Monday, July 02, 2007

Christian Homemaking

According to this article "Starting this fall Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will offer a program in Christian homemaking." I checked the seminary's website and discovered that, sure enough, there it is. A woman can get a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with a concentration in homemaking. Here is what the website says: "The College at Southwestern endeavors to prepare women to model the characteristics of the godly woman as outlined in Scripture. This is accomplished through instruction in homemaking skills, developing insights into home and family while continuing to equip women to understand and engage the culture of today."

Now I have absolutely nothing against being a homemaker. I want to make sure I say that loudly and clearly. I was raised by a full time homemaker (my mom) and if that is the choice that a man or woman wants to make then I think that's great. There really is little more important than raising children and if one of the parents can stay home and do that then I think the child benefits.

And I appreciate that Southwestern is putting their money where their mouth is – that is, they're offering a course that teaches women to fulfill the roles that they believe they are most suited for. And because I can I feel the need to point out the redundancy on their website where they write that
women will learn "Biblical foundations for biblical womanhood." I wonder what other kinds of foundations there are for biblical womanhood?

And I will even have fun with the fact that, at SWTS, you can actually get the Mrs. Degree that so many women and men have laughed about for years. I also imagine that they aren't real excited about the decision of my church, the Christian Reformed Church, to allow women to preach and lead churches. I'm thinking they won't be right behind us on that decision.

But here's where I will comment: one of the required courses is a three-hour course entitled "Biblical Model for the Home and Family."

So the mind wanders a bit as I try to come up with what that Biblical model might look like and who, for example, in the bible we will want to model our family after.

  • Adam and Eve – one of their sons killed the other – not a great model to use I guess.
  • Abraham – aside from trying to help is often-wayward nephew, Lot, Abraham lied about his relationship to his wife and had that whole episode on the mountain with his son Isaac (which I'm thinking left Isaac feeling just a tad bit insecure.) Even with that, Abraham might be our best example although we know little else about his parenting.
  • Isaac – two sons, Jacob and Esau. They didn't get along so well – in fact Jacob ended up leaving so that Esau wouldn't kill him.
  • Jacob – twelve sons and a daughter. The very essence of a dysfunctional family. Some brothers conspire to kill or sell their sibling into slavery.

Well, maybe that's not being fair – after all, I'm just picking a choosing. I could more easily select David. Oh yeah, his son tried to kill him and then there is that whole Bathsheba thing. How about Samson! He and Delilah had a nice relationship – well, maybe not nice in the modern Christian family sense seeing that she betrayed him and everything. Surely there must be some example somewhere of a family that is a model for us in the Bible. Isn't there? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Now to be fair, there are some things we know about parenting in the Bible. We know that Jesus parents let him wander all around Jerusalem without supervision.

So now that I have all the snarkyness out of my system, I can get a bit more serious. As I write this I'm having a hard time figuring out if I really want to write about gender essentialism (restricting the roles of women) or about how to read the Bible (as an instruction manual as opposed to a way to find out about God, us and our relationship.) I think the two are related – if one reads the Bible with a find-the-moral-lesson-in-each-passage mindset then one might come away with a bad case of gender essentialism. If SBTS has come up with some good ideas for how I and my wife can make our home better then perhaps we should BOTH take the class! And rather than call it a "Biblical Model" how about if we see it as advice on this topic from someone who tries live his or her life as a servant of the Lord.

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