Does Titus 2:5 Forbid Women From Working Outside The Home?

I just caught the Voddie Baucham segment on CNN where he talks about Sarah Palin. What surprised me was his use of Titus 2:5 to prove that women should not have employment beyond homemaking.

Complementarian Discord? Dr. Mohler and CBMW have both issued articles that state Palin’s political ambition is not a problem for complimentarians. Voddie is taking a harder line, see the video below.

See also, Tim Brister’s roundup of these issues on P&P.

What do you think?

Leave a comment below to answer the question. Specifically, does Titus 2:5 forbid women from working outside the home?

Titus 2:3-5 ESV (3) Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, (4) and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, (5) to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

CNN Video: Voddie Baucham On Palin & The Role of Women

HT Video: Mr. Discernment

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36 Responses to Does Titus 2:5 Forbid Women From Working Outside The Home?

  1. I don’t think I would say that Titus 2 says as much about what women shouldn’t do as it does about what they should do. Considering Proverbs 31, it seems that a godly woman may have a fair amount of responsibility outside the home, in addition to her responsibilities at home.

    However, I’m not convinced at this point that it’s advisable for a woman to exercise authority over a man in the public square. But that’s a different discussion, and I don’t want to sidetrack this one. It’s an issue that should be kept in mind, though, while discussing this one.

    Barry Wallaces last blog post..Isaiah

  2. Adam Winters says:

    Well, I think I would agree with Mohler more than Voddie on this matter. But I LOVE Voddie’s uncompromising defense of Scriptural integrity. This “analysis” panels frustrate me. I thought it might be a mere presentation of the issues and two views as to why Palin appeals to evangelicals while acknowledging possible inconsistency. But it turned into the ol’ “let’s show how backwards minded the fundamentalist is” by both the moderator and the other guest. Typical…

    Go Voddie!

    Adam Winterss last blog post..The (un)Natural

  3. Jerry says:

    I have long appreciated Voddie Baucham’s ministry, but sometimes he could be wrong. Heck, even R. Albert Mohler could be wrong from time to time as well.

    Jerrys last blog post..Some thoughts on Modesty

  4. Come on, now; we all know the only reason Baucham was picked for this panel was for his extremist (at least to the secularists) view on this issue.

    Stephen Newells last blog post..NCAA Football Week 2

  5. Brandon says:

    I think I would agree with Voddie insomuch as Palin’s position keeps her from being a wife and mother and a keeper of the home. And, with that type of position, it would seem almost necessary that she forfeit much of what those are about.

    I don’t think that the Bible forbids leadership for women in secular government. But…I lean hard on the word “think” in the above statement.

    Brandons last blog post..Celebrate God’s Gifting of His Church in Christ

  6. Brother Hank says:

    Specifically, does Titus 2:5 forbid women from working outside the home?

    The answer is “Duh.” This verse is not prohibitive, rather it’s prescriptive. It’s telling older women what they should teach younger women to do. However, (and I mean a very BIG however) that by no means is implying that Titus 2:5 then is a moot point for issues of women in the workforce.

    The fact that we are debating this as we are just highlights a wide-spread issue with evangelicals. We come to Scripture looking for specific prohibitions, and, when we find them, we chalk them up to being “fulfilled in Christ”; and when we don’t find them, we chalk the issue up to one of “Christian liberty”. This hermeneutic is childish at its very best, and shows that we are not really seeking to understand the bigger issues.

    Living “redemptively” in light of Christ, and in view of a lost world, means that our lives (and, indeed, our wives) must be ordered as Christ has order them in his Word and in nature itself (the sibling to Scripture known as General revelation). The Bible is a lot more than a list of prohibitions and interesting stories – and we should treat it as such. Simply laying Titus 2:5 aside because we agree that it does not “prohibit” women from working outside the home just will not do. We must affirm that it does speak to the issue women, work, and home – and we must wrestle with what it says (along with every other similar Scripture). It may very well be speaking a redemptive standard into the world that needs our understanding and allegiance. Either way, we know this much for sure – It is God’s word, for God’s people, for all time; and Titus 2:5 is profitable…if we would but mine the riches with the mind of Christ.

    Brother Hanks last blog post..Redemptive Theology and Family Planning: New Steps at Lawn Gospel

  7. @Hank-are you saying that the Bible transcends the culture? That is a crazy thought! (y’all better be catching the sarcasm.)

  8. Tony Kummer says:

    @Barry & Hank: I agree this verse is prescriptive, but then what exactly is prescribed and what are the implications for women in public employment?

