Eugene Cho

stay-at-home dads are safe from hell…i think

Update: Folks, please keep your comments respectful or they will be deleted.  This post is not intended to bash MD or MH and not an invitation to such.

I’ve gotten my share of emails the past couple weeks asking for my thoughts about Stay-at-Home Dads – primarily because of some recent teaching from Pastor Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church in Seattle.  I didn’t listen to the entire sermon but did manage to catch a glimpse of the video re: that specific section indicating the stay at home dads would be subject to church discipline. 

I have immense respect for Mark and Grace.  Minhee and I are still feel very grateful that when we were checking out MH about 8 years ago during our transition between churches, they showed much care to our family.  Grace actually prepared food for Minhee and the family for several meals after the birth of our 2nd child.  It wasn’t Korean food but hey, no one’s perfect. We weren’t living in any form of community at that time and so, this was incredibly meaningful to us.  On a side note, Minhee hates it when I write about other pastors.  I’m sorry, honey.  I’m not dissing other pastors but trying to address the issues…

So, while I have a healthy level of respect for Mark and Mars Hill, I also disagree with some of his and MH’s positions on certain issues.  What is going on at MH is phenomenal and as a fellow laborer in the gospel, I rejoice in the fruits of their labor – even if we’re just across the Ballard Bridge. 

So, you ask why then do I address some of the MD issues here?  Because his voice is so dominant, I simply want to add another voice to the conversation for people’s consideration.  For example, I just don’t think we all have to be infatuated with Ultimate Fighting Jesus male theology.

So, back to the issue at hand regarding Stay-at-Home Dads.  Some random thoughts:

1.  I’m an egalitarian which is the heart of why I disagree with complementarians such as MD.  While clearly acknowledging that men and women are different, we are created equally in the image of God.  Our relationship – in my reading through Genesis 2 – is that we are created for mutuality, partnership, and submission.  Together.  As they become one.  Together. 

2.  We have to acknowledge that fathers CAN’T be mothers.  We can’t replace mothers. And vice versa.  So, while parents choose roles and such, you can’t confuse the two.  The ideal is very clear: children need both mothers and fathers.  Having said that, this doesn’t mean that God is against Stay-At-Home Dads. 

3.  What do the Scriptures say?

Titus 2:3-5 | a reference for wives to be “busy at home.”  Okay.  Next.

Proverbs 31| I hope cynicism doesn’t cause some Christian feminists to shy away from this chapter.  Good and compelling stuff.  It’s a portrait of a wife and mother but I don’t read anything here that says that women MUST stay home.  Heck, in this portrait…they do everything.  It’s like the perfect vision of Sarah Palin – minus the moose hunting and bad interviews.

1 Timothy 5:8 | This is the verse most often used to support this stance against stay at home dudes.

Here’s the TNIV version which I really believe people should read more often.  It doesn’t go overboard on the gender neutralization of Scripture but brings some clarity on verses that addresses both men and women – as it was intended [in my reading].

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Here’s the ESV version:

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

The verse isn’t just directed to men.  It doesn’t even bring up men or women…It’s directed to “anyone” in the original Greek.  And I absolutely agree that men and women should be committed to providing and supporting their larger family and especially, their immediate family.  Absolutely.

4.  But, can we get off the obsession that “providing” only = money?  Finances is one aspect but let’s not equate provision solely to money.  Men need to be present in their families that go beyond their paycheck.  The church can be in bed with unbridled capitalism and it’s borderline idolatrous.  I thought MD was spot on in saying that providing for your family doesn’t mean a big home, fancy car, your zip code, etc.

5.  So, I’m asking: 

“Where is it written in the Bible that women must stay home and men can’t be stay at home dads?”

6.  While I diagree, I have absolutely no problem with MD and MH’s stance on the issue because it’s their church and their churchgoers can choose to submit or not submit.  I’m suprised that people are suprised.  I would have been surprised had he not said that.  If anything, MH is being consistent. 

I think what’s problematic is that by saying this is reason for discipline, they are basically saying that it is or close to a “closed handed issue.”  No ifs, ands, and buts.  And that is intense.

7.  My view: Freedom in Christ.  If a husband and wife – in mutual partnership – talk, fast, pray, seek counsel, read the Scriptures, discuss, fast, and pray and then they come to a decision for the father to stay home, I have absolutely no idea why that would be cause for church discipline.

Is this an ideal situation? Not for me.  But that’s for Minhee and Eugene. 

Now, let’s be straight here.  If a dude is lazy and unwilling to work and care for his wife and children, that’s a completely different story.  That is clearly grounds for rebuke.  I would personally kick your arse – pastorally.   Absolutely.  If you’re a lazy dude that doesn’t want to care or provide for your children or wife:  You’re a jerk.  Repent.  Jesus loves you…even if John Hagee thinks you’re hellbound.

But I would say the exact same thing for women.  If you’re lazy and unwilling to care or provide for your children or husband:  You’re a jerkette. Repent.  Jesus loves you…even if [sorry, no video for you.]

8.  And some ultra-conservative churches that say that wives can’t make more money than their husbands?  Huh?  Let me be real here:  If Minhee [who just went back to grad school] made more money than me in the future, I’m turning pentecostal and getting my praise on.

