One of the nation's largest Southern Baptist seminaries, the school is introducing a new, women-only academic program in homemaking _ a 23-hour concentration that counts toward a bachelor of arts degree in humanities. The program is aimed at helping establish what Southwestern's president calls biblical family and gender roles.
Coursework will include seven hours of nutrition and meal preparation, seven hours of textile design and "clothing construction," three hours of general homemaking, three hours on "the value of a child," and three hours on the "biblical model for the home and family."
Seminary officials say the main focus of the courses is on hospitality in the home _ teaching women interior design as well as how to sew and cook. Women also study children's spiritual, physical and emotional development.This "Biblical model for the home and family...."
We hear this a great deal. We have to get back to a Biblical model for marriage and the family." It is troubling! Marriage in Biblical times was very, very different. I question anyone who wants to go back to that model.
What are some of the differences?
For one, in Biblical times, people got married very young. VERY young. Most people got married when they hit the age of sexual maturity. For girls it was usually at age 13 or 14. For boys it was around 15 - 16. Pre-marital sex is really not mentioned in the Bible because it was pretty much a non-issue. When people hit the age of sexual desire society did not expect them to wait 10-15 years until they got married. They simply got married at the young age.
Secondly, in contemporary times people marry for love. We meet someone we love and we pledge love and commitment to that person until death. Then, the marriage was arranged. It was usually arranged by a father who would literally pay a young man to take his daughter. This became known as the dowry. (The bride's family paying for the wedding comes from this!) The young woman would go from being her father's property and become her husband's property.
Thirdly, the woman as property issue. Women, in Biblical times, were property of their husbands. The women had no more rights than the man's cow or chickens. Cows and chickens had no rights and neither did the women. Women had no control over who they married and how they were treated in marriage. Even adultery laws were postured in a way that it was rare for a man to be punished but common for a woman to be punished. Life in Biblical times, was cruel to women.
Fourth, men had no responsibilities toward their wives. One of the most controversial documents in the early Christian Church was Paul's letter to the Ephesians. It stirs controversy now because Paul tells women that they are subjects of their husbands. In that day and age the women were subjects of their husbands and these words caused no ripple. However, when Paul went on to tell men to 'love their wives.' Men were not expected, in Biblical times, to love their wives. Actually, men had no responsibilities of fidelity to their wives. Prostitution was rampant and men could visit prostitutes and not be seen as guilty of committing adultery. As long as the prostitute was unmarried (and not the property of another man) the man was free to do whatever he desired. Interesting to note, if he tired of her, he could have HER stoned for adultery and not be harmed himself.
There were some great Biblical marriages.
Abraham passes off his wife Sarah as his sister. Sarah was attractive and he preferred that men 'play' with her thinking she was his sister rather than defend his wife.
David had an affair, impregnated Bathsheeba, and conspired to have her husband killed.
Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
It was an age of a lot of polygamy and a great deal of abuse.
In the New Testament we know that there were wives of the apostles, but these women are not mentioned. It never mentions if Jesus does or doesn't have a wife. Paul was never married and he strong encourages people not to marry unless they really need to.
Thus we have the Biblical model of marriage. As opposed to the model of marriage in 2007.
Now people marry for love and strive to continue to grow in love.
Now husbands and wives are equal in every way.
Now violently abusing one's wife is a criminal offense.
Now marriage is a deep and abiding partnership with two people growing.
Now fidelity is expected by both partners.
Here is what I think is going on at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
First, the men have set up standards for what they want marriage to be and pretending that they are putting forth a Biblical model. They use random Scripture quotations to validate their own opinions. This is an obscene use of Scripture to get what they want.
Secondly, they are looking to make marriage into the TV version of a 1950's couple. Ozzie and Harriet. Father Knows Best. Man goes off to work in his suit and mom gets dressed up to clean the bathroom, do the shopping, and have meat loaf on the table every night. Well, maybe not meat loaf every night, but you catch my drift.
Thirdly, the men want to assure that the man is the head of the household. My experience with people who want to hold forth this kind of vision of marriage is that they believe that a man must do whatever he needs to do to be the head of the household. Domestic violence, in this world, is tolerable if women do not behave.
Ultimately people marry and make choices in how they want to conduct their marriage. What others do is not up to me to determine or judge. What this school is doing, to me, is very troubling and a frightening trend.