(This question seems to especially apply to modern western societies)

I’ve come across renown preachers (MacArthur, Bachmann, et al) that the man is the provider according to God’s design of the family

Granted the Scripture does say that the man is the leader/head of the family

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:3

However a leader does not by extension also have to be the provider in order to lead. One can lead without also providing. Leaders give guidance, instructions, direction and they can do all these without also having to provide.

Or put differently, if a man is in between jobs does he stop being the leader? No, obviously not. Or if the man becomes physically handicapped or is already handicapped, is he excused from being a leader in his family just because he cannot provide? No, of course not. ‬ ‭ There is a passage that comes to mind which seems to be misapplied and misinterpreted.

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” ‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭

This text assumes many things. Among which are the obvious, he has living relatives, they are in need, he has the ability to provide and is not in need himself. In essence it refers to someone who has resources but refuses to help, such a man has denied his faith.

But a man that would help yet barely has enough should not help a relative at the expense of his own family. Or would help but is handicapped. Or as it sometimes happens the wife earns significantly more than the husband and paying childcare for strangers (Christian or not) to raise the children seems like an abdication of responsibility as a parent contrary to other Scriptures that Instruct parents to teach their children. Or settling for less income so the man can provide puts undue and unnecessary stress on the family. Or more pointed, how is the man leading if his pursuit of providing is getting in the way of him spending time with the family?

Hypothetically If the father is home and teaching his children, focusing on the spiritual health of his family while the wife has a well paying job beyond what he could manage on his education path, is he not a leader? And if he chooses to distribute the income to help relatives and those in need though he didn’t earn the pay check has he denied the faith?

So can someone explain why some Christian leaders insist that the man must be the provider? What text are they basing this teaching on?


John MacArthur in the link above goes along these lines

So if you want your marriage to be blessed, you take care of your wife. When you know she has a need, you seek to meet it. When you know she has a secret longing in her heart and it’s certainly reasonable and will add to her virtue and her wellbeing and her happiness and her ability to fulfill her role, you do everything you can to meet that need. Something is seriously wrong when a man sees his wife as a cook and a clothes washer and a babysitter and a sex partner and that’s it. Something is seriously wrong when he puts her in the place of the breadwinner. She is a God-given treasure to be cared for, to be cherished, to be nourished, to be your loving helper, to fulfill your need for companionship, for the fulfillment of physical desire, for the fulfillment of love and partnership and friendship and to produce children in a home.

Another excerpt from John MacArthur

She is not the nourisher. She is not the provider. You’re to do that. That is the man’s responsibility. And if a man doesn’t do that, according to 1 Timothy 5:8, he is denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Throughout Scripture, the man is always the provider as Christ is the provider for His church. That’s key. We provide nothing. The church provides nothing. We just receive Christ’s provision, protection, preservation, His care, His nourishing, His cherishing. It comes to us. In a sense, it’s very one-sided. Men, we are to provide that in our homes. You say, “Well, I’d have to sacrifice my career to do that.” Then sacrifice it. Maybe you can’t climb as fast and as far up the ladder as you would like, but in the end you’re going to be so richly rewarded in the bliss of that home that it will be far worth every sacrifice. Christ provides everything for us, to nurture us, to warm us, to provide the security for us.

  • Chapter and verse.
    – user46876
    Sep 28, 2020 at 11:48
  • On a more serious note, I've stumbled upon Sirach 25:22 a few weeks before, by accident. The Romanian version translates it somewhat differently than the English, by relating the three nouns to the situation itself, rather than the woman.
    – user46876
    Sep 28, 2020 at 12:07
  • Can you ask these leaders what they are basing their statements on? Or at least give us an example of a Christian leader making this claim? Sep 28, 2020 at 12:50
  • I have no doubt that quite a lot of teachers have said this - Mark Driscoll comes to mind - but a couple of explicit quotes would certainly complete this question (especially if they were from more respected people than Driscoll).
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 28, 2020 at 13:02
  • 1
    I have some links but I’m looking for something explicit not so implicit. Like Bachmann In this clip youtu.be/f14z3cnNzzo Says women shouldn’t be leaders and should be in the home Titus2:5 m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_3367765 This clip from minute 3 makes the claim but I don’t get Bible verses. I don’t disagree with men having leadership role I’m asking why is leadership tied into being the bread winner? I’ll keep looking to find clips or articles that are less ambiguous
    – Autodidact
    Sep 28, 2020 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


The role of leadership is spiritual and the role of provider is material. Before we go any further we should put 1 Tim 5:8 into context to establish the principle involved. Here is a partial quote [1] from a relevant article:

Paul is stating negatively the truth he had just laid out in verse 4: “But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” Children are to take care of their parents and grandparents. Those who fail to provide for their relatives are worse than unbelievers in that they are not living out their faith. Paul repeats this principle in verse 8 because, apparently, many in the church at Ephesus were violating this command.

