Stay-at-home Dads

 

MadonnaBack in one of Bethany’s earliest posts, we had a flurry of discussion of issues related to women in the workforce. While there were many good questions there to generate blog posts in the future, I want to address Laura’s comment. She asked,

Thoughts on stay at home dads. Just curious what you ladies think.

This is obviously a hot topic today. Many more dads are choosing to stay at home while their wives work, and for many families, that makes more sense financially. With the rise of homosexual couples’ ability to adopt, many are wondering why dad can’t just replace mom. If mom can work just as well as dad and earn the same wage, why shouldn’t dad stay at home?

This is a question that gets back to our fundamental understanding of creation. Do we believe that God created men and women exactly the same? Are they interchangeable? Did God assign them roles based on nothing more than caprice?

The Biblical answer is no. In Genesis 2, God creates man and gives him work to do. When Adam has named all the animals and found no companion, God gives him Eve, “a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:20).  Adam’s occupation is oriented to the world around him, and Eve is oriented to Adam. The way they were created shows this: Adam from dust, and Eve from Adam. The curses also show this: Adam has to fight the earth for his livelihood, Eve is cursed with pain in childbirth. Further, 1 Timothy 5 paints a picture of an honorable woman: “having been the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work” (1 Tim 5:9-10). These are all home-oriented activities. We see something similar in Titus 2, where the older women are to teach the younger women, “…so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,  to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored (Titus 2:4-5). Especially in Titus, it is clear that women are to be oriented to their husbands and children, and, specifically, workers at home.

In addition, while the Proverbs 31 woman paints a picture of a woman who is home-oriented, we never see such a portrait painted of a man. The picture we see of men is that they are hard-working, providing for their families. Joseph, the father of Jesus, worked as a carpenter. Abraham ranched and ruled while Sara was at home (and they didn’t even have kids!). The Proverbs 31 husband sits among the elders of the land. Bathsheba’s husband was out leading the army while she stayed home.

But here’s where things get messy. For some reason, it is assumed that because God created us to be oriented toward our husband and children, workers at home, and ministering to the weak, we must be stupid and have nothing interesting to do.  Instead of thinking that men and women were created to be equal but different, we assume that in order to be equal, we must do exactly the same things. Since men are successful through their careers, women must be successful the same way. Men must take on the supposed drudgery and boredom of housework and caring for children to give their wives the chance to develop to their highest potential.

But this is not our design. God has created us to be oriented to our husbands, our children, and our homes. He created men to be oriented toward dominion and provision. Men are not meant to be stay-at-home dads, and women are not meant to be the breadwinners of the family. When we say that they should be, we deny the beauty and function of God’s creation. We capitulate, giving the feminists the victory.

There will, of course, be occasional exceptions to this depending on different circumstances (death, chronic illness, abandonment) but as the saying goes, “The exception proves the rule.” The Biblical model is for mothers to care for their children, and fathers to provide for their wives and children.

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6 Responses to Stay-at-home Dads

  1. Christine Miller says:

    In that you mention that, “God has created us to be oriented to our husbands, our children and our homes,” I would change your last sentence thus: “The Biblical model is for wives to honor and help their husbands while caring for their children. Husbands are to love and provide for their wives and children.”

    • Anna says:

      Hi Mrs. Miller,
      I wanted the last sentence to emphasize that moms stay home while dads work, not the other way around.
      Kindly,
      Anna

  2. chrisinnm says:

    Well stated, Anna! Praying that many will recover this good focus.

  3. Hannah says:

    Dear Anna,
    Thank you for posting your article recently. It’s given me much food for thought.
    Your last paragraph in particular caught my attention: “There will, of course, be occasional exceptions to this depending on different circumstances (death, chronic illness, abandonment) but as the saying goes, “The exception proves the rule.” The Biblical model is for mothers to care for their children, and fathers to provide for their wives and children.”
    I’d love to see the E2S ladies address the general principle in reference to the “occasional exceptions,” specifically as to how to live the principle with God’s love and without self- or spouse-reproach in non-“ideal” situations. I would suggest that for myself and Robert, as for a lot of families, the “occasional exceptions” prove extended in period, owing to a number of reasons. These situations could include chronic sickness/pregnancy bed rest, difficulties in finding full-time employment owing to shifting economic conditions over the last decades, seasonal employment by choice or necessity, gender-specific part-time employment or ministry opportunities for the wife (abuse counselor, perhaps, or, in my case, professional soprano), self-employed/family business/artistic careers for the husband (particularly in the early years), grad school years where a husband’s stipend isn’t enough for basic necessities, or living in a high cost of living area, particularly this last in combination with a situation where health insurance is not provided by the employer.
    I think my real question is, if you’re not in a traditional schedule SAH mom/wife + breadwinner dad/husband situation, can you still be a Biblical man or woman? How, and how can you encourage your spouse in his/her role as a Biblical man/woman under these non-“ideal” conditions?
    Thanks for considering!
    Hannah

  4. Christie says:

    Always appreciate someone who will support these clear Bible teachings. Thank you!

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