Is the Stay-at-Home Dad a Man-Fail?

Moody Radio recently hosted a debate about stay-at-home dads. Owen Strachan squared-off against stay-at-home dad Matt Peregoy and argues that the Bible commands able-bodied men to be the primary bread-winners for their homes. This is a fascinating discussion, and I think Owen does a fantastic job representing a complementarian position. You can download the conversation here or listen below.

37 Responses to Is the Stay-at-Home Dad a Man-Fail?

  1. Suzanne McCarthy September 26, 2012 at 2:19 am #

    Owen missed an opportunity to teach the true meaning of 1 Tim. 5:8. He seemed to not notice how it was misunderstood.

  2. Daryl Little September 26, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    I couldn’t help but think that all the benefits this man listed with regards to staying at home, are benefits (depending on the day!) that my wife would list, and are things he is actively stealing from his wife.

    I heard nothing that could actually be identified as something that helped this man in his role as head of the home.

    His whole argument sounded selfish to me, with not a Scripture in sight. (Poor man, his boss put demands on him that took him from his home and family…welcome to the real world dude)

  3. Stephen Beck September 26, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    Is there somewhere the relevant texts in the pastoral letters are discussed more in depth in regards to this issue? It seems Owen kept parading out Titus 2:5 and 1 Tim 5:14 as prooftexts, but if one word phrases like “house-worker” (Titus) or “house-leader” (1 Tim) is evidence enough that the wife is supposed to stay in the house, then the more fleshed out “manager of his house, having children in obedience…” of 1 Timothy 3:4 seems evidence enough to me that our pastor search committees should only be looking at stay-at-home dads!

    I am also unsure on use of 1 Tim 5:8 as support for husbands being universally the financial breadwinners. I commend the steadfastness of bible translators who maintain gender distinctions, but this case is unfortunate because there is no gender specified in this verse; all the pronouns and even adjectives are gender-ambiguous (the endings are all of the sort where they would look the same if Paul was referring to a man or a woman). It gets worse because the entire section talking about care of widows, verses 3-16, does not refer once to a man in a church or family, very peculiar in fact. In verse 16, it is the “faithful woman” who is directly instructed to take care of her widows.

    Disclosure: I am just a learning student, and I am inclined to complementarian beliefs, certainly agreeing with gender distinctions for church leadership, but I am more inclined to follow Scripture where it leads. Perhaps this is an area where the CBMW could update the Danvers statement, since the only reference to priority of work that I could find is the concern for “widespread ambivalence regarding…vocational homemaking” in Rationale #4, and at best only veiled statements in the “affirmations.”

  4. Daryl Little September 26, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    One other thought.

    A man is to protect his wife. Does that not include protecting her from the stress of working to support the family and from spending more time than necessary away from her children?

    Yes work is stressful and hard and demanding. So all the more reason the man should be stepping into that role so his wife won’t have to.

  5. Reg Schofield September 26, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    I do not think in a general sense a Dad that stays at home is right . However with the new economic reality , a Dad my find himself at times at home for a season . But he must still be busy in some capacity . At the same time , I have seen men that neglect their God ordained role as head of the household to lead because their work and “hobbies” occupy their lives so much that they are not home , leaving the wife almost abounded . If a stay at home Dad is a fail , which if its a willful choose it is , then a Dad that is not there is as well . One cannot run his household well if one is not present .

    On another note , even if a man because of health issues or for some other legitimate reason finds himself in a long season out of work and at home , he should not mope and become a couch potato. Doing chores or duties around a house do not have any gender specific designations as far as I know . So be busy and lead . Good discussion in these changing times .

  6. Darius T September 26, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    Daryl, so you think there is no stress in the life of the Proverbs 31 woman?

    • Daryl Little September 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

      Nope,stress is a part of life.

      But the reasons the guy gave for wanting to stay at home revolved around all those stresses that are part of providing for one’s family.
      He listed nothing that could be considered unique or extenuating circumstances.

      He was tired of retail hours and the demands of his boss, and is grateful for more quiet times and time with the kids. Who wouldn’t be, and when is it permissible for a man to hide behind his wife in order to avoid the stress of a less than perfect job?

      It’s not about stress per se, its about transferring the stress that is ours due to the curse of the fall, and downloading that onto your wife.