In an upcoming post in the next month after I finish the posts on Faith and Money and some other stuff:  Mothers: Work or Stay home?

Filed under: religion,

66 Responses

  1. Michael W says:

    Great post.
    I am so torn, because I attended MH when I lived in Seattle (last year) in the evening, and Quest often times in the mornings.

    What was interesting, that I would point out, is that this was a Q&A session. It is clear is misquoted scripture, even the ESV, which Mark is a huge proponent of, says “If anyone…”. I think I would be much more concerned if this were part of his actual sermon though, and not his Q&A. Now this doesn’t excuse it, because it was still onstage, and now online.

    Also, I went to my MH Community group the week after that sermon, and talked to several MH members about it. Now the guys at my community group are the biggest Driscoll fans out there, the leader is on his way to becoming a Deacon. Anyways, we talked about the issue, and even they thought Mark was speaking in black and white, when he shouldn’t have. We all agreed that Mark would PROBABLY be lenient depending on circumstances (if your wife was a movie star, if your wife traveled all the time, if you are a pastor who happens to work from home, sickness…etc). I really think Mark was getting at the lazy guys who sit around all day and drink gross beer, considering that’s what much of his sermon was dealing with as well.

    To be honest, I am loving his series on Song of Songs, even when I find myself disagreeing on gender roles (I don’t really know yet if I am an egalitarian or whatever, im 21, i don’t really care right now, i just got out of an atheist phase so believing in God is enough to boggle my mind right now).

    I think I most appreciate what also I hate about Driscoll, his willingness to talk about whatever onstage. He isn’t afraid of talking about the light reference to oral sex. Granted, he knows him doing that is only getting him in more blogs, and more people in the doors.

    Anyways, Eugene, I really respect you and how you are able to respect and love Mark, while disagreeing with him….and being just across the bridge (which isn’t fun to ride your bike on).

  2. […] by Don Bryant on October 23, 2008 Eugene Cho has posted in response to anotherone of Mark Driscoll’s riffs, this time on the sin of being a […]

  3. Jim Chen says:

    Hello everyone,

    I’m new here. I’m from Guam, USA; soon to move to Seattle. I’d like to contribute after reading about the Ultimate Fighting Jesus.

    Being 5’10”, 270lbs, I can really kick some. But I’ve learned that being me isn’t always great. Children cry when I smile at them. Pets always bark and hiss. People are cautious if not afraid of saying hello. If they do say hello, it’s not two minutes into the conversation when they regret having said hello, haha. It’s not a good feeling. Also people don’t think you’re too bright when you’re big.

    But the LORD has shown me that I am who I am. He showed me that the largest creatures on this earth are also the most gentle and self-controlled. In other words, they’re “meek”‘; under GOD’s control.

    I’ve worked with youth in the Church and had a chance to lead. My observation is that my size and stature commands some level of respect. But that is not enough. It was only after I’d invested in the lives of my youth, that they really responded and actually would follow. It is the love, caring, mutual respect, sound grasp of the Scriptures…these sorts of things that moves people.

    People are who they are. GOD loves variety and we and Hollywood cannot mold people. It is GOD who makes us who we are. So my “gift” (curse, haha) is my size. Yours might be relational. Or you might be musically gifted. It’s all good. I try to appreciate people for who they are, who GOD made them to be. We all display a piece of GOD, the master. That’s why we are masterpieces. Together we reflect Him, not just Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    Well, just my opinion. Thanks for reading if you did. God bless!

  4. Kari Byrd says:

    I totally agree with you, Pastor Cho. In fact, I think when we make it a mandate that the woman should stay home and raise the kids and the man should earn the living, we’re subtly communicating that men are not as good as women at raising kids and therefore should take a bit of a back seat in that area. And I don’t think that’s the healthiest attitude to have when it comes to our families.

  5. Joe Louthan says:

    I keep getting the feeling that I am the only person who understood the Driscoll’s point of view.

    It is not an obvious decision on who would be the breadwinner of the family just because somebody would bring in that much more money. Okay, so the dad might make less than the mom if either one of them were to work. Are you needing more money because you are struggling debt, living above your means or strife for fulfillment in achieving a certain standard of living. Carefully evaluate your needs.

    So if you are a SAHD that is at home because wife working keeps the family out of proverty, you cannot afford daycare if both worked (be surprised that a dual income rarely really brings in more money), you have injuries, sick and that prevents you from working, then the Driscolls’ message doesn’t apply to you.

    But if you are some db who feels a sense of entitlement of not working, lazy, pompous, jackass or you have this idea that you, as a guy, are better suited to the mom role then church discipline is certainly called for.

  6. Jennifer says:

    I saw this video a week or so ago. I’m waaay past the point with Mark of saying, “I cant believe he’s such a jerk to women…”

    When I watched him this time, I was shocked that his exegesis was SOO bad.

    I expect discriminatory things about women to come out of his mouth – but I didnt expect him to so obviously mistreat the Bible to get there. At least he used to be more subtle about that…

  7. Tara says:

    Eugene, I loved this post. I gotta tell you that I give you major props for your ability to esteem MD and MH and still disagree. You are a great example to us on how to do this without devaluing and calling names.
    I also read both posts. The ultimate fighting Jesus and this one. I am a Egalitarian although for years I just thought myself rebellious. I am not buying that either or approach to Christ. Fighter/Wimp. I believe that you are right that WE have reduced Christ to something within our mental grasp. We have reduced Him to our image.
    I love your view and your sense of humor. Love your balance and approach.

