Saturday, January 21, 2006

Again, why I didn't go to college

"The modern challenge to motherhood is the eternal challenge--that of being a godly woman. The very phrase sounds strange in our ears. We never hear it now. We hear about every other kind of women--beautiful women, smart women, sophisticated women, career woman, talented women, divorced women, but so seldom do we hear of a godly woman--or of a godly man either, for that matter.

I believe women come nearer fulfilling their God-given function in the home than anywhere else. It is a much nobler thing to be a good wife than to be Miss America. It is a greater achievement to establish a Christian home than it is to produce a second-rate novel filled with filth. It is a far, far better thing in the realm of morals to be old-fashioned than to be ultramodern. The world has enough women who know how to hold their cocktails, who have lost all their illusions and their faith. The world has enough women who know how to be smart.

It needs women who are willing to be simple. The world has enough women who know how to be brilliant. It needs some who will be brave. The world has enough women who are popular. It needs more who are pure. We need woman, and men, too, who would rather be morally right that socially correct."

From Peter Marshall's Keeper of the Springs essay (1942)

read the whole thing here


Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Bravo! I like it. However, I'm not sure I would quite agree with the idea that women should be "simple." I think that depends on how you're using the word.

Feminism gets it wrong here, but sometimes Christians overreact. I can certainly respect a family who decides they don't want their daughters to go to college, but I would ask, "Why?" There can be many good reasons not go to college. But I am dead set against any reasons stemming from some sort of anti-intellectualism. There is no excuse whatsoever for women not to use their minds. We are to love God with our minds, after all. I'm not saying the solution to anti-intellectualism is intellectualism. Far from it. The solution is biblical thinking. One example: many women I have come across have no desire to read "big fat theological" books. To my mind, this is not good. It was J. Gresham Machen, I think, who said something like, "Theology is not learned in seminary from books. It is learned on the back porch with your mother." So women need to know theology well if for no other reason than that their children need to know it. Wives and mothers also should not be blown about by every wind of doctrine. And I'm not talking about a simplistic theology. Yes, there are aspects of theology that are simple. But there are also many that are not.

Again, bravo for bucking the silly feminists! I would only add that I think feminism exists because of two kinds of men: wimpy abdicating men, and domineering tyrannical men. Neither one is biblical, and women will not be happy with either. If the men were to do the biblical thing, there would be no need for feminism. So I think the buck stops with us.

In Christ.

1/21/2006 10:35 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Great minds must think alike :). I posted that very same portion of that very same sermon several days ago. Those were the same paragraphs that stood out to me.

Although, in the instance of my post, I decided I needed to write a disclaimer on one sentence of the sermon (which seemed to indicate that Sunday schools were the only place for religious training to be obtained), resulting in an interesting discussion on that subject. . .

I agree with you, Adrian, that women should not neglect their minds and should be well-versed in theology, but I think it is best learned on the back porch with their mothers - or, I would submit, better still with their fathers - than by a college professor. I don't believe that college education for women is wrong in all cases, but I think it is not the best choice in most cases.

I think "simple" in this case wasn't referring to a simple mind, but simplicity of lifestyle, perhaps? There are so many definitions for simple. . .

1/22/2006 8:43 AM  
Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Reply to Susan.

Yes, I would agree there are many definitions for "simple." The reason I picked "simple of mind", or anti-intellectual, perhaps, is that in the context of the sermon, the sentence right before the "simple" sentence says, "The world has enough women who know how to be smart." The sentence right after it says, "The world has enough women who know how to be brilliant." Especially with the sentence right after it, and with the rest of that paragraph, there is an obvious paralellism going on. Marshall appears to be contrasting "simple" with "brilliant" or possibly (but less likely) with "smart." That leads me to believe he means simple of mind, which is nowhere commanded in Scripture. To the contrary, the Proverbs and Paul's writings are vociferously opposed to simplicity of mind.

Perhaps the confusion in some peoples' minds comes from the phrase "child-like faith." That means an implicit trust; it does not mean "childish faith," as R. C. Sproul once said.

It's interesting that you agree with me in saying that a college education "is not the best choice in most cases." That's interesting because you do have a college education, and doubtless you know some women who have not. So you can compare the two. I'm not really in that position, as I know hardly any women who have not gone to college. In the end result, I claim that wisdom is not measured in degrees, though books are a fabulous way to gain wisdom. I know a man in our church who never went to college. But he is one of the most well-read men I know. Very learned in many ways, and very wise. So it can be done without sacrificing the life of the mind. I hope Jessica will forgive the length of my comments! This is, after all, your blog.

