Posted by: Ety W. | June 4, 2008

Guardians of the Household

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Housewife. Homemaker. Domestic Engineer. SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom). The term has evolved somewhat over the years, but the concept is the same. It refers to women whose occupation is to oversee and manage the domestic business of the family.

For reasons I won’t address here, the concept of women as keepers of the home has fallen out of favor in modern times. Women’s traditional roles and responsibilities have lost their value and esteem, as if what men do is more important than what women have traditionally done. As a sad consequence of buying into this fallacy, women have stepped down from a position of power in the name of equality.

In spite of rumors and accusations, the Bible never portrays women as unequal. The deeper we dig into Scripture, the more clear this will become, but for now, let’s take a closer look at the next term in our target verses, Titus 2:3-5:

To be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. Titus 2:5 (NASB)

Workers at home (rendered “keepers at home” in the KJV) – Strong’s 3626 – οικουρος – oikouros – [from #3624, oikos = dwelling, family, home, and ouros = a guard] = stayer at home, domestically inclined, keeper at home. A footnote to this term in Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament states, “The meaning is not stayers at home, but keepers or guardians of the household.”1

Although oikouros is used only one time in the New Testament, a cross reference will be helpful in further understanding it.

Therefore I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach. 1 Timothy 5:14 (NASB)

Keep House – Strong’s 3616 – οικοδεσποτεω – oikodespoteo – to be head of (i.e. rule) a family, guide the house. From Zodhiates2, “To govern or manage a household or the domestic affairs of a family.”

It is interesting to note that our English word “despot” comes from the Greek despoteo in the above term. Although “despot” has somewhat negative connotations, what we see in these verses is that God has given wives the absolute authority and the full responsibility for the business of managing home and family.

Biblical models? Think of the Proverbs 31 Woman: wife, mother, mistress, manager, administrator, overseer, organizer, purchaser, weaver, chef, baker, gardener, garment maker, philanthropist, diplomat, counselor, teacher, helpmate; who did it all so well that she even managed to have a successful home business. How did this effect her husband? He was known at the gates and sat among the elders of the land (verse 23).

Of course, the Proverbs 31 Woman had a large household with servants to manage. Yet even in our smaller homes we have the responsibility to create a welcoming, peaceful, restful atmosphere for our husbands and guests, and a loving, caring, nurturing environment for our children. And not only are we to create it, but we are to maintain and guard it as well.

Our role as guardians becomes especially significant when we consider our children. My Sisters in Christ, do you not understand the power we have as Keepers at Home to mold the hearts and minds of the next generation?

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov. 22:6 (NASB)

One thing must be noted however: authority never comes without accountability. If we understand that the Bible never contradicts itself, then we must understand that neither does a wife stand alone and independent in her authority over the home and family. Our God is a God of order, and there is an order in the family structure which includes both husband and wife. However, we will look more closely at that when we look at being “subject to their own husbands.”

1Marvin R. Vincent, D.D, Word Studies of the New Testament (Eerdman’s Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, reprinted 1989) p. 842

2Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, 1992), p.1030


Responses

  1. Nice post. While reading this, I kept thinking of this phrase that goes something like, “When you teach a man, you teach a person; when you teach a woman, you teach a family.” I’ve always liked that for it reminds me of the influential role that wives and mothers play.

  2. That is a very well done Bible Study, Ety.
    Keep up the good work! 🙂

  3. Thank you Marla Jayne and Charis. Your comments are an encouragement to me!

  4. Good Morning!

    This is an encouraging post for me. Only recently (within the past 2 years) have I really begun to “embrace” and enjoy the role of housewife. I worked out of necessity with our first child 15 years ago, then was able to stop working when she was 5 and be at home with my other two daughters. I enjoyed the stay at home and mom part, but resented the housewife part.

    “Sisters in Christ, do you not understand the power we have as Keepers at Home to mold the hearts and minds of the next generation?”

    Nope, I didn’t. I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to realize the gift God had given me in allowing me this privilege and honor of being the Mom and wife. I’m working on redeeming the time…

    Laura

  5. Laura, it’s a process for all of us. I wasted a lot of time wishing my kids would hurry up and grow up. Ah, but now, how I miss those days.

  6. I like this post. I totally agree with what you write. If my circumstances were different, I would love to be a stay-at-home-mum. Possibly not for the whole childhood of my children, but definitely for the early years, before they started school.

    However, my husband is a fair bit older than me and doesn’t work. He may start volunteering or he may just go gracefully into retirement. I work. He cooks and cleans. He is the keeper of the household.

    We cannot have children. We may be able to adopt, but we may not.

    I tell you this so that you understand my question. If a woman does not stay at home, is this unbiblical? I want to work, I want to do further study… I have many dreams. My dreams used to include children, but I have to let go of that. Am I letting go of a biblical dream and replacing it with an unbiblical dream?

    BTW, please don’t feel under any obligation to answer this question. I think about lots of things.

  7. Razzler, there are a number of examples in the Bible of women who worked. The Proverbs 31 woman sold both belts and bought real estate. Priscilla was a tent maker (Acts 18), and Lydia sold purple fabrics (Acts 16).

    One thing I’ve tried to do is to pray that the Lord’s plan for my life will become my dream. It sounds as though you and your husband are in agreement about your lives. That is the important thing.


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