Last week I received an email from a reader that asked me for some advice. The person’s concern was about parents’ reasoning when it comes to enrolling their children in a secular school. Over the past 50+ years I have probably heard all the reasons why Christian parents send their children to secular schools. Most of these reasons are logical from a human perspective. However, human reasoning cannot be the basis for how parents educate their children and youth.
The specific parent reasoning that was sent to me last week went like this.
I want them to experience and get exposed to the public school while they are still at home under my care. That way I can talk to them and help them through all of the issues they will face in a public school. Once they go off to college, I won’t be there to help them with this.
Similar reasons for enrolling children in secular schools include:
- I don’t want to shelter my children from the real world.
- I am only doing this for academic reasons.
- I believe that my children need to be salt and light like Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.
Many times when we are faced with this type of reasoning, we struggle to know how best to respond. It is clear from Scripture that parents have the God-given responsibility to educate their children. This also carries with it the fact that God will hold parents, especially Christian parents, accountable for how they fulfill this responsibility. I am convinced that God expects Christians to make schooling decisions based on biblical principles.
I am going to attempt to share some of my thoughts on how we can respond biblically to parents who sincerely believe it is best for their children to attend a secular school. I will try to avoid giving my opinion on the subject as human opinion is what has gotten us into the condition we are in today.
The Danger of Dualistic Thinking
I believe that the biggest challenge facing Christians today when making major decisions is that we are plagued by a dualistic worldview. By this, I mean that Christians have divided life up into two compartments — the secular and the sacred. When this happens, life becomes fragmented with no biblical basis behind our decision making. The result is inconsistency.
Parents must be consistent in their theology. The parent who wants his/her child to “experience” or be “exposed” to secular education while they still live at home must be challenged to be consistent with this type of reasoning. Would they send their children to a church that doesn’t believe the Bible to be God’s Word? Would they want their child to “experience” an Eastern religion or “be exposed” to Muslim teaching at the local mosque? After all, parents can “talk to them” and “walk through all of the issues” related to these false religions that they would encounter.
The Myth of Neutrality
I have addressed this issue in a number of posts over the years. Many parents believe that most of the “academics” that a child will learn in secular schools is spiritually neutral. They also are aware that there are some false ideas that they will be confronted with such as evolution. However, they believe that they can help their children navigate these big issues at home and, therefore, can survive being in a secular school.
The truth is that there is no such thing as neutrality when it comes to any aspect of education. All education is presented in the context of the worldview of the teacher and the textbook authors. That is why Jesus made it clear in Luke 6:40 that when a person is fully trained (educated), they will be like their teachers. The student will develop a worldview that will drive all of their attitudes and actions that will be in line with that of his/her teachers.
The Scriptures are clear on this point. Christians are to avoid false teachers. As I share these verses, keep in mind that we cannot apply them only to what is taught at church as this would require dualistic thinking.
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 Peter 2:1 (NKJV)
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord. Jeremiah 23:16 (NKJV)
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Acts 20:28-30 (NKJV)
For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:24 (NKJV)
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:15 (NKJV)
Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 2 John 2:9-10 (NKJV)
No Biblical Worldview
Studies show that the majority of Christians today do not possess a biblical worldview. I recently was speaking at a conference and heard George Barna share some of his findings. Less than 10% of adults have a biblical worldview. When this is broken down by generations, it was found that only 4% of Millennials possess a biblical worldview. The Millennials are the primary parenting generation today.
Parents can only give what they possess! If parents do not possess a comprehensive and extensive biblical worldview, they will not be able to biblically “help their children through all the issues that they will face in secular education.”
Wrong Purpose of Protection
Scripture is clear about the fact that children are to be protected from harm. This protection is not only from physical harm but also from mental and spiritual harm. The problem that homes, churches and schools have caused when it comes to protecting our children is that they have not understood the biblical purpose for protection. Kevin Swanson said it best in his book, Upgrade.
The goal of protection cannot be sheltering. The goal of protection must be preparation.
Parents are to protect their children and youth from false worldview or ideas. However, as they protect their children they are to prepare them for spiritual warfare. This must be one of the main goals of the education Christians give their children and youth. They must be fit for battle and this will take a united effort from the home, church and school. If they are not fit for spiritual battle, children and youth cannot be sent to the battle front in a secular school. Consider God’s instructions to the Israelites concerning the importance of preparing children for battle.
Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male individually, from twenty years old and above—all who are able to go to war in Israel. Numbers 1:2-3 (NKJV)
Parents have the God-given responsibility for how they educate their children. God expects them to provide their children with a biblically-based, Christ-centered education that is presented from a biblical worldview. This is because children and youth will develop a worldview that is patterned after the worldview of their teachers.
In order to prepare our children for battle it is going to take a united effort between the home, church and school. I have talked with countless numbers of parents and pastors who have shared the sad story of how a child, after receiving a secular education, announces that he/she no longer believes in Christianity. This is because we have not addressed the issue of education biblically and the results have been devastating. In closing, consider what God told His people through the prophet Jeremiah when they chose education based on the world’s ideas rather than God’s.
For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water…And now why take the road to Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or why take the road to Assyria, to drink the waters of the River? Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the Lord your God, and the fear of Me is not in you. Jeremiah 2:13, 18-19 (NKJV)
I believe that God is asking parents, church leaders and educators a very important question when it comes to where and how our children and youth are being educated. The question must be answered first by parents and then by church leaders and teachers.
Where is the flock [children] that was given to you? Jeremiah 13:20 (NKJV)