Mark Driscoll on Stay at Home Dads

This video is several years old, but I only just came upon it and I think it’s an excellent example of just how rigid many evangelicals make gender roles – and just how hard they work to police them. In this video Mark Driscoll explains not only that men who stay at home with their children while their wives work are, according to the Bible, “worse than unbelievers,” but also that men who stay at home are not “real” men and will never have the respect of their wives.

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Can I say how glad I am to be rid of this crap?

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Eamon Knight

    Speaking as a one-time stay-at-home dad: fuck you, Mark Driscoll, you’re a vile idiot. Oh, and my wife respected, and respects me, plenty.

    • Mark


  • dj pomegranate

    What a juvenile understanding of the word “respect.”

  • smrnda

    Here’s another problem – there are men who are disabled and unable to work, or who, if they could work, wouldn’t be able to work either the type of job or enough hours to be the primary wage earner in the family. So, according to Driscoll, should disabled men just not get married and if this is the case, is he saying (basically) that disabled men *aren’t men at all.*? He’s a pretty disgusting guy, clearly a case of arrested development who gets his kicks from his idiotic macho posturing and making fun of men who are better people than he is.

    • Aighty

      On the one hand, he does mention a couple times that there are circumstances where men might not be able to work. On the other hand, I didn’t come away completely sure how understanding of such a situation he would be if confronted with it. Either way, what an overly-simplistic, unfair view of the way things “should” be in a marriage.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        I always get the feeling that those extenuating circumstances are tossed in as some sort of farcical disclaimer to prove that they really aren’t like those Conservative and Fundamentalist Christians.

      • kristen

        The thing about his exceptions is that if this thing he’s saying is universal biblical truth-with-a-capital-T, but it only works for middle class able bodied families, then it doesn’t work. It’s not universal or true.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        That would be admitting to relativism and we can’t have that!

    • Cathy W

      I know Vyckie Garrison of No Longer Quivering has written about the problems trying to live up to this kind of standard caused her and her then-husband, who was blind and couldn’t hold down a traditional job. They tortured some logic so that if you squinted just right he was the family provider, but it wasn’t healthy for either of them.

  • Karen

    But wives who stay home are completely respected by their husbands, of course. Honestly, does he ever listen to himself? I hear him say that respect = paycheck, and absence of paycheck = no respect, so can husbands hold their SAHM wives in contempt? Does respect mean something entirely different for men and women?

    • Cathy W

      I suppose “respect = paycheck” is still above the Pearls’ “respect = penis” on the gender relations spectrum – but my goodness, what a shallow view he has of women, if he thinks all we want from a husband is a paycheck.

      (Also a shallow view of men, if he thinks bringing a paycheck to a marriage is enough to call your contribution done! But that explains why he also needs to oppose women in the workforce – if I can get a paycheck without a husband, that means a potential husband has to be more than a paycheck…)

      • Karen

        Don’t many conservative ministers say that women don’t actually need respect? I recall reading something by Focus on the Family that listed ten things a wife needs from a husband and the reciprocal list for husbands from wives. IIRC, wives needed love and security but men needed respect. Respect didn’t appear on the wife list at all.

      • HelenaTheGrey

        Yes, Karen. That is correct. Women need to be desired and loved. Men need to be respected. All from the Wild at Heart by John Eldridge philosophy. So I am sure it doesn’t even occur to Driscoll that the SAHMs don’t get respect because why would they care?

      • Carys Birch

        I am super late to the party here, but yes, exactly that. My mother said – flat out – that she opposes equal pay for women because it “destroys the nuclear family.” Meaning, if men don’t get all the money, women will have no reason to stay with them.

        I hope to god I never am in a relationship so bad I’m only staying for the money. I can’t imagine living in her world.

  • Lynn

    “Providing for your family” can take many forms, including caring for your children while your wife works. Not all women are as close-minded in which type of men they can respect. I, for one, would deeply respect a man who is open to doing anything that works for our family, especially if it challenges traditional gender roles.

    • Cathy W

      Hear, hear! To support the family, a certain amount of money must be earned, and a certain amount of childcare and housework must be done. In the long run, it doesn’t matter who earns how much money and who does how much childcare and housework as long as everyone involved is happy with the division of labor.

