Swinging from the Vine / 824 posts / 2,833 comments / feed / comments feed

addendum to my post below

If you look at the CBE post comments about the SBC “homemaking” classes, you will see that the cost of that program is over 60k for non Southern Baptists (abt. half that if you’re SBC).

So let’s examine this:

A woman acquires $35 thousand of debt to learn how to be a good pastor’s wife, complete with skills in homemaking, child rearing and schedule planning along with learning how to be a good submissive wife and a “friend” to her husband. This (in theory) equips her for her proper godly role as a woman, wife, mother and pastor’s wife. Now, if of course she has leadership aspirations, she can take classes that teach her how to work in children’s ministry or women’s ministry but chances are these won’t be paid positions. So she’s paying the SBC seminary to acquire skills (skills that she could learn from any woman over the age of 65 for free) that will not earn her much if anything in the real world so she can marry a man who will have few if any skills that will make money in the real world. Not to mention that if her husband has an affair or just up and leaves her, she’s stuck regardless.

I have so many problems with this scenerio I have no idea where to start. Let’s stick with the justice issue for now.

This mentality of gender roles is unjust. It puts women at the mercy of men. They need to have a husband in order to survive. They need to have a husband in order to have an identity because after all, how can you be a pastor’s wife without the “pastor” or “wife” part of it. This sort of thing bothers me not because of the theological differences I have with the SBC (which are many), but because it leads to the overall subjugation of women. The idea that women’s roles are tied to their home, hearth and husband leaves them in a position of servitude without an identity separate from those roles…and then to take money from them to “teach” them how to do those things? well.. that’s just disturbing. As I said before, I thought we in American were beyond this sort of foolishness.

As I said in the comments below, I guess if a woman wants this life for herself, she should be able to have a school where she can learn how to do it well. But my fundamental concerns remain and I would honestly have less a problem with it if women were allowed to participate in the other education programs at these schools. I still think the whole “homemaker degree” thing is goofy but I think lots of things are goofy and usually just chalk it up to a difference in opinion. I don’t want it to sound as if I’m mocking women who think this is the next best thing since sliced bread, my beef is with the institutions and the core beliefs about gender and sexuality, not with the women.

We are doing our society a huge disservice by continuing to prep people for roles in the nuclear family dynamic - the nuclear family is dying and we as a church have failed in generating true biblical families - which means we’re leaving people with no family identity trapped in a system that is not viable … a system that is not even godly. In other words, we continue to teach men to make money, women to manage the home/family and isolate that family against the “big bad world” without any sense of the broader family unit.

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  1. sonja — August 30, 2007 #

    I’ll admit to saying this almost entirely for shock value … but think about it for a minute before you throw it away.

    Taking money from women in order to subjugate them is …


    Just think on that for a while … then throw it away if you must. But there is a kernel of truth in that.

  2. Erin — August 30, 2007 #

    ooo sonja, thems fightin words…

    don’t know if i’d put it quite so strongly…oh, ok, i probably would.

  3. Dianne — August 30, 2007 #

    “leads to the overall subjugation of women. The idea that women’s roles are tied to their home, hearth and husband leaves them in a position of servitude without an identity separate from those roles” - yep . . . that is the mentality. They don’t care about the identity of women, believe me. Women need to be nothing so the men can be something. Everything is geared towards “building up the Men of God” - sick, really. Our identity comes from God, not another person, right?

    How’s this for a real life illustration. The “pastor” of the mega-church (in their mind anyways) used to come to the college once a month for “Ladies Night.” All the women, students’ wives, female faculty, etc. used to gather in the auditorium, screaming like a bunch of kids at a rock concert . . . “he” would make his appearance and all kinds of goofy stuff ensued. He’d read letters from boyfriends . . . flex his muscles (oh joy, he was like 60 years old), give a little “talk” about how important we were to the ministry, and end up giving stuff away at the end of the night . . . it was weird. I went a few times but it never sat right with me. There was just something demeaning about it, but most of the men bought into that mentality.

    My thought - this stems from a fear and control based mentality.

  4. Paul — August 30, 2007 #

    grin, maybe to pay for the classes one would have to go out and get a job and a career would ensue ;)

  5. Heather Fischer — August 30, 2007 #

    That’s horrendous. We recently have seen a surge of this terrible book by Debi Pearl named “Created to Be His Help Meet”. I really, really, thought we were beyond this stuff. Augh!

  6. Julie Clawson — August 30, 2007 #

    OMG - they are going how far in debt to learn basic skills?!! Sonja’s right - it is closer to pimping than anything else…

  7. Mak — August 30, 2007 #

    oh Heather, please stay away from the Pearl crap - especially their parenting stuff - - it’s all very disturbing and the pearls are basically cult leaders. Sadly though, they are very popular in evangelical christian circles.

  8. Bonny — August 31, 2007 #

    Acrewing large amounts of debt to learn how to be a good little budgeter @ home. Love it! I suppose that if you follow the Titus 2 example, you aren’t exposed to hundreds of future SBC pastors, thereby ensuring your calling of Certified Pastor’s Wife.

