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Women executives and managers in the secular workplace…. I have been battling this and feel I should no longer have the position. My husband is not quite in agreement. I want to honour God. I have been in upper level management since I was 25 years old- 33 years…. About two years ago God started to deal with me here. I do not have a peace.

I’m a tad bit unclear on your question. I’m not sure whether you’re asking if you should be working outside the home at all or if you’re thinking you shouldn’t be working in an executive/management position because it places you in authority over men.

If it’s the former, the short answer is that God’s design is for a wife and mother’s primary focus to be caring for her family and her home. There are seasons in life (for example: before you have children, after they’re grown and have left the home, etc.) in which a woman can do that just fine while holding down a part-time or full-time job, and there are seasons in life in which working outside the home would cause a woman to neglect her primary responsibility of home and family (and sometimes there are emergency situations in which a woman has no choice but to work outside the home).

If your question is whether or not you should work at all, you and your husband will need to sit down, consider all the factors, pray over it, and try to reach a consensus. If you cannot, Scripture is clear that you are to submit to his final decision on the matter.

But I’m guessing your question is the latter: “Is it biblically permissible for a woman to hold a position of authority over men in the workplace?”

Technically, the answer to that question is yes. (Unless, of course, your workplace is a church and it’s a 1 Timothy 2:12 situation.) Scripture does not prohibit women from holding positions of secular authority over men in the workplace, politics, volunteer or civic positions, etc. What the Bible forbids is women preaching to, teaching Scripture to, and holding authority over men in the gathered body of Believers (the church). This command does not apply to non-church gatherings, events, or positions. (Click here for more detailed information.)

However, it’s a little more nuanced than a simple “yes, you can” or “no, you can’t”.

One of the reasons Scripture doesn’t address the issue of women holding positions of authority over men in the workplace is that this wasn’t an issue in the culture and time when Scripture was breathed out by God. Generally speaking, women of the Bible weren’t career women. At that time and in that culture, a woman’s “career” was wife and mother.

We do see women like the Proverbs 31 wife and Lydia earning money from their work, but it was an extension of their work in the home as wives and mothers (Also, in Lydia’s case, her work is mentioned before her conversion. We don’t know whether or not she continued her sales business after she got saved.) They weren’t leaving the home every day to go work in someone else’s business.

The point is, the mere fact Scripture doesn’t address a particular scenario doesn’t give us blanket permission to do whatever we want about it, nor does it mean the Bible blanketly prohibits something. We have to look further.

When Christians make decisions, we always make them by correctly handling and applying Scripture. The first thing we look at is clear cut commands and biblical principles. For example, if you were looking for a job and there was an opening for a stripper or an abortion doctor, or a job that required you to lie, or a job that said you couldn’t (even in your off time) read your Bible or share the gospel, you would know right off the bat that those jobs violate clear commands and principles of Scripture.

So the first thing you’ll want to do in your situation is sit down and think about any clear commands of Scripture or broader biblical principles that apply to your situation. Scripture does not prohibit you from working in a supervisory position over men, but it does command you to submit to your husband and to live peaceably with others (including him) as far as it depends on you.

If, “My husband is not quite in agreement,” means the two of you need to talk about this issue more, then by all means, keep discussing it until a decision is reached. (It might even be helpful to set up an appointment with your pastor for counseling.) But, if it means he has stated that he wants you to continue in your position (and your job does not cause or require you to sin), you need to respect and submit to his decision. You can certainly keep praying about the situation in your personal time with the Lord. You can also revisit the issue if the situation changes (ex: an opportunity to work from home arises, you’re offered a better job or early retirement, etc.). But today, joyfully and graciously submit to your husband.

The next thing Christians need to consider when making a decision is, “Is it wise? Is it helpful?” Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Both of these verses are written in the context of setting aside your personal rights to do something non-sinful for Christ’s higher calling to serve or do good to your neighbor. And remember, your husband and family are your closest neighbors.

Ask yourself some probing questions. Will this non-sinful thing I want to do, and have a right to do, make it more difficult for me to share the gospel with someone? Is it best for my family? Will it be good in the short term, but detrimental in the long term? Is it wise stewardship of the blessings, resources, and positions of influence God has given me? Will it create unnecessary strife in my marriage? Could denying myself the right to do this thing be more impactful for the Kingdom than doing it?

Has the desire to do this non-sinful thing become an obsession you can’t let go of? Repent and determine in your heart not to be dominated by it.

One of the “wisdom questions” you and your husband might want to ponder in your situation is, “Is it difficult for me to transition from being the boss of men at work to submitting to a man at home?”. If your job is tempting you to sin against your husband or making it more difficult to obey Scripture’s command to submit to him, that’s a weighty factor to consider.

You might have noticed that I have not said anything about the necessity of “having a peace” about whatever decision you and/or your husband have reached. That’s because there’s nothing in the Bible about a peaceful easy feeling being a sign that you’ve made a godly decision. Feelings are subjective (and often deceitful and wicked). We can’t depend on them to lead us in a godly direction. Scripture is objective. We can always depend on Scripture to steer us right, regardless of our feelings.

So dig through Scripture with your husband, pray together about the situation, get some wise counsel from your pastor or other mature believers, and come to a mutual conclusion if at all possible. But in the end, make sure you’re submitting first to Christ and His Word, and second, to your husband.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

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