    • Aighty

      Yes! As my boyfriend said when watching that video over my shoulder: “How is a man staying home taking care of his children NOT providing for the needs of his family?”

      • Kristy

        Exactly! My husband and I have to share childcare duties. If he somehow thought taking care of the baby was beneath him, that would NOT be providing for the needs of our family! (And believe me, that would absolutely not get him my respect!)

  • Christine

    And this sort of “a paycheque is all that matters” nonsense is why I refer to staying home & taking care of the house & toddler as putting my husband through school. Yes, I know that generally refers to being the wage earner, but what I do is letting him finish his degree, just as much as holding down a job while a spouse is in undergrad (and not getting paid) would be.

    Oh, wait, I forget. As a mother and a woman (although I guess those are pretty much synonymous) I’m not actually doing anything special, I’m just fulfilling my natural role. I honestly am still shocked that people actually believe this nonsense.

  • Holly

    Wow I waited on my first husband hand and foot and he left me for a ball buster. So much for safe guarding against divorce.

  • Ann

    I used to attend a church with similar views. I’m SO glad I deconverted and escaped all that dogma.

  • MM

    Isn’t God basically the ultimate stay-at-home dad? I’m pretty sure he doesn’t leave for work each morning while the Holy Spirit cleans the “many rooms” of the house and takes Jesus to soccer practice.

  • Aighty

    Is it just me or did he seem to misuse the word “statistically”? I mean, he said it a couple times but then followed it with something that sounded an awful lot like an opinion. I don’t know what actual studies have to say on the claims he made. However, the way he stated them seemed…off, for something that supposedly has statistics applied to it. I can’t quite put my finger on how, though.

    Anyway, I can’t really picture losing respect for my boyfriend were he to become a stay-at-home dad some day. I just don’t buy that one gender is “naturally” more inclined to it than the other. Of course, it helps that I’ve never been religious and thus it doesn’t matter to me what the Bible has to say. Since his argument was ultimately a Biblical one, I suppose it’s inevitable that I don’t buy it.

  • John Small Berries

    He and Rick Warren really obsess about ridiculous standards by which to define masculinity, don’t they?

    • Lucreza Borgia

      Every time I see a pic of Driscoll, he looks bigger and bigger like he’s some sort of gym bunny. I think the steroids are getting to his head!

  • Lana

    The ancient Bible definitely had the modern corporation in mind, hahah!

  • Lane


    If a man’s “job” is raising children and keeping house, it’s laziness, because it’s not real work.

    But then he turns to his wife and says WOW honey you work soooooo hard and being a housewife is THE MOST IMPORTANT job EVER!!!! He says the job is below him, but for her, it’s the best thing she could possibly hope for.

    Doesn’t add up…

    • emily

      Right? I was equally confused when his wife said that child raising wasn’t something to just carelessly assign to just anyone. So the child’s dad is “just anyone”?! Not a lot of respect for dad in that statement.

  • TheSeravy

    Oh, the hypocrisy of gender roles. I respect stay-at-home parents, man or woman; they are sacrificing a lot to be there for their children. People usually only mention how rewarding the experience is but underestimate the difficulties, isolation and stress that comes with it. So kudos to all the trail-blazing fathers out there doing this important and less than glamourous job. Losers like Driscoll need to grow up and stop judging . What I find even more disturbing is the number of WOMEN who judge stay at home fathers; you’d think they would be more understanding and appreciative.

  • Red

    Mark Driscoll is a very special kind of strange.

    The interesting thing about this whole question-and-answer session on SAHDs is that Mark Driscoll answers a question that isn’t asked, and then fails to answer the question that was asked. The original question asked if it was okay for a husband to stay home with kids if the wife WANTED to work. Driscoll, however, makes no mention of the woman WANTING to work, but turns it around and says “How dare you MAKE her work and do more hard stuff than she should have to do?” Well, that’s….not what’s going on….according to the very question itself….

    It’s very ironic. I think what the questioner was trying to get at was that quandary of how to define “provision.” They were trying, in so many words, to ask if child and house care fit under the category of provision. But Driscoll ignored that implied question and accused the asker of trying to get OUT OF provision for his family.