  8. Dustin says:

    I am currently in the training process to become a deacon at Mars Hill and have been a member for many years. Eugene, I always appreciate your take on things and your kindness is a breath of fresh air.

  9. Jordyne says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS POST. I am constantly amazed by some of the sexists and hateful things that come out of Driscolls mouth. As a christian who is passionate about reevaluating gender roles and fighting for equality, this post is refreshing. The church I have been attending, believes the same things as Driscoll and it is beyond frustrating. I have even stopped going because of the implications of these beliefs upon the soul and women and men. As a female, they make me feel inadequate- I have even found myself at times wishing I was male simply because of the implications of those kinds of interpretation.

  10. Tyler says:

    Well said Eugene. While we disagree on egalitarian/complementarian stuff…I think we agree here. I believe the heart behind what Mark was trying to get across but as the case now and then with him, it came off far stronger than it needed to.

  11. Tyler says:

    *I believe that heart of what Mark was trying to get across WAS GOOD but as is the case now and then with him, it came off stronger than it needed to.*

  12. Jennifer says:

    Tyler,

    I beleive you that his intention was good…but his exegesis and tone were horid.

    Sounds like Mark needs someone to bring church discipline to him😉

  13. Sarah H says:

    I don’t think I’m a woman made to stay at home full time with my kids. I may not want to work full-time while my kids are little, but I would like to work some. Ideally, I would like to share the childcare role with my husband. Right now we do it and our son thrives so much having both of us around. We wouldn’t fit in at a place like MH because we have talked about my husband maybe staying home. We also wouldn’t fit in because I’m becoming a pastor.

    One thing that I’ve been thinking about since watching those videos. Are men lazy if they stay at home? If they are, then aren’t women lazy if they stay at home? Being a stay at home parent is non-stop work. It is exhausting! So I commend stay-at-home dads because they not only work super hard, but they are often isolated because there aren’t a lot of them out there. Maybe we need a POPS group so they can get together.

  14. Matt K says:

    I think a big problem here with this exegesis and theologizing is that its not taking any account of cultural-historical context. In the ancient near east (the culture of the Bible) most people lived in an agrarian society/economy. Very few men at all “Worked” outside of the home, because you lived where you farmed. Yes, in the days of the Bible there was some distinction between men’s and women’s work-roles, from a bird’s eye view both had responsibility for household work and agricultural work which both contributed to their livelihood. Apply some literal readings of scripture to today’s post-industrial/technocratic economy and you’re going places the text never envisioned. It takes a little more interpretive work to try and understand how God wants us to work and maintain a household in our contemporary culture–and I think the stakes of vocation and power between women and men and the health of the family is too high to over simplify the way that MD is attempting to do.

  15. First of all Eugene- you showed restraint and grace in this post. Well done.

    I am really dissapointed by what I heard on that video from Marc and his wife, which echoes what I used to hear when I went to MH for a time. Not just having to do with conclusions but also, and maybe moreso his and the church’s tactics.

    Um…yeah I will leave it at that.

  16. peter ong says:

    yes, i have recently been asked the same question from some pilgrims who came across the driscoll clip. i couldn’t agree with you more that this is a matter of the heart and that to limit in terms of the just the letter of the law is surprising to hear coming from mars hills. i suspect that once again, there is a theology that comes from experience and then it is used to have application to something labelled as “biblical.”

    It reminds me of my first encounter with Elsabeth Eliot where she talked about purity and it struck me that it applied well to her because she seemed to have a life experience that framed her theology and not the other way around. Theology affirmed her worldview but not really transform her into a reversal. I think that is what is happening here with Driscoll.

    I think that i take issue that I take to task with this is that it is a privileged middle to upper middle class blind spot that doesn’t recognize the realities of the urban poor. How does this speak to those who represent a large community of the poor (in my experience, the immigrant poor is my experience) that have to networks of families to raise children (which i think is more of a biblical vision than this idea of a nuclear isolated family unit). It is too easy to say “statistics” and “bible” tell us to be true. But the underlying thrust is equity and stewardship. Not the simple structure of a family to be a mother is to stay at home.

    i think of when the young Jesus being “left behind” to only be found at the temple a few days later…were Mary and Joseph negligent parents? If they were to do that now, they would be held accountable by family services…no, they were part of a larger community that assumed that there were communal care.

    So although I love Driscoll, I have to disagree and also caution against his line of thinking and agree with you that it is an issue of being actively providing for their family.

    Thanks Eugene for posting this. The image of the man breastfeeding is alarming and really resonates with me now as I am in this new season of being a dad.

    Hope all is well with you and I hope we can connect again!

  17. JC says:

    I once was a stay home Dad for my older son, at one point in our life (like for 6 months), and believe me there is nothing about lazyness about it. As a matter of fact I found it to be more work and harder than just going to an office…

  18. benjamin says:

    Great way to open up the discussion and bring in other voices. Awesome stuff!

    I find it amazing that in a supposedly “none” city like Seattle (as in, when people are asked to check their religious affiliation here they’re more likely than not to check “None”), Christians are pretty good at trashing other Christians/churches/pastors. Vigorous, even impassioned debate is one thing, taking sides and potshots is quite another. I mean, can we really critique the way polarizing rhetoric dominates American politics when we engage in something similar from the pulpit and pew?

