Thursday, November 01, 2007

Women Have Come a Long Way

This week former International Mission Board missionary Joy Fenner was elected President of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The day Joy was elected a friend of mine handed me an article from the Housekeeping Monthly Magazine (May 1955 Issue) entitled "The Good Wife's Guide." (Update: I do not know if the article is a spoof or from a legitimate 1950's magazine. The friend who gave it to me thought it was real, but some believe it is an urban legend. All I know is some of my commentors' mothers seem to have read it too. (smile) ). I will attempt to get a scanned copy of the article given to me in order to show that there is no exaggeration of the content. All I can say to Joy and other SBC women is "You've Come a Long Way Ladies."

The Good Wife's Guide (Housekeeping Monthly, May 1955)

  • Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

  • Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

  • Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

  • Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.

  • Gather up schoolbooks, toys, papers, etc and then run a dustcloth over the tables.

  • Over the cooler months of hte year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

  • Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the chidren's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

  • Be happy to see him.

  • Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

  • Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

  • Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.

  • Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

  • Don't greet him with complaints and problems.

  • Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.

  • Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

  • Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

  • Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

  • A good wife always knows her place.

I wonder how many Southern Baptist men think we are still living in the fifties? I wonder how many Southern Bapitst men confuse cultural preferences with Biblical principles? I wonder how many Southern Baptist men read the above and say, "Amen"?

Hopefully - very soon - there will be none.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


Dave Miller said...

"Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it."

I like most of the rest of these, but this one I am struggling with.

This is also why I have stopped my long practice at Christmas of donning my gay apparel.

Fa la la la la la la la la.

Steve said...

About half the instruction list still works fine, only now it applies to the dog.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this 50s flashback to the world of Ward & June Clever, expects the dutiful wife to be a respectibly middle-class Cinderella (before the magic ball). And who can't envy the men who are expected to act like and be treated like royalty?

Hum.... something about this arrangement of the wife as slave to her emperor husband does not seem very Jesus-like to me. It reminds one of other non-Christian cultural mores towards the role and value of women.

Very glad that some Christian men reject this sort of trampling upon their sisters.

a female IMB m

Bob Cleveland said...

I read the post and I say "Amen". I'll let you guess what I'm amening.

But seriously folks, that list describes my mother. And most of the moms of my peers in the 1940's and 1950's. At least to the extent I could discern at that age in my life. I wonder how much progress it took to bring us to wherever it is that we are today.

Let the games begin (he said, ducking...)

Rex Ray said...

Surely these suggestions were made in jest.
In the 50’s, my mother would greet my dad, “You have mud on your shoes!” And half the time when he left, he’s hear, “You're not going to town in those raggedy overalls!

And I use exclamation points because she meant every word she said.

My wife is just like her—I wear the pants in the family but she tells me which ones to put on.

But if anyone says ‘amen’ he will have 007 in his name. ha

Anonymous said...

"Now I would not have you ignorant brethren...."

Romans 1:13 (KJV)

Anonymous said...

A number of items on that list aren't descriptive of a biblically submissive wife, they advocate the condoning of sin. No comment if the "master of the house" stays out all night???

"Master of the house"? I thought that was Jesus Christ, no matter what Christian pays the mortgage and/or the heating bills.

It's stuff like that list that help feed the stereotype that complementarian Christians are really just promoting a prettified slavery for wives.

creed said...

This is leave it to beaver nonsense and did not picture my Mom on an East Texas cotton farm.

However, the sad thing is that I KNOW men, perhaps one notorious Texan, who do have or seem to have this perspective. One of those is a dear friend of mine, but I am shocking him as often as possible that his gender fundamentalism is just not right.

Sam Creed

Rex Ray said...

You just ruined my credibility as a prophet about 007. I never thought you would do that. I guess I should have read the latest before I made a comment.

I might add that my mother was a school teacher with 4 kids. It was her job to feed, wash, and cloth us for church while my dad did his part by honking the horn to speed things up.

He did wash a lot of dishes though—as he would say, “I hate to wash dishes less than anyyyy body.”

He had learned a lesson the hard way. While going to school with his sister, they argued over whose turn it was to wash, so they stopped. When the plates got unbearable, they ate on the back side. Finally a doctor told why they were sick.

DL said...

Some of those things are good advice if the wife stays home all day. Some are just "considering others better than yourselves." But there's also some downright stupid things on the list. Naturally, the article is about wives, not husbands, so we don't see the part where husbands are advised to come home with a smile and a flower because their dear wives have been laboring with the children all day.

creed said...