    @Adam: If Voddie is wrong, then he’s made the Bible offensive on a non-Gospel issue. I think that is something we should not applaud.

    @Stephan: It looks like he played right into their hands.

    @Brandon: If we’re about husband headship (“submit to their own husbands”) then should this be an issue for the husband to decide?

  9. toney sauls says:

    maybe Voddie needs to keep his trap shut a little more often. this is not the kind of publicity evangelicals (not to mention complimentarians) need or desire. seems like every time he has something to say lately, it ends up embarrassing the Christian community.

  10. @Toney-while some might agree with you, you might have said it a bit differently. Your language (and therefore tone) did nothing to help your case against embarrassing the Christinan community.

    One can only wonder what Voddie really wanted to say. You can tell he was extremely irritated (and rightfully so) with the two-pronged attack he was getting. I do agree with him that he is not a political pundit but is a defender of the gospel and I think that is what he was attempting to do while under fire.

    All in all, I think he composed himself better than I would have in those circumstances.

  11. joe lee says:

    i love pastor voddie’s passion and love for the truth and the Gospel and his effort for its purity and preservation. however, my wife works and takes care of my household as well. in order to balance home-care and her work, she works every other day. she loves God, loves her family, and likes to work. i believe women’s role as nurturing and raising a family is the greatest calling and role as i witness that from my wife since we had our first kid, and yet i don’t think it prohibits them to work at all. proverbs 31, an excellent wife who fears the Lord clearly takes care of household (15) and also buys a field and works with her hands in a vineyard (16).

    if a woman despise her family in order to acquire a fame and wealth in this world, i think it would be ungodly and unbiblical, but if she can prioritize family over work and manage her household and work with balance and support of her family members, i think it is permissible. in palin’s case, i don’t think i know her and her family enough to know whether she submits to her husband and manage and balance her household and her work well and will not judge yet. definitely we need discernment this day of age and be watchful of ourselves to abide in the Word as men and women of God and follow.

    i love my family!

  12. Tony Kummer says:

    @Terry Delaney: When I first heard this I wondered if it was more a case of culture causing use to read something that was not Paul’s point in the first place. Does anyone think there 2 wage families in the 1st century were robbing children of their moms?

    It looks more like a case where diligent women (vs. busybodies or worse) were evidence of their right doctrine (Titus 2:1).

  13. @Tony: I would actually argue that because the Bible does transcend culture (it must) then the prescription is true for all times and for all persons. Now, there is a lot of personal history behind what I am about to say, but I think that the concept of a 2-wage family is fairly new and is only the “norm” because of our “gotta-have-it-now” society.

    I believe a woman’s special calling is in the home and believe me, it is probably the hardest job she will ever have…I am speaking from mere observation.

    I think our biggest concern with the Palin Problem is that we are attempting to hang her out to dry because she professes to be a Christian and some are now trying to derail her faith because she is going to be in one of the premier leadership roles in the world. I can’t help but see that the media is spinning this into a “far right fundamentalist set us back 100 years” issue.

    The fact of the matter is, we do not live in a theocracy. Are there Biblical prescriptions for the Christian home? Yes. Is there a precedence for a nation being judged for women being in leadership? Yes. However, living in a pluralistic society, I just don’t think you can enforce (like we want to) biblical mandates and prescriptions outside of salvation in Christ alone.

    Just my thoughts.

  14. Tony Kummer says:

    @Terry Delaney: This is all fine if Voddie is correctly interpreting the text, which was my original question. We can’t give our heroes a pass on bad hermeneutics, even if we ultimately agree with their conclusions based on other texts.

    When we read in our old southern values into a text, it’s our culture that’s twisting the Bible, not the feminists.

    This is why I linked to Mohler and CBMW to give a more nuanced evangelical perspective.

  15. toney sauls says:

    respectfully, i make no excuse for what i said and how i said it. i am tired of people sitting by and shaking their heads with a well-thats-just Voddie-being-Voddie attitude or saying, “oh that crazy Voddie, look what he said this time.” he is a man on fire for sure and he has strong convictions, but with that comes strong opinions. he is not infallible and is open to critique like the rest of us – sometimes a man needs to know when to keep his mouth shut and when to open it up. lately, i wonder if Voddie knows the difference. he should have known better than to be the pawn in this game. while he did a stellar job of defending Scripture, he played into the hands of the feminists.

    i honestly say all of this with humility -who knows, i probably would have been played the same way by the talking heads.

