(Titus 2:5) Are women supposed to be barefoot and pregnant at home?

CLAIM: Paul writes that women should be “workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored” (Titus 2:5). Does this mean that women have nothing better to do than cook, clean, and tend to their family?

RESPONSE: Paul is contrasting these imperatives against gossiping and drunkenness (v.3). By contrast, Paul is saying that women should love and care for their families (vv.4-5). Of course, this is certainly an incomplete picture of a woman’s role in the church. In addition, women are called to lead, teach, and participate in God’s greater mission for the world (see “Women and Christianity” and 1 Timothy 2:12-15). However, Paul is only speaking in Titus 2 to the home life—not the greater mission of the church. Paul’s comments in Titus 2 cannot be read as an exhaustive or complete list of a woman’s role in the church. Instead, they are a specific list for the home life.

Recently, our culture has begun to look down upon stay at home mothers, as though they are failures or not ambitious enough to enter the working world. This is really a condescending attitude toward women, which shows the priorities of our ever-changing culture. Biblically, it is a valuable commodity to take time and energy to care for our families and our children.

My friend Ryan Weingartner recently wrote his master’s thesis on this topic, studying the effects of day care on children. We’re indebted to his thesis for these shocking statistics and studies on the importance of stay-at-home mothers:

Psychiatrist Paul Meier: “Approximately 85 percent of the adult personality is already formed by the time the individual is six years old… A person may live to 90 years old, but how the parents train the baby during those crucial first six years will determine how that individual will enjoy and succeed in life during the other seventy or eighty years.”[1]

Pediatricians Marshall Kalus and John Kennel: “Detailed studies of the amazing behavioral capacities of the normal neonate have shown that the infant sees, hears, and moves in rhythm to his mother’s voice in the first minutes and hours of life.”[2]

Ainsworth: “Among the most significant developments of psychiatry during the past quarter of a century has been the steady growth of evidence that the quality of the parental care which a child receives in his earliest years is of vital importance for his future mental health.”[3]

Richard M. Restak: “In one section of the brain, cell growth in infants is stimulated by snuggling, rocking and cuddling… Physical holding and carrying of the infant turns out to be the most important factor responsible for the infant’s normal mental and social development.”[4]

Brian C. Robertson writes about the studies on health problems of day care babies: “Children in day care are eighteen times more likely to become ill than other children… Of those sick children, 82 percent continue to attend day care in spite of their illness.”[5]

Jay Belsky, one of the chief researchers for the NICHD and long term opponent of day care noticed “the strong correlation between longer hours in non-maternal care and behavioral problems.”[6]

Parents are called to “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). These formative years of life are especially important, and we should never look down upon such an important ministry in the home. Moms who sacrifice in the home should be praised for such valuable work.

[1] Paul Meier and Linda Burnett, A Mother’s Choice: Day Care or Home Care? (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 68.

[2] Ibid., 64-65.

[3] Jean Fleming, A Mother’s Heart: A look at Values, Vision, and Character for the Christian Mother. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1996), 19.

[4] Jean Fleming, A Mother’s Heart: A look at Values, Vision, and Character for the Christian Mother. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1996), 46.

[5] Robertson, Brian C. Day Care Deception: What the Child Care Establishment Isn’t Telling Us. San Francisco: Encounter, 2003. 85.

[6] Brian C. Robertson, Day Care Deception: What the Child Care Establishment Isn’t Telling Us. (San Fransisco: Encounter Books, 2003), 48