The question unanswered is will Joy Fenner be successful as President to deal with the serious issues facing the BGCT? I hope so.


Anonymous said...

What does a 1950s secular magazine have to do with a biblical discussion on the role of women?

Bob Cleveland said...


What the blog post says about women was mostly true for mom, and also true of my wife Peg (of 49 years). What it says about the men, isn't.

I never made much money but Peg did stay home with the kids. I think the most precious memory of my kids' childhood is getting home on the bus and seeing Peg at the end of the subdivision, with Brad in a stroller and Brian holding her hand. There ain't enough money in the world to buy that sort of thing.

And I don't denigrate working moms, professional women, or female association officers. Or our (hopefully soon-to-be permanent) female Minister of Worship at FBC Pelham. Folks need to do what God has gifted them to do, and all of us need to see that happens, regardless of gender.

greg.w.h said...

There is some question as to whether there was ever a "Housekeeping Monthly Magazine" and whether the article from which those comments come is genuine or faked. As with all "lies"/fakes/urban legends, there must be some element of truth in it to be believed or to be believable. But there is a certain X-files/Twilight Zone style "the truth is out there" aura to this particular article.

As to Joy Fenner being successful, with adequate prayer we can help ensure the greatest opportunity for the Holy Spirit to directly lead the BGCT through her.

I deep in my heart believe that we can use as many associations of churches as possible effectively preaching the good news, bringing people to Jesus Christ, and discipling them to maturity in the faith.

I'm reminded of when the disciples heard about men casting out demons in Jesus's name. Just as Jesus condoned the action of those that were not aligned against him then, so we should bond together in prayer and hope with those today who faithfully proclaim the Gospel even when we aren't in full agreement with all of their doctrine.

I therefore appeal to OUR Father to protect my sister Joy and my spiritual kin in the BGCT from Satan and to lead them to complete focus on faithful obedience to God's leadership. I patiently anticipate the spiritual blessings that awaits the great state of Texas--my birthplace and long my earthly home--as this is accomplished.

Greg Harvey

P.S. Wade: Jen (my wife) wanted you to know that our tribe is sufficiently super-sized at four at least for the current generation. ;) Thanks for the kind words.

Anonymous said...

The bible applies to every culture and time (in response to anonymous bj's question).

But, as Greg W.H. notes, this may only be legend, but one developed from a lot of truth. Here's snopes on it:

It doesn't completely debunk it; it just says its status is undetermined and notes some problems with its origin.

Anonymous said...

I just noticed Greg already put in the html coding to get you there. Oops.

It really shouldn't matter whether there really was such an article verbatim - the attitude is real and has lived in my own heart. That's why it is so easy to believe and hard to read.

God bless Joy in her role.

david b mclaughlin said...

Is there any controversy over this woman being the President of the Convention in Texas? Wouldn't that mean she holds some kind of authority over some men?

You know I have absolutely no problem with it, but it seems like the complimentarians would not be favorable toward this.

I know it's not the office of pastor, but it is an office of authority. Or is it?

I'm no expert on SBC politics...thankfully.

Anonymous said...

Bryan Riley said - The bible applies to every culture and time (in response to anonymous bj's question).
I did not question that. I question what this magazine article has to do with the discussion.

CB Scott said...


Are you sure you did not copy this from the foreword of a book entitled: THE LIFE OF A MAFIA WIFE? :-)


Alyce Faulkner said...

Well,Let's see what on this list I can agree with...
I'm always happy to see my husband.
I actually think he is always happy to see me too.:)

As to if the article is fake or real, that mindset was and in some cases "IS" still around and from that point it is very real.

Frankly it somewhat turns my stomach to hear so much talk about women's roles. I don't have a 'roll' ie an "accepted" way to talk or move in the home, the church, or the kingdom of God. I'm commissioned by God to walk in the Spirit. It is specific to me. I don't demand everyone walk exactly like I do, and my instruction from God may change from time to time. Never contrary to the scriptures, but my relationship with God is personal and distinctive. I'm sure I don't need a list, From Good Housekeeping or anything else.
I've been delivered from list.

And to Joy, yeah Joy! What a great opportunity.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why you bring up the 50's when we are in the 21st Century maybe the Ladies have come a long way but have you ?

creed said...

