17 October 2007

Stay At Home Dads

A dear young Brother in Christ wrote to me and asked the following:

"There's this very strange movement that is recently emerging into the scene and showing its ugly head on the internet blogspots. I think you've mentioned it to me before but there are actually men out there (human beings of the male sex) who are actually remaining home and looking after the kids, housework and such while their wives are out earning an income. They're called "stay-at-home dads", it sounds extremely outlandish and absurd, I couldn't really believe that there were such men who would make such an outrageous choice. But anyways, it is a matter of fact and they're growing rather rapidly and have increased quite astronomically. I think there are approximately two million alone in the United States if I'm not mistaken. I wanted to inquire into this so I went to google it, but did not find anything sound from the Christian webpages. It is also a lamentable fact that many churches are actually condoning it, and there are many actual professing bible-believing "christians" who are going down this path. Do you know anything of this? Or is the media hype a bit exaggerated? Do you have any Christian articles that debunks this movement?"

I posted the letter anonymously in a private discussion group and received a great deal of feedback, which I include below.

But first, what does the scripture say?

Titus 2:3-5 "Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 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."

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

1 Peter 3 "7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered."

Ephesians 6:4 "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

Also read: Proverb 31, 1 Corinthians 11 and the contentious woman Proverbs: 25:24; 21:19; 19:13; 27:15 which deal with the woman leaving her role.

The following are comments that were made by Christian women to my personal blog:

"Titus 2 says that older women are to teach younger women to be keepers at home (busy at home, working at home). Therefore, any man who takes on the woman's role is effeminate (taking on the female role/qualities) and emasculated (putting off the male role/qualities). Such a man is defiant against God's design for male and female roles (perhaps out of ignorance).

I Timothy 5 teaches that it is the responsibility of the man to provide for his wife, children, and relatives. Paul says that a man who fails to work and provide is worse than an unbeliever."

"A person that has not decided to stop living for themselves and live for Christ will not be ready to accept this teaching.

One of the greatest consequences of this switch in roles manifests it self in the lack of spiritual leaders that are ready to fight spiritual battles. Our men need to be on the front lines of this battle: Ephesians 6:10-20, Romans 10:14-17, 1 Timothy 3:1-13, 2 Timothy 4:5. When we take our warriors and keep them at home we are setting ourselves up for certain loss."

"Perhaps a warning could read: Men, be strong and courageous ... LEAD! Women, be strong and courageous, stop controlling and let them lead! It takes more courage and strength to be led than it does to be in control."

"One friend wrote anonymously, and I wanted to share the thought, since many men have been forced into this situation: "Due to his physical disabilities, [a man I know] was forced into this role out of necessity and HATED it. I can't fathom why any self-respecting man would choose it.""

"I believe part of it is because the feminist movement has taught women to be unhappy with the best career in the world, to be a homemaker and/or mother.

I do not believe that it is wrong for a woman to earn money, the worthy woman obviously did, but I believe its obvious from those scriptures it was from things that she made at home because of all of the other things she did, it is quite the undertaking to do all of the mentioned and hold a job outside of the home.

There is nothing new under the sun, there had to be a reason there were scriptures admonishing women how they should act (Titus 2, Proverbs 31, 1 Corinthians 11, etc.). God did not create us equal, he sees us as equal in the respect that our souls are valued the same, but he made us different. He has specific rules laid out for both genders and for a while I resisted them because I had friends and the world telling me that I shouldn't be happy staying at home even without children. It is so hard to do good for others, to fulfill my role as a wife and a Christian woman without being at home.

Now I understand that there are some circumstances where the woman must work, but I believe they are over exaggerated, if we would stop listening to society and live within our means."

"I think the outgrowth of the stay-at-home dads is just the natural (really unnatural) progression of the feminist movement. If women ARE actually the SAME as men, why not? (said facetiously.)

The fact of the matter is that this is not the Lord's plan. Women are to be home keepers, men the providers. That's the way God designed it.

And I believe that there is a REASON for this design, beyond the natural order of authority. Men grow into Godly men by carrying the burden of provision for their families. They sacrifice self, and learn many godly characteristics as they bear their responsibility to lead and provide for their families. In the same way, we wives grow more godly as we lay our lives down in service to our families. I believe that this is the explanation for the verse in I Tim. that speaks of women being "saved in childbearing." "

"It seems a natural progression that with women taking on the role of provider that men would take on the primary role of keepers at home (Titus2-role for women). However, I would like to see an increase in the time that the fathers spend at home. A father need not neglect his responsibilities to the rearing and instruction of his children because he is fullfilling obligations as the breadwinner. Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This is certainly hard to do with fathers spending only 6.4 hours (I think I read that was the average now) a week with their children."

"While I wholeheartedly promote the biblical example, I do like the trend today that was absent in the era of my childhood that fathers actually spend time with their kids and know them, thus knowing what they need."

"I think Dads who stay at home and "work from home" are still providing for their families, and not "kicking the wife out" of her place either, for the most part. The movement of the "home office" seems to be a pretty good one to me, in the sense that it will have fathers around their children to bring them up properly. I think the question above to be addressed really concerns the man who claims to be a man of God, and who chooses to send his wife into the world to make money for the family, while he stays at home to manage the home and children. "

Also - I came across this blog article (in Jess' Making Home blog) discussing this same topic: "It Starts With the Head", by Terry, who writes the blog "Ornaments of Grace". I encourage you to read this article and the comments made to it for more old fashioned, Christian thought and encouragement in this matter.

Volumes could be written, but very little will be said in the end that can go beyond the simplicity of Genesis 2:18. As one lady pointed out, those who do not have a Godly mindset will not understand this subject, as it comes from the authority of holy scriptures.

(To myself, I wonder how many honest non-believers though can look at the evidence of the world's experience and science, psychology and tradition, and not see the truth of these things: that there is a way that is best, and to ride that smooth path is actually easier and more peaceful in the end than to fight it on the ground of selfish ambition.)

A Christian Brother also responded to my post: "Except for brief periods of time, e.g. school, or if the husband is disabled and cannot do work outside the home (although I would inquire whether some business could be conducted from the home)." If the problem is that Dads aren't nurturing their children, and that's the reason that a man chooses to "stay at home", then it seems reasonable to expect that he won't sacrifice his wife's responsibilities or the family well being by leaving all work. I did come across one interesting blog/website encouraging Dads to stay at home with their kids by working from their home. Called "Christian Work at Home Dads". It's really not that hard.
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