07 November, 2013

The Measure of a Man

I live in a very progressive city. "My two dads." Transgender elementary school students. Exterminating unwanted children while saving soul-less fish.... Welcome to the Northwest. The place can be pretty backwards. As a Christian, one often finds them-self in the minority in their thinking and believing. However, I find myself grateful to live in a place that has at least figured one area out - and that is to stop pigeon-holing men and women.

Let's be clear: I am in no way one of those weird feminist-types, who take this idea to the extreme. However, I have never been of the belief that women belong "here," and men go over "here," and that's the end of it. And I have adamantly disagreed with anyone who does.

Women can go to work.

Women can preach.

Women can be pastors and leaders within the local church.

And men can stay at home...y their kids.

This is a combo teaching/ranting piece. My social media feeds have been inundated with posts of opinions and articles regarding this subject. And while I live in a region that celebrate what do as a full-time dad, it seems that one such group is still a bit on-the-fence: The Church. Religious teaching has led me to feel like I am somehow less of a man because I am the one staying home with my son. I had a pastor push getting a job on me once, even though I had a son I had to raise at home. Even when I do not talk about my finances, a job seems to get thrown into my conversations with Christians. They can't see how I can stay at home while my wife goes off to work. Other teachings in The Church make it appear that my wife is somehow not fulfilling her duty to our son, because she is not home enough. Thanks Church, for making us feel like losers.

I use capitol C for a reason. not every church in the world thinks these thoughts. However, too many still do. Men belong at work. They are providers. That is their job. Too many teachings still claim that if a man doesn't have a job, he isn't a very good man. And what irritates me the most is the fact that there is very little Scripture used to back this line of thinking. I remember reading one such "opinion" piece (it can't be called teaching, because it had very little Biblical-backing) that has one Bible verse:

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.
~1Timothy 5:8

That's it? You rip-off 8 paragraphs on the man's place in the family and you give me one Bible verse?? Taken out of context?! Yikes... You see, this passage is talking about taking care of widows. It actually states that it is the responsibility of children to take care of their parents as they get older - especially the women, who wouldn't be able to take care of themselves at that time in history. oddly enough, most Christians don't abide by this entire passage of Scripture. Most elderly are put into homes now, rather than taken care of by their kids. But we love verse 8, don't we?? According to many preachers I've heard from, if a man loses his job he needs to go find whatever scuzzy work he can in order to "take care of" his family. Hard work at a rotten job that barely pays the bills is seen as a badge of honor a pride.

You got that half right...

Pride is exactly what that is. Our society dictates that our provision is all on us. And the Church has written that mind-set into the Bible - even though it doesn't exist. To say that it is good for a man to forgo his pride and take on any form of employment in order to provide for his family is an oxymoron. That's because it is still an act of pride. God has given each of us unique gifts and abilities. And they are given for very specific purposes. To defy the call of God in order to make money is a supreme act of pride. It says that God is not doing enough to take of you, and that you need to handle that responsibility yourself. Jesus said to seek first the things of God, and that everything else we need will be added to us as a result (Matthew 6:33). Digging ditches and flipping burgers, while neglecting something God called you to, is not an honorable act. It is defiance. 

What about all those verses that talk about women's place in the home? Let me ask you this: does God condone slavery? That may not make much sense, but the passages that tell us that women cannot preach or work outside the home also tells slaves to remain servant to masters:

[T]he older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed... Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.
~Titus 2:3-5, 9-10

The point of Paul's teaching on the place of men and women was so that the Word of God would not be dishonored. He did the same thing in 1Timothy 6:1, for the same reason. In that culture, women in ministry would have been deemed so offensive, that no one would have listened to them. Today, barring women from ministry would be deemed so offensive, no one would listen to those who do it. 
As a man, there are times when I feel I am not good enough, because I am not bringing home a paycheck. However, this is what the Lord wants of me, and anyone who says otherwise can shove-it. Stay-at-home dads are not inferior. We are not acting against the will and ordinances of God. Work for the sake of provision only is an act of faithlessness and often defiance. Those who claim that a man without a job is not a good man need to do what Walter Mathau said in "Grumpy Old Men": pull your lip over your head and swallow. 

Don't take this too far, folks. God expects things of us. But rather than teach our young men to get good grades to get a good job in order to make good money, we need to teach them this: find out what Jesus wants you to do and do it to the best of your ability. Rather than teaching that women belong in the home raising babies, we need to teach them this: find out what Jesus wants you to do, and do it to the best of your ability. 

There are days when I feel down on myself because I know I could have done better with my time. But know this: I work. That kid is exhausting. Dishes pile up. The bathroom is a mess. And I have been instructed to write yet another book (hopefully one of these things will eventually be published). I have instructions from God Almighty. They may not match what some Christians deem that they should be, but they are mine. My wife has a great job. She may want to be home at times, but I know she would eventually get cabin fever. She's designed for what she does. I am designed for what I do. And I'll be damned if I'm going to let sexist pastors and teachers and Christians force their old-school, 1950's gender roles down our throats because they misread the Bible. 

/End rant...
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 
~Philippians 4:19

The blessing of the Lord makes one rich,
And He adds no sorrow with it. 
~Proverbs 10:22

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 
~2Corinthians 9:10-11

And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
~Deuteronomy 8:18 

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