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College Schools Women in Biblical Homemaking

posted by mkress

By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service

On Wednesdays and Friday afternoons, sophomore Emily Felts will be attending a course at the College at Southwestern in Fort Worth, Texas, that’s not held in a typical classroom.
One of a dozen students, she will sit around a mahogany dining room table at the home of Dorothy Patterson, wife of the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, for the “Biblical Model for Home and Family” course.
The school’s new women-only concentration in homemaking — with labs in cooking and “clothing construction” — has already drawn criticism from some who say it hardly fits a modern view of women’s roles. But Felts is thrilled the school has begun a focus on home life from a conservative Christian perspective.
“I wanted to be a pioneer student in the homemaking concentration,”
said Felts, 18. “This is just one school’s attempt to reclaim biblical standards for the roles of the woman, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
As gender debates have divided both evangelical Christians and society at large, the college — started in 2005 by seminary officials
— has decided to plant itself firmly in the stance of its Southern Baptist brethren. They say wives should submit “graciously” to their husbands.
“It is homemaking for the sake of the church and the ministry, and homemaking for the sake of our society,” explained Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Seminary, at the June meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio, where he announced the program.
“Because, folks, if we do not do something to salvage the future of the home, both our denomination and our nation will be destroyed.”
Critics wonder why the school would focus on this particular topic, and why it’s designed solely for women.
“Faith speaks to moral, social and spiritual matters, not matters like boiling water,” argued Robert Parham, a frequent Southern Baptist Convention critic, in an editorial for the Web site of the Baptist Center for Ethics, which he directs.”Water boils, spoons stack in kitchen drawers and sewing machines sew the same way for Christians and non-Christians.”
And Mimi Haddad, president of the group Christians for Biblical Equality, questioned why men can’t avail themselves of these tips on homemaking.
“Often you have women who are so exhausted, and so it seems to me it might be a better use of the church’s talent to help men assume some responsibilities in the home and in child-rearing, because very often this is one place where they’re less inclined,” she said.
But the students in the program say the homemaking courses — which amount to 23 hours out of a 131-hour load that can include Western civilization, Greek and Old Testament — aren’t preparing them solely for a life at home.
Sarah Babler, a freshman at the college, envisions herself as a missionary someday, or perhaps a worker in women’s ministry.
“Working as a missionary or any businesswoman — anything that you end up doing — you’re always going to have a home,” said Babler. “It’s always going to help you to know basic nutrition and how to eat correctly and how to take care of your home and your family. It just seemed so practical.”
Ashley Mills, a junior who is taking the class but not pursuing the concentration, said she thought it might be good preparation for marriage. Mills, 20, said she was skeptical about the class at first, but now believes her concerns were unfounded.
“They’re not trying to demean women at all or tell them that if you’re in a career that you’re somehow less than a Christian woman,” she said. “They’re just going back to what we believe is the source of truth and see what does God say about women.”
A recent Gallup Poll showed that women are split on the proper role for women at home and in the office: 50 percent said they would rather work outside the home, and 45 percent saying they would prefer to stay home.
Terri Stovall, dean of women’s programs at Southwestern Seminary, said the homemaking concentration was offered because women were asking for it. In fact, the seminary offered a “Domestic Science” course in
1909 that is very similar to a “Orientation to Homemaking” class that now counts five students.
Judging from the several e-mails she gets each day requesting application information for next fall, Stovall said she expects the number of students in the homemaking concentration to grow.
The program is modeled after a similar but broader set of courses at The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, Calif. Pat Ennis, the chairwoman of the home economics department there, began it in 1987 after first developing it in the 1970s at a San Diego college. Like the Pattersons, she cites the second chapter of Titus, a short book in the New Testament, that calls for young women to be “good homemakers.”
Dorothy Patterson, who has taught other classes specifically for seminary students’ wives, said she believes there is a Christian approach to homemaking that she can share with her students.
For example, she said, she offers the sweaty FedEx delivery man at her door a cookie or a cold bottle of water.
“I don’t do that because I have gone to a homemaking program and been trained,” she said. “I do that because of certain things that God has done in my life, which makes me want to reach out through my home to touch lives.”
Copyright 2007 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.



  • JohnQ

    Hmmm. I am without words after reading this.
    Peace!

  • Ryan

    I think it’s fine if some young women want to take homemaking courses, for if traditional gender roles are supported by a young woman, then I support her choice. Not all women want to work outside of the home. Besides, going by the testimony of students of this course, these lessons can be taken outside the home, into the public sphere. I suppose it’s more a matter of traditional values than of traditional roles.