You must admit that a woman leading a Baptist State Convention is not the ordinary news over the wire. I suppose BP will write a story, I know ABP will. I know it can't happen in my State Convention because the "Concerned Baptists" haven't be able to complete their takeover, though this year will be a turning point. Isn't that the real story, rather than gender issues of the person(s) who will lead us in Convention ministries. I applaud Texas Baptists, my native State, and hope that those of us currently out of the promise land doing ministry will be able to hold on against the CR. More power to Joy Fenner and Texas Baptists.

Anonymous said...

What about learning a musical instrument as to entertain him while he relaxes. My fiance plays the bagpipes for me. Just kidding

Nice post pretty crazy how things once were.

Charles R said...

I find myself wondering how much of this list and how much of the Ozzie and Harriett and Beaver script writing was developed in an effort to recreate something that existed only in the imaginations of some men back from WWII. The absence of men forced women into the offices and factories to drive the wartime economy. Were the cats out of the bag so there had to be attempts to herd them "back where they belong."

Paul Burleson said...


At the risk of being too lengthy and to serious in respose to your comical post, I would have thought I'd died and gone to heaven had my Mom and Dad acted this way in 1955 when I was fifteen. They didn't. Neither did most others I knew.

I think it is obvious the point you're ultimately making is that many of our ideas about ways to relate in family life are culturally driven.

For those of us who are Kingdom kids a completely new principled culture has come into reality. That, IMHO, isn't this article. [As you've indicated as well.] It isn't the one I read written by those who denigrate women [while denying they are] with a "their place" mentality advocating it as "the Christian way." It isn't the "I'm as good as you and don't tell me what to do" kind of hateful relationship the feminism of our present culture is displaying/advocating. It is something totally different. Something that counters culture, even the one Paul the Apostle lived in.

It is the one where each in the family, filled with the Spirit, [Eph 5:18] is serving the other, [Eph 5:21/6:1-7] out of reverence for Christ. [v21]

It takes on different shapes and hues depending on personality and giftedness but always with the best interest of the others in the family in mind and heart. It has a commitment to being there for each other no matter the particular shape the family unit takes because of circumstances and no matter those personalities and gifts.

It is where each one in the family is fulfilling their unique potential as a redeemed human being [as Jesus fulfilled His Humanity in Luke 2:52] respected, embraced, and loved as they are.

It is where children, as transcients in the home, are trained to be genuinely themselves, ultimately independent of parents, dependent on the Lord, and with the skills/knowledge to be interdependent one day with some one else to start their own unique family.

There are, of course, exceptions to all this, in that some don't marry. But life is complete, as with every believer, in Christ, not in marriage. Some children, as one of our grand-daughters is, will always after a fashion be dependent on the original family unit because of special needs. But those ARE exceptions.

It is, ultimately, a work of God that no one can capture with a cultural "ought" or "should" but transcends every cultural and impacts every person. It is, in fact, a miracle of God. But He DOES that kind of thing doesn't He.


Ronnica said...

I'm not sure what that article has to do with the fact that a woman got elected president of a state Baptist convention.

I don't believe that women should be presidents of Baptist convention, so do I by default have to agree with everything about the 50s concept of a wife? Supporting the biblical gender roles is NOT the same as supporting 50s understandings of the roles of men and women.

Anonymous said...

Those were the days when men where men and women were glad of it!

Charles R said...

It's right there in the scripture --- 2 Ahab 2:4 - "Therefore art women, because God hath cursed them with regular defilement and uncleanliness, never to stand as leaders in cooperation."

Anonymous said...

Yep, Mom was up at 4 AM to get dad off to work and pack sack lunches for all of us. Then she was the crew chief for 5 boys and a girl as we did our everyday life. After we worked in the garden each day, gathered eggs, milked the cows, fed the hogs, turkeys, and rabbits.......after we got the firewood, shoveled the chickenhouse and turkey shed, we would spend the afternoon at the neighbors picking cotton until just before dark.

In the evenings, we bathed in an old galvanized wash tub BEFORE dad got home and were cleaned up for supper (dinner for the more refined :-) Mom cooked supper and all had an assigned "helpers" role. Then the kids took turns with the dishes.

Needless to say, we hated summers and loved school. However, every moment was spent in all the above mentioned chores.

God bless Mom. ( I wonder if she read this list from this book!)

God Bless Texas, I will pray for the Lady of the Lord.

Darrell Treat

Anonymous said...

OH, I forgot to say "thanks Wade" for the list and the good laugh.

I have always thought Mom was a superwoman.

She raised 2 music ministers, 2 deacons and a pastor. All are singers and/or musicians in church.

(non have farms)

darrell treat

Anonymous said...

