Something Wicked This Way Comes

Written by Father Bill 6 Comments

Cooking up something wicked in the kitchen, are we?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.

Finally!  Gender justice!! 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.


  1. Leigh Ann   |  Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Once again your pictures do not disappoint. I don’t think I will be able to eat bread for a while.

    This is all very interesting stuff. I haven’t been to the scroll for a while because it is enough to make me cry.

  2. kathryn   |  Wednesday, 14 November 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Bill: WHERE do you get these pictures?


  3. Fr. Bill   |  Thursday, 15 November 2007 at 12:02 am

    Well, it’s really nothing more complicated than having a fast internet connection and using any of the image-search engines, then making choices from the hundreds (often thousands) of possibilities the search engines turn up.

    Or, there are a number of sites that archive unusual photos (I’m keeping those to myself; others can find their own archives!). I often graze these and squirrel away photos I have no idea how I will use. But, I squirrel them away because they are … well, eye catching.

  4. Michael McMillan   |  Thursday, 15 November 2007 at 12:53 pm

    > I squirrel them away because they are … well, eye catching.

    LOL! They’re really something alright. But I was hoping for a husband vacuuming in heels.

    Speaking of dressing up, here’s an example of past patriarchal gender injustice related to home economics:


  5. Michael McMillan   |  Thursday, 15 November 2007 at 1:30 pm

    The pictures are hilarious! “Beware of the leaven of the feminists and egalitarians.”

    > The point is to say that faithful Christians will applaud, support, promote, and endorse stay-at-home dads, working mothers, and single parents.

    Right, our view is inherently BAD and theirs is the only right one in God’s sight. “Sharing responsibilitis” isn’t really sharing unless it is done the way they say it should be.

    > And, so the traditional divisions of labor (women cooking, men fixing the car) simply MUST be an evidence of gender injustice and inequality.

    To really be egalitarian and “share,” they would need to take turns: “Honey, it’s your month to take out the trash and fix the car.”

    > “Christ as the head of our homes” means “nobody else is the head of our homes.”

    You go it! All this happened when we started letting them “wear the pants.”

    > 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.

    Of that I have no doubt!

    > In fact, they’ll urge all women to get out of the house and into the world, based on this woman’s [Prov. 31] purchase of a field.

    Nothing new. Here’s a woman doing just that 100 years ago:

    A progressive home-maker striking for higher wages:


  6. Truth Unites...and Divides   |  Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Unbelievable! Professor Doug Groothuis writes a fine blog post exhorting Christians to be countercultural. I compliment him for writing a good post and I share with him my lament that his being an egalitarian hollows out my joy a little bit over reading his post.

    I invite the readers of this blog to read this exchange. Granted, I did get steamed in my 2nd comment, but it was in response to his over-reaction. See Below:

    Truth Unites… and Divides said…

    Dear Professor Groothuis,

    I like a lot of what you write. But there are some topics that you address, such as “Counterculture?”, that when you write about them, your exhortation rings hollow for me because I know that you are a staunch “Equal Rights” egalitarian feminist.

    To me, being a biblical complementarian is counter-cultural. Being an egalitarian seems to be overly conforming to the world, contra Romans 12:2.

    Just an observation. I don’t want to derail the thread to an off-topic conversation about the complementarian-egalitarian divide. Because I do believe that Christians should embrace what you’ve suggested for being counter-cultural.


    3:01 PM

    Doug Groothuis said…
    1. I assign Schaeffer’s “The Mark of the Christian” in apologetics. The love command is presupposed in what I wrote, but I whould have included it.

    2. I am an egaltiarian because of Scripture not culture. What “Truth” said committed two fallacies:

    1. Guilt by association.
    2. Poisening the well

    If you want biblical, theological, logical arguments for egalitarianism, read R. Groothuis’s books.

    7:05 PM

    Truth Unites… and Divides said…
    What “Truth” said committed two fallacies:

    Goodness Gracious! You are asserting fallacies on my part fallaciously.

    Your unkind response engenders this observation by me: You’re so overly defensive about being an egalitarian that you unnecessarily provoke yourself into an unhealthy rage. No offense was intended. But the hobgoblins of your prickly conscience wrongfully assumed insult and offense, and then burst into an irrational rage.

    I’m quite taken aback. I had thought that reason would prevail over hysterical emotion, especially given that you’re a professor.

    Next. With regards to your false accusations that I was poisoning the well and using guilt-by-association, I refer you to my original comment:

    Because I do believe that Christians should embrace what you’ve suggested for being counter-cultural.

    I’m explicitly saying that what you’ve written in your post is good! How much clearer can I be?

    But in your paroxsym of convulsion you hurled two false accusations to bolster and protect a weak ego that for some inexplicable reason felt threatened in a situation where no threat was present.

    Look. Let me restate. Your blog post was outstanding. You’ve written many good works which I deeply appreciate.

    I was just expressing my lament that you being egalitarian detracted a little bit of the impact of what you wrote on this post about being countercultural FOR ME ONLY.

    With regards to your argument that egalitarianism is biblically-based, like I said before, I don’t want to derail the point of this thread to an off-topic conversation. I’m fairly well-versed in the complementarian-egalitarian debate and I don’t see the value of engaging in that debate with you. I think I know the ground you’ll cover, and you know the approach that a VERY WELL-INFORMED complementarian will take.

    What’s the use? You give me your wife’s books and the CBE website. Then I’ll give you Piper and Grudem’s books and the CBMW website. You think you’re right. And I know that you’re Scripturally wrong.

    It’s no good. I have no interest in getting you to become complementarian. And I have no interest, nor any intention of committing the guilt-by-association or poisoning-the-well fallacies.

    Your excellent post stands alone.



    He then deletes my comment above, and writes the following:

    Doug Groothuis said…

    “Truth” is banned from the blog. He or she or it goes crazy when I expose two simple fallacies. And then commits more fallacies of ad hominem. He/she/it gives not rational response, but emotes all over the screen. Goodbye.

    9:24 PM



Leave a Reply