Thursday, October 27, 2022

Christians in public school?

 I'm sure you've seen all the craziness that's surrounding public schools right now. They've been in the spotlight for quite a while--test scores have been on the decline for much longer than anyone wants to admit, then parents were called domestic terrorists for standing up to express their concern at school board meetings. You've probably seen the videos put out by some of the individuals to whom parents have entrusted their children 5 days a week, videos that are alarming at best and in some cases downright scary. You've heard of critical race theory being pushed in classrooms, of the 1619 project being pushed instead of true American history, of some educators pushing the idea that 2+2=4 is racist and that expecting kids to behave in class and do their work is simply a result of white supremacist thinking.

If you're a Christian, I'm sure you've also seen people calling for you to pull your kids out of public school. Just today I read a post with a list of questions they wanted parents to ask themselves, questions that pointed out how your kids are in danger of indoctrination in public schools and reminded parents that the "lifelong well-being of your precious child" was at stake.

I understand that homeschooling is a calling for some. As a former public school teacher, though, I also understand that homeschooling can be used as an excuse for parents who don't want to mess with school... but that's a whole different issue. There is no doubt in my mind that as parents we are responsible for the education of our children. As Christian parents, that's even a biblical directive:

"Teach a child how to follow the right way;
    even when he is old, he will stay on course."
(Proverbs 22:6)

"Make the things I’m commanding you today part of who you are. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you’re sitting together in your home and when you’re walking together down the road. Make them the last thing you talk about before you go to bed and the first thing you talk about the next morning."
(Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

There are many who believe this means that Christian parents have no business having their kids in public schools to begin with, that the directives outlined here mean that parents should be solely responsible for teaching their kids or that their kids should only be enrolled in private, Christian schools.

Let me tell you something as a former private, Christian school teacher as well--just because a school has that int heir title doesn't mean they are getting a high quality education, either from a biblical perspective or a purely academic one. Some of those titles are little more than words.

I'm not here to tell you that you should homeschool, or that your kids should be in public school, or that they should be in private school. I truly believe those kinds of decisions are between each family and God, and I think He calls different people to different things.

What I would like to suggest, though, is that telling all Christians to pull their kids out of public schools may not be the right answer.

As Christians, we are called to be salt and light. Whether we like it or not, if our kids are followers of Christ they are called to the same thing. I'm sure at first you think, "Of course I want my kids to be salt and light!" But think, for a minute, about what that means.

Being salt means fighting corruption and decay in this fallen world. That's not an easy thing to do, and it means the salt has to first be exposed to the corruption and decay. As much as we want to protect our kids from the ugly parts of life, if we want them to be willing and able to take a stand against those things they will have to know about them. You can't fight an evil you don't know about. We can't expect our kids to be mighty warriors for God if they haven't ever seen the weapons the enemy uses.

Being salt also means being a preservative. Just like salt is used to protect and preserve food, our kids need to be the protectors and preservers of those around them. They need to be able to step in when they see their friends and classmates in danger from something that could hurt them, being the voice of reason that points others in the right direction--toward God.

The same goes for being the light. A light shining only in the presence of other lights isn't really all that useful. It's only when you put that tiny flame in a dark place that you truly see it shine. If we want our kids to be lights that God can use to point people to Him, they will have to be able to shine in the darkness.

I'm like everybody else--I would much rather keep my kids protected from all the bad things in this world. If I could build a wall around our property and keep all the bad outside of that wall, I would probably do it in a heartbeat. If I did, though, what would happen to my kids once they grew up? What would happen when they stepped outside of that wall for the first time and were expected to go out into the world? What would happen if they were bombarded by all the evils of this world at one time, right as they were trying to spread their wings on their own for the first time?

Those precious babies of mine would probably crash and burn.

So instead, as much as I hate it, I'll let my kids be introduced to the evils of this world while they are still safely under my protection at home. I'll have those hard talks about why our expectations for them are so much different from the expectations placed on most of their friends. I'll explain how the values of the world contradict the values of God, and remind them:

"Don’t you know that making friends with this corrupt world order is open aggression toward God? So anyone who aligns with this bogus world system is declaring war against the one true God."
(James 4:4)

It may change in the future, but for now my kids will stay in public school. I will pray for them to have the faith and the strength to stand up for God's truth, for them to be salt and light in an ugly, hostile world.

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