July 25, 2021

The Ruin of Traditional/Biblical Family Life—II

Written by:
Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy

Traditionally, men toiled to provide for the family while their wives tended to the family at home. But increasingly in these days, men choose to be stay-home husbands and dads, while their wives are sent to work and earn money for the family. Recent newspaper articles reported this trend in Singapore, which is also a current global pattern.  

"In Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower's Labour Force statistics show that there were roughly 1,500 stay-home dads in 2017, more than double the figure in 2007. That roughly translates to four out of every 1,000 adult males. This figure might well be higher if more fathers in Singapore who spend at least an equal amount of time (if not more) at home and work would also identify themselves as stay-home dads."


The modern culture is defying the traditional and biblical roles of men and women in the family. The reasonings of Christians who embrace the current reversal of family roles of men and women - such as stay-home husbands/dads instead of stay-home wives/mums – are economic viability and so-called pragmatic, modern-day living. There is also a strong desire and drive to break free from the traditional, biblical gender roles. Advocates of reversal of gender roles portray it as necessary for a comfortable life in modern culture. They contend that the customary/ biblical gender expectations are unhelpful to fulfilling their experience of a life of material comfort and prosperity.

If we choose the pursuit of material prosperity and cosy living environments as more important than fulfilling our God-given roles humbly and faithfully, our decisions and actions will eventually undermine the family sanctity and unity. The Bible warns us, "He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house" (Prov. 15:27). When achieving affluence becomes a priority in life, abandoning and reversing God-ordained roles of husbands and wives within the family would become a necessity. Craving for material glory over and above divine wisdom and truth is causing Christian families to become prey to the evils of secularism and ungodliness of our time.  

The struggles and difficulties that we experience in family life are tests of our believing submission to God's unchanging, authoritative counsels in His Word. Joyful obedience to divine counsels even in hardships is required of us. We must endure our trials with the prayer that we may fulfil our biblical roles assigned to us by God, and thus be instruments of divine blessings in our families.

Let us not give in to the thinking that conformity to God-given roles would diminish our honour and blessings. Proverbs 15:33 assures us, "The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility." To those who reverence God and humbly obey His instructions, there are wonderful promises of divine honour and blessings in due time. 

God-given roles of man and woman are so fashioned to be divine channels of blessings in their homes. Both the Christian man and Christian woman are equally valuable in God's sight (Galatians 3:28). Though their specific roles assigned by God differ, there is absolutely no difference in their spiritual position, possessions and privilege. The roles of man and woman are different, just as the roles of the Father and the Son are different.

The biblical role of the husband is to lead, provide for, and protect his wife and children as the head of the family (Eph. 5:23, 25-32; Col 3:19-21; 1 Cor. 11:3). Scripture’s teaching of God's creation order – that man was made first, and from him, the woman – shows the divine ordaining of man's headship or leadership over the woman (1 Cor. 11:8-9, 1 Tim. 2:12-13). It is the divine imperative that every house is ruled and provided for by the husband/father. It is not a licence for the man to be cruel and tyrannical at home, but to assume his responsibility to lead, provide and protect in a godly and loving manner.

After the fall of man, the Lord God said to the first man, Adam, that he ought to toil to provide for his family – "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground" (Gen. 3:19a). God has told man that there will be no easy, trouble-free way of caring and providing for his family in this sin-marred world. Every man must be prepared for hard labour through fatigue and weariness, to earn a living and provide for his family. However, he can put his confidence in God for His help and favour, as Eccles. 3:10-11a declares, "I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time".

The Lord expects men to provide for their families. Jesus' words in Lk. 11:11-12 testify to the expectation that the father will be the provider for the family – "If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?" (cf. Matt. 7:9-10). Jesus' words show that it is natural even for children to expect their fathers to provide for what they need. They understand that providing for their needs is their father's loving responsibility, so they go to their fathers for the affectionate care they desire.

Similarly, the apostle Paul reminded men in the early church, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Tim. 5:8). Assuming responsibility for one's own family or for a needy closely-related individual is every Christian man's God-given responsibility. When a healthy-bodied man stays home and does not work hard to earn, is he not drastically failing to provide for his family's needs? Is he not failing to exercise faith in God's promise and obey His counsel? Every hardworking, godly man should put his confidence in God's promises, such as in Psalm 128: "Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee" (vv. 1-2). Let every Christian man take heed that his conduct does not contradict his faith in God's Word. 

While the husband must work and provide for the household, the wife's God-given role in the family is to be a loving manager of the home – "…the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed" (Tit. 2:4-5). When the apostle Paul prescribed the solution to the idleness of the younger widows, which would lead to sin (1 Tim. 5:13), it was not that they should go out and find jobs to occupy their time, but that they "marry, bear children, guide the house" (1 Tim. 5:14).

In God's design of the family life, a mother's care for her children should never be absent or lacking in the home. A father is neither created nor expected to provide ‘motherly’ care for the children. Neither can a maid nor a professional child-caregiver be a replacement for a mother's loving presence. In Psalm 128:3, the divine expectation of a wife/mother is beautifully depicted – "Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table." Why would the Bible depict believing women as being "by the sides of thine house", or as one "to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children" (Ps. 113:9)? It is because the woman's primary, God-given work is in the home.

Every wife's calling is, first and foremost, to work at home and not outside of the home. She should not pursue anything that will cause her to neglect her responsibilities at home. Her primary role is to be a submissive helpmeet to her husband (Gen. 2:18; Eph. 5:22, 24) and a joyful mother to her children (Ps. 113:9; Tit. 2:5).

The specific roles which God has given to husbands and wives are not merely suggestions that can be altered according to one's wish and whim, or to the change of culture in society. When a healthy, strong husband/father neglects to work and be the breadwinner for the family, is he not defying God's authoritative counsel? When a married woman leaves her home to pursue a career and fails to provide attention to her husband and children as Scripture demands, is she not failing to honour God's Word? Neglecting the God-given roles will give occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully (1 Tim 5:14b), and the Word of God to be blasphemed (Titus 2:5). May our homes never be a place where our chief enemy, Satan, has his way; neither be it a place where the Word of God is blasphemed.  

Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church adheres to the system of faith commonly known as the “Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
Our Worship Address
SingPost Centre
Level 5 Auditorium
10 Eunos Road 8, Singapore 408600
(next to Paya Lebar MRT station)
Our mailing address
Gethsemane Media Centre
33 Ubi Crescent
Singapore 408584
crossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram