Over at The Scroll, the blog for Christians for Biblical Equality, Megan is cooking up something wicked for the Spring 2008 issue of Mutuality. CBE’s editors are ambitious to deconstruct two millennia of Christian “home economics” as it relates to the contemporary Christian home and then to reconstruct the whole idea of home economics to suit egalitarian tastes. No more of this “woman’s place in the home” stuff. Indeed, it appears they think “home” in the Christian sense needs a full invasion by men, and that men’s work and women’s work ought to be anyone’s work.
Consider (The Scroll’s text is quoted in red; its meaning, provided by my experience in reading egalitarian prose, in black):
Mutuality is now accepting articles (and discussion surrounding the issue) for the Spring 2008 issue on ‘Home Economics.’ Topic ideas include, but are not limited to:
You see, after trashing that Neanderthal Paige Patterson and his Southwestern Sexist Seminary for offering a humanities degree with a concentration in home economics for the wives of the men training for pastoral ministry, CBE now wishes to take the next step: to reconstruct what they have mocked along trendier, feminist lines. Hence the upcoming issue of Mutuality. From what Megan’s requesting, it’s fairly clear what they’re aiming for.
- How convictions about biblical equality and gender justice apply to every day home life
You know, if the Biblical equality they’re asserting were really there in the Bible, you’d think that the Biblical men and women would have figured out whether or not “gender justice” has any expression in the home. But, you see, the Bible is just chock full of the very thing Megan thinks needs to be corrected: women working inside the home, men working outside the home, everyone feeling just fine about gender justice – as far as we can tell from their lives over the 1500 year time span of the Biblical record.
But, no. Megan will have none of that. It’s patriarchal, dontcha know. And we all know that patriarchy is bad, bad, bad. When it shows up in the Bible … well, it doesn’t belong there, so we’ll just ignore it.
- Biblical reflections: Christ as the head of our homes; being part of the family of God; Proverbs 31 woman
Let me decipher this for you: “Christ as the head of our homes” means “nobody else is the head of our homes.” In other words, this stuff about the man being the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church is just more of that patriarchal trash we need to sweep out the door. To hear these folks, you’d think that a good patriarchal family is denying that Christ is the head of the home! Of course He is, because the man is the head of the woman and Christ is the head of every man (see 1 Cor. 11:1ff for details).
Similarly, “being part of the family of God” is code for “there is no set pattern for family.” It’s sexist and patriarchal to think “family” means a man and a woman and children. Why, just look at the Church, they say. It’s got all sorts of folks in it – never marrieds, marrieds, divorced, remarried, widows and widowers. Any of these, in any combination, can be called family if the Church can be called a family. Away with this patriarchal narrowness. Paul was just crippled by his patriarchal bias when he urged the Church to copy the family. Instead, the family should copy the Church. And since the Church is so domestically diverse, then we shouldn’t be so narrow-minded as to use the term “family” as it has been used for so long.
And, I will wager the farm on this: whatever Mutuality publishes on the Proverbs 31 woman is going to validate her professional career as a Realtor outside the home. In fact, they’ll urge all women to get out of the house and into the world, based on this woman’s purchase of a field. It’s so easy to cherry pick your way through that chapter, elevating what you find useful and ignoring everything else. After all, anything patriarchal about that passage is bad, remember? And, we should ignore that kind of thing.
- How Christian convictions about women’s equality have transformed culturally-specific family models (e.g. polygamy, female infanticide, education of women and girls)
Here’s an interesting factoid: Christianity did all of these things for the West. Indeed Western culture became Christian culture in a way that has never been replicated anywhere else in the world at any time. And in Western Christian culture, it is Christianity that reformed marriage, abolished infanticide of both men and women, and opened the doors to the education of women. And, all of this proceeded for the past two millennia while remaining thoroughly patriarchal.
So, what’s to complain about, unless it’s the fact that all these advances proceeded in the patriarchal West under the tutelage of those regretably patriarchal Prophets and Apostles? This section of the Spring 2008 Mutuality ought to be really interesting to read.
- Examples of sharing responsibility in the home; non-traditional divisions of labor (e.g. men who sew or cook; women who fix the car)
Here where we get closer to the meat of Mutuality’s matter. You see, traditional divisions of labor in the home must NOT be considered a sharing of responsibilities IF that sharing is determined by a sexual criterion. And, so the traditional divisions of labor (women cooking, men fixing the car) simply MUST be an evidence of gender injustice and inequality. In a culture ruled by gender justice and gender equality, there would just as many women fixing cars as men, just as many men cooking all the meals as women. The only way to measure “justice,” according to egalitariains, is by counting noses and making sure that there is no gender disparity in any activity one finds in a marriage or family. That’s how the Civil Rights enforcement division in the Federal Attorney-General’s office does it. So, that’s how it needs to be done in the Church.
You see, it’s not a question of who can or cannot do this or that task. I’m sure women could be auto mechanics just as well as men. Men could cook just as well as women. I cook much better than most women, for example; the United States Marine Corps taught me to cook, and they did a far better job than most mothers do for their daughters these days.
Here’s the rub: food preparation is a domestic duty if there ever were one, unless you contract out that duty (restaurants, TV dinners, etc.). And, if a woman’s focus is the domestic scene, then food prep will routinely land in her lap. If a man’s primary focus is some extra-domestic vocation, food preparation for the family will routinely NOT land in his lap. One problem perennially debated on the contemporary scene is this very domestic duty when both husband and wife are employed in the extra-domestic workplace 40 or more hours each week.
May a man cook recreationally? Many men do. Which reminds me, I need to bake that pecan-apricot bundt cake this week, so it can be resting in brandy-drenched strips of muslin for the next six weeks before the Christmas Eve buffet. But, this would not, I’m sure, satisfy those who seek gender-justice in the kitchen.
- Home economics for singles, roommates, and communal living situations
To request articles under this rubric is just another way to fudge the meaning of “domestic,” so that it loses all anchoring to the husband-wife-children nucleus. See the similar point above.
- Critique of the model of husband as head of the home; critique of traditional ‘for women only’ approaches to home economics
Here Megan drops all pretense that her enemy isn’t patriarchy. Why critique the model of husband as head of the home unless you think such a model is a mistake? Why critique “for women only” approaches to home economics unless you’re opposed to such approaches?
- Faithful Christian examples of stay-at-home dads, working mothers, single parents
Again, the premise is that stay-at-home dads, working mothers, and single parents are as right as rain. One might produce, of course, any of these who are faithful Christians. But, that is not the point here. The point is to say that faithful Christians will applaud, support, promote, and endorse stay-at-home dads, working mothers, and single parents. Can’t let that old patriarchy – with its stay-at-home mothers, its provider husbands – remain the norm.
In fact, if you want to check the demographics, it’s not the norm any longer, and the feminist revolution in the West is barely 30 years old! Still, Paul says older women are to teach younger women to … well, we can’t have that, right? It’s sooooo First Century. This is the Twenty-first Century.
If Megan’s view of the Bible’s home economics is correct, we’d do best to rewrite the whole Book, and be done with it. If, on the other hand, that Book and its persistently patriarchal view of home economics is valid … in that case, from Megan’s kitchen something wicked this way comes.