Bible believing Christians should all agree that a wife’s first and overriding responsibility must be to her home and family. Paul’s words to Titus make this point abundantly clear.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. ~~Titus 2:3-5 (NASB)
A Christian wife and mother must subject her personal desires and aspirations to the needs of her husband and children. And yes, ladies, that self-sacrifice includes homeschooling children. At least during child-rearing years (and when circumstances allow), a mother should set her career aside in favor of her children.
As we look at the business ventures of the Proverbs 31 woman, therefore, let’s keep in mind that neither I nor the writer of that section of Proverbs would advocate for a woman to seek a career at the expense of her family.
Obviously I don’t have space to quote Proverbs 31:10-31, so I hope you’ll either click the link I’ve just provided or grab your physical Bible and look at the passage before reading further.
Throughout the passage, we see that the Proverbs 31 woman dedicates herself primarily to work within her home. Complementarians can rest easy: no hint of feminism at face value, right?
Well, until we hit verse 16:
She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard. (NASB)
This tiny little verse raises some pretty hefty questions, including the obvious one about why she is going outside the house to engage in a real estate transaction. She makes the decision on whether or not to purchase the field. Um, shouldn’t that be her husband’s job? Has she usurped his authority?
If you’ll look back to verse 11, however, you’ll discover that her husband trusts her from his heart. He allows her to make business decisions — and even go outside the house to negotiate transactions — because he knows she’s capable of making appropriate decisions.
The second part of verse 16 causes us to ask where this woman gets enough earnings to plant a vineyard. Move down several verses with me to find the answer:
She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen. ~~Proverbs 31:24 (NASB)
From what I understand of Middle Eastern culture, people usually sold their goods in the public marketplace. So it’s quite probable that this woman was spending one our two days a week outside the home in order to sell her linen garments and belts, thus earning the money to purchase the vineyard.
Although the Proverbs 31 woman appears to have business interests outside the home, Scripture clearly holds her up as a model for godly women. This is because she does everything for the good of her family.
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27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.” ~~Proverbs 31:27-29 (NASB)