MR or MRS Degree? Ask Jesus!

Looking for more than just an education?  For those who hope to find a life partner as part of their college experience, it seems like a Christian college might be the way to go.

In Religion News Service, Katherine Burgess reports on a recent Facebook survey.  According to those findings, of the top 25 colleges where men are likely to meet their spouse, all are Christian.  For women, sixty-four percent of the top 25 husband-finding schools are Christian.

Twelve of the schools that appear on both lists of top-25 are Christian:

  1. Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary,      Ankeny, Iowa
  2. Harding University, Searcy, Ark.
  3. Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn.
  4. Bob Jones University, Greenville, S.C.
  5. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
  6. Freed-Hardeman University, Henderson, Tenn.
  7. Maranatha Baptist Bible College, Watertown, Wis.
  8. Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa
  9. Baptist Bible College, Springfield, Mo.
  10. Oklahoma Christian University, Edmond, Okla.
  11. Kentucky Christian University, Grayson, Ky.
  12. Johnson University, Knoxville, Tenn.

This makes sense.

College, after all, is about much more than academics.  Where people go to school—especially when that school is strongly associated with a certain cultural identity—says a lot about who they are as people.

It also fits long-standing stereotypes about Christian schools.  As Jeff Schone, vice president for student life at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota, told Burgess, “There’s a Lutheran boy for every Lutheran girl.”

Marlena Graves reflected on this syndrome recently in the pages of Christianity Today.  As a counselor at Cedarville University, Graves lamented the fact that so many young women seem to neglect their own personal growth in their race for a spouse.  “I can’t even count,” Graves wrote,

the number of times I’ve heard, “My mom and dad told me that if I don’t find a husband now when there are so many to choose from, then chances are slim that I’ll find one after college.”

This isn’t just true for Christians, of course.  As Charles Murray argued controversially in his recent book Coming Apart, those who attend elite schools tend to marry other people from those same elite schools.

In her Christianity Today piece, Graves quoted a letter to the Daily Princetonian by Susan Patton.  Patton gave Princeton women the same advice heard by so many young Christian collegians:

Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal….there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.

Higher education, for many non-Christians as well as many Christians, seems to be seen as the place to find suitable life partners.  My hunch is that this trend is exaggerated at schools that attract students from self-identified subcultural or countercultural backgrounds.

This marriage tendency can help us understand the durability of cultural notions.  Why are so many Americans creationist, for instance?  It helps when creationist kids go to creationist colleges, marry other creationist kids and start creationist families of their own.