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Saturday, August 11, 2007
New Seminary Subject: Homemaking
New Seminary Subject: Homemaking

The Associated Press
Thursday, August 9, 2007; 2:10 PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offers coursework in Greek and Hebrew, in archaeology, in the philosophy of religion and _ starting this fall _ in how to cook and sew.

One of the nation's largest Southern Baptist seminaries, the school is introducing a new, women-only academic program in homemaking _ a 23-hour concentration that counts toward a bachelor of arts degree in humanities. The program is aimed at helping establish what Southwestern's president calls biblical family and gender roles.

Coursework will include seven hours of nutrition and meal preparation, seven hours of textile design and "clothing construction," three hours of general homemaking, three hours on "the value of a child," and three hours on the "biblical model for the home and family."

Seminary officials say the main focus of the courses is on hospitality in the home _ teaching women interior design as well as how to sew and cook. Women also study children's spiritual, physical and emotional development.

Click here to read the rest.


My first thought? "I want a wife!" ;)

On a more serious note, I'd be much less squicked out by this if female students at that school and in that denomination were able to become pastors. The lack of choice is what really bothers me, not the homemaking courses in and of themselves.

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posted by Lydia at 4:18 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 8/11/2007 07:09:00 PM, Blogger Joanna

    I blogged on this story a while back, and had the same conclusion you did- the exclusivity of the stance that homemaking is THE Biblical calling for all women, and does not provide a choice or an option for God to work in other ways.

    My other question I had- Are men allowed to take these classes? What if they like to cook? Or need to know the value of a child? Just a thought.

  • At 8/11/2007 09:06:00 PM, Blogger Linda

    Yeah. It pretty much made me want to heave. Especially the part of the article in which the program is described as helping the family get back on the right biblical path (or something to that effect). As my mother-in-law said when she heard about it, "Put the buns in the oven, and get your buns into my bed!" Sometimes it feels as though conservative Christianity likens being a good wife with maid service and prostitution. This is a world away from the principles expressed in scripture regarding biblical marriage.

  • At 8/12/2007 12:00:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    This boils my blood...just a personal thing...but I just don't get it.

    I am more than a cook (don't even like to cook!). I am smart (have more education than many of the conservative men in my family). AND I have a real issue with the thinking that I can attend these schools and learn, but they make sure to keep that "wife/woman Biblical responsibilities" thinking in the forefront.

    I am so glad I have left this area of thinking...and fairly early in my life! Thank GOD!

    My mother is still trying to teach my younger sister "how to be a good wife"...meaning she cooks, cleans, etc. and is being discouraged from college etc. (too liberal).

    My daughter is being taught to try anything, do anything she puts her mind to. My son and daughter are taught to help around the house equally, and many times help each
    other. I HOPE that I can encourage a different way of thinking in my home.

  • At 8/12/2007 11:54:00 AM, Blogger Lydia

    Are men allowed to take these classes?

    I'd guess no, unfortunately, given this:

    "The program is aimed at helping establish what Southwestern's president calls biblical family and gender roles."

    The funny thing is, even though I don't identify as a femme/feminine woman, I'd be interested in these sort of classes if they weren't presented as something that women have to do or be in order to be good Christians.

    I truly respect the art of cooking, etc ...I just have no interest in the cultural baggage that is often tied around this sort of stuff.

  • At 8/12/2007 03:50:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    oh my goodness, I loved this -

    Sometimes it feels as though conservative Christianity likens being a good wife with maid service and prostitution

    so so true

  • At 8/12/2007 05:19:00 PM, Blogger Deb

    I have a button hanging on a lanyard from my car's rearview mirror:
    "Women could accomplish more if we had wives."


  • At 8/12/2007 05:30:00 PM, Blogger ONE VOICE OF MANY

    I totally want a wife. I've told my husband this for years. He teases me by saying he thinks that's a grand idea - obviously indicating, in jest, he'd have two gals with their buns in his bed.

    I'm not phased. I just reply "go get me a wife!"

    Michelle K

  • At 8/13/2007 11:32:00 AM, Blogger Sensuous Wife

    I have mixed feelings on this. My first impression is feeling vaguely icky considering how it's hard to be a Southern Baptist if you have ovaries. I have field experience on that score. But my second response, nearly as strong was "wow, some of the things I do that bring so much beauty and joy to my world are being honored and taught to young women."

    Bringing beauty to your personal surroundings and offering nurture to your own body and to your family through cooking nutritious food is a beautiful good thing. Whether you're married or single. It's part of honoring and nurturing my feminine nature. That part of me that likes scented candles and eating off the good china 'just because'. There's nothing wrong with that.

