Women & Higher Education

Over at The Line, the Boundless Webzine, Ted Slater started a discussion about women and higher education.

In the first post, Gender Imbalance in Higher Education, Mr Slater says this about the fact that 58% percent of the U.S. undergrads are women:

Call me a sexist, but my first reaction is to find that disappointing. Call me a sexist, but I believe that in most cases the husband should be the primary income-earner in the family, and that the wife should be free to stay at home with the kids. It follows, logically I think, that more men should be preparing for these income-earning careers by going to college. And that women should be careful not to bring on exorbitant school loan debt that may prohibit them from being able to carry out their dreams to be stay-at-home moms.

In the second post, Wives: Homemakers? Husbands: Breadwinners? Jennie posted a comment and Mr Slater turned it in to a post. I get where Jennie’s coming from, and I believe her ideas are good, but they need to go further. Here’s a bit of what Jennie says:

Obviously Ted’s not advocating that women don’t get educated. He’s just suggesting that we women make informed decisions with a biblical perspective on the long-term that won’t force us to compromise our biblical responsibilities, and that men take their responsibility as providers seriously.

I have no desire to call Ted a sexist. I do, however; want to know if he understands God’s covenant promise to His people and the importance of a Godly education? And when Jennie talks about compromising our biblical responsibilities, does she understand how an uneducated Mom could do just that? And when did higher education become nothing more than a paycheck? Scripture says:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and your gates. (Deut.6:4-9)

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. (Deut.7:9)

Obviously, none of us know what the Lord has planned for us. Will you be married? Will you have children? It’s wonderful to “hope” for marriage and children, but the reality is that it doesn’t happen for everyone, and it may not happen according to your timing. Therefore, you’ll need a plan. And if it does happen, be prepared – whether man or woman – to teach the standards of God to your children. Isn’t that your biblical responsibility?

If Mom is the primary caregiver, then it stands to reason she’ll be doing a lot of talking and walking with the children – a lot of teaching. The money she spends on a good education will help to ensure the children know God’s standards, and how those standards apply to: science, literature, math, history, logic, grammar, and more. She’s a teacher. And last time I checked teaching credentials aren’t free.

When I look at the woman in Proverbs 31, I see a very well educated person. She knows real estate, cooking, accounting, sales, teaching, fashion design, farming, distribution, and much more. Her husband has full confidence in her abilities. She lacks nothing of value. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.


10 Responses to “Women & Higher Education”

  1. Mackenzie on April 15th, 2008

    Amen. Besides, as Mr. Knightly so aptly put it, men of sense, whatever you may say, do not want silly wives.

  2. Kelly D. on April 15th, 2008

    Hi Lucy…I finally found you and I could not agree more with the first post I’ve read!

  3. Valerie (Kyriosity) on April 17th, 2008

    “…as Mr. Knightly so aptly put it, men of sense, whatever you may say, do not want silly wives.”

    And yet he married a woman who was not college educated. Emma was homeschooled, in fact. ;-)

    I agree that being educated is an objectively good thing. I don’t think it requires a degree, however, or four expensive years of college coursework. And I cannot fault a family that makes an economic decision to choose college education for its sons and not its daughters, especially if it has also made economic decisions to provide for the needs of any daughters as long as they remain unmarried. To quote (or perhaps misquote…I’m going by memory) Miss Woodhouse, “It is only poverty that makes celibacy contemptible.”

    Can’t blather more now ‘cuz I’m at work, but I’ll try to get back and flesh out my thoughts some more.

  4. lucyzoe on April 17th, 2008

    I would argue that “providing for the needs of any daughters” would include an education. And that education can take on all different forms. A “higher education” can be obtained without ever having set foot on a campus. Some parents simply aren’t equipped, or whatever, to provide that higher education under their own roof.

    As I tried to make clear in the post, the most important aspect of this conversation has very little to do with money, and much to do with the impact women have on God’s kingdom. To make it about money – whether in terms of the cost or the paycheck – seems to trivialize the importance of education.