  16. @Tony: I don’t know that he was reading into the text as much as some would claim. It seems the sticking point is the qualifier “older” before the word “women.” I agree with Mohler and CBMW.

    I am not sure if it was so much a bad hermeneutic as it was he was being backed into a corner. I think a case can be made that he is correctly understanding the passage but I also think there can be a case made as to what you are saying. Given the context of the conversation, I think he was correct in where he went even if he didn’t take the proper hermeneutical route to get there.

  17. @Toney: I did not mean to come off as condescending and I apologize if I did. The point I was trying to make is what you just addressed
    who knows, i probably would have been played the same way by the talking heads.
    The whole “just shut his trap” phrasing came off just like that. If anything, that would have only added fuel to the fire.

    I completely agree with you that he should have been aware that he was going to be the target in all of this. That is the media’s game. It is a complete spin game as I said above in #13. What is sad is everyone of us knows this.

    I wonder how much of this is all the newfound “fame” for being a preacher of the gospel? Voddie Baucham is a well-known name in our circles and now I think he is becoming an even more well-known name with all of this. I think the bottom line is that we, as believers in Christ, all join together and pray for those Christian leaders who are going to be thrusted into the limelight because of Mrs. Palin.

    Toney, do you live in Louisville? I would really love to meet you sometime? I have greatly enjoyed our dialogue on the various blogs.

  18. toney sauls says:

    yes, i live in town and have class on mondays and wednesdays. i am usually not on campus other than those times (this semester anyway). i would love to meet with you sometime. shoot me an email and we will get some lunch or something.

  19. Todd Benkert says:

    I appreciated Voddie’s defense of the text of the Bible over against cultural demands on our theology. At the same time, I along with others disagree with his interpretation of the text in question. I think he would have done better had he acknowledged the fact that there is disagreement on this issue among Bible believing Christian and then went into his defense of the Bible over culture. Still, I don’t know if I would have come off any better with the press and I will cut him a little slack here.

    On Palin, since I am a strong advocate of stay-at-home momhood, I do question her ability to parent her children and be a vice-president at the same time. Nonetheless, I am excited about a ticket that has a fighting chance of keeping Obama and his radically pro-Abortion platform out of the White House.

  20. Tony Kummer says:

    For all the talk about being a “Gospel preacher,” I don’t think the work of Christ to save sinners was even mentioned. That is a very bad side effect of making “women working” a fundamental issue of Christianity, the real Gospel gets forgotten.

    Can anyone imagine all the single moms, or moms who have little choice about work, when they hear this kind of statement? It’s not a Grace moment. Basically they hear, you’re a sinner and a bad mom.

    Look around your community and churches, you’ll need a better answer than Dr. Baucham. And please mention something about Jesus too.

  21. Todd Benkert says:

    Good point, Tony. I remember, for example, whenever Jerry Falwell had these kinds of debates, whether I agreed with him or not, he nearly always spoke of Jesus’ work on the cross for sinners.

  22. Brother Hank says:


    I think you misunderstand what was going on in this interview. Baucham was not ascending a pulpit, with interested hearers in front of him with an open Bible. He was basically sucker-punched by a curve ball question on the role of women in both family and the public square. Should he preach the gospel and answer the question? By all means. But let’s not set him up as some kind of legalistic fundamentalist that is more concerned with Titus 2:5 than John 3:16. The problem with what we are talking about here are these texts that are far too often glazed over in our churches, until something raises it’s ugly head. Do you know why some working moms may hear Voddie say you’re a sinner and a bad mom? It’s because their local pastors have failed to faithfully exhort to them what a “good” mom looks like; not merely because Voddie didn’t get to finish his sentence.

    In light of that, I’m interested: How would you have responded, with Voddie’s position, in light of the Gospel? In other words, how do we interpret Titus 2:5 in light of the Cross (which the Apostle Paul was fully aware of when he wrote it)?

  23. Tony Kummer says:

    @Brother Hank: First, I’m not saying I would be nearly as competent on TV or even in the pulpit as Dr. Baucham. I’m just concerned that we’re letting our ideology about the role of women in society to dictate our interpretation, i.e. putting doing violence to this inerrant text to promote our theology of gender.

    When any person says “I’m preacher of the Gospel” but fails to use their largest ever audience to describe the Gospel, we should at least be asking what went wrong. This reminded me of Paul getting sidetracked on Mars Hill and preaching about head coverings instead of the resurrection and Lordship of Christ.

    So, Titus 2 is about the fruit of the Gospel in different life situations, with the opening and closing verses of the chapter regulating the context.

