Keepers at Home

Keepers at Home

God's purpose for the woman.

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Now, it needs to be said that our society sees "making a living" as far beyond food, clothing, and shelter.  In fact, many times the quality of such items is of great importance and generates a lot of spent energy in its pursuit.  Unfortunately, some Christians have also fallen into this trap and strive for better and nicer "things" as part of supplying this idea of "making a living." We must understand that is the devil working.  Thirty to fifty years ago it was uncommon for women to work away from home to help provide these "things."  Now it is commonplace everywhere, including in the Church.  Is this so wrong?  Can't women work a full-time job to help their husbands provide for their family?  We have already stated that God expects us to follow His will and His word for our lives.  We must live under the rules of righteousness that He established.  Therefore, the way we construct our homes, our assemblies, our thoughts, our actions, our words, our every breath must be centered around His will for our lives, and not our own.  The things that the Father has established as righteous are for us to follow, not for us to question, or try to get around.  We are His servants, and therefore, must submit to His will and the "rules" He has set up for us to follow and live by.

So, "keepers at home" is an issue that must be examined and followed and taught and lived out by Christians.  If women can work outside the home as prescribed by our society, where can we support this activity in the scriptures?  Or can we?  If the scriptures support the opposite of this, then why are many of our women living this way?  Is there a way to justify it?  Is it really that important?  Is the phrase:  "keepers at home" even in the scriptures?

In Titus 2:1-5 we find the main text of our study.  Paul's letter is to a man named Titus who was left in Crete to help keep the Church on its feet and doing the right things according to God's will.  Titus is called by Paul "mine own son after the common faith. . ." (Titus 1:4).  In addition, Titus was also to ordain elders in every city (Titus 1:5).  And the letter spends much of its effort explaining to Titus what he should do and just exactly what he needs to teach these people.  In fact, one could make a long list of the items Titus is to teach and to establish with this group of Christians.

In the second chapter, which is sometimes called the "righteous living" chapter by some, is a chapter of one of those lists that Paul wants Titus to keep up with and teach.  Titus 2:1-5:

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:  That the

aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in

patience.  The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as

becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine,

teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to

be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet,

chaste, keepers at home, good obedient to their own husbands, that

the word of God be not blasphemed.

We only print here the first five verses of the chapter; however, I would encourage further reading of the whole chapter. 

In the first verse Paul tells Titus to "speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:." I don't know about your version of the Bible, but the ones that I use all have a colon after the word "doctrine"; this colon means that there is to be a list of things.  Things that are to be taught by Titus to the people.  Things that are "sound doctrine," as Paul states.  The first question then that arises is this:  What is "sound doctrine?"  What does it mean?  Does it apply to Christians today? 

The original Greek word for sound is "hugiaino", which means "uncorrupt, true, whole."  The word for doctrine in the original Greek is "didaskalia", which according to Strong's concordance means "instruction (the function or the information):  doctrine, learning, teaching."  Therefore doctrine in this passage means the specifics of what is taught.  In simple terms, doctrine is authorized teaching; the position/principle taught/advocated.  So, Paul tells Titus to speak the things which are "uncorrupt instruction," or "solid authorized teaching."  Paul passes these things on to Titus, who will in turn teach them to the people.  Where did Paul get these things?  Did he make them up as he went along?  Many of the world hold to that opinion and say that Paul was a male chauvinist.  Some even go so far as to say that these things that Paul wrote of women should be ignored because Paul was a chauvinist. 

As Christians we know and have faith that the word that the New Testament writers put down is God's will.  II Timothy 3:16-17, which we've already quoted, states this fact.  These words that Paul wrote to Titus are inspired from God, or "God breathed."  These words that Paul writes are God's will for Christians; not just for that era, but also for the world of today.  When we study these words, we must view them as such and not try to downplay or work our way around them.  We will either follow God's word, or we won't.

So, the list of things that Paul writes in verses 2-5 are all to be taught by Titus to the people; these things are "sound doctrine", or uncorrupt authorized teaching.  The first part of the list (2) begins with "aged men," or older men.  It gives a list of attributes that older men are to possess and exemplify in their lives.  The list contains:  being "sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience."  These things were written by Paul, who was inspired by God, to Titus, who was to teach the older men to do these things. 