As a stay-at-home mom to two boys, in my experience, the absence of respect doesn't come from my husband or family ... it comes from church.

Bob Cleveland said...



Anonymous said...


I notice that you used the word "Ladies" in your title.

One of the definitions that Merriam-Webster gives for the word "Lady" as "a woman of refinement and gentle manners".

Definition found here:

Now, it seems to me that alot of what these statements are saying has to do with teaching what this definition states.

The main thing that bothers me about this list is that it seems to advocate women being mindless.

However, there are other things that, as Darby has already indicated, seem to advocate putting somone before yourself.

Wade, if "ladies" [in general I suppose] have come such a long way, then could you share with me what women do today that is even "more" refined and gentle.

I would certainly grant that women have come a long way in their expertise of certain areas of knowledge because of the educational opportunities afforded them [there are women CEO's, scientists, etc.].

However, when it comes to "lady-likeness", that seems to be another story [from my perspective at least].

Now, I think there is a flip side to "lady-likeness" that is not displayed in these statements on your post--that being, knowing how to "receive" and not just "give".

For example, my little girl, naturally it seems, has played the "damsel in distress" part for her Daddy to come to the rescue.

And to the rescue Daddy did [and really enjoyed it if I remember correctly]

Wade, I have taught my little girl "ladies first". She understands the idea that I am to get her out of her seatbelt before I mess with those two brother of hers.

As she has told me--"ladies first, boys second"

Wade, I bend down on one knee, she extends her hand, and I kiss it.

And you know what, I don't think she's too bothered by these things:)

Wade, it seems to me that the norm today is "Women and Men", not "Ladies and Gentleman"

But maybe that's just me:)



P.S. Now that I have disagreed with you, I still expect you will be nice to me (wink) said...


Your name sounds like a genie anyway: "Your wish is my command." (smile).


texasinafrica said...

Wade, I'm pretty sure it's illegal to post information from the textbooks being used at Southwestern online! Publishers get upset about these things! :)

Lin said...

Reality check time:

Before WW2 there was barely even a middle class. Most women worked their heads off on farms along sided their husbands in the fields, or in some sort of mom and pop family business, etc.

There was a cultural phenomenon after WW2 with a solid middle class, more industry jobs for men and where mom could devote herself to home and kids because financially it was now feasible.

A reading of economic history would put to rest much of the historical fantasy that has been painted by many.

Anonymous said...

The article is bogus. Here is a link to

Anonymous said...

You crack me up Wade

But in a nice way

Cause you're a nice guy

So have a nice day



P.S. You're even nice to Wes

1RevsView said...

What we have here is not a 1955 magazine article at all. It is actually the expanded syllabus for the new Masters (I see now why this had to be a "masters" program) degree program at SWBTS which Mrs. "P" is overseeing.

If you don''t believe it, ask some ministerial wives who enrolled in the class Mrs. "P" taught while at SEBTS.

Just call it "retro woman." Yet another by product of the conservative resurgence.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I am not religious and not conservative and not a Baptist, but honestly that list didn't sound all THAT bad. I think if you stay home and don't work too and if you love your husband doing those things are really nice and you'd definitely have a pretty good marriage. Of course a wife should probably question her husband if he does something ridiculous as all people occasionally do, but if a woman has a truly good and loving husband and if she has made a good choice in husband, based on love and his character, than he probably could be trusted to usually make good decisions.

Actually though, I would really not be ok with my husband staying out all night. The rest I can live with.

Anonymous said...

"SWBTS trustees approved the construction of a homemaking house as an instruction facility and student housing for the seminary's homemaking concentration.

The homemaking house will include three primary teaching areas: a multi-function room for instruction which also contains computer resources; a room for students to learn about working with and laundering textiles; and a kitchen, complete with appropriate appliances and a horseshoe-shaped counter for instruction in food preparation. Upstairs, two rooms will house seniors in the homemaking concentration and another room will be available for guest housing. A donation to the seminary has been made for the construction, which will begin as soon as all funds have been secured. The house is slated to open in August 2008.

So far, just eight of the 300 students in the seminary’s undergraduate program are enrolled in the homemaking concentration.

(source: Baptist & Associated Press)

Anonymous said...

So, the "magazine article" is a probable fraud. The bigger question, to me, is why anyone would give it to Wade coincidental to the election of Joy Fenner as president.