    Titus 2:1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

    Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, (12) training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, (13) waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

    So, how we live reflects back on the Gospel. Paul wants people to live “self-controlled, upright, and godly lives” while they wait for Christ’s return. Then he describes character qualities for each group that accords with the Gospel.

    I understand “working at home” to be antecedent of “being lazy at home” and “being a busybody.” I think Paul has the same concern when he writes about young widows in 1 Timothy 5:13 “Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.”

    I think it’s wrong to overlay this passage with our 21st century wage earner economy. In their world, very few women would be seeking public employment. Can anyone guess the most common wage earning job title for women recording in the Bible?

    So, Gospel-driven women stay busy and guard/keep their homes in order. This principle does not restrict doing more, i.e. Proverbs 31 and the excellent (and entrepreneurial wife). But it sets the priority, like the CBMW people are saying.

    Maybe Paul had in mind women like Lydia (Acts 16:14) who supported the Gospel work. Remember all the women who followed Jesus, and even paid his bills. (Luke 8:3)

  24. Russell says:

    The context of Titus 2 is clear that this teaching “accords with sound doctrine.” (:1) ESV. A healthy church must have strong families (defined biblically, not culturally), including roles and responsibilities, in order to pass truth from one generation to the next and to maintain a credible evangelical ethic in the world. Voddie’s comments on CNN about Titus 2 were specific and accurate in relation to the context of the questioning as well as Margaret Feinberg’s poor hermeneutics. I agree that Mrs. Palin was a brilliant pick from a politically savvy perspective, but the Bible does not teach women with five children and a husband who is completely capable of providing for the family, to abandon her primary responsibility to pursue a career of any sort. I would also add that men should make better decisions about how their careers effect the family. I thank God for Voddie’s clarity of thought and courage in an environment of confusion and relativism.

  25. kschaub says:

    I love Voddie Baucham. He is passionate. He is staunchly pro-family and he argues his case strongly. Still, like in the case of Sarah Palin, I think he overstates a few things without having a full view of her life.

    That is why I think Mohler’s post An Unexpected New Motherhood Debate and the statement by CBMW alongside Baucham’s Did McCain Make a Pro-family VP Pick? steers things back to center. It seems Baucham occasionally takes things further than needed in reaction to some of the current issues and problems families are facing. So, even if that is true, I think he helps swing us back to being truly pro-family.

    Compare Mohler’s article to Baucham’s:

    Con(s) in reference to Palin’s nomination and her kids:

    Mohler: “If I were her pastor, I’d be very concerned for her and her family.”

    Baucham: “The job of a wife and mother is to be a wife and mother. Anything in addition to that must also be subservient to it. There is no higher calling.”

    To what extent do these concerns apply?:

    Mohler: “Do I believe that a woman can serve well in the office of Vice President of the United States? Yes . . .

    “The New Testament clearly speaks to the complementary roles of men and women in the home and in the church, but not in roles of public responsibility. I believe that women as CEOs in the business world and as officials in government are no affront to Scripture.”

    Baucham: “Moreover, I believe Paul’s admonition should lead us to reject any notion of a wife and mother taking on the level of responsibility that Mrs. Palin is seeking.”

    Are there any conditions?:

    Mohler: “Is this kind of public role what most women want? Clearly not, and for that I am honestly thankful.”

    Baucham: “Let me be clear. I am not arguing that it is always wrong for a woman to be engaged in affairs outside the home.”

    What are their conclusions?:

    Mohler: “Count me in on the thrill of seeing such a public display of pro-life commitment, and such a prominent pro-life candidate [Palin] added to the ticket . . . Still, there is something to give us all pause in this picture [namely, Bristol’s pregnancy], and those who care for the future of the family should take note and think hard.”

    Baucham: “The Neocons are merely using Mrs. Palin as a political pawn . . . In an effort to win the pro-family political argument, we are sacrificing the pro-family biblical argument.”

    My initial thoughts:

    Mohler makes an important distinction between roles of women in the home and church and in public life. Is he correct? Importantly, Mohler adds that Palin’s candidacy is no affront to Scripture if her and her husband “have first fulfilled their responsibilities within the little commonwealth of the family.”

    If we support Palin does that mean we are sacrificing the pro-family biblical argument? It’s a tough call. I think it is actually tougher than Baucham believes. Should we say “no way” like Baucham? Or “maybe, just maybe” like Mohler?

    I will leave the answers to be hashed out here. I am still working through them. But I lean Mohler.