  7. Darius T September 26, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Furthermore, I know many women who think staying home with kids is WAY WAY WAY more stressful than going to work every day.

  8. Chris Alan September 26, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    Driscoll says, “If you cannot provide for your family, you’re not a man.” (at 1:24)

    My concern here is that we are making the provider-role a duty despite economic realities so that the test of manhood depends on a husband’s economic success, where success is financially enabling his wife to be a full-time mother and homemaker.

    Further, although Driscoll doesn’t intend to be legalistic, he rejects stay-at-home fatherhood as an option unless there are “extreme extenuating circumstances.” So, how does he avoid legalism as the practical result of what he is teaching?

    I wouldn’t put stay-at-home fatherhood on par with full-time motherhood, but I don’t think we should gloss over the economic realities. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but Strachan seems to set viewing our families as “gardens of spirituality and gospel driven lives” over and against living with economic realities (at 27:36). Shouldn’t we accept both rather than try to create this disjunction?

    In Christ,

    Chris

  9. Jeff September 26, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Having a PhD professor of theology debate a stay-at-home dad and ex-manager of a retail store on the issue of biblical gender roles is sort of like bringing a gun to a knife fight. No?

    • Stephen Beck September 26, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

      Especially when the host of the show agrees with the professor and sometimes (at least with the callers) engages in the debate herself. To be fair, though, she did say that the first stay-at-home dad they called declined the invite. Also, Matt runs a blog dedicated to the topic and seems well-spoken and at least for his own situation, he has thought it out very well.

  10. Don Johnson September 26, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    Driscoll’s teaching at the start is EASILY able to be repudiated by a first year Greek student. This is YET AGAIN evidence that Driscoll should not be seen as a good interpreter of Scripture, as he fails in very basic things.

    The “debate” was a very restricted one, both people are complementarian, one is just slightly less legalistic than the other.

    I think Owen is making some major misinterpretations of the verses he quoted, I offered on his website to discuss them with him.

    My answer to the question is very simple, a couple can decide for themselves how they wish to accomplish the tasks needed to be a successful household. This also responds to Rainey’s “fears” that the wife may accept something in her 20’s and 30’s but regret it later. This is always possible for ANY decision, but if both are equal partners, then they made it together and can alter it together. That is, the regrets can work in any direction and the best was to address this potential is to make the decision together and allow for updating later.

    • Akash Charles February 11, 2013 at 4:11 am #

      it is quite common for egalitarians especially to bash Pastor Driscoll all the time-but he is one of the fear churches that attracts young men and thus attracts young women, mean while majority of the rest of the christian world struggles to attract young men-and I would blame it on churches basically becoming women’s studies classrooms- and being so anti-male/all men are oppressors ……

      sorry but feminism does the exact opposite of what God commands and is not even biblical

      and what I really fear is that more and more young people are turning to Mormonism- more rigid and more anti-feminist than most evangelicals-why-cause for them a man has to be trained to be responsible and is not a man if he does not provide for his family-providing attracts men-it makes them matter

  11. Bobby Marchiani September 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    Hi Daryl,

    Which is harder work- working outside the home or working inside the home with children? My vote- staying at home with children.

    • Daryl Little September 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Again…that’s not the point. The point is that he’s deliberately trying to avoid the specific stress that accompanies the curse on Adam in the garden, and the responsibility give be Scripture.
      Were we to take on (fully) the stress and pain given to women in the garden, then that might be a different thing.

      But he can’t, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that he wouldn’t if he could.

      • Don Johnson September 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

        I think you are (badly) misunderstanding what is actually found in Gen 3. The Hebrew word itsebon (sorrowful toil, H6093) applies to both the woman and the man, you can see this for yourself in any interlinear Bible. Many translations mask this fact, however, so you might have an excuse for this misreading before this, but not anymore..

  12. Suzanne McCarthy September 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    “Driscoll’s teaching at the start is EASILY able to be repudiated by a first year Greek student. This is YET AGAIN evidence that Driscoll should not be seen as a good interpreter of Scripture, as he fails in very basic things.”

    This is highly problematic. I have noticed that Dennis Rainey and Russell Moore also interpret 1 Tim. 5:8 as male oriented. It has little to do with competency in Greek. So the question really is why do so many theologians not want to use the actual meaning of this verse? I would love to know the answer to this.