In verses 3-5 Paul writes about what attributes the "aged women," or older women, are to have.  This list includes:  "behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things."  These are the qualities that Paul wants Titus to instill in the older women of the Church.  Older women are to have, or should be working toward possessing these attributes in their personalities.  It is God's will that older women do this.  Why is this so important?  Why is it not listed as optional for Christian "aged women" to do?  If these things are indeed "authorized teaching," then there is no debate whether they are optional, or not.  They are not optional.  Older women are required by the sound doctrine of the scriptures to possess these qualities.  Why is this so important?  He tells us in verses 4-5:

"That they (aged women) may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."  Older, Christian women have an obligation to teach these things to the younger, Christian women.  That is what this passage says.  Titus was to teach the older women of the Church to observe these things, so that they, in turn, could pass this knowledge (sound doctrine) to the younger women.  Again, this is not stated as being optional behavior for the aged women.  It is an obligation and a duty required of the older ladies of the Church; this is God's will for our older women.  How exactly are the older women to teach these things?  By word of mouth?  Certainly.  That is one way to teach.  But, a way to teach that speaks much louder and clearer is by example.  How are younger women to learn these qualities if the older women do not possess and exemplify them in public?  It is not possible.  Older women must show these qualities, and teach these qualities, by word and by deed.  James 1:22 states:  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only. . ."  If the older women are not living these things by example, there is no way the younger women can learn.

And there is quite a list of things the older women are to teach.  Let's examine and define each one of these:

Sober--wise; of sound mind.

Love their husbands--affectionate; fondness.

Love their children--maternal; fondness.

Discreet--prudent, self controlled; good judgment in conduct and speech, careful in conduct.

Chaste--pure from carnality; modest; clean; innocent.

Keepers at home--we'll get to this one in a moment.

Good--kind, thoughtful of others.

Obedient to their own husbands--to obey; to be subordinate to; to be subject to.

All of these are to be taught by the older women of the Church to the younger Christian women.  Again, how can these things be taught?  By word of mouth and by example.  They must be doers of these things and not hearers only. 

Why?  Why is it so important for the older women to do these things, and in turn, teach the younger women to do them also?  Is there any rational reason for it?  Or, is it just the Apostle Paul imposing his opinion on matters?  The answer is set before us in the scriptures in Titus 2:5.  After Paul makes this list of items, he follows it with it phrase that tells us the importance of "why?"  Titus 2:5:  ". . .that the word of God be not blasphemed."  That's the answer to the question of "why?"  So God's word will not be blasphemed.  What does this phrase mean exactly?             

The Greek word for blasphemed is blasphemeo, which means to speak against, defame, rail against, or revile.  This is very important when dealing with God's word, isn't it?  No Christian wants to blaspheme against God's word.  When Paul writes down "that the word of God be not blasphemed", he wants Titus to understand just how important these things are to teach the older women so that they may teach the younger women.  Why?  "That the word of God be not blasphemed."  Or, defamed, reviled, or railed against.  God's word to the Christian is so precious, so vital, that when one reviles against it, it strikes the Christian's heart.  It hurts our feelings.  It hurts our souls.  For someone to speak against our Father's word and His will is so hard for the Christian to take. 

The universal way of thinking for those who don't want to join Christ's Church is:  "there are too many hypocrites in the church."  What exactly do they mean by that?  They see members of Christ's Church say one thing, stand for one thing, but do the complete opposite.  That's being a hypocrite.  That's hypocrisy in a nutshell.  And when people say this about us and our beliefs, they are blaspheming against God and the Church His Son established by the shedding of his blood on Golgotha.  God wants all Christians to follow a certain set of guidelines for living and for lifestyle that He has set up.  Not what we think, or what we want to interpret, or justify, but what His word says for us to do.  That is the message to Titus from Paul, being inspired by God.  Paul wants Titus to teach these people proper behavior, attitude, and belief so that they can teach others the same thing.  Why?  Because Christians have a different set of standards to live by and uphold.  It's not a set of rules dictated by the society we live in.  It's not set up for us by worldly individuals who think we ought to be living a certain way.  It is laid out for us in the scriptures.  We must find our guidelines in God's word for everything we do.  If our women work outside the home, then where is the scripture to support such activity? 

Paul wanted Titus to teach these things so that these people would exemplify in their lives what it meant to be Christian.  And when we look at the list we can all agree that these are the traits and qualities that all good Christian women should possess.  For Christian women to be sober is a righteous quality.  Can we all agree on that?  I think so.  What about for Christian women to love their husbands and children?  Of course, we can agree that this is to be so.  How about to be discreet, chaste, good, obedient to your husband?  Can we all agree that those are qualities that a Christian women should have in her attitude, belief, and her behavior?  I think we can safely say the answer is yes to all of these.  The Bible tells us so.

