As a Christian young man, and as a minister of the gospel, I unashamedly admit that when I am married I want my wife to be a housewife. By saying this, I risk offending the sensitivities of quite a few people. When men say that they want their ladies to be stay-at-home wives, people tend to retort with something like, “Men are just trying to keep women down”. It’s as if people assume that staying at home somehow lessens a woman’s value. It doesn’t. Being a housewife is a biblical role for a godly woman.
Titus 2:4-5 instructs 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”; and women are supposed to conduct themselves this way “that the word of God be not blasphemed”. In other words, if women don’t follow these precepts, there is the potential that they will bring shame on God’s word. Obeying these instructions allows women to bless their households and to protect God’s word from slander. I want to make just a few remarks on this passage in general, and then focus on the topic of stay-at-home wives in particular.
In the original Greek New Testament, the phrase “love their husbands” is actually only one word, φιλανδρος; and the same goes for “love their children”, φιλοτεκνος. In English “love their husbands” and “love their children” are verb phrases—things that people do; but in Greek φιλανδρος and φιλοτεκνος are adjectives—things that people are. Sometimes it is easy for Christians to be so busy doing what we should that we forget to be who we should. A Christian woman should love their husband and love their children until loving them becomes part of who she is as a person. What she does should be identical to who she is.
In a secular or non-Christian context, φιλανδρος can actually have the meaning or connotation of a woman that is lewd, lustful, impure, or “loose”. Obviously, when God tells women “to love their husbands” he is NOT telling them to be promiscuous! This very passage instructs women to be chaste! But perhaps this domain in the meaning of φιλανδρος still deserves noticing. The only love affair that a lady of the Lord should ever have is with her husband. She should be his passionate lover. Christian women should love their husbands until it is almost scandalous.
Titus 2:4-5 tells women to be sober (serious) and discreet (wise); but it also tells them to obey their husbands. These two things are hard to balance. There will be times when a Christian woman disagrees with her husband. And she will be right. In those times it is very important that she is respectful to him. As long as she is obedient, he will eventually figure out that she was right and that he needs her discretion and advice.
Now let’s turn our attention to the phrase “keepers at home”. This statement plainly teaches that women should stay at home and take care of the house. I understand that there are situations (single mothers, widowhood, disabled husband, and such) where this is not doable. But in a home where the husband is working, women should not work outside of the house. Any job that a woman has should be done from home; and even then, only if it does not take her away from her household duties.
The phrase “keepers at home” is a single word in Greek, οικουρος. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament defines this word as “the (watch or) keeper of a house…keeping at home and taking care of household affairs, domestic”. The KJV translates οικουρος as “keepers at home”; but some other interesting translations exist for this word. The Geneva Bible (1557) translates it as “abiding at home”, the Rheims Bible (1582) has “having a care of the house” here, and the Bishop’s Bible (1568) translates οικουρος as “house keepers”. My favorite rendering of οικουρος is probably the one found in Tyndale’s New Testament (1534): “housewifely”. It should be apparent that οικουρος “keepers at home” refers to ladies who stay at home, care for and keep the house, and are housewives for their husbands.
Just to summarize this point, the Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek lexicon tells us this about οικουρος: it meant “watching or keeping the house”, it referred to the “mistress of the house”, and it was a compliment “used in praise of a good wife”. Interestingly enough, calling a man οικουρος was an insult, “used…contemptuously of a man: stay-at-home [as opposed to] one who goes forth to war”. It is God’s plan for women to stay at home, not men. If a woman’s husband is disabled and cannot work, that is an entirely different situation. But under normal circumstances, God intends that men work outside the home and women be “keepers at home”.
Why ought women to be what God describes in Titus 2; do you remember? So that “the word of God be not blasphemed. A woman who stays at home is better able to devote herself to loving her husband and children, blessing her family and protecting God’s word from slander. I am just simple enough to believe that God’s way is the best way. I want a wife that will love me and my children, that will be wise but not contentious; that’s why I want a housewife.