    Oh I completely agree about the Pearl’s. They are disturbing on so many levels.

  9. Heather Fischer — August 31, 2007 #

    No kidding. Like I said, I really thought we were way, way beyond this stuff. How is it possible that it gets back into circulation in evangelical circles again?

  10. Lyn — September 1, 2007 #

    I know a few conservative evans and they are really into the pearls. The stuff they write and endorse is really distrubing though. I wonder if with some denominations women are literally “brain washed”.

  11. Linda — September 1, 2007 #

    I think the whole homemaker degree goes beyond “goofy.” Any institution that includes a homemaker degree in their catalogue cannot be taken seriously on any sort of academic level. It calls into question the rest of their education in my mind.

    And yes. It sounds like pimping… and servitude.

  12. Jennifer — September 2, 2007 #

    So President Patterson is basically putting the weight of the function of the family on the women’s shoulders? He says that by making sure women take classes that are within their priorities of family life we will save the world through our strong families…in essence.

    This reminds me of Mona Lisa Smile.

    Now..if there was a degree in building families as the first priority of ministry and both men and women had to take it..that would be great. Strong people, strong families, strong communities, strong world.

  13. Sarah — September 4, 2007 #

    Interesting blog… first time here… I found it through the Emerging Women website.

    I had heard about this program through another website and I agree it sounds extremely irresponsible and silly to get into debt to prepare yourself to be a stay-at-home wife.

    But upon reflection I wonder why don’t the women interested in this type of education take a regular home economics degree, then at least they could teach home ec (sewing and cooking classes in high schools) or work for various manufacturing companies (doing recipe testing and development) if they needed to work outside the home.

    Frankly, I think a lot of Christian education is over-priced and doesn’t prepare individuals with real world job skills. Just look at how much money many young Christians are spending going to YWAM DTS programs — and they don’t get anything transferable or accredited out of it.




  14. Mak — September 4, 2007 #

    Sarah - thanks for coming by. They actually have such programs at universities? wow. I didn’t know that.

    yeah, I think a lot of Christian education is overpriced as well…but then again, I think education in general is over priced.

  15. Jeff — September 5, 2007 #

    I graduated from a private christian school and we used to mock many of the girls that attended because it was obvious that they were not interested in school but instead wanted to get an MRS degree. Getting married and starting a family is priority number one in the christian subculture and there is an intense pressure to conform to that lifestyle. This isn’t to say that being a mother and wife is not a worthy goal, it is and in fact I wish more women stayed at home to raise their kids. But many of the women I know are incredibly bright and capable and there are other options available to them if they want to take advantage of them. Well not at the southern baptist seminary but you get my point.

  16. Shauna — September 7, 2007 #

    This is an interesting discussion, but I have a different take after reading more about the program on the school’s web site. First, this is not technically a degree in homemaking. It’s an elective concentration in homemaking that amounts to 23 hours out of a 129-hour Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities. Instead of taking general electives to fulfill the requirements for a Humanities degree, women can choose to focus their electives in the area of homemaking. As has been pointed out above, even secular colleges have programs in home economics, family and consumer sciences, and human ecology, so having university course offerings in sewing, cooking, and child rearing is hardly without precedent. Granted, this program is centered around particular theological views and traditional gender roles, but one can reasonably assume that the women who choose to pursue this degree and attend this school also hold those views and are capable of deciding for themselves whether it’s a good fit for them at any point in the program. If it isn’t, they can do what college students the world over do–change majors, change schools, or drop out and pursue other alternatives to higher education.

    I don’t personally understand why anyone would spend so much money on this degree program, but I could say the same about a lot of college majors! Of course there are exceptions, but statistically, those who have a college degree are more employable and earn more on average than those who do not–presumably including those with BAs in Humanities. I know a lot of people who ended up in careers that have nothing to do with their degree, myself included.

  17. Mak — September 7, 2007 #

    I’ve already said as much Shauna - if you want to spend the money, whatever, far be it from me to stop you. I think what most of us are speaking to is the assumptions and theological positions that lead the SBC seminaries to create such a degree and describe in in the way they do.

    Which is why I said that if they allowed women to get degrees in the same things as the men, I would have less a problem with this - - but this feels like the SBC is trying to find a way to “let the women in” to a program that denies them even the most basic leadership roles in their churches.

    I know many women are ok with that….but there are women in Africa who are ok with female circumcision too. Some of us see this as an issue of fundamental justice, not just an issue of theological disagreement.

  18. Steve — September 11, 2007 #

    I keep thinking the US is a different country, but when I read this sort of stuff I think it must be a different planet! Or maybe the Southern Baptists have seceded and started their own country. All this 1950’s white picket fence stuff is a far cry from the feisty go-getter woman of Proverbs 31 that’s for sure.

  19. Steve — September 11, 2007 #

    And i say that as a more than occasional househusband whose wife has three times the earning potential of me!

    BTW - your spam protection maths is getting way to easy. My daughter Sophie is in year 2 of school and the add, subtract and divide sum we had this morning before class started was a doozie!

  20. Mak — September 11, 2007 #

    indeed steve, well said.

    ROFLOL on the math comment.

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