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?