  • Henrietta22

    Quote: “Because folks, if we do not do something to salvage the future of the home, both our denomination and our nation will be destroyed”.
    If the Baptists at this Baptist College think they have to salvage the future of their Baptist homes and denomination, more power to them; but please leave the rest of our nations wives alone….they will decide what their own wifely duties are, and how to execute them.

  • Donny

    Henrietta22,
    And that is precisely what these women at this colleg are doing. They are making their own choices.
    Burns the Progressive I’ll bet.
    Please tolerate their diversity.

  • pagansister

    Role of women from the Conservative Christian prospective? That’s for sure! Somehow going back several centuries or farther to look for the “woman’s role” complete with “wives should sumit”graciously” to their husbands”(I don’t think so) wouldn’t draw me to this school. It’s 2007. If I want to learn to cook and sew, it wouldn’t be in a conservative college class. Submission to men? What was the point of the 1970’s?
    Obviously the women who decide to attend will either be happy or sad with their decision, and leave if it doesn’t turn out as they expect it to be. Really don’t think a liberal thinking woman is going to attend a very conservative Southern Baptist college. This is not the place to learn “equal rights for women”.

  • pagansister

    Donny:
    “Please tolerate their diversity.” (meant for H22.)
    Interesting statement, Donny.

  • Anonymous

    I am not sure why any female would want to be subservient to males. However, if that is what they freely choose….I support their individutal choice.
    As far as the Biblical role of females….it would seem that they would fall under the heading of property. Again, not sure why any female would like to claim that role…but again, I support their individual choice.
    Peace!

  • nnmns

    Colleges had Home Ec majors or something with a different name but similar content for decades; some may still. It’s great for someone in the family to know how to cook, perhaps sew, keep books, etc. but far too many women have gotten into marriages with no marketable skills and found they were trapped with a skunk. One of the best things that ever happened to women was when a lot more of them became able to support themselves, whether they needed to leave a bad marriage or to help their families or because they were more fulfilled.
    I can’t imagine a “Christian” twist adding value to such an enterprise. It’s not like a non-Christian has never offered anyone a cookie.

  • Windsors Child

    My wife and I have enjoyed nearly forty years of marriage and have tried over the years to model our relationship on Biblical principles. Yes, my wife believes in submission to her husband, but that does not mean she is my property or that she does not think for herself. Many times I thank the Lord that she has saved me from the embarrassment of a bad idea I had by letting me know what she thought about it before I shared it with others. The Bible emphatically does not teach that a wife is her husband’s property; it teaches she is his helpmate. She is his equal in spiritual abilities, his equal in intelligence, his equal before the Lord. But she submits to her husband because he loves her and the two have become one to work together for the good of their family and of others. Praise God for schools like Southwestern and for Christian women like Emily Felts. And if you don’t agree with what the school is doing, good grief, you don’t have to attend its classes!

  • Donny

    It’s just nice to see good people are still around.
    That young people are willing to reject the progressive paradigm is exciting to witness.
    Ooops, excuse me, my wife just told me to get off the computer and . . .
    (Psst, I love her like Christ loves the Church. And being the equal of someone of the opposite sex in the kind of marriage that Jesus taught was God’s design for men and women is awesome.)
    Gotta go!

  • Henrietta22

    Donny, I’ll try this again. The quote from the article said: “Because folks, if we do not do something to salvage the future of the home, both our denomination and our nation will be destroyed”.
    Please read this whole statement by the teacher of the Bible Class. I said, I think if the Baptists want to do this for themselves, that’s great! See right here I’m being tolerant for what they believe. Now, the teacher also said that if they don’t do this and infers that all women should do this, because if they don’t the wives are going to destroy our nation!!! That this Baptist College is talking for our whole country ,who thankfully, don’t think like these unprogressive people is rather assuming on their part that only they know, again, what is right for everyone to do and think, and act.

  • pagansister

    WC:
    In December I will have been married 43 years. Being submissive to my husband hasn’t been my role in this marriage. He and I are equal, sometimes I “give in’ and sometimes he does. I call that equal. We worked as equals for the good of our family. Everyone’s marriage is unique.
    Happy to hear that you too have had nearly 40 years of marriage. From what I hear, we are unusual. My children tell me that they have few friends that have parents that are still together.
    nnmns:
    I remember “Home EC.” in 8th grade. I was a disaster in it. Anyhow, the university I received my Elementary Ed. degree from, also had a Home Ec. dept. My best friend studied in that area. Received her degree in “fashion design”. However I think that dept. was canceled many years ago. The university was not a small Chrisitan school, but a state one.

