Friday, October 19, 2007

God Says: Make Me a Sammich!

More on the dangers of blind submission:

They love to do their homework: At this Southern Baptist seminary, women who serve God also serve their husbands. Baking, sewing and laundry are part of the curriculum.

FORT WORTH, TEXAS -- Equal but different.

You hear that a lot on the lush green campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

God values men and women equally, any student here will tell you. It's just that he's given them different responsibilities in life: Men make decisions. Women make dinner.

This fall, the internationally known seminary -- a century-old training ground for Southern Baptists -- began reinforcing those traditional gender roles with college classes in homemaking. The academic program, open only to women, includes lectures on laundering stubborn stains and a lab in baking chocolate-chip cookies.

Philosophical courses such as "Biblical Model for the Home and Family" teach that God expects wives to graciously submit to their husbands' leadership. A model house, to be completed by next fall, will allow women to get credit toward bachelor's degrees by learning how to set tables, sew buttons and sustain lively dinnertime conversation.

It all sounds wonderful to sophomore Emily Felts, 19, who signed up as soon as she arrived on campus this fall.

Several relatives have told Felts that she's selling herself short. They want her to become a lawyer, and she agrees she'd make a good one. But that's not what she wants to do with her life.

More to the point, it's not what she believes God wants of her.

"My created purpose as a woman is to be a helper," Felts said firmly. "This is a college education that I can use."

Oh boy. Why oh why should a woman limit their options in such a damaging way? Another student had an explanation:

But then she quoted from Ephesians: "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord." And from Genesis: God created Eve to be a "suitable helper" for Adam.

"If we love the Scripture, we must do it," said Smith, who gave up her dreams of a career when her husband said it was time to have children. "We must fit into this role. It's so much more important than our own personal happiness."

Of course, I should have known. The role of women should be limited by the primitive understandings of dark age desert dwellers who claimed to know what God said/wants. Great.

Fortunately most moderates disagree:

More moderate Southern Baptists disagree, and counter with their own biblical references. When Jesus dined at the home of two sisters, he praised Mary, who spent the evening studying his teachings, above Martha, who did chores. Elsewhere in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes that "there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ."

These arguments are probably not going to be very convincing to the fundamentalists. Does the divine praise negate the other passages in any way? Doesn't appear so. If anything it sounds more like an argument that religious studies should be a priority over chores, not that women shouldn't do chores. Does the idea that all people are one with Christ negate the passage that calls for wives (as opposed to women in general) to have a submissive role to husbands (as opposed to men in general)? Doesn't appear so.

But I'm by no means a Biblical expert.

Still seems to me that submission to God shouldn't equate to blind submission to his obviously fallible followers, "prophets" or otherwise. Doing so can only help discourage attempts to rationally deal with societal issues and slow progress to address them.

This can be seen by what passes as a "history book" by some of the fundamentalist home-schoolers in the State. From Capitalfax today:

The Illinois Family Institute's e-mail update of the week contains an article written by Rhonda Robinson, a Douglas County native who is homeschooling her nine children.

Here's the lede:

Would you believe the earth was created on Oct. 23, 4004 B.C.?

The age and origins of the earth has been a hot debate for centuries, and remains in full swing today.

Um, well, no Rhonda. I don't believe the earth was created on October 23, 4004 B.C. Actually, I'm kind of shocked to find out that anyone could. I'm guessing they must not have The Discovery Channel in Douglas County. Or Nova. Or books.

Now I felt the "books" insult was a bit unfair as it appears this tidbit on the history of the world comes from a home-schooling popularized 17th century "history book": Annals of the World

It is the history of the world based on Biblical references and other ancient texts that, according to those pushing the book, have often been destroyed over time, making the book's findings impossible to reproduce.

I'd wager its accuracy would be in the same league as an Iranian state-sponsored textbook on the history of Israel. Books alone cannot cure ignorance when blind acceptance and wholesale disregard of conflicting information is at work.

As an extreme example of this see the Westboro Baptist Church:

They don't separate their children from the real world either, do they?

They go to school; you can have normal conversations with these people. They're intelligent, high achieving, have good jobs, and they're kind, for the most part, when they're not on pickets. They're easy to communicate with and deal with too. It's just this one area - their pickets. They will even - so I'm given to understand and I have no reason to doubt it - work alongside gay people very happily in the work place. If a gay person goes along to talk to them outside the church or if a gay person even turned up to the church to attend a service, they wouldn't humiliate them or be rude to them; they'd shake their hand and welcome them in.

What good is access to information if one is raised from birth or trained later in life to ignore most of it due to divine submission? Often no good at all... but at least you might get a home cooked meal out of the deal.

Now make me a sammich!

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