The Bible tells women to stay at home...or at least to have no free time? (Titus 2:5)

Salvete, omnes!

(First of all, please feel free to move this to another forum here if this isn’t the right place. I’m not sure if it is or not…)

Titus 2:5 (NRSVCE): Women are to be taught to be “sensible, chaste, domestic, kind, and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be discredited.” (emphasis added)

How is this passage NOT saying that a woman’s place is to be at home?? Indeed, other translations render the term “workers at home” and “homemakers”!

There are, however, at least a few translations that render the term in such ways as “busy at home”, though the literal meaning of the term is “home-working”.

If, indeed, something like “busy at home” is meant, does this mean that women are not to have any free time oftheir own, but are always to be working in the home, raising their children or doing other things? Or, maybe she should at least spend the vast majority of her time being “domestic” instead of enjoying herself, even if she could do this without significant detriment to her family/family’s life? Indeed, that would be my definition of “busy”. Or, does this rather mean simply “busy” as in “the opposite of lazy/unreasonably idle”/“not slothful” about her duties to her family so that her family does not suffer because of such laziness/idleness?

I have also proposed tendering the adjective “good” as modifying and not standing apart from “workers-at-home”, so that the phrase is no longer “good, workers-at-home”, but “good workers-at-home” so that the emphasis is not on the fact that they should be “workers-at-home” only but that, when they work in the home, their work should be “good” (exemplary, not lazy or half-hearted, for instance).

What do you guys think of all this? What is the strongest position for the interpretations ofthe passage I have mentioned above? And, why do you consider them the strongest?

Futhermore, what is the Church’s (official?) position on working women/mothers? Has there been any infallible writing ont he subject?

Also, are there any good commentaries addressing this issue? (Of course, I myself am particularly interested in those that might speak in favor of the working women as that has always been my position, though, of course, if stronger arguments can be made for the other side, I am certainly willing to change my position.)

Gratias multas.

Do you think domestic is a bad term? Why can’t a woman be domestic and simultaneously be enjoying herself?

Call me old-fashioned, but, whenever possible, a woman should be at home. I don’t think antone woukd say a kid being in daycare is better than mom. A domestic woman takes care of her children and spouse. She takes care of the house. She cooks her family healthy meals. Of course, this is the ideal not always reality. What perplexes me is why so many say this is bad. I have a graduate degree; however, my job as a domestic wife and mom is WAY more important to the world, and my family.

I used to have a shirt that said, “All mothers are working mothers.” I could say the same about this subject; all women (except a few layabouts) are working women. In Scripture, several business women are mentioned. The only ones I can think of at the moment are Lydia, the seller of purple, and the ideal woman of Proverbs 31 - she’s a business woman, she buys and sells property and makes things to sell.

Miss Misty - you seem to have some difficulty realizing that almost 2000 years have passed since the Bible was written. Cultures change and technology helps them change even more - women no longer have to wash clothes by hand or build up a fire every morning or cook everything from scratch. We have time to do other things - like have jobs. Which some women had even 2000 years ago.


Just as the Bible is not always 100 percent word for word literal on matters of geography history or science, it is not always for culture.

And as somebody else said already, that is a cultural thing. It has changed.

I have been told that Catholics do not interpret the Bible literally, but must read it in context. Frankly, if I had several kids & had to do everything “by hand” without modern conveniences, I don’t see how I would have any free time…! :smiley:

Keep in mind in this 21st century western culture that it is difficult to discuss the topic of women in the Church without wild arguments and Rorschach perceptions barging into the conversation. But to address your question, nothing “infallible” on the subject, although Pope Francis recently supported the notion of equal pay for equal work (note: there is much evidence that the gender pay gap is a myth at least in the U.S.), so obviously, there is no such teaching that women are required to avoid work outside the home. As well, I caution against looking only for Church exhortations on the matter that are technically “infallible.” One should give authoritative assent to all Church teaching because the truth is not confined only to statements that are made under the specific charism of infallibility.

