I’m sorry, that was a deliberately provocative title. Of course they should. The real question is how should women work?
A few years ago I was asked to address this question with the ladies from my church. I asked each of them to write down on a piece of paper what they felt the most valuable thing they had ever done. I never collected the papers in, so I don’t actually know what they said! But I then passed each lady a second slip of paper. This time I asked them to write down how much they were paid for this ‘most valuable thing’. This time I did collect the papers in.
I read them out: “Nothing; nothing; nothing; nothing; nothing…” and so it went on – all eighteen women wrote exactly the same thing – apart from one who wrote ‘a box of chocolates!’
Their responses forcefully made the point I had been hoping would become clear: What work should a woman do? A woman should do the most valuable work that God equips her for and gives her opportunity to do.
How sad it is when women (or men) derive their value of the size of their paycheck, or the status of their job. Women whose husbands are able (and willing) to provide for them have the wonderful freedom to choose any God-honouring work they like. How liberating to not have to worry about rates of pay and pensions and contracts, and to just choose work based on its value to others, rather than on its perceived value to me.
Of course, not all are in this happy position. Those who are unmarried, or whose husbands are unemployed or on very low wages do not have this freedom. They then have a responsibility for their own families and for themselves to be bread-winners, and frustrating though this will sometimes be, there is no shame in it.
But how sad to see ladies feeling forced to work long hours because they don’t have confidence that they will be valuable otherwise. How sad to see ladies chasing promotion and paychecks simply to fund overseas holidays, the second car and a conservatory to relax in (none of which they would need if they didn’t take paid work in the first place).
And how refreshing to read Sarah Herbert (as a single girl) thinking seriously about switching from full-time to part-time work. And her reason?
What I am to be concerned about is serving the Lord right now. Right now, in this perfect stage in my life where God has placed me, what is the best way to be undivided in my devotion to the Lord?… Single people, like me, need to continually be evaluating how we are purposefully choosing to use our time right now for the Lord. The solitary, most recurring piece of advice that I receive from married women is to use the time that I have now for the Lord, as it is a fleeting window of time that I can wholeheartedly pursue Christ… Knowing that singleness is a gift from God, and that I cannot control the duration of this gift, how can I use it to be most effective for my King?