  26. kschaub says:

    BTW, the CNN interview would have been more helpful had they invited Mohler instead of Feinberg . . .

  27. Pingback: Ideologically Driven Interpretations | Kummeropolis

  28. Tony Kummer says:

    @kschaub: Thanks for the helpful summary, I really appreciate Dr. Mohler’s wisdom.

  29. Russell says:

    Dear ksschaub,
    I agree, but I don’t think CNN’s agenda was to get a balanced biblical evaluation like you are striving for. Mohler and Baucham may differ on this issue, but they are not far enough apart to be valuable to CNN’s agenda. Had Mohler been on instead of Baucham he would have been made to look sexist. He’s still to the right of the feminist position of both the republican and democratic parties, and certainly the media.


  30. kschaub says:


    I have no Utopian notions of CNN here. If it is one or the other, I was only saying the above (comment 28) as wishful thinking and a desire for precise reporting.

    Is it just me or does this kind of news coverage seem silly? Usually they are about 5 minutes long with two or three people with opposing opinions being moderated by an anchor. Tell me, how many of these actually accomplish something? Had they talked longer I think we would get a better flavor of what Baucham thinks and why.

    Then again, that is the grab-and-go news media we have grown to digest.

    kschaubs last blog post..Gospel Friendships

  31. Russell says:


    I agree. I was not correcting, but adding to your comments. The media does an excellent job of filtering and manipulating public opinion. Sadly our cultures view of reality is almost entirely shaped by the “ministers of propaganda”.

  32. Santiago says:

    I appreciate Dr. Baucham’s emphasis here and how he has challenged our thinking. I like what Sarah Palin says and the work that she’s done up to this point. It tells me that her words are more than mere air. I’m a complimentarian who believes that the Bible gives plenty of room for women to lead. I think the prohibition is primarily against a corporate fellowship of believers, but this is another issue.

    My challenge is this: We can debate women in politics because we like what Sarah Palin says and does, but where are the men who are doing the same thing and why can’t they get the same respect from the public as Sarah Palin? I believe we have in Mrs. Palin an Esther of sorts. Government in this world must still be conducted in conjunction with unbelievers, and that never produces an ideal Biblical situation.

    It kind of makes me want to rethink the western ideas of leadership we try to interpose on the scriptures.

    Santiagos last blog post..Thirteen Years of Secure Borders and a Happy Nest

  33. Russell says:

    Dear Santiago,
    Could you elaborate on your rethinking of western ideas. I’m currently an independent and I’m of the opinion that America has moved so far from our forefather’s ideas of government that’s it’s humorous to hear a modern politician, or anyone else, refer to the constitution or any other founding documents as if they were still operative in the arena of political ideas. I believe that western culture has stopped valuing freedom. The biblical role of government seems to be limited to protection of the righteous. The righteous should be able to live in freedom under God without any fear of the government. Rather, we value living in security under the government without any fear of God. If you go to Wikipedia, look up ‘The Communist Manifesto’, and read the ’10 Planks…’, then I think you can see that we value communism more than freedom. Republicans and Democrats, male and female, Christians and non-Christians, value this atheistic-evolutionary form of government over freedom under God. Our relativistic redefining of gender is merely a symptom of a much deeper ideological revolution in America. Our problem is that we define everyone’s role and responsibility without meaning or significance.

  34. Santiago says:

    I wasn’t referring specifically to government, but rather to a Biblical understanding of leadership in general. We tend to read the Biblical text with our western ideals in mind and often fall a little short of the intended meaning.

    You are correct that public opinion has moved away from the original intent of the framers of our Constitution. Be not afraid. Things will get worse in terms of the government, but God’s people will be purified as a result and persevere in spite of the political climate. I’m no prophet. This is just the overall historical pattern. Look for God to work among us and reveal Himself in mighty ways.

    Santiagos last blog post..Thirteen Years of Secure Borders and a Happy Nest

  35. Brandon says:

    @ Tony,

    Hey man, sorry…just saw your response to my comment.

    Yes, she should submit to her own husband. However, if what her husband asks her to do causes her to sin (in the case of her being too tied up to be a mom and a husband) then that nullifies submission. That is how I see “submit as unto the Lord” – Jesus never asks us to sin. Thus, wives submit to their husbands insomuch as they do not ask them to sin against the Lord.

    Brandons last blog post..Trash

  36. brandon says:

    Whoops. I meant mom and wife, not husband.

    brandons last blog post..Elijah, the Baptist, Christ & Providence

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