  • Henrietta22

    You’re so right PS everyones marriage is unique, and after 54 years together, with good times, inbetween times, and very sad times we have been our support for each other. Sometimes he’s my leader, sometimes I’m his leader, love is the balancer, patience, kindness, and harmonizing beliefs are the fuel of marriages. I took Home Ec. in H.S. we had very good instruction in NJ when I was a teenager. It was electives, as I had all my College Prep classes and had time to take these. They were fun, and productive. I already knew how to sew, but it gave me time to make more clothes on schooltime. We had some boys in our cooking class, and that made more fun!! Yes I learned how to cut grapefruit, and color it green! The rest of the time I played. My husband thinks I’m a gourmet cook, and I let him. ;)

  • pagansister

    H22:
    Happy to hear of another long term married couple. Have had many people ask me if I’d do it again (marry) and I have always answered “in a heartbeat”.

  • jestrfyl

    They are racing headlong, right into ther 19th century!
    My first thought is that Biblical Homemaking ends at the bathroom door. I recall NO mention of an extra supply of good old Double Ply in the Exodus. I see no reason to even bring feminine hygiene products into this discussion. So will the ladies learn to cook on camel dung, like their modern middle eastern counterparts? Ain’t no microwaves or electric stove tops in the Bible. Will they also be expected to dress out a sheep, butcher and cook that rascal for a sabbath meal?
    I respect much of what the Amish do too. But even some of their choices seem more like equivocation than real counter statements to our modern world.
    All foolishness aside, why DON’T some of the swarthy lads learn to do a little home style fending as well? Is i too hard, too messy, or simply dmeaning? All of those are reasons FOR their inclusion. And if, for some sad reason the wife does not measure up, will the ladies be instructed on Biblical Divorce proceedings (that will surely lead to a high drop out rate).

  • jestrfyl

    Henrietta, Pagansister and all,
    I don’t think I’ve been married as long as you – we have 28 clicks on the marriagometer. But those years happened more because of mutual respect, expectations, and consideration than on mere obediance and obsequious behavior on either party’s behalf. Sure there is some division of labor – even some along traditional lines – but it is a product of working from strengths rather than from objectively presribed rules and roles. I do the dishes, vacuum and/or sweep, and take care of the laundry (my own and others) – as well as yard work, machinary maintaince, and bug/pest/critter removal at all hours of the day or night.

  • Donny

    Rampant STD’s (children with STD’s), porn at a fingers touch, bastard children as common as common as white on rice, fatherless homes, single mothers of multiple-fathered offspring and gay marriage. It seems to have started with the “feminist” movement. Which is hilarious in terms of progress, because mostly it is promiscuous men that benefitted. (Who your baby daddy?)
    Hugh and Larry are laughing all the way to the bank.
    Doesn’t look like the “Progressives” have brought our world any progress at all.
    They took us head long backwards thousands of years.
    Three cheers for this school trying to bring real healthy progress to society.
    Thank God that some people still hold to the formula for success of society of the man-woman household bringing us a truly civilizied world.

  • Anonymous

    My wife and I (of 6 years last weekend) divide our labor along traditional lines, which really means my wife just works a heck of a lot more at home even though she also works outside the home like me. I should have taken home ec in high school. When my wife leaves the house for a day or two and I lose a button I’m totally helpless. You should see me when she sends me to the grocery store in the produce section. I have to ask strangers what the vegetables are I’m looking at. She laughed at me the other day because I had no idea where “we” kept the ironing board. She learned this homemaking stuff from her mother. I would need a class.

  • MichiganCatholic

    The previously described arrangement is purely voluntary (at least I think it is!). My wife, being a young and progressive woman would kick my butt if I told her she had to “submit” to me, traditional gender roles aside. When that passage is read at Catholic weddings you usually see a lot of smiles and elbow poking. That said there is nothing wrong with someone staying home to focus their efforts there. It sounds like these students find this course useful and that’s great. I don’t think, as others have said, that there is anything particularly Christian about the various tasks involved in “homemaking”. Catholics speak of the home as the “domestic church” where the faith is to be practiced and children are to be taught charity, justice, solidarity, devotion, etc., by the example of both parents. From what I understand about Judaism, there is much emphasis on the home. For Orthodox Jews, for example, there certainly is a form of religious homemaking, in the sense of preparing kosher meals, cleaning the house according to the religious rules, etc. This does not appear to be the case with Christians, except, of course, that a good Catholic wife makes fish sticks on Friday during Lent.

