I didn’t want to go to a small independent Baptist college. No, I wanted a true college experience. I wanted drunken nights and new experiences. My parents graciously gave me two options, and since they were paying for college I had to choose one: Go to a Michigan state school and live at home or go to the small independent Baptist college in Missouri. I weighed my options and quickly decided that small freedom is better than freedom; Baptist college here I come.
That most of the degree programs involved training for some kind of ministry opportunity should come as no surprise. That most of the men wanted to be pastors, youth pastors or missionaries should also be no surprise. What did surprise me but should not have, is that those men needed wives to fulfill a great portion of the ministry needs: Teaching Sunday school, running Vacation Bible school, starting backyard Bible clubs with our flock children and neighbors, evangelizing the women, counseling the women, birthing and raising their Christian soldiers, cleaning their house, washing their clothes, cooking their meals, cleaning the church, organizing the calendar, keeping the books, the list goes on and on and on… There are many things men cannot or do not want to do while they are in the ministry. Proverbs 31 tells us good Christian women that we are honored and a good catch if we can provide all these things to our husband who is in the ministry.
There was, however, no degree program at this small independent Baptist college that read, “how to be a good wife to your husband in the ministry,” no but the other degrees offered to women may as well have been titled such: Missions, Children’s Ministries, Women’s Ministries, Office Administration, and Music. The one accredited program offered at the time that reached beyond ministry in the church was Elementary Education. Being a realist I signed up for this course of study.
My fellow female students were all anxious to meet Mr. Right and start going on chaperoned dates where no physical contact was tolerated. I, on the other hand, was ready to meet Mr. Wrong and put my hands all over him. This was frowned upon to say the least. Students were kicked out for less. I learned quickly that women in this institution were made available to the men in almost a cattle call procession for them to choose who would best meet their future ministry needs. Having a mind of her own was not high on the list. Submissive, obedient, gentle spirit, that’s what the guys were going for.
I kept my head down and plowed through school with little to occupy my desire for male companionship. My female classmates were quickly snatching up their Mrs. Degrees before their 4 or 5 year term was complete. Some would drop out at this point because, c’mon, in reality the only degree worth having was the Mrs. There is little ministry work for a single woman and the pity from others alone might kill you.
I was nearing the end of my time in college. Graduation was approaching. No ring in sight. Choices had to be made. Would I sulk around campus for a few more years hoping some desperate man might save me from spinsterhood. Hell no! I started the process and was accepted in to the Peace Corps.
One month before graduation something magical happened. I met him! He did not attend my small independent Baptist college. No, he was a former atheist attending the public university. More choices had to be made. I was scheduled to leave with the Peace Corps. Should I abandon my budding romance, or stay the course with the Peace Corps?! I talked with a Peace Corps advisor on the phone. She told me this situation happened quite frequently. People sign up and then with their future settled an aura of “I’m not interested in marriage,” over takes them and they are instantly more attractive. I ultimately decided to stick around to see how the romance would play out. My logic, of course, was win/win. If I stay and we end up together, great! If I stay and we break up, well, heck then I’ll join the Peace Corps.
I got my happy ending, and Mrs. Degree. I never did go to the Peace Corps but I have no regrets. I married the only man in the world I can picture myself with. And we are not in the ministry.