Kudos to Karen & Mollie, a mother-daughter team over at Got Me A College Girl for tackling the controversial subject of educating Christian women. They do it with sensitivity and style, and the commentary conversations are really wonderful.
As a mother to two involved, academically-minded high school daughters, I have thought long and hard about this question. Much of what I've read in the Christian reaction to radical feminism is just that - a reaction. While there's a lot to react against in the feminist perspective, the current Christian reaction leaves us feeling that after high school a godly father should essentially warehouse his daughter until he finds a husband for her.
It seems there are two fundamental misconceptions underlying this flawed idea of Christian womanhood. 1) A girl's preparation for life should have more to do with her office as a wife & mother than it does with who she is as a creation of God. 2) Being a "Keeper at Home" involves nothing more than cooking, cleaning and childbearing.
To the first misconception, I submit that training up a daughter to be a wife and mother should primarily have to do with developing the daughter herself, as faithful stewards together of her gifts. Since no one knows precisely what her husband will need, we really have no alternative as faithful stewards except to focus on making the most of what God has given to that daughter. To withhold higher education from a daughter who is intellectual is not only to despise that gift of God, but also to endanger that daughter's pure heart toward her father.
It seems to me that warehousing an able, intellectual daughter will tempt her to such despair and rage that she will either rush into an unwise marriage merely to be able to move on in life, or she will ditch the whole godly family vision as tyrannical. I know a number of young women struggling between these very temptations. Indeed this strategy may produce the very things the Christian patriarchy advocates (and I, too) want to avoid: young women who are less likely to have stable marriages and less likely to raise children.
To the second misconception, I offer the notion that daughters must be taught to view college, not as an alternative to marriage, but as a further preparation for what she will be called to do IN her marriage. In my 25 years as a keeper at home and a help-meet for my husband I have been called on not only as a cook, cleaning-woman, and child-bearer, but also as a foreign-missions fundraiser, a public relations officer, a lobbyist both domestic and international, a teacher, a musician, an artist, a beekeeper, an accountant, a Bible study leader, a recording artist, a writer, an accountant, a landscape and interior designer, a gourmet chef and corporate hostess, a school administrator, a journalist, a jewelry designer, a theater director, a costume designer & seamstress, a conference speaker, a translator, a child-development specialist and confidant... I could never have been what my husband needed without my college degree. Nor have I ever had what the world would call a career. I have borne six children and have been privileged to raise three to the glory of God.
Our family's financial situation has been such that I have needed to make significant financial contributions to the family income. My college degree has given me the scope and the credibility to be able to make those contributions from home, while maintaining a homeschool and training the children in various cottage industry enterprizes.
Our daughters plan to homeschool their children (God and their husbands willing). My grandchildren's educations may be curtailed by the decisions we make concerning giving our daughters a higher education. Our daughters may be widowed early. Dare we withhold from them training and verification of achievement (ie. a degree) that could enable them, in those circumstances, to continue to stay home with their children and make ends meet?
Our daughters' worth ought not be measured by the number of her degrees and the prestige of her career, but neither should it be measured by how thoroughly she has been conformed to a romantic one-size standard of femininity. In the Christian community, we all want the same thing: a restoration of strong, godly families led by self-sacrificing, caring fathers and supported by creative, faithful mothers. But we cannot achieve this either by insisting that every daughter be kept from college or that every daughter be pressed into it.