I am a staunch traditionalist.
I believe firmly in biblical complementarianism, that is, that husbands are in authority over their wives and wives are called to submit to them in all things.
I think many, many workplaces are suited only for men, and that, despite having a great amount of respect for women who brave these jobs, things like the infantry (the military as a whole really), police force, and fire departments are no place for women.
I think that modern feminism is one of the worst things to happen to modern, Western society, but believe passionately, rather, in chivalry, that is, that society should uphold the value that men ought to protect, defend, and provide for women and children.
I think, whenever possible, the best thing for everyone in the family, mom included, is for her to be at home with the children, attending to the majority of her family’s needs herself.
Have I demonstrated my fundie street cred enough?
I hope so because if you’re as fundamentalist as I am, you might not like what I have to say next:
It’s perfectly fine for a woman to work and earn for her family.
(Cue the record scratch).
Legalistic Womanhood vs. Biblical Womanhood
A few years ago, I was very surprised to discover among fundamentalist complementarians like myself the attitude that it was wrong for women to work at all.
It didn’t surprise me that they thought women should be home with their children, putting their hearts and souls into being a Holy Spirit inspired helpmeet, after all, I felt the same way and still do.
It surprised me that, in the case of one extreme example, they literally argued against Scripture to defend their position that women shouldn’t earn money.
Proverbs 31, anyone?
I don’t need to share the time-honored passages from one of the most well-known examples of biblical womanhood, you all know it well.
And perhaps it’s dawning on you as I write this that…homegirl was a hustler.
She earned money, from multiple sources, and is often described as a savvy businesswoman and successful entrepreneur, rightly so.
The Truth About the Proverbs 31 Woman
The thing about the Proverbs 31 woman is that, well, she saw well to the ways of her household.
She organized her life so that her career did not interfere with her family and her household’s needs.
The simple truth of the Bible often has leaps and bounds over any stick-in-the-mud cultural Christian belief that plagues the deepest corners of fundamentalist social media.
We are taught a lie in the church that living a certain modern definition of a godly lifestyle, i.e. “housewife”, a woman who does not work to earn money and stays at home, is the same as being a “keeper at home” (Titus 2) or a godly wife.
Using Godly Discernment
Here’s the thing: the apostle Paul would not have told us that “all things are lawful, but not all things edify” if it wasn’t, well, true, and this is exactly what working for a woman is like.
Earning money for your family is perfectly lawful, but it might not always edify, as anyone who feels the same way I do about modern feminism can likely easy identify.
Women who are unable to truly give their all to their families because they’re absorbed in the career. Women who are more likely to submit to their boss than their husband. Women who wear the pants in the family because they’ve been raised to pursue a career, rather than cultivate a thriving marriage or raise a family.
Here’s the dirty little secret about some submission teachers (who shall remain nameless) who preach godly womanhood: they will encourage a woman to challenge her husband if he wants her to work.
First of all, we’ve already established, from Proverbs 31, that earning money is clearly an example of godly womanhood if she has seen well to the ways of her household.
Second of all, I think it takes a particularly rebellious mind to encourage a woman to challenge her husband’s idea of what’s best for their family when it’s not outright sin (and earning money isn’t a sin, otherwise, as again, the Proverbs 31 woman illustrates.)
Women who pontificate regularly on how godly it is to submit to their husbands to the exact thing they preach against when they encourage women to undermine their husband’s decision making when it comes to whether or not women can be breadwinners too.
If righteousness comes by forsaking employment for the sake of being a housewife, then Christ died in vain.
The Bottom Line
You can absolutely still submit to your husband and see to the ways of your household and work and earn a living.
I know this well, while I am blessed to work at home rather than outside the home. In fact, I’m a better homemaker and more obedient wife (well, you’d have to ask my husband but I certainly think I am LOL) since I’ve been working, because it’s taught me the vital importance of, well, Proverbs 31 style home management.
Smart planning, daily routines and habits, and how to carefully wear many hats and spin many plates.
To me, when you look at the entire canon of Scripture, anyone who is hard-working, diligent, respectful of those in authority over them, and, most of all, who fears the Lord, is what makes a godly person.
After all, it’s not a woman who forsakes employment who is to be praised, but a woman who fears the Lord.
But put Him first, and all else will follow.