The phrase’ Anyone who does not provide’ in 1 Timothy 5:8 is a first-class conditional statement in the original, which could be better translated as “When any of you does not provide” or “Since some of you are not providing.” The word ‘provide’ is from the Greek pronoeo, which means “to plan before.” It indicates that forethought is necessary to provide care for one’s family.

If a stay-at-home dad is shirking his duty to provide for his family, then he is sinning. Failing to provide or plan for the needs of his family makes a believer guilty of two things. First, “he has denied the faith.” This does not refer to the loss of personal salvation. Paul here is not judging the ultimate destination of the soul but current actions. A person who refuses to provide for his family is living contrary to what he says he believes and has denied the principle of compassionate love at the heart of the Christian faith (John 13:35; Romans 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:9). In other words, the real command here, for stay-at-home dads and for everyone, is that there must be no contradiction between faith and conduct. URL: https://www.gotquestions.org/stay-at-home-dad.html[1]

The Bible nowhere says that women are not allowed to help to provide financially for their families. Take, for example, Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyarita, who was a worshipper of God (Acts 16:14). What the Bible does say is that it is the primary responsibility of a man to provide for his family, and that includes his parents. 2,000 years ago there was no welfare state or social security. Aged parents, widows and orphans were dependent on help from their families or nieghbours. That is why Paul made this point – for Christian men to set a godly example.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27).

There is no condemnation or shame if a man is physically or mentally unable to make financial provision for his wife and children (if he has any) or his aged parents (if they are still alive). What is condemned is wilful and deliberate abdication of responsibility.

Neither is there any conflict if a husband and wife agree to share the responsibility of earning an income and taking care of the children and their home. In this situation, the husband continues to provide spiritual leadership as well. But he could not lead if he was wilfully abdicating his responsibilities to provide (materially) for the welfare of his own flesh and blood. Such a man would not deserve respect and could not expect to become a leader in the church.

Of course, a man does not have to be married in order to hold a position of authority and leadership within the Christian congregation. That is not compulsory!

EDIT: This question has just been change by the asker to mean something completely different to the original question. It's called "changing the goal posts".

  • Interesting, so stay at home fathers are not Biblical but shared parenting is okay. What if both parents work the same amount of hours? What if she works more and/or earns more? Is that still Biblical or not?
    – Autodidact
    Sep 28, 2020 at 15:04
  • Please resist the temptation to put words into my mouth. I did not say that "stay at home fathers are not biblical". If the husband stays at home to mind the children and the home, thereby enabling his wife to go to work to earn money, then they are BOTH contributing to the finances - one directly and the other indirectly. Why, they may even have a joint bank account! And what on earth does working more and earning more have to do with anything? A marriage is a PARTNERSHIP (yes, I know that's terribly old-fashioned and out-of-date). Who's counting? They work TOGETHER and by so doing provide.
    – Lesley
    Sep 28, 2020 at 15:14
  • If a stay-at-home dad is shirking his duty to provide for his family, then he is sinning. Failing to provide or plan for the needs of his family makes a believer guilty of two things. First, “he has denied the faith.” You quoted the above. Did I miss read it? I don’t think so. Your comment reads different to your post. I’ll reread it again a few more times
    – Autodidact
    Sep 28, 2020 at 15:16
  • No, I did not miss that, but perhaps you missed the main point: "If a stay-at-home dad is shirking his duty to provide for his family, then he is sinning. Failing to provide or plan for the needs of his family... " That is not describing a situation of shared labour where both parties agree to come together for the benefit of the family. That quote refers to men who deliberately shrik their duty, who fail to make provision for their family and simply abdicate responsibility to their wife. What's your problem here?
    – Lesley
    Sep 28, 2020 at 15:22
  • 1
    @Autodidact A problem with the way the Q is wandering around, and your comments, is in trying to shoe-horn a biblical principle into specific situations. General principles are going to have general applications, and specific ones are up to the individuals concerned to work out. E.g. a husband may have points on his licence due to bad driving but his wife holds an Advanced Driving certificate. Does he still have to drive to be the 'head', the 'leader'? Of course not! But a proud husband might insist on always driving when they are together! And Proverbs 31 puts paid to nonsense about providing
    – Anne
    Sep 28, 2020 at 15:26

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