Baptists in the Kitchen

October 10, 2007

Martin E. Marty has a good column in the latest issue of the Christian Century entitled "Baptists in the kitchen." He deals with the controversial homemaker degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Here are a few of highlights:

Back when Southern Baptists were still Baptist, I was invited to Southwestern Seminary, the "largest seminary in the world," and was impressed by its worship, classes and faculty. ... While the southern style of hospitality and cuisine may not be to everyone's taste, this Midwesterner ate it up.

... Pop culture, pagan pluralism or the presence of non-"cradle Baptist" converts must have led to some loss of the good old manners, mores and recipes. Maybe some of the new women are married to male seminarians who have grown slovenly. Worst of all, in the eyes of new Southern Baptist leadership, many of the women have been called to ordained ministry, which is a no-no. The need for women's submission to their husbands must have been what prompted Southwestern leaders to introduce a "new, women-only academic program in homemaking" (emphasis mine), a 23-hour concentration that counts toward a B.A. in humanities and a life as a pastor's wife.

... Only God's inspired word in the Bible should count. And precisely here is where one worries about the Bible sources and these Baptists. The seminary courses are on clothing construction, textile design and meal preparation. In the Bible these tasks were as much part of the family and gender roles of men as of women.

Bible-believing Baptists have to ask: How do we square Matthew 6:25-26 with a 23-hour course on "taking thought for what you should wear" or "eat and drink"? What about the resurrected male Jesus cooking fish and baking bread for the disciples on the beach at the sea of Tiberias (John 21: 9-14)? How about the apostle Paul, who made a living as a tentmaker? From what I know about (us) male ministers today, I'd say that if we cannot cook like Jesus, if we cannot sew like Paul, then it's we who need homemaking lessons. How about men-only or mixed gender courses? They'd be inspired, even biblical.
What an excellent point!

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