OK, depending on your religious affiliation, some of y’all might be totally laughing at the absurdity of that question, but apparently this is quite the issue in some circles. Recently, Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll (for those of my friends who are curious, this is not the church we’ve been attending since moving to Seattle) and his wife made some statements in response to a question about stay-at-home dads which pretty much said that it’s a sin and one worthy of church discipline. The blogosphere is hopping about this one, so I figured I’d join-in and make it this week’s HOT TOPIC question.
First, watch this video:
And then, I highly encourage you to read what others are saying about this. I’ll give you my brief opinion, but seriously, others are saying it way better than me, so I’m not gonna pretend to have an original thought about it. Make sure to check-out the comments sections on these blogs, that’s where the real conversations are happening.
So here’s what I think:
I think this is ridiculous. Driscoll totally misinterprets the verses he uses to support his position. Contextually, there is absolutely no relation between a man who refuses to work and allows his family’s needs to remain unmet because of laziness and a man who makes a joint decision with his wife to be the one who works from the home because of what is financially and/or relationally healthy for their family at that time. Not only are the Driscolls misinterpreting Scripture, they’re using it in an incredibly legalistic way. (despite their disclaimer that that’s not what they’re doing–sorry, saying it doesn’t change it) There is no biblical mandate against stay-at-home dads, and a father who does the necessary work of raising children and taking care of the home full-time IS taking care of his family. Just because he may not be bringing home a paycheck (or maybe he is working part-time and is bringing home a smaller paycheck) doesn’t mean that he isn’t working or doing his part in contributing to the health of his family. As a stay-at-home mom, I’m a little offended at the implication that a man doing my job is considered to be lazy and not contributing to the family.
What about the mom who has a well-paying job with great healthcare who is married to the dad who is a student? Or has a lower-paying job like a part-time minister? What about the mom who is incredibly passionate about her job and is doing great work in the world and the dad who really hasn’t figured-out his long-term career path yet or is working at a job he hates? Is it really wrong if that couple decides together that for this season in their lives the dad will stay home with the kids and the mom will work full-time? Of course all kinds of questions about mother/child attachment and the idea that women are “better suited” for child-rearing come-up, and those are valid questions…. but is it a sin? If a man refuses to work and decides to stay home without agreeing upon it with his wife, then yes, that’s a sin. If he does it out of laziness, then that’s a sin. But it would be a sin if the wife did those things, too.
Every family is different, and every family’s financial situation is different. You can’t just slap a one-size-fits-all label on it and then say that anyone whose family doesn’t look like yours is sinning. And I’m a little apalled at the idea of a church choosing to discipline a family who prayerfully makes this decision because it is what they feel like is best for them…..especially since the church is standing on some pretty shaky biblical ground when it comes to their reasoning. Does Driscoll really think it would be a better option to put the kids in full-time daycare when one parent is eager and willing to stay home with them just so the dad can make a little money and “be a man?”
So what do you think? Whether or not you think that women are more well-suited for staying home (a very debatable point), is it a SIN worthy of church discipline? Maybe you can’t see it being a good decision for your family, but if it makes relational and financial sense for a family who has prayerfully searched their options, are we really in a position to judge them as wrong?