    This is why I’m so glad that you framed this post the way you did. Instead of adding fuel to the fire, you bring forward a balanced and fair argument. Kudos!

  19. amy powell says:

    I’m thankful that you had the courage to address this video and the issues. It’s so disturbing when we won’t speak up for what’s right!
    I have a question for you about the Covenant Church. Is it true that they support the ordination of women for all levels of leadership? And if so, are all the churches ‘on board’ with this? I would appreciate reading the national position for the Covenant Church. Thank you!

  20. mary says:

    Thank you Eugene for the insightful and, I believe, respectful post.

    I appreciate Sarah H’s comments. To preface my own comments: I am married, but currently have no children yet. I am a physician and my husband is also a professional (an engineer and a teacher). I have issue with those who say a stay-at-home-dad equals laziness and promote that stereotype. That may sometimes be the case, but certainly is not always true. My husband and I are still working through exactly what will happen when we have children. I personally have always felt that if I felt the need to, even after so many years of training and investment in my career, I would stay at home with my children if my husband and I decided that would be best. But I also know that my husband is a driven, intelligent, creative person, who also happens to have a gift with children and, in many ways, for “keeping house” (or at least keeping it clean!) He will make an amazing dad, stay-at-home or otherwise. Just as any stay-at-home-mom, he would be providing for our family in a sacrificial and vital way. I pray that whichever of us stays at home or works outside the home (or some of each) that we would be respected for our commitment and role.

  21. markvans says:

    Wow. This position is profoundly untenable. My wife was raise by a stay-at-home-dad and a go-to-work mother. He provided so much for his family in ways other than finances, and I don’t believe that my wife suffered for it in the least. I feel so angry and sad at the same time.

  22. chad says:

    PE, thanks for speaking to this. I don’t see this as a “check” on MH per se, but I am glad that there are other voices out there.

  23. chad m says:

    i ran across this video over the weekend and have to say i was appalled…why? honestly, the manliest man i know [ex-Marine, backpacking, mountain climbing, bow hunting maniac] is a SAHD. is this a matter of church discipline? should i call him out? isn’t that what Driscoll said? it’s a cse of church discipline?

    as a dad, i actually find it offensive when people talk about women being better suited to parent and care for kids. i happen to think i’m a pretty good dad and i really love my daughter! if i had to stay home for some reason, my kid would be just fine. in fact, on Mondays i stay at home and sin…

    on another note, props to Driscoll for letting his wife “teach” in church!!!

  24. Joel Brady says:

    I agree with Mark van. I think most of us could relate a story or two of how MD position on SAHD profoundly misses the point. No it was not intended for good. Much of what he states is divisive and from my understanding of scripture, MD misses the point. What makes this so insanely frustrating is the fact that it clearly demeans a woman’s work at home. So, if a woman stays at home with her children she’s working her ass off, but a man is simply lazy? The question is that simple; and do to suggest otherwise is overtly sexist.

    So, as Julie said, respect! really? MD’s position IS profoundly untenable and to those who support him, it’s not about bucking current cultural trends, it’s about choosing to look at people as individuals in Christ, not as individuals segregated by their sex in Christ — and that is exactly what MD does.

  25. Tom says:

    I’m not sure why any of us wonder about the deeply conservative things evangelical pastors say in their more unguarded moments.

    Institutional religion is fundamentally and deeply conservative. American evangelicals are no different in my experience. No matter if more progressive people who have to make daily choices to remain evangelical think differently. Even starting a church in your living room in Seattle among college educated post moderns doesn’t get you a pass :^)

    True post moderns probably like being in the ironic and potentially creative and life giving middle.

    Speaking as a relatively old guy who chose that same tension a long time ago, and speaking as a progressive, so what if this guy thinks bronze age gender roles are the will of God? God bless him, but let’s speak up and play our role in challenging that kind of take.

  26. Sue says:

    Some of the stuff that Driscoll says is simply irresponsible. How many chances does a person get before he is reprimanded by the elders at MH? Or does that even happen to him?

    How you can respect him Eugene is beyond me. Honestly, I’ve lost some respect for you.

  27. gaius says:

    I agree that the definition of provision can oftentimes overly emphasize the financial aspect. Good fathers and mothers as role models are obviously needed for overall healthy children. This raises the issue of what family model is most appropriate. There is likely a range of models that will have different and appropriate effects. Will a child who grows up in a family where the father stays at home and acts as a “Mr. Mom” experience more deleterious effects than one whose parents are working all the time? What about possible deleterious effects in Driscoll’s model where the mother stays at home? In short, Driscoll’s teaching is a bit too generalized and doesn’t account for other real-world variables. I think a more helpful “sermon” would address the realities of a modern economy where two parents often have to work just to stay afloat or single family homes where a parent staying home is not an option.

    I also am guessing that Driscoll’s thinking is a subtle (or maybe not so subtle) jab at the issue of gender roles.

  28. Jordyne says:

    to Sue,
    I cannot stand Driscoll, but how could you think poorly of someone who disagrees with someone and is still able to be respectful about it? God calls us to love our enemies. Somehow I think that being respectful might be in line with love. I SO WISH I could strongly disagree with someone and still have the upmost respect for them. That is a quality to admire, not to hate!

