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Old 10-22-2007, 11:00 AM   #1
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The Godly Woman 101

At Texas theological school: The role of the godly woman 101
Baptist seminary espouses oldtime gender inequality

By Stephanie Simon, Los Angeles Times | October 21, 2007

FORT WORTH, Texas - Equal but different.

You hear that a lot on the lush green campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

God values men and women equally, any student here will tell you. It's just that he's given them different responsibilities: Men make decisions; women make dinner.

This fall, the internationally known seminary - a century-old training ground for Southern Baptists - began reinforcing those traditional gender roles with college classes in homemaking. The academic program, open only to women, includes lectures on laundering stubborn stains and a lab in baking chocolate-chip cookies.

Philosophical courses such as "Biblical Model for the Home and Family" teach that God expects wives to submit graciously to their husbands' leadership. A model house, to be completed by next fall, will allow women to get credit toward bachelor's degrees by learning how to set tables, sew buttons, and sustain lively dinner-time conversation.

It all sounds wonderful to sophomore Emily Felts, 19, who signed up as soon as she arrived on campus this fall.

Several relatives have told Felts that she's selling herself short. They want her to become a lawyer, and she agrees she would make a good one. But that's not what she wants to do with her life.

More to the point, it's not what she believes God wants of her.

"My created purpose as a woman is to be a helper," Felts said firmly. "This is a college education that I can use."

Seminary President Paige Patterson and his wife, Dorothy - who goes by Mrs. Paige Patterson - view the homemaking curriculum as a way to spread the Christian faith.

In their vision, graduates will create such gracious homes that strangers will take note. Their marriages will be so harmonious, other women will ask how they manage. By modeling traditional values, they will inspire friends and neighbors to read the Bible and then, perhaps, to follow the Lord.

"I'm personally going to teach the course in table manners," Paige Patterson said, moments after sneaking scraps of poached chicken off his lunch plate for his black Labrador, Noche.

So far, just eight of the 300 students in the seminary's undergraduate program are enrolled in the homemaking concentration, which is similar to a major and counts toward a bachelor of arts in humanities. Many more women, including graduate students and wives of seminarians, study traditional gender roles in courses such as "Wife of the Equipping Minister." On a recent evening, more than 50 women - some in sloppy sweats, others in prim sweater sets - pulled out notebooks as class opened with student presentations. One woman talked about her hobby of cross-stitching. Another showed how she uses the Internet to track grocery coupons.

Laney Homan, 30, drew excited murmurs with her talk on meal planning, featuring a recipe for a sure-fire "freezer pleaser" - a triple batch of meatloaf (secret ingredient: oatmeal). Thanks to a computerized system for generating grocery lists, Homan said, "I've actually trained my husband to shop for me."

Laughing, she threw her palms toward the heavens and added: "Praise Jesus!"

For the rest of the nearly three-hour class, guest lecturer Ashley Smith, the wife of a theology professor, laid out the biblical basis for what she calls "the glorious inequalities of life."

Smith, 30, confided that she sometimes resents her husband for advancing his career "while I'm changing diapers and getting poop all over me." But then she quoted from Ephesians: "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord." And from Genesis: God created Eve to be a "suitable helper" for Adam.

"If we love the Scripture, we must do it," said Smith, who gave up her dreams of a career when her husband said it was time to have children. "We must fit into this role. It's so much more important than our own personal happiness."

More moderate Southern Baptists disagree, and they counter with their own biblical references. When Jesus dined at the home of two sisters, he praised Mary, who spent the evening studying his teachings, above Martha, who did chores. Elsewhere in the New Testament, the apostle Paul writes that "there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ."

"We're confusing 1950s culture with the teaching of Scripture," said Wade Burleson, a Southern Baptist pastor in Oklahoma. "I nowhere see where the Lord Jesus places limitations on the role of women in our culture."

Homemaking classes went out of style at most secular colleges a half-century ago, but undergraduate Quincy A. Jones said he considers them essential in a world where too many families are fractured and unhappy. Jones, who is married and has five children, said he would encourage his teenage daughter to study homemaking.
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Old 10-22-2007, 11:16 AM   #2
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While I think homemaking is an undervalued set of skills, and that should women choose this path for themselves, they should be supported, it saddens me that this
Quote:
"We must fit into this role. It's so much more important than our own personal happiness."
is happening. It should be a joyful choice, not a duty owed to men.
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Old 10-22-2007, 11:52 AM   #3
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Originally posted by martha
While I think homemaking is an undervalued set of skills, and that should women choose this path for themselves, they should be supported, it saddens me that this is happening. It should be a joyful choice, not a duty owed to men.
Yeah, what *she* said!
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Old 10-22-2007, 11:56 AM   #4
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This saddens me. I have no qualms with women (or men) choosing to stay home with their children and being a homemaker. I've often thought that I might do the same when I eventually have children, but I also don't want to give up being able to use my future degree. These women, though, seem to be the docile, conventional 1950s housewife. Don't think, don't talk, just bake an apple pie and let your big, strong man bring home the bacon. I don't like all this focus on submission either. I believe that the husband and wife should be equal partners. Now, in the truest sense, I do believe the husband is the "head" of the home, as The Bible says: That verse, though, has been used far too long to intimidate and control women; to prevent them from speaking up and having a role as a decision-maker and leader in the home. That's what these women seem to want, and it frusturates me to no end.
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:19 PM   #5
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that ephesians verse so often gets misinterpreted. it perplexes me how far people take this misinterpretation. do the men in this school take a concentration on surrendering to their wives?
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:26 PM   #6
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A Bachelor of Arts degree in Homemaking.