Well, what about the one quality that we left out?  The subject of our study,  Keepers at home.  No one can disagree that this isn't in the list.  Anyone who can see knows it's there stuck between "chaste" and "good."  The disagreement that some have is just exactly what this phrase means.  What is a keeper at home?  Do our women have to adhere to it today?  Is it really an important quality to have as a Christian woman?  Is it something that should be taught? 

Let's go ahead now and look at the phrase keepers at home.

The first misinterpretation of this is that it means someone who keeps, keeps up; or, in other words, keeps clean or manages.  I've heard this from the pulpit to support women working full-time jobs outside the home.  The reasoning is that if a woman can "take care of" the house by cooking, washing, cleaning, then she can most certainly work a full-time job.  I've heard Christian brothers teach this from the pulpit.  Is that what is meant by this phrase? 

The word keeper means guard; any concordance or Bible guide will tell us that.  A keeper is a guard.  For example, a gatekeeper, a grounds keeper, or a keeper of the keys.  All of these people "guard" something:  the gate, the grounds, or the keys.  The word at, according to means:  in, on, or near; used to indicate a location; position.  The word home is:  a dwelling, a residence; or, the place where domestic affairs are centered.  So, the phrase keeper at home literally means:  a guard in, on, or near a dwelling, or residence. 

And, remember, this is one of the qualities that Paul wanted Titus to teach the "aged women", so they could teach the younger women to do the same.  Older women were to teach the younger to be guards at their dwelling-place, or residence.  This is a quality that all Christian women should possess as part of their lives. 

Again, the argument against this meaning is that women can work a full-time job away from home, as long as they keep the house clean and in order.  But, the question arises:  How can a woman, who is working 8-10 hours of the day away from home, guard her home?  The answer is that she can't.  How can the gatekeeper guard the gate if he's not there?  He can't.  That is rational and logical and makes sense to us.  Again, how can a groundskeeper guard the grounds, or attend to the grounds, if he is not there?  Again, he can't.  It's impossible.  And our last example:  how can someone guard the keys if they are not near, or have, the keys?  They cannot.  It is an impossibility.  So, how can women be guards of their homes if they are not there to do so the majority of their time?  The answer is they cannot do it. 

If they are "modern" women, they most likely follow this daily ritual:  get up at 5:30 to 6:00 am to get ready for their full-time job, make breakfast for the family, get the kids dropped off at school, get to work by 8:00 am, work until 5:00 pm, or even 6:00 pm, get the children from the daycare, or sitter, get home and prepare the evening meal (maybe, if they aren't too tired), help with homework, visit with the husband, have the children in bed by 8:30-10:00 pm, and themselves get to bed by 10:00-11:00pm.  Do this routine sound familiar?  Is someone living this routine a keeper at home?  According to the definition of this phrase, the answer would most certainly have to be no. 

Another argument is that to be a home there must be children present.  So, if the children are off to school, there is technically no home to "keep" and the mother can go to work.  There is no truth in this argument when dealing with the issue of "keepers at home."  To do such justification is to make a concerted effort to mock God's word.  The fact that children are away at school does not justify a woman leaving her duties at home to work at a full-time job.

Now, this of course, is looking the phrase from the King James version of the scriptures.  The interpretation of the Greek word translated for people of that time period to understand.  When people from the King James period read this phrase, keepers at home, they most assuredly knew what it meant.  However, the word keeper has had its definition somewhat altered in the minds of people today.  Being a keeper is one who keeps up or takes care of; for example, a housekeeper.  And, essentially, that is what keepers at home has turned into for many modern-day Christians.  That to be a keeper at home means for the woman to be a housekeeper; which is interesting because to be a housekeeper you must be at the house to keep!  She does this by doing the cooking, cleaning, ironing, washing, vacuuming, and all the other household duties.  And for many that has become the accepted definition of keepers at home.  And many have justified women working a full-time job by stating that these women also take care of the house. 

So, in a sense, we require these ladies to work two full-time jobs.  Any woman who takes care of her home will tell you that it is full-time work to do so.  It takes a tremendous amount of effort to see to the needs of a household.  And, anyone who believes otherwise has obviously never had to do so in their life.  It is hard work to see to the needs and requirements of a home.  And a Christian woman who works a full-time job away from home and takes care of her home when she is there is doing the work of two people.  God never intended this to be so. 