  29. […] here is Cho’s defense of stay at home dads (like me).  I really like Cho…especially now that he has kept me from […]

  30. eugenecho says:

    @sue: thanks for your regular contribution to the comments on the blog.

    i’m bummed that you’re disappointed but you’re not the first. i have received criticism in the past and this week that i can’t have it both ways. and that’s what i find most disappointing even with MD critics. that you have to love him or hate him. i prefer to take the position of discerning respect. there are things i strongly disagree but knowing him at a different level [even slight] that most internet folks do, i also have that respect for the work he is doing. he and i are the same age. we’re all still growing and learning. who knows what the future holds for him? i wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes an egalitarian someday…

    but i’m not betting any money on it.🙂

  31. Stephen Mook says:

    Eugene,

    I appreciate your willingness to blog about this. It’s a big issue, not men staying at home but how divided the church is when it comes to approaching such issues. Unity is to be sought after and your approach to this discussion highlights this. Thank you,

    Willingness to talk about Dad’s staying at home is one thing but to do so with such extreme strokes as to not take into consideration the variables of a families situation is foolish and honestly scares me. People can differ on issues but it’s our approach to such issues that I believe God cares about.

    The continued problem with churches is the need to have a blueprint for not only how to live but what the bible says about how to live. Does God desire us to post video’s on you tube to give voice to our deeper intentions of getting our agenda’s out on what the bible says about a bigger issue, not of dad’s staying at home, but the role of women in church and home.

    As someone who is approaching seminary I’ve watched the approaches of Bell, Graham and others. It’s not the followings they might have that speak to me (anyone can have a following, Osteen has millions, T.D Jakes has millions, numbers shouldn’t get to us. It’s the approach that they have to all issues and people that encourages me and gives me hope in an often hopeless church world. The issues need to be talked about, dad’s caring in all ways to the family needs to be talked about. Our humble approach and the words that we use and the resistance towards throwing out verses to back up our agenda’s need to be talked about and lived out more then anything.

    The world is watching and I believe it matters deeply to God.

  32. John D says:

    I saw this video a few weeks ago on another site and was pretty angry for a couple of days. Then I prayed and got over it. I’m a stay at home dad myself for two boys and without getting into all the details my wife and i spent lots of time thinking/praying though the decision and together decided it makes the most sense for us.

    I’ve asked God alot in the last few weeks to confirm he is calling me to be home during this part of our lives and I believe he rejoices in my commitment (and my wifes) to our children. We both work very hard to ‘provide’ for our family.

    As for the laziness factor, i’d invite anyone who thinks i’m lazy to come and spend a day with me. It might change your mind.

    I’m glad we as christians can disagree on some things. Women in ministry is a hot topic too and as you said we each need to individually wrestle with how God would call us to honor him.

    Thanks Eugene for your thoughts on this topic.

  33. DC says:

    Eugene,
    I agree but I wonder….in reference to your comment “If a husband and wife – in mutual partnership – talk, fast, pray, seek counsel, read the Scriptures, discuss, fast, and pray and then they come to a decision for the father to stay home….” Does the church encourage couples to do the same in regards to whether the WIFE should stay home? I think that is more than often the assumption but it also deserves guidance from the Spirit. I would hope all couples would put the same intense effort and discernment into the care of their children–not just when it comes to going against gender roles/stereotypes. I wonder if this intense discernment across the board might lead to more stay at home dads?🙂

  34. Darby says:

    RE: your #7
    Would you say that a husband and wife should go through the same steps (pray, fast, etc) to decide if the wife should stay home?

  35. Darby says:

    sorry, I just saw that someone else has already asked the question!

  36. 3mily says:

    here’s my two cents:

    for me the #1 thing is for people to realize that having an at-home parent is a positive, constructive choice. that at-home parent is not “unproductive” or what-not, which is totally the message in secular society at the moment (speaking as a SAHM myself). we have to be careful that attitude doesn’t creep into the Church. our children are a gift from God. staying at home is non-stop work. SAHMs/SAHDs are doing valuable work, and work it certainly is.

    the #2 thing is that it’s not just something that “rich” (we’re all rich, but whatever) people do. it’s amazing how families who are committed to this will make huge sacrifices to see it happen. i know several SAHMs who are tired of being told how “privileged” or “lucky” they are to be able to to it… they’re barely making it, but they’re living their convictions and i totally admire it.

    similar but different note: with the cost of childcare, a number of families would actually “lose” income on having two working-outside-of-home parents. my last job paid $12.50 an hour. try finding decent childcare for that and still making a profit…

    finally– Proverbs 31, I find as a woman is one of the singlemost “empowering” chunks of Scripture you can find with regards to Christian living.

  37. Rebeccat says:

    If I may, I studied the Proverbs 31 woman a while ago and believe that we generally misread this passage. Which is a real problem for many women because it is such an unrealistic standard for any normal woman to live up to. It’s oppressive, really. However, like I said, I think we misread it entirely. What I found was that the proverbs 31 woman is actually a personification of wisdom, not an actual woman. The passage is actually a poem, meant to be memorized by students (male) as a summary of the message of the entire book of proverbs. If you’d like to read the whole explanation, I have the link to my blog post on Proverbs 31 in my name above. I just hate to see the Proverbs 31 woman constantly held up as a model or instruction manual for women – while some women find it empowering, for many of us, it’s like the Christian woman’s version of the Cosmo cover girl – so unattainable that it just makes us feel bad.

