Fatherhood

Not too long ago Mark Driscoll was in the news again.  If you are not familiar with Driscoll, he is the mega-church pastor and popular author who was recently removed from ministry primarily over charges of abuse of power. Furthermore, the accusations frequently carried connotations of misogyny. He was also a leader in what I have called the “Christian Manhood” movement which I criticized in passing in the previous post.

Now, please don’t take this as a dog-pile the downed man post. I pray for Driscoll and you should to, whether you like him or not; his family underwent severe attack and needs our prayers. Still, I think we can learn from the trials of a public figure without degrading or attacking them.

So…what we need to learn from Driscoll is the importance of solid theology to everyday family life.

Basically Driscoll has Biblically validated the idea that the man must bring home the bacon and the woman should be in the home. He even went so far as to say that Paul’s admonition that the one who doesn’t provide for his own household is worse than an infidel applies to a stay at home dad.

This really seemed shallow to me–and seriously materialistic. What if I were the better teacher and my wife could get and wanted the better paying job? Under his definitions, it would be the more Christian thing to do to go teach other people’s kids and send my kids to school with other teachers. The idea that provision was anything other than working a job for money seemed foreign to him.

The issue is much deeper than simple stereotypes, though. It is actually the outcome of a serious doctrinal error. Somehow, as Driscoll and many others of his mindset seem to understand it, motherhood is more essentially connected to womanhood than is fatherhood to manhood.

How is that doctrinal? In reading his book Doctrine I found that he rejects the idea that Jesus is “eternally begotten of the Father” (which is the only reason I address this issue in relation to Driscoll). If it is the case that the church fathers who framed the Nicene Creed were overly philosophical and wrong to say Jesus was eternally begotten, if his begotten nature is only temporal–only rooted in his physical birth–as Driscoll argued in his book, then God is not essentially the Father. So, the image of God in man would have nothing to do with fatherhood.

However, the Creed is truth and the truth of the Creed is important to my everyday family life. As a man made in the image of God, it is part of my nature, as God made me, to be a Father. Provision for my family is not merely about making money. It is about truly husbanding and fathering. Everything I am supposed to be is rooted in everything that God is…and God is eternally Father.

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3 thoughts on “Fatherhood

  1. That is the core of the problem with gender roles teachings, it depends upon ignoring gifts of the Holy Spirit and affirms cultural norms (they get around that by saying that the HS would never give a woman the gift of teaching or leading so that women would never teach or have authority over men which is why women pastors are forbidden.) . The quiverfull movement carries these teachings out to their logical extreme and seems to magnify its problems. To them, the highest possible calling for a woman is to be a wife and a mother, so all daughters are raised to expect nothing less. The more brothers and sisters they have the more the older daughters are expected to shoulder the burden of cooking, cleaning, teaching homeschool materials that they never have time to be teenagers, do their own lessons, or even have friends. The boys aren’t supposed to do women’s work, so they can’t help out their sisters. All of this is the result of an interpretation of the Bible through the lens of American cultural norms. The distorted results are very much rooted in complementarianism and/or patriarchy … the love of the authority of the father as the head of the church and home. I’m just not convinced that the extreme or lesser versions of it are what God intended as the design for the family for all time, everywhere.

    1. I know nothing about the quiverfull movement so I cannot address their teaching directly. I can say we all pitch in at my house, girls and boys alike. Our rule is that stronger serve the weaker and the older serve the younger…and since I am oldest it means I must serve most. But the younger can learn chores..and they all get rotated when age appropriate.
      I appreciate your response and welcome your future interaction…but will address most of this in future posts. As a preview, I would say I hate that the word complimentary has been highjacked to mean something very limited. We lose something when we neglect the typical differences between men and women. We do compliment each other and we do have common tendencies, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wash dishes, change diapers, do laundry, or cook meals (or that my wife and daughters can’t understand a car engine–my sister is far better with car care than I am). It also doesn’t mean that any given man can’t be more artistic and emotional (I prefer ballet to baseball). But I’ll get into that more later…or maybe sooner. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

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