The concept of being a keeper is throughout the scriptures and adds context to its meaning.  Psalms 121:3-5 states:  "He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:  he that keepeth thee will not slumber.  Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.  The Lord is thy keeper:  the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand."  Here we see very clearly the concept of the keeper--in this case God--watching, caring, and protecting diligently over His children.  In Matthew 27 and 28 we find the description of "keeper" over our Savior's tomb after his death upon the cross.  Matthew 27:65-66 states:  "Pilate said unto them, Ye have watch:  go your way, make it as sure as ye can.  So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch."  Matthew 28:4 states:  "And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men."  How could these men watch or be "keepers" of our Lord's tomb if they weren't there to do it?  The Bible is very clear and specific in its meaning of the term keeper.

We've looked at the phrase in English, now let's take a look at the original Greek word that was written by Paul to Titus and study its meaning.  Keepers at home is actually from one word in the Greek:  oikouros, which is a compound word in the Greek from oikos and ouros.  The word oikos means a house.  The word ouros means a keeper.  The word in literal translation means a stayer at home; being inclined to domestic affairs.  It's interesting to note if the King James translators had used the phrase stayer at home, there might not be as much debate and discussion over this issue.  Or, would there?  Who knows?  Whatever the case, the fact still remains that this word oikouros means a stayer at home.  And what is also interesting to note that this word oikouros is only used one time in the New Testament--right here in Titus 2:5. 

What does all this word study mean?  Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote to Titus some things that he wanted the evangelist to teach to the people.  Paul wrote things concerning the older men and what they were to be and what they were to impart to the younger men.  He also mentioned a list of items that he wanted Titus to instill in the older women, so that they could pass these things down to the younger women.  And, one of these items mentioned is being a keeper at home.  According to the original Greek word, this means being a stayer at home, or a home-keeper, or domestically inclined.  To be a keeper means to be a guard.  This is what Paul wanted Titus to teach the older women, so they could teach the younger women to do the same.  And when these younger women became "aged women", they could do likewise for the next generation of younger women; and so forth throughout the ages of time.  This is the wisdom given to us by God's own word. 

The question that arises from this by many Christians is:  "does this mean the woman is not supposed to work at all?"  This is not about the question of work, necessarily, but about the way work and making money is designed in this particular culture of ours in American society.  In our society for a woman to work she must get a job outside the home (this is not always true) and be at that place of employment five days out of the week.  The type of work we think of is the kind that brings in money, or profit of some kind.  But, is this the case for the scriptures?  There are many different types of work that one can do.  A Christian woman will work in her life, but what is important is the type of work she chooses.  If the scriptures teach that a woman is to be a keeper at home, then there must be some other kind of work that is prescribed for her, instead of what is expected in our society. 

Again, this argument should not be about "can a woman work", but what kind is she supposed to do, according to the Bible.  Is it the kind we see women doing today?  The kind where women are away from their homes 9-12 hours a day, every day, five days a week?  Logically, this doesn't correspond with what the scriptures say about being a keeper at home.  In fact, it goes against it.  And, going against God's word is blasphemy, isn't it?  What our lives as Christians are to reflect is the word and will of our Father in Heaven, not society's set structure of doing things.  Being a true Christian committed to God's word will always put us at variance with society's values and way conducting "business."  A Christian woman who works 40-50 hours a week and then comes home to clean, wash, vacuum, etc. cannot be considered a keeper at home according to the definition of the word.  The phrase keeper at home means much more than just keeping the house clean. 

When Christian women are working a full-time job away from the home and trying to take care of the home, they are being asked to do too much.  In fact, most Christian women who do both complain about how their husbands don't lift a finger to help with the house when they get home from work.  Instead, the husbands plop in front of the TV and relax from "a hard day at work."  Does that seem fair?  Of course it doesn't.  But, many Christian households operate this way.  The wife works as much as the man and then comes home to take care of things, while he relaxes and does other things.  Does this make any sense?  Are these type of men asking too much from their wives?  Absolutely.  They are committed to things that aren't their responsibility, but the man's.  They are taking on a role that was originally given to the man--by God.  And that role is that of being a provider.  What's wrong with a woman being a provider?  Or, is there anything wrong with that? 

From the very beginning we know that God had a different design for men and women--and not just a physical design, either.  God was very specific about the roles that men and women performed while here on this earth.  We will look at Genesis to explain this further.  And hopefully, this will help better explain God's intentions for the Christian woman.
















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