  38. Jennifer says:

    Eugene,

    I dont know…I am the same age at him, and have waaaayyy more contact with him than the average internet person…

    I’m just not sure I could use “respect” to define how I feel about him. I think he is greatly talented. And he is smart. But, he had no desire to show respect to me or my family…I dont really feel like I need to go out of my way to express respect to him, not because I’m a disrespectful person, but because that is not even the language he speaks.

  39. paisley3 says:

    Excellent post. My husband’s brother is a stay at home dad…oh wait, it’s not called that, it’s called FARMER.

  40. Sarah P says:

    I have wanted to join in on this conversation, I have LOTS to say about it. Every time I try to sit down and write, I get going and going and….there is NO WAY you would be able to leave my comment up on your blog. You would certainly have to take it down! So I guess I’m still too pissed off to think of the appropriate words to write…..maybe I’ll just wait until you post on “Working Mom’s”…I’m looking forward to reading your thougthts on that….=)

  41. alliehope says:

    @ Rebbecat: The problem with the Proverbs 31 figure is the way she’s been exegeted (ironically, by a lot of women)! She’s consistently held up as this do-it-all-and-look-good-doing-it type, in presented in a subtle way that implies, “You’re not doing enough, good-looking enough, praying enough, serving enough, whatever-enough”. It’s that cringe of guilt-inducing eisegesis (using Scripture for your own nefarious ends) that’s the problem. The Pro31 (as I call her) figure has been made into the spokeswoman for so many agendas it’s ridiculous, and not all of them are called for, nor are they warranted by the text itself.

    If you want a short (1 chapter) look at the Pro31 figure, I highly suggest Janet Davis’ The Feminine Soul, which contains a great chapter on her (NavPress, 2006). That might serve as a good jumping-off point for your own wrestling with this figure and help you find some answers.

    I have come to realize that this issue, like so many of them, isn’t about personal biases of what men or women should or shouldn’t do as categories of people, but about individuals attempting to make God-honoring choices in the midst of incredibly complex circumstances. Ergo, for Driscoll to paint all SAHD’s as “lazy” and in need of church discipline is a huge adventure in missing the point. He seems to be huge issues of parenting and trying to reduce them into absurdly small boxes, ones which (how convieniently!) fit his narrow ideologies. In so doing, he’s succeeded in at least one thing: pissing a whole lot of people off. His failure in holding his untenable position: showing compassion and encouragement for those who have made this choice (both men and women) and are using this (parenting) season in their one and only lives to care for the next generation as best they can.

  42. Joy Cross says:

    wow eugene. great post!
    my father was the financial earner of our home. but he never helped with the dishes unless threatened, cooked unless mom wasn’t home, cleaned, cuddled with my mom, listened to his children, prayed with the family, used patience when raising his children. my father was never there, because he was too busy trying to fulfill some false ideology of providing for his family and my mother excused everything because he put money in the bank account.
    define provide. money/income/job has absolutely nothing to do with it.

  43. mn elise says:

    thanks eugene,

    it was a good opportunity for me as a married, working woman yet without kids to face my defensiveness and humble myself, being willing to submit to what the Bible says, if indeed it is telling me in a black-and-white way what MD was saying.

    it brought up the egalitarian in me, yes, but i had to set that aside and pull deeper to the Christ-follower in me, and tell myself that as i studied the Word and asked the Lord to reveal what he wants for our situation, I would have to follow what my Lord said – even if he told me that i was made to stay at home and my husband was made to work.

    a good humbling exerercise. thanks.

  44. andy says:

    “Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ” that “is no one to live for [and] is no one to die for.” Driscoll explains, “Jesus was not a long-haired … effeminate-looking dude”; rather, he had “callused hands and big biceps.” This is the sort of Christ men are drawn to—what Driscoll calls “Ultimate Fighting Jesus.”

    What do the physical characteristics of Jesus have to do with ANYTHING? Driscoll and MH have emphasized men’s and women’s roles to such an extreme that I can’t take their church seriously anymore. I’m thankful for the good that is done there but continually shocked that Seattle puts up with these archaic views… Keep drinking the grape kool aid Ballard!

    And props to you Eugene for still having respect for Mark. Out of the love I have for my wife and daughter I can’t say that I have any respect for someone like this.

  45. Dawn says:

    Eugene, I respect you and appreciate your blog, voice, and work. That will not change. But there’s one reason why you continue to have a level of respect for Driscoll and one reason only.

    You are a guy. And you simply can’t understand the deep pain and insult some women feel with his cutting and deliberate words.

  46. L T says:

    Thanks for this post and for continuing to be courageous enough to share your thoughtful voice on issues. I think you handled this well without slandering, as you said, “a fellow laborer in the Gospel”.

    What about physically disabled dads? What if your health prevents you from going out? I don’t think we can make broad universal applications. Does a wife caring for her husband by working professionally speak more about the Gospel or less?

    Definitely stuff that I’ve been wrestling through and learning to live in the tension rather play it safe these days. Everyone’s got their blindspots right? I know I’ve got mine. I’m looking forward to your post on the flip side of this.

