The Apostle Paul wrote that “young women” with “husbands” and “children” should be “keepers at home” (Titus 2:3,4). And as you may know, this phrase is the subject of much controversy among Christian wives and moms, most of whom desire to understand it clearly so that they can obey it.
To begin with, the phrase “keepers at home” is sometimes said to mean that a woman can never have any kind of life outside of the home. But that’s not how the word “keeper” is used in our language. For example, zookeepers leave the zoo every night, and barkeepers have a life outside the tavern as well. Even goalkeepers in hockey and soccer are allowed to leave the goal, even though they are the keepers of the goal.
And that’s how the word keeper is used in Scripture as well. The “keeper of the prison” in Philippi (Acts 16:27) went home to his wife and children every night (v. 34). So the phrase “keepers at home” cannot mean that a mom with young children cannot have a life outside the home. So what does it mean?
Well, what do you say we let God tell us what this phrase means by seeing how He uses the word “keeper” in Scripture? First, the primary job of the keeper of the prison in Philippi was to keep the prisoners from escaping. And when a mom has young children, it’s her job to keep them from escaping!
But there are other kinds of keepers in the Bible. “Abel was a keeper of sheep” (Gen. 4:2), and it is the job of shepherds to feed and care for the flock. It is similarly the job of women who are keepers at home to feed and care for their children. In most homes, Mom is the one who is primarily responsible for making sure the kids are fed, and “Dr. Mom” is the first line of defense against all the bugs that children tend to contract before their immune systems are fully developed.
The Bible also talks about doorkeepers (Ps. 84:10), and keeping the door of a home involves more than just chaining the doors at night. The psalmist prayed,
“Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Ps. 141:3).
Moms have to “keep” watch on what young children say. Who can forget the image of Ralphie eating a bar of soap in A Christmas Story, a film that is popular around the holidays. If you’re a young mom who isn’t sure how to keep your kids from using crude language, my mom did it by never swearing in front of us kids. I vividly remember a first grade class trip to the park wherein I saw my first four-letter words written on the walls of the viaduct we walked through that day. I probably remember it so well because I read those words aloud as we passed through, causing my classmates to gasp. They knew what those words were, for they heard them at home–but I had not. You see, my mom was a keeper, as are all moms who keep their children from learning profanity, lying, and all other forms of “corrupt communication” (Eph. 4:29).