And honestly, there are startling similarities to that list and the many sites out there that describe marriage, motherhood, and homemaking as a Christian woman's "highest calling" (if anyone wants links, I'll provide them). Except perhaps for the staying out all night part and, in some cases, to the wearing of makeup, they advocate pretty much everything on the bogus list. So maybe the deal isn't that it was consonant with 1955, but that it's being taught with all seriousness as THE "Christian" way for women in 2007.

Steve said...

Two things happened to make sure the idyllic Ward & June Cleaver scenario, however realistic it miight have been prior to WWII, disappeared forever as we moved into the mid-1960s; government spending exploded, bringing with it such high income taxation that only the highest-paid industrial workers and professionals could have their wives stay at home; and, government intrusions into home construction spurred increases in the cost of single-family homes. As millions more autos came onto the roads each year, some of that gov't spending was in road construction; also, houses grew by hundreds of sq. ft.

I'm not saying I miss those days with their lack of opportunity for so many people, but that's a couple reasons they're gone.

Charles R said...

Interesting suppositions, Steve, but a Google search reveals that the facts do NOT support you. The highest marginal tax rates in history, with the short exception of 1944 and 45 (94%), were in the 1950's when the top rate was 92%. A steady decline in rates began in 1964 bottoming out from 1988 to 1990 at 28%. Currently, top rates are in the upper 30's.

Taxes were not what drove women out of the home to work. Government ain't the boogieman that destroyed Ozzie and Harriet's house.

Anonymous said...

No, Ozzie and Harriet's house became too small and old-fashioned to suit their children when they entered the housing market. O & H desired that their children would have it better than they had it; wasn't that inherent in the "American Dream"? And so now O & H's grandchildren have as the "norm" a house in which every family member has at least one bathroom to him/herself, a separate bedroom, and there are at least two living areas in addition to a formal and an informal dining area, and sometimes even a kitchen with a square footage that approaches O & H's entire house.

Just look at what Habitat for Humanity considers "decent basic housing" in the United States. It's a lot closer to O & H's house than what I just described, but it's still palatial compared to what Habitat builds in so many other parts of the world.

We've convinced ourselves that luxury is "necessary" in this culture. As a single, and committed to a simple life, I deliberately sought out a small one-bedroom apartment. Now my complex has been purchased by the city housing authority and, because of my income, I will have to move out sometime in the next year or two. Only "poor people" are supposed to live in such spartan spaces, I suppose. So I'll have to find a place that charges a lot more for small and simple.

Bob Cleveland said...

Steve & Charles:

I echo what Charles said. Our first child was born in 1960, and my wife stayed home with the kids until 1975. And I was at the bottom of anybody's pay scale back then. Employees of insurance companies (not agents) didn't make much back then, but the work was steady.

The problem is spending to your income rather than to your needs. Even back then, a banker told me that the folks who lived in houses worth six times what ours was (ours was $11,500 +/-) had to come borrow money to have a water heater replaced (under $100 in those days).

Spending up to income. On wants, not needs. Problem then, problem now.

And I have NEVER been anywhere near the highest marginal tax rate.

Blackhaw said...

many of the items on the list are really not that bad. They are not the wife's duty but could be very loving. It seems to me that most on here want to speak about rights when i see the article (even if it is made up)could be about love. It is loving for a wife to look nice for her husband. it is loving for a wife to make her husband feel comfortable when he comes home after work. of course this all assumes the wife is a homemaker and the husband works.

But anyways have women (an men also) come such a long way when they are so much more concerned about their rights.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to "rights," Blackhaw, I think I saw the emphasis a WHOLE lot more about the man's rights "back then" than with a woman's rights now: the right to be catered to, fawned over, treated like royalty, to not be held accountable for obviously sinful neglect of family, and so forth.

Just what "rights" are supposedly being demanded by women, Blackhaw, here or in the referenced event?

Funny, when a man's traditional "rights" are so graphically shown to be the unbiblical, worldly construct that they are, someone can always be counted upon to be deflect the discussion by accusing women of "demanding rights"; suddenly, "rights" are a horrible thing. Apparently, "rights" are a wonderful thing when men enjoy them, but they're unacceptable when women have any. (In some circles, that is.)

Blackhaw said...

Mary thanks for making my point. What is wrong with a woman doing many of things listed out of love? Can you deny that most or all the post above were focused on someone's rights instead of love? Also when did I say that I thought it was good for women not to have rights? When did I state anthing close to that? Your protest speaks volumes.

Eddie Wilson said...

Check out the recent series by AMC called Mad Men, which is already through is first run for the season and now into reruns until next summer. It is a window into this history.