  47. benjamin says:

    seems like part of this discussion involves a question outside of how people feel about SAHDs. that is, what is the role of respect in Christian (online?) community, and, more specifically, when does a pastor need to go beyond respectfully disagreeing with the pastor of another church?

  48. 3mily says:

    i find it really interesting how a couple of other blog readers responded after my comment about Prov 31.

    I don’t know if it was in response to my posting or Eugene talking about it. i notice that in the responses there’s an assumption that people posting in favour of it don’t understand the context. Yes, obviously, she is the culmination of Proverbs and has a less-than-literal aspect in how to be interpreted. And I have to note that there’s also an embedded assumption that I view it from a more literal standpoint (which I do not state… maybe I just find the illustration of proverbial wisdom empowering).

    But in any case, like so many passages in Scripture it has more than one level (literal or figurative) to be read on. Ultimately Scripture has to be read individually with prayer and guidance from the Spirit. The Lord knows how to guide us in Scripture in accordance with our particular need for growth or encouragement. Someone telling everyone that it needs to be read in “context” can be as dismissive as those same people find preachers who take it in a more literal frame. It’s frankly just as condescending.

    I find it empowering. Sorry if you find that offensive.

    Now that you’ve read this far, I will actually say (as to this point has been assumed) that yes, I do find it empowering from a more literal (as well as less) reading. God has actually used it to HEAL issues within me, not bring them up. I know I’m not the only one. And how you read it does not need to make her an exclusive beacon of domesticity. Part of the beauty of the illustration is that it’s literal depiction of a woman with a lot of power and influence both inside and outside of her home. Are you reacting to the actual writing of the verse, or how you’ve heard it misinterpreted?

    For the record, I’m a Christian woman who is more than happy to view that passage as “cover girl” worth aspiring to. Why don’t you respect my convictions and I’ll respect yours?

  49. Nathan says:

    Just to be clear, I listen to the Pet Shop Boys and think UFC is stupid. On the other hand, I am a basketball junkie and fire up old Metallica albums every once in awhile. None of that stuff makes me any more or less of a man. All the superficial stuff aside, I do subscribe to Driscoll’s basic point that men have a responsibility to provide for the needs of their family. Not only that, if I look around at our society, men are ducking accountability left and right: ducking financial responsibilities, ducking fatherhood, ducking participation in the church. None of this precludes men from staying at home – it all depends on the situation and the values that a family is trying to live out.

    Regarding the discussion on Prov 31, I’m going to weigh in even though I am a guy😉 I agree with Emily – there are both “cover girls” and “cover guys” all throughout the Bible who merit trying to live up to, even though the standards are high.

    Last thing – don’t look to other people for confirmation of your choices or identify – look to Jesus. Don’t assume that others can’t possibly understand just because they are not the same gender or not living the same choices as you. And conversely, just because someone is the same gender as you, that doesn’t mean you automatically understand their choices or their position. As followers of Jesus we should be constantly extending grace as we seek to understand.

  50. Eugene, the way you described it makes perfect sense to me. I have been a part-time worker, most-of-the-time at home with my kids, work at home freelance writer. But I am going back to work because there is literally no other way for us to be financially solvent. I look forward to your post on staying at home or working.

  51. eugenecho says:

    okay. now, i’m starting to feel the pressure. hopefully, next week…i’ll put something together. i’m investing some energy on this thing that happens in this country next tuesday.

  52. Brian says:

    Eugene,

    I find that as you are a pastor of a church, and a community leader, I want to to see certain things from you. I think part of that is unbelievably unfair (I was once a pastor, so this burden is at least somewhat familiar to me). And yet, I have to believe that a leader takes risks.

    It’s obvisouly your choice which risks to take, and you will be second-guessed like a football coach till the cows come home. Given that, I will now second-guess you🙂

    I had hoped you would take more of a stand with this issue, you seem to be creatively riding the fence (politician-style), in an attempt to remain “Christ-like” (a worthy goal). But I believe that injustice (in this case the overall gender inequality that Driscoll continually preaches) often causes us to have strong emotions and it can be truly sad and un-Gospel-like to remain slient, even if the risk of such voicing is the sin that our voice bears with it…(at the heart of the Gospel we find that we then have the difficult and humbling task of repenting…)

    I would have loved to see you repond with more anger and sadness to Driscoll’s words and overall theology of gender (as oppressive to women and men)…if he had been speaking about race or genocide or poverty (in such bottom-line and depreciating ways), would you have had more emotion and obvious push-back? I’d rather a (my) pastor risk sinning while pursuing justice versus “remaining pure” and keeping silent by riding the fence. I want to love and respect Driscoll, but it’s so fricken hard when he implies that I (as a current part-time SAHD as well as a full-time SAHD this past summer) deserve Church discipline for such behavior (regardless of whether or not I attend his Church…he knows his voice carries beyond the walls of his Church). It takes two for reconciliation, I cannot love and respect him (nor him me) abstractly without relationship.