  • nnmns

    “Rampant STD’s (children with STD’s), porn at a fingers touch, bastard children as common as common as white on rice, fatherless homes, single mothers of multiple-fathered offspring and gay marriage. It seems to have started with the “feminist” movement. Which is hilarious in terms of progress, because mostly it is promiscuous men that benefitted. (Who your baby daddy?)”
    Donny you need to pay more attention to the world around you. Let’s count up a few things that have changed in the last several decades that have really contributed to some of the effects you complain about.
    Mobility. People move all over, for jobs or because they want to. So people don’t grow up in neighborhoods with aunts and uncles and cousins everywhere to see them when they misbehave and to give their parents a hand with the kids when they need one.
    Decline of the middle class. With the union busting and off-shoring that’s gone on (to the benefit largely of the folks who send big bucks to Republicans) households need two wage earners. So a lot of parents who’d like to stay home are more important to their families earning income.
    TV, DVD’s and the internet. People do have a lot more choices now in their entertainment (though there’s always been porn) and some like it hot. And all that passive entertainment of all types surely distracts from people growing and learning things they should.
    So, Donny, though you’d probably like all women to have to depend on a man for their living as was largely the case before the feminist movement, they are better off not having to depend on someone else who may turn out to be a jerk and that movement is not the cause of the actual and imaginary problems you identified. And the 1950’s you apparently imagine as edenic were in fact not all that great.

  • jestrfyl

    I read the article again and I have to say, the whole thing carries a whiff of Taint of Taliban (the scent of oppression)- say it with a deep, announcer’s voice. I suppose that is to be expected, both groups share an attitude toward women that is more fearful than respectful. The good news is that provides a point of commonality that may cross otherwise impenetrable borders.

  • pagansister

    Donny:
    You mentioned a lot of problems in your 8:36 AM, 5 Sept. ’07 post. I’m not going to copy them here, as you obviously know what they are. However I find it intresting that you think ALL these problems would be solved if indeed everyone had a “mom and dad household” as the bible (according to you) says. Those are not always great either! Heard of child abuse, neglect, etc. that occures in some mom and dad homes. That situation isn’t a cure all.
    Do you really think that all those situations weren’t happening in the time of Christ and before? Human beings haven’t changed their behaviors since time began. The fact that we know more about them is due to modern technology etc. Men and women had STDs, children were fathered by different men (with the same woman),there were even (gasp) homosexuals. It all started with the FEMINIST movement? Give me a break!
    Women aren’t going to be 2nd class citizens, or submissive to men (unless they would want to for some reason) anymore. Been there, done that. Unfortunately in this world, there are still women who are 2nd class citizens.
    Sorry, can’t go with your theory that “progressives” caused all the problems in this world. If there is a god, isn’t he/she supposed to take care of this? IYO,humans are doomed, because we aren’t following his/her message…which is what?
    This college isn’t progressive, and I’m sure that is fine for the folks who want to go there. It certainly isn’t for everyone. Men ought to give the homemaking a try, however, as some men choose to be house husbands, while there wives go to work outside the home. How do you feel about that? Is it non-traditional.

  • Windsors Child

    I think there is a basic misunderstanding of what Biblical submission of a wife to her husband actually is. It seems that many view it as suppression of the wife, when it is not that at all.
    As I mentioned in an earlier post, my wife and I have had a nearly 40-year marriage built on the Biblical principal that the husband is to be the head of the home and the wife is to submit to him as the head. Does this mean I snap my fingers and my wife does my bidding? Please! Don’t think that happens in our home because it doesn’t. My wife is too smart for that.
    Now that I am retired and my wife is still working, I do dishes, clean bathrooms, vacuum carpets, do laundry, and so on. When our three children were at home, my wife stayed at home with them, by her own choice as well as my preference. She and I are life-long partners in our marriage. We both work hard to make it work, and we both enjoy the benefits of all the years we have spent as husband and wife.
    My wife’s submission has manifest itself in recognizing that I am the head of the home, which does not mean I am the dictator, but the head. My wife chose to submit to my career moves. When my ministry took me from one city to another, she gladly followed me in the move. She has had input in every decision we have made regarding our marriage and our family. I have yielded to her feelings on many occasions. But the bottom line is she wanted me to make the final decision and she has always submitted to that.
    That is Biblical submission as practiced in our home and the homes of many others who believe in applying the tenants of Scripture to every day life. As the husband I strive to lead in love. As the wife she strives to submit in love and trust.

  • JohnQ

    Here is a nice outline:
    Women’s Biblical Homemaking Guidelines
    Peace!

  • JohnQ

    Here is a nice outline:
    Women’s Biblical Homemaking Guidelines
    Peace!

  • pagansister

    JohnQ:
    Looked at the “Women’s Biblical Homemaking Guidelines”. Was a good laugh! Thanks for the site address.

  • jestrfyl

    So do they get a discount on their marriage license if they have this degree? Do they get a refund if they wind up in divorce court? Is this sponsored, like NASCAR, by some of the food, linen, or cleaning product manufacturers? (So they get cool patches to sew onto their aprons!)

  • jestrfyl

    One mor ehtought
    The example given by Ms Patterson, of the FedEx guy getting water or a cookie from a home-alone housewife sounds like the set up for a porno film. Am I missing something here?

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