As a follow up to my post “Christian Moms: Pursue a Career or Stay Home.”
I continue my struggle to contextualize this issue in our culture and at the same time remain true to the Scriptures. What would God want for 21st century American families? I have studied more, thought more, and prayed more. Here is the follow-up.
Should someone stay home?
How important is it for one parent to be at home for the sake of children? Should anyone have to sacrifice career and walk the “stay at home” path or some version of it? Should it be mom like the traditional conservative viewpoint suggest? I realize this is a very touchy subject in our generation. I once posted a blog on this particular issue and I got positive comments, negative comments, hugs in the hallway at church and dirty looks by the coffee pot in our workroom at church. It’s just one of those issues. Many arguments exist about what is best stemming from the thought arenas of psychology, religion, secular and Christian parenting, and even the blogosphere. The question is what is right? I approach this issue from the perspective of seeking what is best for our families in an attempt to discern God’s heart on the matter.
Let’s take an honest look at Scripture. The Bible suggest that women are in a role by design to “help” as the word is used in Genesis 2:20 The word “helper” used to describe “woman” is largely misunderstood in modern Christendom. The Hebrew root for the world “helper” is “azar.” The word “azar” means more than we grant it in the English language. Some read “helper” in the English and think of the word as subservient and secondary. Reading helper that way allows us to build a dogmatic, conservative, yet tainted worldview that says that women must stay home with the children according to the roles of men and women defined by God at creation because she is the ‘helper.” The word “azar” does translate helper but it implies much more in the original language. “Azar” means ally, further, help, protect, and support. One picture associated with the word “azar” is that of military assistance. “Azar” describes one who comes alongside another in battle. The word “azar” is used to describe the Lord himself as shown in Exodus 18:4, Deuteronomy 33:29, Psalm 10:14, and Psalm 27:9. In Psalm 118:7 David says, “The Lord is on my side as my helper.” I believe we misrepresent the heart of God when we see a woman’s role as subservient to the man based on the Creation passage in Genesis 2. Instead, a better understanding of women is “azar.” An equal creation of God who comes alongside, shoulder to shoulder, as an ally to help, protect, and support and to further. This understanding does not change the role of men as leaders but it does broaden the typical understanding of the biblical role of women. This in fact is foundational to our discussion. Should someone stay at home with the kids? Should it be mom?
Several scriptural passages build on our foundational understanding of the role of women in the family. Proverbs 31 describes an excellent wife and mother as one who “makes linen garments and sells them” and “looks well to the ways of her household.” That biblical picture is one of a woman who works outside the home and stays at home. Certainly, a different cultural context implies that her children may have been involved with her in the work of the business and actually gone with her in the “selling.” However, she is working and managing the household. Probably these are not compartmentalized issues in her culture. Today we compartmentalize everything.
Titus 2:5 speaks to the issue from a 1st century context. As a stand alone outside of the whole counsel of Scripture this is a hot button passage. Paul says women should, “be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Clearly Paul’s advice for women is to work in the home as followers of Christ. So what is the right answer?
You have the Scripture and as a Christ-follower, you have the Holy Spirit who serves as a counselor and a guide to you. I think each family must wrestle with the Scripture, the roles of men and women, and seek the direction of the Holy Spirit. He will provide you with a deep sense of calling and conviction about the issue. Each family may look a bit different. Some may choose for mom to stay home full time all the time or for a season. Others may chose to work outside of the home while managing family and while difficult not out of bounds biblically.
If we are pursuing life balance and simplicity, I believe it is practically beneficial for mom to be home at least for a season. After studying the Scripture and praying we chose for Angela to stay home when our first daughter was born. Not without sacrifice especially on Angela’s part, this has become the secret to balance in our family. We keep life simple by living on one salary and allowing mom to focus on the household. This means our children have a parent available to invest in them during work hours. This means we also have a parent who understands our family priorities and works to keep life balance so that we can take steps in the right direction. For us, this was absolutely the right decision. What about you?
 “Christian Moms: Pursue Career or Stay at Home?” http://legacyblog.org/2010/03/08/christian-moms-pursue-career-or-stay-at-home/
 Proverbs 31:24
 Proverbs 31:27