BreakPoint Blog

Banner
Mark Driscoll on stay-at-home dads


Though I haven't followed his career closely at all, I realize Mark Driscoll is a pastor who's well liked and respected, including by many here, and that I risk raising a firestorm by criticizing his words. But this video that he and his wife made about stay-at-home dads, which I found over at The Line, disturbs me. I'm sure their intentions were good. But to me, it looks as if they took a Bible verse out of its context in Paul's letter -- not to mention stripping it of its cultural context -- in order to make their suggestion that stay-at-home dads are being lazy, irresponsible, unmanly, and disobedient to the point that the church may need to discipline them.

Parents who make the effort to have one parent stay at home with the kids, even in an unconventional way, are doing their family, and their society, a great service, often at great cost to themselves. I'm at a loss to understand how such an arrangement could be taken to mean that a father isn't providing for his family.

And frankly, I think that Grace Driscoll's words about what would happen if her husband stayed home with the kids don't display the respect for husbands and fathers that she says she's advocating. Again, I'm sure her intentions were honorable and she was trying to inject a little levity into the discussion, but to me, those words sound much more like the pop culture's flippant dismissal of dads than a biblical understanding of their role and their significance. Yes, men and women are different, but does that mean that there are no dads out there capable of nurturing their young children? Not in my experience.

What do you think of what the Driscolls are saying here?


Comments:

