Getting a job in a competitive, capitalist society is a lot like playing dodge ball in grade school- it involves praying you aren’t picked last and getting your buddies who have already made the team to vouch for you. But unlike a game of dodge ball, the career world can affect every aspect of your life indefinitely. So what happens when Christian men, convinced that they need to be the predominant fiscal provider, get out-earned by their wives?
There seems to be an innate, archetypal desire in most men to want to bring home the bacon. Which historically has proven to be societal glue and for the most part, a good economic system that made it harder for men to be cowards. However, today things are obviously different. After World War II, the workforce was saturated with women who didn’t want to leave their jobs just because their husbands were home. And today American universities are well over 50% women, a fiery industrious spirit is the new staple of femininity and gender is assumed to be a thing of the past.
As Christians, the growing concern over the shape of manhood has led portions of the church to fight back against these cultural outgrowths, and rightly so. And despite the benefits of this fight, all of those manhood-enhancing small group studies and Driscoll-like dudes yelling at men from the pulpit can really heap on the guilt for a guy who makes less money than his wife.
As a man who makes less than his wife (I am a full time student with a part time job, my wife is a full time social worker), I have had to wrestle with this constantly. I want to shepherd our family, but I don’t make much money. So does that mean I have less say in financial matters? Does that mean I am less entitled to make decisions in general? In a transactional relationship where roles are based on contribution, it probably does. A chronicle in the Atlantic of three non-Christian (I assume) men in my shoes shows what the society at large thinks of this phenomenon of gender roles. Some use the income disparity as a license for selfish ambition, laziness and individualism. Some feel guilt and ease their guilt with as much finical contribution as they can handle. And some see gender as financially transcendent.
So if you find yourself making less money than your wife or know somebody who is, lead them towards submission to Christ and each other. Not necessarily towards a new job.