    To base it all on Gen. 3 is very odd, since the line following the one about the “sweat of the brow” is to “return to the dust” and women surely die as well as men. Women are never exempt from feeding their children or from dying. or even from sweating. These are just facts of life. Yes, of course, I think men have a responsibility to provide, but this does not negate the mother’s equal responsibility, which was born out in ancient Israel by growing crops, herding animals, grinding grain, spinning and weaving, etc.

    In Proverbs 31 the woman was the main provider. To tell the truth, I would like there to be a Bible verse which says that the man is the provider, but I just haven’t found it yet. And that’s okay for all us single folk.

    But, if a woman is the main provider – because she is the single parent, or head of her household, like Lydia – does that mean that she is eligible to escape the other restrictions on females?

    • Stephen Beck September 26, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

      I didn’t catch the first time that Driscoll appears to eisegete before he even gets finished reading the text… every major translation, conservative or not, whether more ‘literal’ or more ‘paraphrased’ (and I’m pretty sure Driscoll is an ESV user), opens the verse with an indefinite, gender non-specific pronoun “anyone” (in the rest of the verse, the more literal translations typically use masculine pronouns “his family”, “he denies faith,” etc. but as I said earlier this is one instance where the Greek is actually ambiguous grammatically). What does Driscoll read? Very emphatically: “If any MAN does not…”

      Again, I am really not disagreeing with Owen’s viewpoint, but if you’re going to claim a position is scriptural…

  13. Suzanne McCarthy September 26, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

    Stephen,

    It is hardly fair to blame Driscoll for this. I counted several men who taught that 1 Tim. 5:8 refers to male headship. These men include Russell Moore, Robert Sager, Stuart Scott, John McArthur, Dennis Rainey and Owen Strachan previously. Here is an example of the kind of thing that is written about this verse.

    “Dad must take the lead. But what is involved in properly managing a family? For one thing it means taking the lead in providing physical necessities, such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. Paul used masculine pronouns in referring to these kinds of things when he said, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8, NIV). Mother may work, but the primary responsibility for meeting the family’s needs falls on dad. Indolent fathers who refuse to accept this responsibility need to heed this severe indictment.”

    This is written by Richard Strauss and he has a PhD from DTS, and this paragraph is from the Bible.org website. This ought to be a reliable resource. In fact, on all websites that preach the restriction of women, one can find this kind of exegesis.

    • Don Johnson September 27, 2012 at 9:59 am #

      Any first year Greek student can see that the words in 1 Tim 5:8 are not gender specific, therefore it takes a large amount of presumption to find gender specific words there. So the titles and degrees of the men are no indication of fidelity to what the Greek says. In other words, Driscoll is totally wrong in teaching this verse in the way he does and so are some others. By his own criterion, he should submit to church discipline for bad teaching.

      Some should take the lenses that distort verses off.

  14. Chris Alan September 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    Does it have to be gender-specific? Since wives are supposed to be mothers and homemakers (Titus 2), and providing for family is supposed to be a priority for anyone, it seems to follow that husbands are supposed to provide in such a way that their wives can be good mothers and homemakers. Typically, this would mean providing financially. That is, everyone should prioritize their family (1 Timothy 5:8), but husbands do it in a way that helps their wives be moms and homemakers. Just apply the general principle here.

    • Don Johnson September 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

      Titus 2 gives Paul’s wisdom on how believers should try to conform with 1st century cultural norms in order to better spread the gospel. Applying these verses in the 21st century is not necessarily a direct application, as cultural norms change.

    • Suzanne McCarthy September 27, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

      Then why do a rather longish list of men claim that it is gender specific? Part of the problem is that integrity is lost. Some people make claims about scripture that is not true, and I think that matters.

  15. Tom Sellier September 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    Until these religious right fanatics who say they love God but deny it by their actions start supporting a living wage for a man so he CAN support his wife and children then they should just shut up and sit down.

  16. Chris Alan September 27, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    I think they do love God and aren’t fanatics, but I don’t know that you’ll get much sympathy from them on this. As I understand their position (outside of the “extreme extenuating circumstances”), one’s decision to be a SAHD is either framed as choosing affluence over biblical gender roles or becoming a SAHD because of economic immaturity. In either case you’re a man-fail. How can you win against that?

