“Man Fail”- Fail

For those of us who are seeking to build the kingdom and stand for a life centered around Christ, it is equally important that we shed light on situations that dishonor men as well as dishonor women.

I am often frustrated by how little regard we have for men in our society. In the Christian world over the last decade men have been encouraged to be warriors, barbarians, prince charming and a host of other mythical hyper masculine stereotypes that do them and the females around them no good. If they fall short of this (or simply differ from this), they have been called weak, gutless and perhaps now the worst of what I have heard…”man fails”.

I am not easily stunned but in reading an article from the Associated Baptist Press this week, I was left speechless and a little nauseated. Below is a quote from the story.

“Professor Owen Strachan of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, has a message for stay-at-home dads: You are violating the gender roles that arehighlighted and espoused in the Bible. Strachan’s views, which are obviously controversial in nature, have led the academic to refer to “dad moms,“ men to choose to stay home and raise their children as ”man fails” — a less-than-flattering title.”

There are so many things wrong with this I hardly know where to begin. Theologically, Sociologically, Biblically…or just plain old manners and humanity.

Let me be clear that I understand there may be more to Strachan’s argument than what appears in the article referenced above. But, one of the difficulties with Strachan’s argument is his lack of sophistication in dealing with the biblical texts he cites – Genesis 3, Proverbs 31, Titus 2, and 1 Tim 5. He shows no awareness of genre issues, the social and historical context of the stories themselves, or of the authors or editors of those texts. Even though the subject of authorial intent can be a tricky subject, Strachan completely ignores any attempt at discerning the authorial intent of these passages and simply applies these passages to his purposes without warranting his connections. This is a classic example of eisegesis.

Indeed, Strachan suggests that any model for the family other than the one he proposes (men work, women stay home) is inappropriate and motivated by materialism. He accuses all families who have chosen to have the woman be the primary breadwinner and the man be the primary caretaker as being concerned with bigger garages,bigger homes and more cars. As if all who make this choice are greedy materialistic people who value possessions over their children. How dare he.

Strachan has already determined that his model is what men and women are called to, yet he provides no argument for his assertion, rather a series of proof texts. Would he claim that God would not call a woman to something outside the home? I would not presume to put words in his mouth, but this article is explicit in saying “women are called to the high calling of raising families.” How then should we deal with Deborah (Jdg 5)? Or Rahab (Josh 2)? Or Ruth? Or Huldah (2 Kgs 22)? Or Esther? Or Miriam (Exod)? Do I really need to continue? God did not call just one women as an exception to the rule.

How then should we also deal with this “high calling of raising families” as if men are incapable or unworthy? How dare he question the masculinity of men who decide to pour into their children for the betterment of their families lives and in turn for the kingdom.

Professor Strachan states in an article on the official ABP site that there are indeed exceptions for extenuating circumstances. How very gracious of him. It seems that illness or lay offs allow the man, for a season, to caretake in the home. He makes no attempt to understand why a family would choose a model different from his own. He has no thought that perhaps there are specific reasons why the man is better suited to be in the home.

With his assertion, he belittles an entire community of people. I would argue that he ironically belittles his own sex. When we assign roles to people forgetting that gender is a social construct we, dethrone God and place ourselves in the role of creator. Strachan believes his interpretation of scripture is the only option for God’s design.

While baptists do not officially hold to the Wesleyan quadrilateral – scripture, tradition, reason and experience – in practice, they typically affirm the value of each component. All four components suggest that Strachan’s position is little more than tendentious justification, using biblical passages to assert what he already believes.

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About Amy Jacober

Amy Jacober (PhD, Fuller Seminary) is a youth ministry veteran with ministry and teaching experience. She focuses on practical theology, urban ministry, theology & disability, and marginalized communities. She is a volunteer youth worker in her church and community, lead consultant with Youth Ministry Architects and serves on the Young Life Capernaum national board. In her free time she can be found playing with her three young children, husband, and oversized dog.