I really don't agree with what they are saying at all. I am a stay at home mom and I hate it. So I guess I am supposed to force myself into loving it because that is what God wants for me. I almost resent my children because I feel like they robbed my life away from me. My husband is more nurturing with them than I ever could be so I don't think thats always how God made us.
"Fact is in all societies before the Industrial revolution - and still on farms and some small businesses today, -both- parents are around the children throughout the day." Actually in merchant societies the men were away all day for much of the year. Marco Polo may not have seen his father until he was a teenager for instance. So different societies do have different needs.
Mark Driscoll is very insecure. He is "cherry picking" the bible and taking it out of context. If he believes this, then there should be no women in the public working world. No nurses, teachers, secretaries, etc. If it were not for women the churches would have to close the door. Mark.... why was your wife teaching? She did not have her head covered? You are teaching a dogmatic view that is not all biblical. I'm a stay at home dad and spiritual leader of my home. I have coached sports, taught self-defense, worked many hours at church and currently teach at church. I'm able to teach my sons who are years ahead of many of their peers. They are both christians. God has blessed our decision of me staying at home. If I were wrong I would be convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit. YOU need to get your act together and really study the bible so that you will know what you are talking about.You need to be a real man and let the bible be the authority. PS: My wife is proud of me!
John Hagee also has a message for "Stay at Home Dads" I admit that I am a sinner, an adulterer, a thief, a liar, a blasphemer, a coveter, and idolater. I am an unholy piece of shit, unholy in the eyes of God. I can not earn salvation, because my actions: past, present, and future, I am condemned to Hell. OK, at the very worst, being a stay at home dad is a sin, does not the grace, blood and finished work of Jesus Christ my Savior cover my sins? BTW, I believe that we have free will as parents in the matter of who stays home with the kids, read the following passage written by Elizabeth George regarding Proverbs 31. Proverbs 31 speaks of "A wife of noble character." Starting at verse 11, the writer praises this woman as one who does everything in her power to care for her family. She works hard to keep her house and her family in order. Verses 16, 18, 24, and 25 show that she is so industrious that she also moonlights with a cottage industry that provides additional income for her family. This woman's motivation is important in that her business activities were the means to an end, not an end in themselves. She was providing for her family, not furthering her career, using her degree, or working to keep up with the Joneses. Her employment was only a sidebar to her true calling—the stewardship of her husband, children, and home. The Bible nowhere forbids a woman from working outside the home. However, the Bible does teach what a woman’s priorities are to be. If working outside the home causes a woman to neglect her children and husband, then it is wrong for that woman to work outside the home. If a Christian woman can work outside the home and still provide a loving, caring environment for her children and husband, then it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to work outside the home. Recommended Resource: Discovering the Treasures of a Godly Woman: Proverbs 31 by Elizabeth George.
Are you reading your Bible like a Berean? He takes 2 verses out of context, does not give an interpretation from the greek, and gives no other verses to support his american evangelical viewpoint. What does Paul mean by provide? What did Paul mean in writing to Titus in a culture where 85% of the economy came out of the home (hence..."workers at home")? It seems he has this burly-macho man image of what a man should be instead of what the Bible actually says. Even 1 Timothy 5:14 says that young widows are supposed to marry, have kids, and be masters of their households/home owners (oikodespotein). How does this work if the man is supposed to be the head? According to Dt. 6 and other places, I am supposed to raise Godly children, and all other things I am not worry about (Matthew 6 and 8).
I am a stay at home Dad and a christian, this "paster" is cherry picking the bible to suit his own cultural and personal values. Men should also "work with their hands" so this means only physical work does it, 'providing'is à very wide term and rightly so. these versus basically mean to try your hardest to responcibly care for your loved ones, materially is a part of that. if we are going to get biblical, why is his wife teaching in this video? simon
It's good to hear from you again, Benjamin. (And I'm serious; point-counterpoint is a good thing here IMHO - or IMNSHO, alas.) You wrote: "Are you referencing a study or something, or just ... personal experience?" Just ... personal experience. I know lots of guys in the Pacific Northwest who think it's great that feminism is dominant here; it means more leisure time for them. And I've heard Mark Driscoll address this topic (or ones tangential to it) before; one of his favorite topics is "real men versus wimps". But I have no statistically valid sociological data from replicated independent studies showing that Seattle has lazier husbands than anywhere else. For that matter, I know "men" in the Northwest who are macho and rugged, but who neglect their families to pursue hunting, fishing, extreme sports, etc. And some of them would love to have a "sugar mama" supporting them so they'd have more time to play. But I still think Mark had particular individuals in mind when making his remarks, and he failed to make that clear, thereby coming off as condemning a much larger segment of society. "Measure with a micrometer, mark with a piece of chalk, cut with an axe." I'm in no position to criticize that type of inexact discourse, personally, until I've succeeded in getting the guy in the mirror to stop doing it.
Hmm...now that I've watched the video, I actually think this is more a case of topic hijacking. The question was about stay-at-home dads, but Mark didn't really talk about stay-at-home dads. They made the occasional reference to it, but primarily it seemed like they used the question as a springboard to the slightly-more-generic topic of lazy men (which should be addressed), within (oddly enough) the context of our current culture, using a passage that is directly relevant on its face but seems much less so in context. Where they did touch on the stay-at-home dad thing, it kind-of felt like they were taking the Scripture as written for 21st century American culture, rather than all centuries and all cultures. I think they have points worth considering about statistics and ideal situations, and that's fine -- I generally tend to agree with the more traditional models, allowing for exceptions that make sense. But it's one thing to say, "the choices you've made may not be ideal for your family"; it's quite another to say, "you're worse than an unbeliever."
San, quite so; that passage is actually about giving to relatives - and I argue - to Christians in need, even more so in one's own congregation. Too often I have heard pastors laying down the law of the tithe, tripling it from the Bible's once every third year to every year, and increasing it from the Biblical net to gross. But we aren't under the law of the tithe. We are under something far more demanding: we have to take care of our brothers and sisters in Christ, or we are worse than heathens and unbelievers. For those with means, this may well be considerably in excess of 10%. A 42" flatscreen TV or dental work for someone in your congregation. I can't judge you. But God will have you give answer to Him.