  17. B C September 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    There is freedom in Christ. Do not be shackled by “man made religion” and that means man made rules. Men and women are free to provide for their families how they choose, it is between a man and his wife and they are FREE! to make their family work however they want. All this bashing of SAHDs reflects what’s in your hearts, and that is an affection for “laws” rather than Grace. Shame on you all, and long live moms and dads who understand the Freedom Christ allows his followers, and the fact that their testimony is not chained by fabricated “roles.” Eww…fundies are showing they do not understand scripture. May your eyes be opened and your shackles be released.

  18. David Palmer September 27, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    I wouldn’t make too much of the change in cultural norms. The human heart with its predilection to sinfulness hasn’t changed too much since Adam and Eve and it is this sinfulness involving rebellion against God and good and godly ways of living that the Scriptures address.

    We can argue over specific texts, but taking the broad picture, the Bible clearly differentiates between male and female roles, whether we are talking about Gen 3:15, Eph 5:22f or various texts in 1 Timothy.

    Not only so, but we should not forget that God has given us two books to read: the Bible and nature. Clearly male/female, in general, have different attributes: physical, interests, emotional, ways of relating to others and so on, often with overlap but nevertheless discernible differences – wonderful differences really.

    These discussions need a little more nuance to account for practicalities such as the husband cannot find paying work but the wife can. Arguably, the wife should be free to look for work whether of a voluntary nature or paid to use her God given talents once the children are well established on the way to adulthood, even on a part time basis when the children are young.

    However, I think Matt Peregoy is wrong to justify his position when clearly work was/is available to him. Also I wonder: are he and his wife stopping at one child and why? (I didn’t listen through to the end of the tape and perhaps this was covered).

    One of our arguments against same sex marriage, as a general rule thou’ not always met, is that children need both a mother and a father who model equality, complementarity but also the distinction in practical matters that is gender based.

    • Don Johnson September 27, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

      There are differences between males and females and these differences can affect other things, but “roles” in order to meet the definition of “roles” can be changed when circumstances change, so the term is being seriously misused by gender restrictionists.

      Eph 5:22ff is certainly not about roles, a husband is charged by Paul to love his wife, does this mean that a wife is not to love her husband? It is crazy to think so. And so for the other qualities mentioned. A wife is to respect her husband, does this mean a husband does not need to respect her husband? It is crazy to think so. But Paul is giving an emphasis warning against certain temptations in 1st century culture to the members of a 1st century household. As there is no verb (submits) in Eph 5:22 it inherits it from Eph 5:21 so the meaning MUST be identical where is an attribute of all believers.

      • David Palmer September 30, 2012 at 7:57 am #

        Yes, I take your point re Eph 5:22f in regard to roles and yet what is written to the husband differs to what is written to wives and to say, “hey, what applies to husbands applies to wives and vice versa”, while arguable is nevertheless not what is written. Furthermore I think arguing that the 1st century cultural setting is different to that of today and by implication means we must adjust our reading of the text is really shaky ground. Who says people relate differently to one another today to what they did then? Has human nature changed? I don’t think so.

        Regarding the verb hupotasso, whilst not in v22 it is clearly in v24 – “as the church submits to Christ, so also wives to their husbands in all things”. Now we may wish to argue over such a text but at least allow it to stand!

        • Don Johnson September 30, 2012 at 8:55 am #

          I agree that it is the inspired text that is authoritative.

          We can figurre out it is discussing how to apply the Kingdom principle of mutual submission because the pericope goes to 6:9 and slaves are included in the 1st century household codes, which do not legally exist in the West in the 21st century. The pericope starts at Eph 5:15, so one needs to read Eph 5:15-6:9 as a complete teaching unit that was addressed to 1st century believers (at Ephesus and perhaps other places in Asia, there is no city in the heading in the earliest manuscripts).

          It is written elsewhere in Scripture that a believer is to love others (Eph 5:2 and elsewhere), for a wife, this includes her husband. All believers are to act like God (Eph 5:1) so a husband laying down his life is an example of how Christ acted, but that does not mean a wife is not to do this also. Trying to read Eph 5:22-33 as specific commands to different wives and husbands simplly does not work; what Paul is doing is giving specific emphases to different groups, but that does not mean the emphases do not generally apply to believers.