    But the thing that really gets me….really, really, really gets me….is that Driscoll is lauded as a genius Bible teacher/interpreter/whathaveyou, but he has to both take this verse out of context and ignore the original Greek to get it to mean what he wants it to mean. The verse he references uses gender-neutral language in the original Greek, and is referring specifically to relatives who refuse to take in a widow or orphan who has no source of income. It’s not talking about fathers/husbands specifically, and the overall concept of earning a living.

    It scares me that he can blatantly ignore the basics of Biblical interpretation, but people just go on and on about what a genius Bible teacher he is.

    • smrnda

      From reading this blog, this seems like a problem for many figures in the fundamentalist and evangelical Christian world – not answering the questions you get asked but instead going on a rant which has limited relevance to the question at hand; wasn’t there someone quoted on this blog who assumed that a man had problems with porn when he said he ‘wasn’t attracted’ to a woman?

      Here’s the deal on work. There was a time when many men would come home to their white, middle class wives and tell them how horrible the day was at the office, and many women probably believed them, but women have been working long enough in enough jobs to know that holding a job *isn’t* a crucifixion, and some jobs are actually both not that bad but actually enjoyable. Of course, if Driscoll acknowledged this, he’d have to re-evaluate his entire take on marriage and the roles of men and women.

  • midlife mama

    wow,he really is an idiot . i’ve know a few men who at different times and for different reasons were stay at home Dads and they were good,kind Strong men – life can go in many directions,we have to do what is best at the time. i’ve seen some disturbing quotes by this man and i can only imagine that he must be horribly insecure . how sad that he is so ugly in the name of a God who is not !

  • Judy L.

    How exactly is a man who is a stay-at-home parent and homemaker not providing for his family? There’s so much more to being a ‘provider’ than just earning an income. Providing for one’s family includes care of children and all their physical, nutritional, emotional, educational, and recreational needs, maintaining the hygiene of the home and everyone who lives in it, as well as supporting your partner in ways that make it possible for them to work outside the home. It’s called division of labour, and other than breastfeeding or expressing breast milk into bottles for use later, there is nothing to being a parent or a homemaker that men can’t do.

  • kristen

    I love how Grace implied that if Mark was a SAHD they would not turn out that great. She doesn’t even want her own kids around him!

  • Richard Wade

    My wife and I were both working, but we realized we needed someone home to raise our daughter instead of day care services. My wife’s retirement plan was better than mine, and my temperament and psychology skills made me better suited for our daughter’s challenging personality.

    So I quit my job and became an excellent stay-at-home-dad, I am not embarrassed to say. We played with My Little Karate Ponies, Barbed Wire Barby, Rambo Rainbow Unicorn, and repeatedly watched her favorite movie, The Little Macho Mermaid. She’s grown into a very smart, beautiful, feminine woman who will seriously kick the ass of anyone who gives her any crap. Now when I’m not busy jumping over pits of lava, setting my own broken bones, kicking attacking wild animals in the testicles, and trimming prodigious amounts of chest hair, I write an advice column helping people who have to deal with namby pamby fops like Driscoll, who worships that suspiciously effeminate guy with the long lovely locks and who talked way too much about doing things with sheep.

  • Skjaere

    ‘Cuz everyone knows that staying home with kids isn’t “real” work. That’s why we let chicks do it, with their soft bodies and minds. The poor things can’t handle the “real” work that men do.

  • Becca

    This is more related to Patriarchy, not so much to this post (which I loved), but I’ve read your writing for a while and I’d love to know what you think about an upcoming issue:
    Have you seen anything about the new show All My Babies’ Mamas? A rapper who fathers 11 children with 10 women, is proud of it and creates a reality show. Something in my mind connected it to the Duggers: what is the connection with rampant paternity and wittingly fathering as many children as possible? Working in urban non-profits I see a violence against contraception that is different and similar to this Christian Patriarchy idea. I hear stories of men who flush their girlfriend’s birth control down the toilet when they angrily find out she is using it. Men to declare loudly that anyone who uses a condom is a pu**y…Where is this coming from and does it connect to the fathering seed-spreading mentality of Christian Paternity (which is my background too)?
    I hope to hear from you and love your writing and the wise connections that you make daily.

  • Iris

    Funny, no matter how hard I try I can’t come up with an ounce of respect for that guy. I seem to have a lot of respect for my boyfriend though, who has no hang ups about sewing his (and my) shirt buttons back on. Which I find a very attractive quality in a man.
    Well, guess Satan has brainwashed me.