Last week I began a series of articles on the need for all Christians to address the issue of education biblically. I began by challenging parents to develop some strategies that will help them accomplish this all-important task. These strategies were in response to an article by a Christian mother who justified putting her children in a secular education program by listing several “benefits” of doing so. She concluded her comments in the article with these words.
Right now that is public school. Seven hours per day. Five days per week. Eight months per year. And I’m thankful.
In the article there was very little, if any, evidence that her decision was guided by Scripture. I also was intrigued by another article in the same Christian magazine. In this article, the author addressed “The Education Debate” and gave several considerations to contemplate “when deciding your child’s schooling.” The considerations presented were the typical ones that I hear about all the time. They were academic quality, family values, and finances. There is no question that each of these factors plays a role in how one chooses to educate their children. However, once again, I did not find any Scriptural basis to guide parents when considering these factors. I would also suggest that there are some other factors that are more significant than the three that were presented in the article.
It was interesting to note that the categories of schooling that were presented as options were “public, private and homeschooling.” One other category was mentioned in the article and that category was “charter schools.” I find it puzzling when Christian schools are not singled out but are simply grouped together with all private schools as if there is no difference in the two.
When explaining this factor, the typical concepts were presented. Statistics were referred to that showed how children in private schools and homeschools compared with those who attended public schools. There was also reference to how publicly-funded schools can offer more advanced placement courses, extracurricular activities, etc than some private schools or homeschools can.
There was no reference to the philosophy behind the various educational options listed. There was no discussion of “what” a child would be taught and how “academic quality” was determined solely by how students performed on standardized tests and the ability for them to get into “good” colleges.
I believe one of the biggest tests of “academic quality” that needs to be used when choosing a school is philosophical in nature. Are the academics being taught from a secular or biblical worldview perspective? Some might argue that academics should be taught without a worldview perspective and knowledge should be presented as a body of spiritually neutral objective facts. Of course, it is impossible to teach any subject from a neutral perspective. If fact, when trying to do so, the teacher is instilling a very dangerous value in the child’s mind – that is that God is irrelevant to some subjects and, therefore, may be irrelevant to some areas of life.
The bottom line is this. When truth is removed from any academics, quality cannot exist! Truth is what brings quality into education and truth is based on the character and Word of God.
I do believe that this is a very important factor that every parent must consider when choosing a school for his/her child. However, again this must be done from a biblical perspective. The home must be established on a biblical foundation and parents must be intentional and making sure that their children know truth as it is presented in His Word. Then the home must determine who can best help them instill these same biblically-based values into their child’s heart and mind when they are away from the home.
The school must support and reinforce the biblical values that the parents are teaching their children at home. If not, it will be left to the child to choose whose values he/she will accept. A house divided against itself will fall.
This is becoming a difficult factor to deal with when making schooling choices. Many parents see the choice being between “free” public education and “costly” home or Christian education. Of course, we must recognize that there is no such thing as “free” education. I am thankful to see more and more states pass various forms of tax credit legislation aimed at trying to make school choice available to more families.
However, there is a bigger consideration that must be addressed if Christians are going to successfully address the issue of education biblically. This is the area of what I refer to as biblical lifestyle stewardship. While I was at LifeWay, studies were always being done on the percentage of Christians who follow the biblical principle of tithing the first tenth of all increase to the church. The results were pretty consistent and showed that only around 20% of Christians were obedient to this biblical teaching.
Theoretically, if 100% of Christians would obey God’s Word in this one area of life, every church would not only have the money to meet their current budgetary needs, but they would also have the revenues to provide every child with a biblical worldview education. This could be done through their own church’s schooling ministry or through other biblical worldview schools.
I am convinced that God would not expect His people to educate their children biblically and not provide the resources necessary to accomplish His will. I also believe that Christian schools must give careful attention to the financial aspect of their programs but I will address this when we deal with schools in later blogs.
When I read both of these articles by Christian parents, I was disturbed at the lack of a Scriptural basis for the arguments/positions that were presented. I don’t find fault with these authors as I believe that they really want what is best for their children. Unfortunately, when one does not think and act from a strong biblical worldview, he or she is left to try and make the best decisions possible from a human reasoning perspective. When doing this, our choices may seem very logical but may actually be contrary to biblical principles found in God’s Word.
The other thing that stood out in these articles was the temporal nature of the discussions. Too often, we, as parents, suffer from near sightedness when it comes to raising our children. The immediate future is very clear. We must give them a good education that will prepare them for college so that they can be successful in life. However, when asked what are the specific things we want to see in our children’s lives 20, 30 or more years down the road, our vision becomes more blurred. When we try to think beyond this life and out into eternity, we often cannot see or even imagine what our children need from the education they receive.
If parents will address the issue of education biblically, they will understand that God expects them to prepare their children intellectually, physically, socially and, most importantly, spiritually for life and eternity. When we do this, we may find that we really don’t have an educational choice!