Yeah, he's pointing to Paul's admonition that "if a man does not provide for his own, he is worse than an unbeliever" as a prooftext for man-as-breadwinner. Right out of 1 Timothy. It even has six pronouns--that is, in many English translations. Actually, in the Greek it is "someone" and "one's own," not "he/his." The context is talking of widows and caring for them, and the passage is actually more focused on women caring for their mothers and mothers-in-law than it is on men (see 1 Tim 5:16). It's certainly not talking about the man vs. the woman bringing home the pork chops. Paul's saying, Don't burden the church if you don't have to. If you have the means to take care of your parents in their old age, do it. And if you can and don't, you're worse than an unbeliever. The verse about being "workers at home" was written to a culture in which about 85 percent of INDUSTRY happened at home.
And what about single dads? This insinuates that God hasn't given a family with one father enough, that the mother's sole job is to nurture so if she's out of the picture, the children irrevocably suffer. And why is it not responsible to stay home with your children if you and your spouse agree? What if the wife is called to work outside the home? I write this as a published parenting author, and a stay at home mom.
Labrialumn, I agree. I find Driscoll's answer scary, certainly based on "his" interpretation of scripture, not on the Word itself. I've run into pastors like him before and, thank God, I've been delivered from them. Ironically, 16 years ago, it was my husband who said, "It's time to leave this church" when the pastor started laying down "rules" for husbands and wives that were based on his marriage, not on an accurate understanding of God's Word. It's a form of spiritual abuse. So, I have to wonder, who is the one in need of "church discipline"? Mark Driscoll who is guilty of laying down the law to his congregation based on his personal bias, or the husband and father who, in staying home, is best meeting the needs of his family?
I've run into this attitude before, and it is seriously kooky - and I'm a complementarian, not an egalitarian. Fact is in all societies before the Industrial revolution - and still on farms and some small businesses today, -both- parents are around the children throughout the day. That is the historical norm. We have the worst job market in our lifetimes, if we are to believe the reports, and we have something like 30 million illegal immigrants taking jobs so that Americans can't. In that case, when the husband is laid off and can't find work right away, and the wife makes a lot more money, what is wrong with having the father home with the kids? Isn't that better than having the kids being 'latch-key'? Sounds like this guys norms are those of the industrial revolution and not those the Bible or human history. By what authority does this guy speak?
Just last night a friend and I were discussing how much we confuse our cultural with our Christian world views. We are living in a time where we believe that a woman can do anything a man can do and vice versa. Men can't give birth and they can't nurse an infant therefore it is more natural for the woman to care for an infant. I have a terrible fear that we diminish motherhood when we start thinking anyone can fill in for mom. Dad can do it. Day care can do it. All too often I'm seeing Grandma and Grandpa doing it and looking very tired! Motherhood is a high calling, as is fatherhood, but mothers and fathers have different functions. Still, I have seen situations where dad stayed home and it worked and those where it didn't. As a woman who stayed home and cared for my children I sometimes feel a little like the cowboys must have felt when the old west was dying. Stay at home moms seem to be a dying breed. Makes me kind of sad.
I'm afraid they do more than give the appearance of "no loopholes" - their interpretation of Scripture is clearly legalistic and off-putting. I hadn't thought of the Palins (though they are an excellent example) but we have known two wonderful Christian families where Military service has worked to put the husband at home and the wife in the workforce, at least for the moment. Before we so generally and soundly condemn any man as an infidel, perhaps we should consider that while role reversal may not be (Mark's) ideal, a man content to step back and let his wife pursue her dream (or fulfill her service obligation) while he serves as a stay at home dad might also be providing for his family in the eyes of a just and merciful God.
My husband was the stay at home dad while I worked in medicine for 10 years and it was a great arrangement. My husband provided for the family by keeping the house running, managing the money, and keeping us spiritually on track. I brought in a paycheck (while doing something I loved as well as ministering to others) and provided what I could at home. He was in no way defying the Bible's commands to take care of his family. Rather, he did what worked for us. And, it was great. He was able to do lots of volunteer type stuff at church as well as teach our kids at home. I was quite disappointed by Driscoll's reaction, but my husband and I base our actions on the Bible (and how we interpret it), not Driscoll. Good article. Catherine
"I think the Driscolls forgot to make clear the distinction" Oh, I think they were clear. I don't agree, but their meaning was crystal clear. It's a big jump from 1 Timothy 5:8 to saying it's a matter of church discipline if the husband stays home with the kids while the wife works. I also don't think he'd compromise his values on the Palins (or anyone). He doesn't strike me as that type of person. (I still love listening to Mark.)
I think the Driscolls forgot to make clear the distinction between "I'll stay home and raise the kids (but actually I'll play video games all day and neglect them, and let my wife be the sole breadwinner)" and "I'll take over the household duties while my wife does something really important". They were criticizing #1, Gina, while I believe you have in mind #2. #1 would be the dominant attitude in the Seattle area where the Driscolls live; there's a lot of "Peter Pan syndrome" where boys never become men - they simply become old boys. They do repeat that they are not legalistic about it - which is belied somewhat by the extreme stigmatization. Even so, if the Palins went to Mars Hill, I suspect Mark would with a straight face declare them to be an exception. He'd probably also explain that the Palins and Driscolls discussed this decision beforehand. That said, Mark can really be a jerk sometimes. So criticize him all you want, as far as I'm concerned. But I suspect he and Grace were trying to give the appearance of "no loopholes" because their particular congregation needs to hear it that way. (Have you ever heard Tony Evans preach? He doesn't just step on toes, he crushes them to calcium powder - because that's how *his* congregation needs to hear it said.)
I said much the same on the Line.
"#1 would be the dominant attitude in the Seattle area where the Driscolls live; there's a lot of "Peter Pan syndrome" where boys never become men - they simply become old boys." I'm wondering where this comes from? Seattle has it's problems, as any city does, but I haven't noticed this being one of them. Are you referencing a study or something, or just ... personal experience? What do you mean?