From classmates to soulmates?
Christian colleges are great places to meet a spouse, Facebook study finds.
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Bobby Ross Jr. | Christian Chronicle

In the fall of 1988, my brother Scott — a fellow Oklahoma Christian University student — celebrated his 20th birthday.

He took the station wagon we shared home to Texas that weekend, so I had to borrow my friend Steve Lackmeyer’s Hyundai — or was it a Honda? — for my first date with Tamie Dillard.

My friend David Hartman served as the chef for our romantic dinner at the home of journalism professor Philip Patterson and his wife, Linda.

I’d like to thank the Pattersons, but they were out of town and had no idea we were there until they discovered David had left Linda’s fine china in the dishwasher. 

A Facebook study finds that Christian colleges are great places to meet a spouse.Twenty-five years later, Tamie and I are still together — happily married with three (in my totally unbiased opinion) brilliant children.

Did you meet your husband or wife at a Christian university?

If so, you — like me — are not alone.

A recent analysis by Facebook’s data science team, titled “From Classmates to Soulmates,” determined the top 25 colleges where men and women are most likely to meet their spouse.

The top 25 colleges where men are most likely to find a wife all are religious schools. For women, about two-thirds of the top 25 colleges where they’re most likely to find a husband are religious schools.

Twelve institutions appear on both lists, including three associated with Churches of Christ: Harding University in Searcy, Ark.; Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn.; and Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City.

Abilene Christian University in Texas made the list of colleges where men are most likely to meet their spouse.

Clyde and Rachel Slimp met at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn. (Photo via Facebook.com)

For anyone who has heard the old joke about going to a Christian college to get an “Mrs.” degree, the findings aren’t particularly surprising.

Clyde Slimp recalls meeting his future wife, Rachel, in a New Testament Greek class at Freed-Hardeman.

“I proposed to her at the same spot (a popular bench on campus) that her dad proposed to her mom 20 years before, so the tradition goes on, I guess,” said Slimp, who preaches for the Lakehoma Church of Christ in Mustang, Okla. 

Slimp’s in-laws, minister Ward and Faye Jones of the Westside Church of Christ in Hermiston, Ore., have been married for 43 years.

Steve Sandifer, pastoral care minister for the Southwest Central Church of Christ in Houston, met his future wife, Jo, in a Genesis class at Abilene Christian.

The professor, Carl Brecheen, gave a speech on why guys should want to be Bible majors and why girls should want to marry preachers.

When Brecheen asked the class why girls were hesitant to marry preachers, Steve’s future wife replied, “Gee, Dr. Brecheen, I don’t want to have to be good all the time.”

Sandifer was slow to ask her out, but four years later, they married — and Brecheen performed the wedding.

“Not only did I meet my wife at ACU, but both of our sons met their wives there,” said Sandifer, who has been married for 43 years. “If the only reason one goes to a Christian university is to meet a Christian wife, I can’t think of a better reason.”

“If the only reason one goes to a Christian university is to meet a Christian wife, I can’t think of a better reason.”Steve Sandifer
Matt Jones, a member of the Juneau Church of Christ in Alaska, sent his 19-year-old daughter Katie — the oldest of his six children — all the way to Oklahoma Christian this fall.

“She is not married yet, but I encouraged her to go there to be around other Christians as she starts out on her own walk for better support, environment and lifestyles of both students and teachers,” Jones said.

“It would have been cheaper for her to stay here in Alaska,” he added, “but I’m all too happy to make such a wise investment in her and her future.”

Of course, some point out — wisely — that finding a spouse at a Christian university does not guarantee eternal bliss.

Richard and JeannaLynn May lead What God Has Joined Ministries.Richard and JeannaLynn May work to help couples improve their marriages through What God Has Joined Ministries.

“What we see in many couples who meet and marry at a Christian college is a surprising absence of seriously approached pre-marriage counseling or coaching,” Richard May said.

“Marrying a Christian from the same Christian college you attend does not guarantee marital success,” he added. “Serious preparation is vital.”

And not everyone meets a mate at a Christian college.

“Interestingly, I went to two different Christian universities and ended up finding my wife (Glenda) at church,” said Roger Woods, minister and elder for the Walled Lake Church of Christ in Michigan. “Hmmmmm. My parents could have saved a lot of money.”

Bobby Ross Jr. is Managing Editor of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at bobby.ross@christianchronicle.org.
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