World News

Texas Baptist seminary offers homemaking course

FORT WORTH, Texas (Reuters Life!) - New course offering: a BA in humanities with a concentration in homemaking. Strictly for women only.

The Bachelor of Arts degree program starts this month at a Baptist university in Fort Worth, which says such courses are needed to arrest the collapse of the American family and society -- a view held by many conservative Christians in America.

It is sure to invite criticism from many quarters and could be a potential flashpoint in America’s on-going “culture wars” between religious conservatives and those with a secular bent.

Evangelical Christians number about 60 million in America and many see the country’s social ills as stemming from the decline of the traditional family with the mother at home and the dad at work -- a family they see as Biblically sanctioned.

Critics see such views as part of a backlash to advances in the rights of women and gays, and question why many such evangelicals are also ardent supporters of the Republican Party, which is seen supporting pro-business economic policies that make it necessary for many families to have two incomes.

Dr. Paige Patterson, president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke to Reuters about the course.

Q: What are the reasons for offering it and what are the needs for it now?

A: “Frankly, I find it mystifying that anyone would have a problem with it. One of the amazing things to me is that somebody would have an objection to providing all the education that we possibly could provide and certainly that is true of anything as vital as the home.

“It is the basic unit to all social order ... It is a course of study whereby a woman can prepare herself intellectually and in her basic skills to be a better homemaker.”

Q: This brings us back to why you see the need for it.

A: “We have rampant divorce in our society, literally hundreds of thousands of children who are bereft of one of their parents. We have abusive situations ... We have women who are trying to make homes without the basic skills they need. We have young women who are going to the ends of the Earth (on foreign missions) for Christ and the church and find themselves in situations where the ability to be a good homemaker is a survival technique.”

Q: What would the curriculum involve?

A: “It’s a ... four-year program. Two years of classical Latin, two years of classical Greek. It requires them to read almost all of the great books of the Western world. In addition to that they have 23 hours that is directly associated with homemaking enterprise ... this requires a three-hour course in general homemaking.

“In that we are primarily talking about the Biblical backgrounds for the making of a home. We are talking about relationships to husbands and to children. And then there is a three-hour course in clothing design and apparel ... there is a personal family management course which includes how to make and maintain a successful budget.”

Q: Your view is that it’s best that women should stay home when they have children?

A: “I am wary of the crusade against mothers ... who choose not to have a career but to devote themselves entirely to their homes. That’s noble and our society is worse for not maintaining it as a noble cause.”

Q: Many people would say that in this day and age the economic reality is that two incomes are needed especially for blue collar households.

A: “Well, I’m sorry to say this but people who say that are ignorant. The fact is that we have discovered that those two income households actually have a harder time by the time they pay child support and by the time they pay for wardrobes for work and the extra automobile and the time they spend eating out ... once your get through all of that our argument is nine times out of 10 that you don’t come out any better ... One of the things we are doing in the course is helping people find out how they can survive and survive very well on a single income.”