    But something beautiful that can be offered freely and enjoyed with relished by the receiver (even if you embody both roles) something that beautiful should be offered not mandated.

    I'd feel ever so much better about girls receiving mentoring in those skills in the bread-scented kitchen of a friend and not in a stale classroom filled with uncomfortable desks.

    A difference between an invitation from a woman who loves you and an order from a man who doesn't is all the difference in the world. I'm sure the reader can hear my SBC bias talking. Admittedly, there are places in my heart that still need healing from the ways I have been marginalized by Southern Baptist men. But.
    But. But. I am determined to not let my Southern Baptist heartache denigrate my Southern woman homemaking. When my home is fragrant, clean and tasty, I enjoy being there. And I'm all over anything that gives my husband or my children joy. The world can be so cold. I get a little thrill from knowing that the home I offer with my heart and hands is a fragrant beautiful nourishing place to be.-SW

  • At 8/13/2007 12:33:00 PM, Blogger Janice

    SW, you have stated my thoughts so succinctly there isn't much left for me to say. I thank you for that. And I appreciate your heart.

  • At 8/13/2007 01:11:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    SW - I think there is a place for this sort of thing and that it reflects the nature and personality of the people who love it. But it is the idea that this is the way it should be for all women and never for men is where I see the problem. Let people be people. If a woman or a man has a heart for this sort of hospitality then let them serve others fully in that way. Encourage them and train them in love. But the danger arises when women are forced into it or men are ridiculed for it.

  • At 8/13/2007 02:20:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Yes, yes, yes SW & Julie. It's all about celebrating each person's gifts and joys without creating an expectation that each young woman needs to love homemaking in order to be valued and feminine.

    I personally enjoy occasional homemaking, but it sucks the life out of me if I am constantly pouring the majority of my energy into it. I go at it in spurts :) I also love creating and being in non-homemaking ways :)

  • At 8/13/2007 09:43:00 PM, Blogger Nancy

    I guess if I want to learn how to sew or be a clothing designer, I'll go to a design or art school. Or if I want to excel at cooking, there are some awesome culinary arts programs. If I choose a seminary, I think I'm looking for something a little more "meat and potatoes" than meat and potatoes. And probably paying for it too! ; )

  • At 8/14/2007 08:42:00 AM, Blogger ONE VOICE OF MANY

    Good point Nancy. Colleges are supposed to be designed around your specific field of interest and pursuit. If you're in theology school, the assumption should be made that you're not looking for a double-major in home making.

    I LOVE to be at home and doing all the little home making things but even with that said, I still wouldn't pay for courses embedded within a degree in a completely different field. That's a waste of time and money.

    Michelle K

  • At 8/14/2007 05:37:00 PM, Blogger Sensuous Wife

    nancy and onevoiceofmany, it's not either/or, it's both/and.
    I grew up in a career ministry family. And I observed my parents comfort broken people over a hot meal. People really let their hair down when they're eating a meal you prepared for them in your home! I saw a lot of ministry happen in our family dining room. There's more to ministry then homiletics. Coming alongside someone and nurturing them in your home is valid ministry. Especially pastoral care for those in crisis. So in that context, I see learning how hospitality ministry as valid seminary course material.

    I see this dynamic play out in our personal ministry. When we host a gathering of believers in our home, I cook the entree and have fun doing it. I'm literally standing over the stove praying for the people who will be eating the food I prepare. Delighted Husband cleans the house while I cook. We greet our guests and share our story over dinner and invite them to share their story..draw them out. After dinner, it's clear that one or two couples need prayer. Delighted Husband moves to the kitchen and stuffs the dishwasher while I pray with whoever is hurting. It's as natural as breathing. It feels so good to feel the Spirit breathe through me. By the end of the evening, I have flour on my shirt and someone's tears on my shoulder. I feel alive and happy and united with my husband by the experience of ministering together. We usually end up expressing this happy alive united feeling by making love that night. And I don't feel like a prostitute or a maid. Not ever. Not ever!-SW

    janice thank you for affirming my heart.

  • At 8/14/2007 08:25:00 PM, Blogger Nancy

    SW: That would ring more true if men were allowed to take those courses too so they could truly share in the learning of and acting out of hospitality as it relates to home decor and food prep and service. Women are not the only ones with this "spiritual gift".