In Christ.

1/22/2006 1:03 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

I'm sure Jessica will forgive the length of our replies, right Jess :)?

Very good point on the placement of "simple" and "brilliance." I thought that you were inferring Jessica's use of "simple" by the title of her post. I didn't realize you meant Peter Marshall's meaning. Perhaps he was referring to brilliance as a substitute for simplicity of lifestyle or purpose. Perhaps you've heard R.C. Sproul Jr.'s motto? Living a life that is simple, separate, and deliberate. He is definitely not an anti-intellectualist; he refers to simple in the sense of focus on one purpose in life - to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I tend to think it is that to which Marshall refers, though I could be wrong.

Yes, I do have a college education, though I wouldn't recommend it for most women. It was not my choice, but I am thankful to be done :). Most of the girls/women I know well have been to college, though a few have not. In suburban Metro Atlanta, a college education is a given for most, so any questioning of college education (for men or women) is rare.

Absolutely; knowledge and education degrees are not equal. I consider my education to have only begun, not just ended. I hope to continue to learn and grow in knowledge for the rest of my life.

1/22/2006 2:18 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Oh, Jessica, I meant to mention this before. I first read this selfsame quote in So Much More, later recognizing it on Lady Lydia's blog. I hope you do get a chance to read that book; I really enjoyed it.

1/23/2006 10:27 AM  
Blogger Sabine said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/23/2006 11:48 AM  
Blogger Jessie said...

I wanted to thank everyone for their comments on my post- I've enjoyed them all! Unfortunately I don't have the time now to reply to them individually as I'd like, so a "simple" : ) thank you and hello will have to do. I hope to get back online tonight and do some more commenting. Until then!

1/24/2006 10:04 AM  
Blogger Jessie said...

In the meantime, I think Mr. Knightley sums it all up for us:

"Men of sense, whatever you may say, do not want silly wives!"

1/24/2006 10:13 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

You have to love Mr. Knightley. . . and Jane Austen :-D.

1/24/2006 12:30 PM  
Blogger Jessie said...

Peter Marshall does seem to be contrasting smart/simple, as you will see that brilliant/brave and popular/pure are all alliterates in the following sentences. It seems that the "smart" sentence ought to be down with the other paragraph.
I appreciate the oppurtunity to consider what he might mean by "simple," thanks to your pointing it out, Adrian. Is there not a difference between the "smart" woman working in the science lab, examining moonrocks or manipulating bacteria-filled petri dishes, and the woman at home with her children at her feet as she reads "Henny Penny" to them before she gets the bread out of the oven? There is a big difference between them, and on the surface the first might seem to be the smarter, and therefore the better. But is she? Doesn't it also take a bit of brain to figure out how to get all of the food ready for the meal at once, or how to get the very best deal on something, or how to teach eighth, fifth, and second grade and preschool at one time, or how to keep four or five (or a dozen- Susan!) children and a husband happy and healthy? I say it takes quite a bit of brains (and nerves) to do all that the second woman does.
But she leads a simpler life. It only takes a childish handful of dandelion puffs to please her, because of the love behind it. She is at once both smart and simple. I think this is probably what Peter Marshall had in mind by crying for "simple women-" Women who don't require so much to be happy or feel that they've made a difference in the world.

Women have every right and responsibility to further their knowledge, especially in spiritual matters. Please don't misunderstand me and think I'm judging ladies who do go to college (of their own accord or not). There is no biblical ultimatum forbidding young women from going to college, but there is a command for her to honor and obey her parents. If her parents wish their daughter to go to school, then I would have to say that unless she would be violating scripture in another point, she had best obey and go, as they command her. And if she desires to go to college and her parents bless her in that way, then she is free to pack her bags!
But in my case, it was the Lord's will for me not to go into debt to spend 4 years away from home learning a lot of head knowledge while reinforcing my already-independent nature by being on my own. I know, I've heard all the stories about how you're not really out from under your parents authority, because, you know- you can still call them and ask their advice and all... But really- when there is no one else that needs you to be anywhere at any time in particular, other than your teachers, you are on your own.
In my case I would rather spend the typical 4 years learning "real" things. The things that make up life. And that includes spiritual matters. I'd rather learn business by starting my own, than go to school and read about it. I'd rather prepare whole meals for my family, than to complete a cooking assignment for a teacher. (And even better- sometimes I'm glad I'm not in college just so I have the chance to be healthy! I can go to bed at 10 if I want to and get up at 5:30 so I get enough sleep- I can eat healthy! foods instead of cafeteria foods or take-out!) I can enjoy my baby brother and other siblings and learn about psychology, child-rearing, child development and relationship-building, all from real life!
And I can build my business now and save up money, being 4 years ahead of my college-attending counterparts who are going to school, and getting into debt or at best- coming out even, and still have to figure out how to live for real. College is not real life.