  5. Mark Horne on May 20th, 2008

    Funny, in the Bible, full wives had their own property, often their own money, tents (in the patriarchical era) and servants. Then there were second-class wives who came from poor families. Typically their father got the bride price so that these women were much more dependent on their husbands. They were called concubines.

    I really don’t see the logic in making Evangelical wives more like concubines. They will have enough economic disadvantages in the marketplace without lacking a college degree (I’m quite willing to reconsider the the value of the degree in general, but our target seems to think it is valuable for men, so I’m assuming it is valuable for this argument). Husbands die. Husbands get disabled. Repudiating the two-income household is not enough to justify leaving women more vulnerable than they already are.

    And how many men are going to know who they want to marry by the time they graduate from high school. Lots of my classmates got married to someone they met in college….

    Furthermore, women don’t *know* that they are going to get married when they graduate from high school. That is not entirely within their control. Staying a daughter in the house forever is not going to add to their chances of becoming a good wife.

    Finally, when we read in the Bible about women killing evil men they never do it by grabbing a sword and shield and going to battle (Worst BSG episode ever: boxing match with Starbuck going up against Apollo and not getting killed in the first five seconds; they even switched to kick boxing without explanation just to give her something to do). Rather, she uses cunning and lies and then takes advantage of vulnerability. All things being equal, I would expect women to gravitate toward “knowledge work” rather than hard labor. Thus, men I think are probably *more* likely to find a calling that doesn’t involve college than women.


  6. lucyzoe on May 20th, 2008

    Mr Horne,
    I get the impression that the “newness” for some, of rediscovering the glory and strength of a woman taking dominion over her castle, often causes the pendulum to swing so far in the other direction that somehow, even the act of *thinking*, gets thrown out with the corporate suit, big fat paycheck, and the expense account.

    Unfortunately, someone in my office actually understood the reference to BSG. Ugh!

  7. Mark on July 8th, 2008


    Nice comments! I agree. I think its a good thing for a young lady to persue an education.

    First, as you and others ably mentioned, it will be so useful in being able to teach her children.

    Second, getting a job is not the only reason why it is good to get an education. It functions to sharpen us is many different ways, especially in some areas that aren’t likely to be developed in the routines of everyday life in and of itself.

    Third, as has also been mentioned, in God’s providence she may not marry/have children, or may even become a widow some day. She may one day have to fend for herself, and in that case the more qualified she is the better.

    Fourth, I believe in a way it is an interesting and unique testimony to the world and other Christians when this Christian woman who is clearly smart, educated, and could have a good career, choses her family as her central priority. It also helps to dispels some stereotypes as to what Christan women and Christians in general are like.

    Fifth, there are probably a plethora of other ways that a wife can bless her husbands and others by having somewhat of an education!

    As a single guy, I find a women having an education to be attractive. Not that I would make it some sort of requirement, but it certainly is attractive for the reasons I’ve mentioned. I don’t understand the mentality that forces girls to not get an education. I understand the fear that it could detract from homeward duties, but I fear those fears are somewhat misguided.

  8. lucyzoe on July 8th, 2008

    Hey Mark,
    Thanks for the post. I checked out your blog and profile. Let me know if you want to meet some lovely, educated, women from Moscow your age. We have a bountiful crop, and I’m all about getting people married. Thanks again, LucyZoe

  9. Mark on July 8th, 2008

    Hi Lucy,

    Now there’s an idea! Where do I sign up?

    I’ve always got a kick out of the idea of a “Moscow” in Idaho. It’s almost as though Joe McCarthy missed a spot somewhere in the North West :)

    In the past a friend and I have tossed around the idea of showing up at the Trinity Fest one of these days (but it is, after all, a 1.5 day drive).

  10. lucyzoe on July 8th, 2008

    Hey…I’m serious.
    Send me an email and tell me about yourself and then tell me what you’re looking for in a wife. You can use the contact form on the other page.

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