That being said, I seem to recall Pope Francis (maybe someone knows the quote) saying something to the effect of mothers working outside the home should not forfeit domestic obligations. Children and the home should be a priority for both the home mother and outside-working mother.

You may also want to read Pope John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio #23ff on the family. In the commentary on Titus 2:5, the Navarre Bible references that apostolic exhortation. Here are some excerpts from Familiaris Consortio:
*Without intending to deal with all the various aspects of the vast and complex theme of the relationships between women and society, and limiting these remarks to a few essential points, one cannot but observe that in the specific area of family life a widespread social and cultural tradition has considered women’s role to be exclusively that of wife and mother, without adequate access to public functions which have generally been reserved for men. There is no doubt that the equal dignity and responsibility of men and women fully justifies women’s access to public functions. On the other hand the true advancement of women requires that clear recognition be given to the value of their maternal and family role, by comparison with all other public roles and all other professions. Furthermore, these roles and professions should be harmoniously combined, if we wish the evolution of society and culture to be truly and fully human. …

Therefore the Church can and should help modern society by tirelessly insisting that the work of women in the home be recognized and respected by all in its irreplaceable value. …

While it must be recognized that women have the same right as men to perform various public functions, society must be structured in such a way that wives and mothers are not in practice compelled to work outside the home, and that their families can live and prosper in a dignified way even when they themselves devote their full time to their own family. Furthermore, the mentality which honors women more for their work outside the home than for their work within the family must be overcome. This requires that men should truly esteem and love women with total respect for their personal dignity, and that society should create and develop conditions favoring work in the home.*So you see in the Pope’s preceding words a certain balance that obviously supports the idea of women working a public job just as a man, but also words of caution of how our society has taken the attitude that women at home is “bad.” But the Pope clearly reveres and calls society to support and enable women to still offer their “irreplaceable” gifts in the home.

Finally, I would also argue that fathers have domestic obligations too. There’s nothing in the passage that exempts men from domestic responsibilities. Often we fall into the trap of thinking if the Bible says “women should do XYZ” that it means therefore men should not, when the text doesn’t say that.

All I can say that he was not wrong for the most part but it must not be taken out of context.

It is not easy being a woman this day in age. Expectations are constantly changing with society and nobody has the courage to say what is expected, excepted or anything. What is good for one is not necessarily good for another and what I have found with other women I know and even with myself sometimes, expectations can be a little unrealistic.

We tend to find what is good for our-self and impose it on everyone else wheather they want it or not.

When it comes to marriage: What I found that worked for me is that blind obedience does not work, but respect does. What I have found is that when we realize we are on the same side and work together it works out beautifully.

The word “domestic” doesn’t imply that a person is chained to their kitchen sink. A woman is domestic if she is able and willing to take care of her home. That doesn’t mean to the exclusion of all else. Few women are more domestic than my mother. All through my childhood and to this day, she cooked excellent, balanced meals from scratch, grew veggies in the garden, canned homemade condiments, ironed table clothes, made clothing and linen, decorated the home, kept it clean, baked and decorated birthday cupcakes, made Halloween costumes, did piecework for extra money, designed her own window treatments and refinished furniture, and taught her children to do the same. Martha Steward could call her for pointers. She also worked full time.

Wow, Allegra - your mother sounds awesome! :thumbsup:

You are right, cultures and times change, people change, but God does not, and most definitely his his laws dont change. Dont get me wrong, Im not in favor of forcing anyone to sit at home and/ or not allowed to work or be in business, but I think its important to keep in mind, just because times have changed and its common in modern times, does not mean it is suddenly ok in Gods eyes, in my opinion, this mistake is made on numerous other things too, people try to justify things just because they are either popular, or its common in our times.

Using that kind of logic, you could almost sit back and find a reason to justify just about anything that is popular in modern times, employing ‘clever’ interpretations of certain verses is often used to do this, or making the claim that the verse is symbolic of something else, a metaphor, or should be taken literally.

