Virtual Voices

Majoring in homemaking

Education

"Men make decisions; women make dinner" --- a reporter's summary of the philosophy behind the homemaking program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dorothy Patterson, Professor of Theology in Women's Studies, calls the summary "ludicrous" and gives another based on her own marriage: "I am his helper, and he is the leader in our home."

Women pursuing a B.A. in humanities may choose a homemaking concentration, devoting 21 of 129 credit hours to homemaking courses. The concentration is one of four, and its eight students still have to take classes in Bible, theology, Greek or Latin, and history. The students will also use cooking and laundry labs to learn about nutrition, clothing design and clothing care. Patterson told WoW the classes affirm "the value of a homemaker," but they also impart useful skills to missionaries or to women who never learned how to run a home.

Patterson said when God created Adam first, He decided "the man would be the leader in the home and the one who has that ultimate responsibility, and the woman would be the one who helps him in the task." Patterson said this doesn't imply inferiority: "It takes initiative to be a helper. It takes commitment to be a helper. I think it takes intelligence to be a helper."

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Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, author of Good News for Women: A Biblical Picture of Gender Equality, told WoW that while both men and women should know how to manage a home, "homemaking is not an academic discipline." Groothuis said she disagrees with the "ideology of gender inequality" behind the program: "Jesus commended Mary for her zeal to learn God's Word and did not urge her to become more domestic. But Jesus did make sure that Martha understood theology."

Patterson said the woman was "created in the image of God, like the man," but she has "a function distinct from the man." Groothuis said if women's purpose is to serve men and men have decision-making authority over women, then it "logically entails that women are not equal but are necessarily and intrinsically inferior to men."

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