I’m in a love hate relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention. I’m a Baptist because I believe that on most issues Baptistic doctrine most accurately reflects Scripture. I’m a Southern Baptist by choice. Honestly. there are days I wonder if I’ve made the wrong one. Today is one of those days.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, led by Dr. Paige Patterson, while rightfully encouraging and stressing a complimentarian view of gender roles, is taking things too far. This fall the seminary launched a program that allows women (only) to earn credit towards a bachelor’s degree by learning how to set tables, sew buttons and sustain lively dinner conversation. The program lead the author of an article in the LA Times to grossly overstate with broad, sweeping assumptions the biblical view of traditional biblical roles as a life where, “Men make decisions. Women make dinner.”

Here is why I think SWBTS has gone too far, and it’s not because I disagree with their theological conviction that women and men, while equal, were created to serve different roles and purposes as we practice dominion over the earth:

(1) Southwestern has assumed the responsibility of the local church and overextended its calling to equip called men and women of God with a theological education. While the heart behind this program may be sincere, it is not the responsibility of seminaries to mentor young women in this way; it is the responsibility of the church. In Titus 2:3-5, when Paul gives pastoral instruction to Titus, he clearly places the responsibility of mentoring as it relates to gender roles on older women within the local church. A seminary is not a church.

(2) While persecution and mockery are to be expected from our secular counterparts and the church should also be prepared for stinging, irresponsible, misrepresentative characterizations from culture, should we knowingly subject ourselves to such abuse? Peter tells us (1Pet 2:12)that we should live with such honorable conduct that when unbelievers speak of us as evil-doers (which is what feminists think the traditional roles of women are – evil), that they may see our good deeds and be persuaded to follow Jesus. How exactly is instituting a program where women receive seminary degrees for baking chocolate chip cookies and table settings going to accomplish this purpose? Doesn’t advocating a degree in homemaking only reinforce the stereotypes that are associated with a traditional view of gender roles? Maybe I’m being too harsh in my critique of this program, but it seems to me that energy would be better spent living and loving Jesus in biblical community, pursuing causes of injustice and serving the poor, while at the same time loving our wives as Jesus loved the church (men) and submitting to your husband as the church submits to Jesus’ leadership and authority (women), recognizing that this kind of relationship isn’t about domination or keeping the wife quiet, barefoot and pregnant, but rather about a picture of the gospel so that the marriage becomes a platform for God’s glory. Maybe this program is intended to accomplish this goal. I just don’t see it. Isn’t there a more winsome, compelling way to champion our equality but distinctiveness as men and women in our culture?

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