NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–“Well, it’s not just feminists versus homemakers anymore. Now there’s a debate as to whether or not it is God’s will for women to stay at home,” “Fox & Friends” co-host Alisyn Camerota said at the outset of a two-minute, 17-second “fair and balanced debate” on the Fox News Channel.
The Aug. 13 segment featured Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where undergraduate homemaking studies will begin Aug. 23, and Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, an organization often critical of the Southern Baptist Convention’s biblical worldview.
Camerota turned to Patterson first, stating, “You teach a course, basically home economics for the modern day, and in it you say that women should stay at home and take care of their husband and their children. What about women who hope to find fulfillment outside of the home?”
Patterson replied: “… Alisyn, we don’t say that. We believe that every person is free as Baptists to do anything they want to do if they feel led to do it. But we do believe that if a woman chooses to stay home and she chooses to devote her energies to her husband and to her children and to the development of her home that that is noble and not ignoble and we feel that she should ought to have the opportunity.”
Camerota then asked Patterson, “Sure, but do you think that that’s the best way for society to really thrive?”
Patterson replied: “Well, I do believe that society will do better when the family is placed in a prominent position and role that it needs to be. And I do believe that any society, societal order is endangered whenever the home is not given the importance that it has in its biblical context.”
Camerota then asked Parham: “… do you think that society is in danger because women choose to work outside of the home?”
Parham replied: “We should never claim for the Christian faith what the Bible does not claim for itself. The Bible offers many examples of women who we would today call professional women who worked in professions -– Deborah was a judge, Lydia was a merchant. We believe that it’s important to allow women a great deal of freedom and we should not impose on women a false biblical model.”
Camerota then concluded the segment by stating, “OK, gentlemen, we’re running out of time, but thank you for both of your perspectives this morning.”
The new undergraduate homemaking program at Southwestern garnered national attention through an Associated Press article Aug. 10.
The classes are part of a homemaking concentration for a bachelor of arts in humanities degree through The College at Southwestern, the Texas seminary’s undergraduate school. Three-credit-hour courses in the concentration are General Homemaking, Biblical Model for the Home and Family and The Value of a Child. Also required are seven credit hours in meal preparation and nutrition and seven hours in the design and sewing of clothing.
Students also must take 23 hours in biblical studies, two years of Greek and Latin and do extensive reading in history’s great philosophers.
The homemaking classes are part of “one of the most challenging, most well-rounded and complete educations a woman can receive,” Terri Stovall, Southwestern’s dean of women’s studies, told Baptist Press Aug. 13.
While Southwestern, in Fort Worth, is the only Southern Baptist seminary to offer undergraduate homemaking studies, three others offer various women’s ministry programs. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary offer master of divinity and master of arts programs in women’s ministry. In addition to Southwestern, Southeastern and New Orleans seminaries, certificate programs designed to equip wives of ministers through courses that include theology, practical ministry, homemaking and parenting studies are available at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif., Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
At all the SBC seminaries, women can enroll in a range of other master’s- and doctoral-level degree programs, such as theology, missions, music and religious education.
Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press.