By Bob Allen
A Southern Baptist college professor says those families in which the dad stays at home and the wife is the family’s primary breadwinner don’t comport with God’s plan for the family revealed in the Bible.
Owen Strachan, assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., described “dad moms” as “man fails” in an article in the Spring 2012 issue of The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
He defended that thesis Sept. 25 in a Moody Radio program debate over the question, “Are Stay-at-Home Dads Violating God’s Design for Men and Women?”
“I would say both men and women bear the image of God and so are fully invested for a life of meaningful service for God,” Strachan said. “That’s my starting point, but I would say then from a broad biblical theology that men are called to be leaders, providers, protectors and women are nurturers.”
“Women follow men in the home and the church,” he said. “Women are called to the high calling of raising families, given that God blesses them with children and making homes, being homemakers. These are roles that I think Scripture hands down for us pretty clearly in texts like Genesis 3.”
Matt Peregoy, a stay-at-home dad in Gettysburg, Pa., who blogs at The Real Matt Daddy, told Moody Radio’s Julie Roys that he is happier, healthier and his marriage is stronger than ever since he quit his job and became primary caretaker for his daughter a year and a half ago.
Peregoy said that for the first year after his daughter was born he worked in retail while his wife stayed at home. Eventually, however, he felt the odd hours he worked was keeping him away from his family, while his wife’s former employer was begging her to come back to work full time.
Strachan commended Peregoy for his concern for his family, but he said the Bible outlines “a definitive plan for men that begins in Genesis and is elaborated throughout the rest of the Scripture.”
“Adam is the one whose work is cursed, so Eve’s childbearing is cursed and then Adam’s work of the ground is cursed in Genesis 3:17-19,” Strachan said. “That’s very interesting, because it seems in Genesis 3 that the primary sphere of activity for each person – for the woman and the man – bears the effect of the curse now that Adam and Eve have fallen.”
Strachan said that means “that work is going to be hard for men,” as Peregoy pointed out and the King James Version describes as “in the sweat of thy face.”
“It’s going to be hard,” he said. “It’s going to be long. It may bring injury to your body, but it means that’s part of – ironically here, because we’re talking about a curse – that that’s ironically what is going to bring God glory.
“You see that upheld in Proverbs 31, for example, where the husband is at the city gates with the elders and Proverbs 31 woman is a proverbial whirlwind of activity, and then you see it again in texts like Titus 2 and First Timothy 5,” he said. “Titus 2:5 calls women to be working at home. First Timothy 5 speaks of widows, and basically calls them to do what these other texts have said that women are to do.”
Strachan said he doesn’t think that Christian men who stay at home with the kids are necessarily lacking in faith and that it’s something about which Christians can disagree, “but I do think God’s glory is in being a godly provider as a man and taking on the burden of provision and taking on this call of Genesis 3.”
“God doesn’t suggest to us anywhere in Scripture that I’m aware that we try to figure things out as we best see fit,” he said. “He gives us an arrangement. He gives us a model, a blueprint. And that’s for his glory.”
“Just as Christ provides for his church, I think men are to provide for their families,” he continued. “That’s a teaching that’s upheld throughout the Scripture. Titus 2 is direct. It tells women to be workers at home and to find their identity there. So men, conversely, are not to be working at home in the same way, even though of course men should be very much plugged into their families, loving their families, sacrificing wherever they can.”
“You know, I work hard,” Strachan commented. “I have worked one-and-a-half jobs several years for my family, but I try where I can to cut work and get home and help my wife. I know that there are long days with two little children. This isn’t an either/or between being a provider as a man and being sacrificial, caring for your family. I think you very much need to be doing both as a Christian man.”
Strachan said there will be “extenuating circumstances” such as injury or layoff that mean “women in some cases are going to have to step up” and work outside of the home. “I suppose in the case of a long-term injury, that could even be a longer term arrangement,” he said. “You know, life is hard and real problems intrude.”
He said a more important issue is “for us not to see our families as economic realities but primarily as gardens of flourishing.”
“I think many Americans buy into an economic understanding of the family, so we see in other words our primary duty as parents is to provide our children with economic opportunities, to advance up the ladder,” he said.
“I think there’s something so much more important that families should be about than getting multiple cars in the garage or a bigger home or that sort of thing,” he said. That is “a properly biblical understanding of the family, in which children are being nurtured and cared for.”
“I want children to thrive,” Strachan said. “I want what is best for them.”