You’re absolutely right and why we have 44,000 Protestant denominations.

That is very true and believe me I am no modernist, I am always traditional leaning, thank you for correcting, rather, adding to, my post! It is a good reminder. :slight_smile:

Well…she’s domestic anyway. She can check that off of her list.

Miss Mystic,
The Church teaches that we must consider our state in life when considering things. Allegra’s mother (who must have secretly had an identical twin!) in no way neglected her state of life while pursuing out-of-the-home employment, while some women neglect their families to do volunteer work at the church.

Apparently the deal with this word is that some Greek manuscripts say “oikourgous” (working in the household, busy at home, household-worker) and some say “oikourous” (housekeeper, household guardian).

At this point, let’s talk about what the primary classical Greek domestic virtue for women was:

Weaving on a loom and making money for the household.

Even female prostitutes were kept busy during their off-hours by weaving allllllll the time. Virtuous hardworking Greek ladies produced a lot of cloth per year, and got their fingers and arms just as much of a workout as their servants or the poor lady down the street. There was a brother who didn’t want his sister to get married because she made too much money, and another who tried to start a bidding war of suitors by announcing how much cloth his sister wove in a year.

Now, obviously the “valiant woman” of Proverbs 31 is doing similarly, even though she’s not a freaking prisoner of the house like a classical Greek woman. She’s clothing her household with high quality weaving, and then she’s selling the excess at a high profit, in order to get investment money. It also talks a fair amount about how her work includes managing her household as well as working for it.

On the other hand, the “modern” Roman woman (as opposed to the virtuous Roman matron of the olden days) made her house slaves or slave factory workers do all the weaving, while she swanned around the house or hung out with her friends. (Mostly because the original virtuous Roman matrons were living in a time when Rome didn’t have zillions of slaves. Also because the really rich Romans wore silk or other fabrics that couldn’t be made at home, and sometimes even their house slaves wore rich clothing. It might be hard to get enthusiastic about weaving cheaper material for other people’s households, or having one’s financial contribution to the household be laughable.)

I don’t think Paul was advocating that women do housework every waking moment. But they were supposed to be enterprising and hardworking, setting a good example for the neighbors and showing that Christians were reputable (which is what Paul is talking about throughout this chapter, about all sorts of Christian age groups of both sexes). They weren’t supposed to be swanning around doing nothing.

In 1 Timothy 5:14, Paul talks about the duty of younger women to “oikodespotein” - to rule the household, to be the master or manager of the household. It’s a two-way street, just like in Proverbs 31.

Husbands in the Bible were not sitting in air-conditioned offices. Most of them were working 12 to 14 hours a day in hard labor activities.

Both husbands and wives worked long hard hours to maintain their families.

Division of labor made it possible for mothers and fathers to provide for their children. Most women, then and now, would not have had the physical strength to haul in the nets of fish. Providing a home for physically exhausted men was considered a blessing.

Christianity was not a religion that was aimed at the well to do with servants. Peter, James and John were fishermen.

Paul, himself was a mender of fish nets.

Some women worked 2000 years ago, doing what?

Same as many of us do now - cooking, cleaning, child care, carding & spinning wool, weaving, sewing, laundry, tending animals, etc. Remember that many of these jobs would have taken a lot more time than they do now.

I think vv 3 and 5 additionally mean them to not gossip and busybody, which were probably very fashionable to do in that society (think “Coronation Street”, “Dynasty” etc) but to be sure to attend to needs and not expect to be waited on by other Christians if they weren’t pulling their weight in some sort of appropriate way. And that older women should set younger ones an example.

Men get told the same sort of things elewhere in the NT.

I don’t think it means not having a rest when we need a rest.

Mixing with others and affirming and teaching them is talking and may even be relaxing but it isn’t gossipping or busybodying - it’s constructive.

Paul also urges us all to egg each other on to doing good works, affirming the gifts we have within, but not to set each other up or manipulate.

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