What a great way to spend $100,000!
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:30 PM   #7
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so does this fall under the category of liberal arts? or did they rename it conservative arts?
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Old 10-22-2007, 01:02 PM   #8
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Old 10-22-2007, 01:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by unico
do the men in this school take a concentration on surrendering to their wives?
Agree with this. Or on sacrificing themselves for their wives the way Christ sacrificed himself for the church?

Quote:
Originally posted by U2isthebest

I don't like all this focus on submission either. I believe that the husband and wife should be equal partners. Now, in the truest sense, I do believe the husband is the "head" of the home, as The Bible says: That verse, though, has been used far too long to intimidate and control women; to prevent them from speaking up and having a role as a decision-maker and leader in the home. That's what these women seem to want, and it frusturates me to no end.
Everyone seems to miss that just before Paul gets into husband/wife roles, he uses the phrase "submitting one to another as unto the Lord," which implies that each is submissive to the other's needs, albeit in different ways. When we got married, my wife had grown up quiet, docile, the responsible one in her family. It was like pulling teeth to get her to share her thoughts and feelings with me, but if I'm taking my responsibility as a husband seriously, it's vital that I know what she is thinking and feeling, what wisdom she has, what her take on a situation is. She has saved me from many mistakes!

Quote:
Originally posted by martha

It should be a joyful choice, not a duty owed to men.
I do think there is a virtue in serving for a purpose greater than my own. There are times when husbands and wives have to suck it up and take it -- times when the work of being a husband or a wife isn't fun, times when we do stuff not out of joy but out of obligation. (Same as parenting, same as a full-time job.) At the same time, I don't think God dreamed up marriage as a weight for us to bear, but as a calling for us to joyfully live out. So I do agree with you Martha in that there must be joy in it -- it's just that sometimes the joy comes in the sacrifice of future good over present desire.
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Old 10-22-2007, 01:24 PM   #10
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Originally posted by nathan1977

Everyone seems to miss that just before Paul gets into husband/wife roles, he uses the phrase "submitting one to another as unto the Lord," which implies that each is submissive to the other's needs, albeit in different ways.
that's exactly what I'm sayin! I've seen many focus on one element of this whole passage.
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Old 10-22-2007, 01:29 PM   #11
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I guess I'm just screwy, but to me the most godly thing in the world is real and true equality. Women are not here just to serve men.
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Old 10-22-2007, 01:29 PM   #12
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According to their website, this is a 21-hour concentration within a 129-hour Humanities BA program (Southwestern is, of course, a seminary school, not a regular college or university, so it only offers BAs in Humanities and Music to begin with--you don't go there to study math, political science, electrical engineering, pre-law etc.).

While I don't really see the point in having credit-carrying college courses in home meal preparation, home clothesmaking, and home design (the courses in child development, nutrition and Biblical models of family make more sense), it's not like women students are required to take these courses, or for that matter to attend this particular school at all. Frankly, the article seems more mean-spirited than anything else to me.
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Old 10-22-2007, 01:32 PM   #13
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Originally posted by nathan1977

So I do agree with you Martha in that there must be joy in it -- it's just that sometimes the joy comes in the sacrifice of future good over present desire.
I think you kind of missed Martha's point. She wasn't saying that there shouldn't be sacrifice over desire, but that your role as a human being shouldn't be assigned to you due to your sexual organs, color of skin, sexuality, etc...

Why is it that religious people need such rigid boxes to place people in. Love isn't rigid boxes and hard lines.
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Old 10-22-2007, 01:44 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by nathan1977
Everyone seems to miss that just before Paul gets into husband/wife roles, he uses the phrase "submitting one to another as unto the Lord," which implies that each is submissive to the other's needs, albeit in different ways. When we got married, my wife had grown up quiet, docile, the responsible one in her family. It was like pulling teeth to get her to share her thoughts and feelings with me, but if I'm taking my responsibility as a husband seriously, it's vital that I know what she is thinking and feeling, what wisdom she has, what her take on a situation is. She has saved me from many mistakes!


all this seems well and good to me -- however, i wonder to what extent people conform traditional gender-roles into this relationship, i.e., the male as the decider and the female as the supporter. people can study what they want and live how they please, i guess i'm just wondering about the potential for exploitation on the basis of gender and expectations.

i think Martha got it right -- so long as it's "joyfully" chosen, all should be well and good.
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Old 10-22-2007, 02:21 PM   #15
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Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
Women are not here just to serve men.
I thought we're all here to serve each other. But that's just me.
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