          • David Palmer October 3, 2012 at 6:52 am #

            I guess we won’t resolve this for now Don, but at least we can and have been civil about it.

  19. Al Watts September 27, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    If being an at- home dad is going against God, isn’t a woman working wrong too? Until 50 years it was believed women could not handle the tough working world or be paid enough to support a family. This has been proven wrong. Why then is it so unimaginable that a man could NOT work and still be a provider, in the nurturing sense, to his family?

    Bottom line you cannot disparage the at-home dad without also believing it is wrong for women to work.

  20. Suzanne McCarthy September 27, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    The facts remain that women provided for Christ and his disciples, women protected and provided for Paul, Jerome, Rufinus (Origin’s translator, through whom we have access to Origin) and Chrysostom. Without Christ, Paul, Jerome, etc. there would not be much of a church. Let’s erase from Christian history every man who had a woman provide for him, and only teach what is left.

    • Akash Charles October 9, 2012 at 12:09 am #

      Really? if those women were not there I am sure the ministry would have continued,God does not depend on women.

      No one said women cannot work/provide but the bible does state they have to be homeward oriented.

      And the proverbs 31 women was not the main provider

      As for genesis 3 explain to me why GOD speaks to the “Man” after speaking to eve rather than both of them.

      If you do not want to be homeward oriented, do so, we live in a free country, it is however rebellion against what God has asked of men and women.

      The real reason for this is egals do not like the idea of men providing and a women being financially dependent on a man (Marriages are not trust based for them-more interested in personal security) and its all about women seeking to do what they want and controlling men, especially when they promote ideas that the stay at home dad is good and the working dad is bad.

      As stating stay at home dads is wrong equals to working women is wrong-I do not understand your point.No Godly man in the bible was a stay at home dad whereas godly women were continually stated to be homeward oriented.

      As for different cultures,If Israel was a matriarchy and America becomes a matriarchy which it is because of these ideas (Any man that says a woman is wrong is painted as evil) men should then not be leaders?? or speak?? after all would this not be trying to spread the gospel by conforming to culture?

      Conforming to culture is rubbish the whole idea of christianity is that we change/influence culture. btw feminists existed in those days as well they used to hunt for pigs without covering their bodies, so to say Paul/Timothy were trying to adapt to culture is inaccurate reading of the bible.

      As for mark driscoll, her happens to be getting young men to love Jesus and PROVIDE for their families,whats wrong with that?

      And if we are using culture why did Paul instruct to support widows and not widowers?it is clear he was talking to men and widowers could provide for themselves.

      Does this mean women are incapable? far from it.

      India’s first woman to be educated,Pandita Ramabai who translated the bible from Hebrew and Greek to the local language,she was independent in India and was alone without parents/siblings/husband for most of their life.She even spoke to the American Congress in the late 1800’s on women’s issues back when American women could not even vote!.

      She was devoted to God and not culture,she was a complementarian as that is what she read from Hebrew and Greek.

      The bible and history if full of examples of women doing amazing things for God, to try and portray that any women who does something for God has to believe that the bible is egalitarian and that rules change with culture is recent.

      Also in our generation boys are not geared to study and provide for their families,they then become stay at home dad and try and legitimize it by manipulating it, much like a person who has taken part in homosexuality and not tries to use God’s word to legitimise it.

      Unfortunately if anyone tries to encourage boys to study egals yell sexist, so the system continues.

      As for stay at home dads having more respect for women, this is only true if respect is defined by the world and not the bible where there is a command to protect ones wife.

      Criticizing men for believing they should provide for their wives and take responsibility is sinful.

      • Suzanne McCarthy October 9, 2012 at 12:54 am #

        Criticizing women for believing they should provide for their children, and if necessary, husbands, siblings and parents, is also sinful. Fortunately, I know women who do all of this. Are you calling them sinful?

        I do not say that men should not provide, I simply ask that women not be shut out of the normal activities of adults, and that means providing. I want women to be allowed and recognized for fulfilling the mandate of 1 Tim. 5:8.

      • Don Johnson October 9, 2012 at 9:26 am #

        What egals are really for is that spouses get to decide for themselves how best to organize doing the tasks that make the family successful and not trying to fit into any supposed roles that really do not exist in the Bible. Many egal marriages look very traditional, some do not and that is OK as long as both spouses made the decision mutually as joint partners.

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