    (and maybe that is where I am being assumptive…because you DO have a relationship with him, and I have no idea what goes on and what gets said in that relationship…and maybe my part in this is to begin a relationship with him so that I have the opportunity for such messy attempts at reconciliation…)

    To name Driscoll’s goodness is a beautiful thing to do, I do believe that there are many men (including myself) who need to up the ante on both our work ethic and pursuit of our families…but let’s call a spade a spade: to tell women that they should raise the children and submit to their domineering husbands, while suggesting that men are not cut-out for being a main care-provider for their children is downright asanine.

    My entire career has been working with children, my wife works in design, and yet we both offer very uniquely male and female (respectively) care for our kids…my wife is very motherly and I am very fatherly, but not because one (or both) of us works or doesn’t work outside the home. My wife will probably always make more money than me, so me “staying-home-to-provide” for my family is going to make more sense…not necessarily because we want a Lexus or a big house, but because we have school loans and bills and the economy sucks right now.

    While Driscoll’s main message was meant to light a fire under the rear-ends of men who need to stand up and take resposibility for their life and relationships, he bull-dozes many people in the process and does not seem to realize it or want any forgiveness for it…that is the problem in my mind, and that is what truly saddens and angers me.

  53. randplaty says:

    Driscoll is a gifted leader, visionary and communicator. I do respect him quite a bit.

    Watching that video made me angry. He is threatening to discipline members of his church over incorrect exegesis. Its not even a matter of legalism or whatever. Driscoll is just plain wrong in how he reads the bible. He is making the mistake of reading into the text his own context and culture (dead beat dads in his own congregation) in order to see the meaning he wants.

    Making a mistake in exegesis is one thing, but disciplining others based on your own false understanding?

  54. eugenecho says:

    @brian: thanks for your comment. you give me must to chew on as usual. let me ruminate and get back to you.

  55. […] Here’s some stuff I came across this week… 1. A response to a response to stay-at-home Dads. 2. Archeologists uncover oldest known Hebrew text. 3. Theology forum notes three free […]

  56. […] pump out some thoughts about Stay-at-Home-Moms.  Couple weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled Stay-at-Home Dads are Safe From Hell in response to Pastor Mark Driscoll’s [Seattle’s Mars Hill Church] recent teaching/soundbyte […]

  57. james says:

    Wow. I think it’s great that everyone here is bashing Mark like a pinata. Very Christian. If you disagree with him, fine. But you don’t need to rake him over the coals. Whatever happened to loving the brethren?

  58. Andrew says:

    I really enjoy and respect Mark Driscoll and his enthusiasm toward seeing lives changed in Seattle. Lets respect him and his church for the simple fact that thousands of people are coming to know Jesus because of Mars Hill’s devotion to a city in need of the Gospel.

    I respect everyone’s opinions, but this should be about Jesus and the advancing of the greatest message on earth.

  59. james says:

    Sorry to comment again, but I just am trying to understand what all the fuss is about. I listened to the whole Song of Solomon series from Pastor Mark. Mark communicates his love for his wife and daughters more often and with more zeal than most men I have listened to

    Furthermore, Mark does not just say that any man who stays home with his wife would be subject to church discipline. Think about the context that he’s preaching in, that most of *you* are living in. He described the context. It’s a hook up, shack up, break up culture where men are generally only good at looking at porn, masturbating, mooching off other people, living with mom and dad until they are in their mid-20s, and doing drugs and getting drunk on the weekends. If you say, “Those are stereotypes,” you are right. They are. And some stereotypes are true. I live in the good ‘ole Midwest and everyday I deal with college students who are living this life.

    Driscoll’s point is this: If a man doesn’t make an effort to be the primary provider and protector for his family, he is greatly sinning. He’s not a man. To adapt John Piper’s words, “A man who sends his wife to battle is not pro-woman. He’s a wimp.” We are equal, O yes. But one would have to be a complete fool to not believe that men and women are different. Equal does not mean same. Also, if a man is a salesman and stays at home, that’s not bad. If a man is a retired military officer and stays at home, that’s not bad. If a man is a farmer or a campus minister or whatever and stays at home, it’s not bad. The main question to ask is: “Does he provide for his family financially?” If there’s no effort, he’s not being a leader, which is what a man is called to be.

  60. […] positions without all the negative PR, so don't tell me it's impossible. This is the sort of dialogue I can respect. I am no longer interested in discussing MD's actions or […]

  61. […] previous entries on this blog, I’ve shared both the concerns and respect I have for Mark here and here.   But my conversation yesterday with this soon to be MH elder got me thinking [again] […]

  62. Hi Eugene,
    Thanks so much for writing this entry! I was wondering if you ever wrote “Mothers: Work or Stay at Home”? I would be very interested to read what you have to say. I am a Christian feministy who is a stay-at-home. I call myself a Stay-at-home-feminist and wrote several entries about it on my blog. Could you give me a link to your entry? Thanks.

  63. […] facepalms from Christians who deemed themselves thoughtful.  Here’s Eugene Cho, just across the bridge from Driscoll, for […]

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One Day’s Wages

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Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer. Seattle. 7:00pm. Desperately holding on to summer. #goldengardenpark #nofilter Happy Birthday, Minhee! I'm so grateful for you. You radiate faith, hope, and love.  No...you don't complete me. That would be silly and simply humanly impossible but you keep pointing me and our family to Christ who informs and transforms our lives, marriage, family, and ministry. Thanks for being so faithful. I love you so much. (* And what a gift to be in Korea together.)

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