And to elaborate on Mr. Knightley, men of sense don't want silly wives who don't know much about anything, and they also don't want silly wives who can't run a house. A woman needs to be a help, meet for her husband. If her husband is smart, I hope for his sake she can have an intelligent conversation or two! Intelligence is a good thing- it is a way to glorify God by knowing and enjoying Him. We women just need to be "simply smart"- majoring on the majors of what God calls important, and not caring about whether we're ever nominated for the Nobel Prize and have a string of hard-earned abbreviations to attach to our names.

You can see I've forgiven all the long comments, because I've posted one that tops them all : )
Thanks everyone for commenting. I'm sure this subject will come up again sometime, because it is such an issue in my own life. I'll be sharing any other tidbits of anti-college propaganda (especially in regards to ladies) I come across, so keep your eyes open.

1/24/2006 9:43 PM  
Blogger Adrian C. Keister said...

Reply to Jessica.

Hehe. In some ways, you're preaching to the choir.

You wrote, "Is there not a difference between the 'smart' woman working in the science lab, examining moonrocks or manipulating bacteria-filled petri dishes, and the woman at home with her children at her feet as she reads 'Henny Penny' to them before she gets the bread out of the oven? There is a big difference between them, and on the surface the first might seem to be the smarter, and therefore the better." To that I would instantly respond, "Yes, there is a difference. The mother at home requires considerably more smarts, intelligence, wisdom, love, graciousness, toughness, etc. to do her job well than the woman in the lab." What I'm arguing against, and it seems you would, too, is the "anti-intellectual" stay-at-home mother type, the kind who distinctly shuns big fat theological books, for instance. I would just as vigorously argue against the feminazi go-to-work-just-like-the-boys type. What I would most like to see is the biblically thinking stay-at-home type, which is unfortunately rare these days, though I'm seeing more of it as time goes on.

I might agree that the stay-at-home mother has a simpler life than the woman in the lab, but appearances can be deceiving. Raising children is complicated, to say the least; and I'm positive that's nothing you don't already know. Pleasing your husband can often be rather complicated as well. And trying to please God, the most complicated. If by simpler life you mean less hurried, less at the mercy of the world's demands, I can accept that. But if you are trying to measure on some absolute scale of complexity, I think the mother's life might rank higher than the woman in the lab.

I do not find that the Bible portrays simplicity as a virtue. I submit that this is a concept from the Romantics, and thus I challenge it. Some verses I would put forward: "to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion tothe youth" - Proverbs 1:4. " 'How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?' " - Prov. 1:22. "and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense," - Prov. 7:7. The context of each of these verses makes it clear that the simplicity being discussed, whatever that is, is not a good thing. Naturally, we should try to find out what that simplicity is.

In Peter Marshall's case, I submit that although he may be thinking along correct lines (simple life, such as you suggest), this is not the plain meaning of the passage. Although he might balk at this interpretation of his words, I think he is advocating anti-intellectualism there. Again, please understand I thought the rest of it was stellar. But every man has his weakness, none more than me. I commend you for taking my words in the non-threatening way in which they were intended. I beg of you to continue doing so! If we are all Christians here, we should not be offended at each other. And you don't have to worry about me on that score; I have a very thick skull.

In Christ.

1/24/2006 11:07 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

:) Some very good thinking.

Now it's my turn to type up a quote, this one by G.K. Chesterton, speaking of wifely duties. It came to mind as I was reading your comment, Jessica, as well as Adrian's last one. I found this quote in So Much More as well :) :

I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about [arithmetic], and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be every thing to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. i will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness

1/25/2006 7:28 AM  
Blogger Samara said...

Hi Jessica- I like this post and the comments as well :) I know that I'd rather my life be simple and fulfilling in faith, than glamorous and spiritually lacking.

Also, I've tagged you (if you're interested). :)

2/01/2006 5:51 PM  

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