    Meanwhile...I'm still wondering how sewing fits in with hospitality and the lovely image you paint. I suppose we could figure out a way to make it apply. I'm still not buying it, I suppose because of the "off limits" to one gender or another. As well as the stated puprose which was to "strengthen family" by helping women be better women (I guess).

  • At 8/14/2007 08:38:00 PM, Blogger One Voice of Many

    SW: I also enjoy the same scenario that you described. I see complete benefits in having my home a place of hospitality and kindness - even if no guests are coming that day/night. I want our family itself to live in peace and harmony and care for one another with the benefit of home cooked meals, etc.

    However, if I pay for a seminary degree and Brother Bob pays for a seminary degree, the classes should be the same. Is Brother Bob's courses going to also include How To Skin a Deer and How To Golf so that he can be a jam-up regular joe for his gender role?

    I don't mean to sound argumentative. Just wondering how adding more work to my seminary classes is justifiable because I need to pass Cooking, Cleaning and Sewing classes.

    Michelle K

  • At 8/15/2007 10:07:00 AM, Blogger Janice

    SW, you are quite welcome. Its not often that someone expresses something in a way that really speaks to me.

    For what its worth, I don't see where you negate what anyone else is saying, I read your first post AS an and/both which is one of the reasons it spoke to me so strongly. (I also appreciate the tone of your posts and the graciousness you display, I find it rare in today's world and something often lacking in myself)

    Michelle K, as you said, not to be argumentative - but did it say anywhere that you HAD to take these classes? I am uncertain how this is ADDING to someone's class load.

    I agree with most everything thats been expressed here, questioning if men could take the class, the message they are sending, etc. I agree with SW when she said the sterility of a classroom isn't my ideal setting for this type of mentoring. I was planning on blogging on this topic at my place, but I'll toss out a few things that came to my mind on top of the gender questions already raised.

    How would a 'degree' or 'certification' in "Home Economics" or biblical homemaking (or whatever its called) impact social structures overall - would others who don't have a degree - would they then be viewed as 'less than'?

    Why is it that people don't know these things already? Is it that we are so incompetent that we can't run a home? (men and women alike)

    Why aren't our children being taught these things at home? Is it because there is no one there to teach them? Is it because we weren't taught? Are kids being neglected in this area because Moms and Dads alike are 'too busy' to teach their kids basic skills or advanced skills?

    To me, it feels in some way akin to our loss of community that I think many people feel, even if they don't express it. Relationships. The home. Community.

    I also don't agree with the statement someone quoted about the school helping families 'get on the right biblical path' I do wonder though about a 'biblical path of relationships' which this topic made me think of. So once again I thank you all for sharing your thoughts - it has really gotten me thinking.

  • At 8/15/2007 10:27:00 AM, Blogger Nancy

    "Why is it that people don't know these things already?". I think this particular seminary is WAY off the mark in assuming people, that is women, do NOT already know these things. And then the further leap is that our not knowing is somehow at the basis of the decline of the family. It is wrong and without support, from at least my own experience. I know many wonderful people with great hospitality skills, much akin to what SW described...none of them with any "formal" training. If there IS a decline in family and family values, I don't think women not knowing their "place" and having basic home ec skills is at the root of it all.

    As for myself, I learned at the foot of the master in cooking and entertaining...my own mother. : )

  • At 8/15/2007 12:43:00 PM, Blogger Janice

    Nancy, They may be off the mark, but then I guess I'm off the mark too. That question was mine, ont theirs. :) I beleive a LOT of people have only a rudimentary knowledge of cooking basics for instance - mostly people know how to stick something frozen in the oven or better yet the microwave. Thats my perception based on what I've seen, read, experienced. And it extends to purchasing, household maintainance, sewing, etc.

    I'm glad you learned from your Mom. I wish more people could enjoy that kind of experience.

    I also found it intersting, having finally read the article originally quoted that the article went on to say that the track of learning was aimed at those women with a HEART for home ministry.

    I agree the lack of knolwedge is not the basis for the decline in the family. I see it as the other way around totally. The decline in the family (relationsihp) is resulting in a lack of knowledge (teaching, leading, mentoring).

    I agree with your comment about formal training and part of me beleives this new track of study has as much to do with dollars and cents as it does any other motive.

  • At 8/15/2007 12:47:00 PM, Blogger Janice

    Oh, and by the way Nancy - one of the schools indicated that the some of the wives of some of the seminary students had asked for the classes. Another thought- just because some of us DO have basic skills doesn't mean we wouldn't be interested in learning more advanced skills. Just a thought. :) [Aside from the whole gender bias of the way it was presented as an original point of topic.]


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