with the following words from Samuele Bacchiocchi, the Professor of Theology at Andrews University, “Our families, churches, and societies need women who are willing to accept their vital role as wives, homemakers, and mothers. God has equipped women with unique biological and spiritual resources needed for the survival and growth of the home. Biologically, God has endowed every woman with the marvelous capacity to conceive and nourish human life in her womb. Spiritually, God has endowed every woman who becomes a mother with the unique power to mold her children’s characters for time and eternity. ...
A woman who willingly and joyfully accepts her role of wife, mother, and homemaker can experience greater reward and fulfillment than any academic or business career can provide. No greater joy and satisfaction can come to a woman than to have her children rising up and calling her “blessed” and her husband praising her, saying: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all” (Prov 31:28-29). (Practicing headship and submission)”
References for your perusal:
Biblical Womanhood in the Home by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (Crossway Books: 2002)
Where's Mom?: The High Calling of Wives and Mothers by Dorothy Kelley Patterson (Crossway Books: 2003)
Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism by John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Book available online).
PS: This post ends my reply to Mark's lengthy comment here.
Question: Vincent, do you have a "problem?"
Answer: Of course I have a "problem." Don't you?
The following quote from Kevin's blog summarizes my "problem."
"Our children are being raised by appliances." - Bill Moyers