Many of us are probably familiar with the verse in the second chapter of Titus which speaks about older women teaching younger women to be “keepers at home”. What we may not be familiar with is the Greek word behind that phrase and what it actually means.
Titus 2:5 has been taken by many and used to defend the claim that it would be sinful or wrong for a woman to ever work outside her home. This, however, is not what is implied by the Greek word, oikourgos, and this is further proven when we look at what the Scriptures as a whole have to say about the role women play in the home.
The Greek word oikourgos literally means “guard of the home” or one who “keeps watch over the home”. We see this further emphasized elsewhere by Paul when he tells younger widows to “manage their homes” in 1 Timothy 5:14. The Greek word there is oikodespoteō and carries with it a meaning of “ruling a household” and “managing family affairs”.
A brief survey of the rest of Scripture shows that women do indeed have a hugely important role in the home – that of being the one who guards, manages, protects, and watches over it. Proverbs 31:27, for example, says “She watches over the ways of her household,”, while Proverbs 14:1a says, “The wise woman builds her house”.
This all goes back to God’s original design for women as being “ezers”- the Hebrew word for “helper” in Genesis 2:18. Throughout the Old Testament, ezers were ones who kept watch, guarded, protected, and looked after someone or something. This word is elsewhere used to refer to the mighty men of valor who fought in Israel’s army as well as to God Himself. Clearly then, God intended for women to watch over the ways of their homes. How exactly does a woman do that, however? Here are four practical ways:
Be a gatekeeper of the influences that come into your home.
Moms can be faithful to watch over their homes well by keeping watch over what influences are allowed to enter its doors. What media is your child taking in, what are your kids accessing on the internet, as well as yourself, and what is going on in the areas of phones and entertainment? What are your kids being allowed to see and hear?
Know who your kids’ friends are and what is going on at school
Moms who want to watch over their homes well and thereby tend to the hearts of their growing children need to be well acquainted with who their kids’ friends are and what is going on at school. Who are your kids’ friends’ parents? What are they like? Children shouldn’t be so sheltered as to be hidden away from the outside world and only in contact with those who act, dress, think, and believe exactly as they do. They should, however, be taught how to interact with people who are different from them, all the while showing them the love and light of Jesus along the way.
Be involved in your kids’ lives. Be the person they know they can come to with any issue whatsoever, as a safe place practicing good, open communication. Know what is going on in their hearts and ask God to give you discernment as to what truth they need to be taught and when.
Equip and encourage them to walk by the Spirit, living a life of faith on their own.
Watching over the ways of your home and being a true gatekeeper and guardian of that realm does not mean you need to micromanage, overly shelter, control, helicopter parent, or fully guard your children from the real world. What it does mean is that, at appropriate ages and in appropriate ways, you do explain to your children what the “real world” is like and what goes on there. You do so in a way that, even in the midst of having their eyes opened to the stark reality, they are equipped to love people well, share the gospel, and have a Biblical worldview in the midst of it all. Our children turning into those kinds of adults is our goal as we seek to watch over the ways of our homes in a good and faithful way.
Watching well over the goings on of your home is a big job, and sometimes it feels overwhelming. But it’s world-changing, it’s good, and it’s worth it.