Who Cleans the Toilet? A Biblical Perspective.
Does the Bible say anything about housework and who is supposed to do it? Surprisingly, yes.

Question about Right and Wrong in the Bible: Marriage and divorce
Motivation - Curiosity: Sincere curiosity
Bible view - The Word of God - [question 157, Friday, 27-Sep-2013]

The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.
- Proverbs 14:1 [NASB]
Wise woman builds her house
Proverbs says 'The wise woman builds her house.' Does this really include housework?

Would the God of the universe be concerned about who does the housework? Henry wants to know. Does the Bible say anything about cleaning the house and who should do it? Surprisingly, the answer is 'yes.'

The book of Proverbs in the Old Testament has one primary purpose: to encourage people to follow the ways of wisdom rather than the ways of folly. Wisdom is defined as 'skill in living everyday life,' and folly is the opposite. Read Proverbs and you will get practical, down-to-earth guidance about living in this world. But don't expect it to be all common sense. There's a lot of material in Proverbs that runs counter to our intuition.

In the book of Proverbs short, one-sentence ideas contrast wisdom and folly. A great example is Proverbs 14:1 (in the box above) which states 'The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.' This is pretty sobering for any wife and mother who takes the Bible seriously. It seems, from this proverb, that a woman has the power to make or break her household. Anyone who is married long enough knows this is true.

But is this for the woman only? Of course not. The husband must be wise as well, or the house crumbles:

By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; And by knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches. A wise man is strong, And a man of knowledge increases power.
- Proverbs 24:3ff [NASB]

So home building is a two-way deal. Husband and wife must both make wise decisions to keep the household strong. But you don't need the Bible to tell you that. This one is, after all, common sense. If either party messes up, the home is weakened.

Who does the housework? Proverbs says both husband and wife must contribute to a household. We will have to look further to find out how the contributions are made. Does the husband contribute in ways different than the wife, and vice versa? Do both do the housework, or only one? The Bible lays down roles and responsibilities for husband and wife, and from this we can draw conclusions about housework.

Who Buys the House?

Before you can clean the toilet, you must have a toilet to clean. Modern culture aside, the Bible does not permit 'single parent' households. Mom-Dad-Kids is God's formula. Single parent situations are not to be sustained and, when they occur, the only Bible-prescribed remedy comes from family members and good people outside the family, not commercial institutions or government programs. Check this verse:

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
- James 1:27 [NASB]

Single moms with children are to be honored, as long as they are closely associated with their own family and live respectable lives:

Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.
- 1 Timothy 5:3ff [NASB]

So, then, who buys the toilet? This is clearly the man's job. There is no room in the Bible for female breadwinners, that is, women who provide primary finances for the family. Women in the Bible do amazing and wonderful things (we will see momentarily), but God holds the man responsible for the financial well being of the family:

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
- 1 Timothy 5:8 [NASB]

Men, more than women, thrive on respect earned from others. Work is honorable and entreats respect. So honest labor not only provides for the family, but builds the husband's character at the same time.

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
- Ephesians 4:28 [NASB]

Who Builds the House?

Man doing womens work
Ugh. This is women's work, isn't it?

Assuming there is a toilet to clean, who should clean it, the husband or the wife? To find out, we glean general principles from the Bible, then apply those principles specifically to the topic of housework.

We have already seen that the Bible calls out specific roles for the husband. In the verses above, one of the husband's roles is to provide primary finances for the family. Secondary finances, if any, can be supplied by the wife, and that's great. But women supporting men is not biblical.

As for the wife, nowhere in the Bible is the role of a virtuous woman better described than in Proverbs chapter 31. Such a wife gains the trust and respect of her husband and all those around her. The passage in Proverbs cites a lengthy list of roles, responsibilities, duties, initiatives, and characteristics of an excellent wife. It is the Bible's version of a modern-day trophy wife!

  • She respects her husband to the point where he trusts her implicitly (verse 11)
  • She loves her husband and does him good, never evil (v 12)
  • She buys raw materials and makes them into finished products (v 13)
  • She buys good, even exotic, food (v 14)
  • She feeds her household (v 15)
  • She considers investments and buys the good ones (v 16)
  • She grows a garden (v 16)
  • She keeps herself strong and healthy (v 17)
  • She knows the value of her inner and outer beauty (v 18)
  • She works into the night, working with her hands (v 18, 19)
  • She gives her time and her abundance to the poor and needy (v 20)
  • She protects, uplifts, and nurtures her entire household (v 21)
  • She decorates her house and dresses with class (v 22)
  • She supports her husband in his business (v 23)
  • She operates her own business (v 24)
  • She radiates strength and honor (v 25)
  • She looks to a bright future (v 25)
  • She speaks wisdom with kindness (v 26)
  • She manages her household well (v 27)
  • She is far from lazy (v 27)
  • She cherishes praise from her children and her husband (v 28)

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
- Proverbs 31:30 [NASB]

There is no parallel passage in the Bible which calls out sample roles of a virtuous husband. We may, however, construct one from divers portions of scripture, but the list is shorter by far.

  • He loves his wife as Jesus Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 5:25)
  • He assumes a leadership role in the local church (I Timothy 3:2)
  • He trains the children (Ephesians 6:4)
  • He provides finances for his family (discussed above)

The first two items in these lists summarize the Bible's view of a perfect marriage:

  • The wife respects her husband to the point where he trusts her implicitly
  • The husband loves his wife as Jesus Christ loves the Church

The woman respects the man and the man loves the woman. The formula is really that simple. Mountains of theological doctrines, most of them erroneous, have been built around husband-wife Bible passages. A particularly dangerous one is known as headship and submission which based on a few of the New Testament letters. Taken to extremes (as it sometimes is), headship and submission makes the wife a slave of the husband. This, quite obviously, contradicts the Bible mandate of a husband loving his wife as Jesus Himself loved those He died for.

Who Cleans the Toilet?

To answer, at last, Henry's question, we look at the lists above. In general, the biblical roles and responsibilities for the wife are more home-centered than those of the husband. This means the wife should clean the toilet. But, since Jesus set an example for husbands by laying down His life for those He loves (Matthew 20:28), the husband must pitch in when his wife asks him to.

by Paul Richards

Mon, 26-Jun-2017 22:32:51 GMT, unknown: 642725 ABk3rGXrKioJE