“A Misogynist? Who Me?”

This is real news, not the Onion:

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.

Southwestern Baptist, one of the nation’s largest Southern Baptist seminaries, is introducing a new academic program in homemaking . . .

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.”

Open only to women, of course.

Just having the program as an official degree oriented course of study is ridiculous enough. Granted homemaking skills are important and SWBTS nowadays is just a bit more prestigious than the University of Phoenix, but still, this is an institution that grants PhD’s. Don’t they have better things to do with their resources?

The rational for the program, though, is the real kicker:

Seminary President Paige Patterson, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has its executive committee headquarters in Nashville, said wives of seminary students asked for the homemaking courses. The program was approved by seminary trustees in the fall.

“We are moving against the tide in order to establish family and gender roles as described in God’s word for the home and the family,” Patterson said at the denomination’s annual meeting in June. “If we do not do something to salvage the future of the home, both our denomination and our nation will be destroyed.”

Wait! I thought it was the gays destroying America? Oh, I see, the program is designed to subtly undermine the gay influences on our society:

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.

Smart alec comments that depend on stereotypes for their effectiveness aside, what is there to say about Patterson’s ridiculous statement? Anyone who could say something like that – or believe something like that – is insane. Still . . .

One, I’d be willing to bet good money that future church historians will use this program and Patterson’s quotes as an excellent example of people conflating their own cultural preferences with theological ideas. The Bible – a book assembled nearly two thousand years ago – teaches that women today must stay home, cook, sew, and clean while hubby heads out to his job in an air conditioned office? Really? Or does it just lay out some general guidelines about love and respect and leave it to the individual couples in their individual contexts to decide what that means as far as working in or out of the home?

Two, if you really think that our country and the SBC are in a crisis, a priori removing half the population from positions of public leadership seems like an odd way to solve the problem. Oughtn’t we take full advantage of all our resources?

Three, after college I made the mistake of attending Beeson Divinity School for a year. It’s an SWBC type place, but more polite. Well, during that year, noted preacher Barbara Brown Taylor came to speak during one of the normally dreadful chapel services. As expected, she was an amazing preacher. I never dozed once, my attention did not even wander. And neither did anyone else’s. Everyone in that building was riveted. Even so, she was introduced as a “speaker” and what she did was called a “talk,” or a “discussion.” You see, a thirty minute speech delivered in a church setting during a time of worship and about God is only called a “sermon” when a man does it, because the Bible teaches that women can’t be preachers. Just ask Paige Patterson. That was when I first truly understood the lengths to which some folks will go to hold onto an ideology, no matter how contradicted it is by facts.

Four, did you know that Paige Patterson’s house is 9,575 square feet and is valued at about $936,000? Is this an ad hominem? Or an attempt at class warfare? Maybe. Course I don’t think the saying was that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for [a woman what works outside the home] to enter into the kingdom of God.” Maybe Paige out to attend to himself before he tries to solve the world’s problems. Also, most of the couples with kids that I know would be more than happy to have one stay home and one work. But they don’t have Paige’s wealth. It takes two incomes to put food on the table.

Fifth, here’s the Onion worthy stuff:

In a move to counter the mounting criticism that Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and its president, Paige Patterson, have received on account of the “homemaking degree,” offered through the seminary’s undergraduate program, the Fort Worth school has now authorized the development of a supplementary degree concentration in Christian Husbandry.

The new degree, which will launch this fall, will further serve the school’s mission to equip Southern Baptist churches to reclaim the Christian home as a counter-cultural weapon against un-biblical family paradigms.

With elective course offerings in lawnmowing, hedgetrimming, weedeating, and fire-ant prevention, Southwestern’s husbandry degree will achieve Patterson’s objective to make the seminary a premier center for theological education in America.

Finally, nothing I’ve said should be read as an affirmation of the mirror image of Paige’s prejudice: That homemaking is unacceptable and only women who have professional careers are real women. Indeed, I probably agree that the ideal situation – at least until school starts – is one parent working and one parent at home. Thus far, my family is also one of the lucky few who can afford that arrangement. But I would never turn my family’s plans and good fortune into an eternal edict, which the entire populace must obey lest the country be smited.

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6 Comments on ““A Misogynist? Who Me?””

  1. Kathy Says:

    I heard Barbara Brown Taylor preach — er, I mean speak at Beeson a few years back. Wonder if it was the same sermon — um, speech — you heard. She is amazing.

    I love the Christian Husbandry curriculum. It is missing the all-important barbecue techniques class, but I guess a Baptist school can’t offer a course that requres beer drinking.

  2. Texas Redhead Loser Says:

    The church I was forced to attend while growing up picked a lot of its leadership positions to be filled by students from SBTS – our associate pastor, choir directors, youth pastors, etc. They tried to brainwash me from Day One so I already have a special chip on my shoulder that this school represents. Didn’t need any more ammo. Thanks, though, for reminding me why I will not ever attend a Southern Baptist church again.


  3. […] The NorLa Blog on A Misogynist? Who Me? […]

  4. Karen Says:

    You just can’t make this stuff up. I think that there are women in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who watch way too much Trading Spaces and can’t get into a real design or culinary school. There are plenty of legit institutions in the area to learn those skills. And where is the young family going to find the money for the extra coursework? Seminary isn’t cheap. This isn’t for the devout-it’s just the rich and bored.

    But the fire ant course would come in handy…

  5. James Says:

    Hey, be fair to Beeson. From what I remember, all chapel speakers (even the boring ones) were introduced as speakers–and there was never any distinction (overtly or insinuated) made between female and male speakers. BBT was not the only woman speaker by far. Not to mention the fair rep. of female faculty, the inclusion of women in preaching classes (which is meaningful b/c it doesn’t happen at all baptist seminaries), and the numerous female ministers trained there.

    It’s also not fair to group those who hold to a view that restricts women from particular church offices with those who support Southwestern’s program in particular or view of women in general. I don’t think you outrightly did this, but it seemed to be the case with some of the news reports on this story.

  6. wheeler Says:

    james,

    all i can tell you is that after she spoke, i heard plenty of folks refer to her as a speaker or something similar, but none call her a preacher.

    as for the “fair rep” of female faculty, i only remember two female profs.

    about the news reports, i came up with the admitedly inflamatory title to this post because i think anyone who refuses to allow women to follow god’s call simply because they are women really has no room to complain if they are accused of having a generalized gender bias. they may not be biased in other areas, but it certainly fair to infer form a bias in one area that they are biased in all areas.


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