November 07, 2012

Lesson 54: Where We Go From Here (Part 1)

I honestly thought the election would go the other way last night. Not only because it was my hope, but also because I did my own polling on facebook. I disregarded the obvious Conservatives (my Christian friends) and the gushing Liberals (I'll leave out the generic description of these people) and focused mainly on the reasonable arguments put forth by people with no faith.

It appeared as if they were all voting Romney. Thus, I was genuinely surprised last night and went to bed feeling a bit short of breath.

Confession: The most consuming disturbance in my own heart was not about the trillions of dollars of debt we will incur in the next 4 years. I have no idea what that kind of money means or looks like. It was not even that innocent unborn babies will continue to be murdered with no gracious leader to protect them. Well, apart from the Lord, of course.

The thing that upset me the most was the realization that my conscience will probably not allow me to send my children to public school in the next four years. (Could I be any more selfish?)

I have fought tooth and nail to continue to hold the belief that it is good for Christians to send their kids to public schools so they can be a light in a dark place and to nurture relationships with other parents.

However, I really have a difficult time believing this anymore. The fundamental, core beliefs and values of our nation are different than those that we hold. I don't believe that this shift will happen as a result of this election, but that the election made clear what is already true (For further explanation see here or here.) These different beliefs and values will be propagated in the public classroom.

As Christian parents, our first responsibility is to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." - Proverbs 22:6. We are to train them through example, teaching, discipline, and Scripture. We are to build them up in the faith. We are to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them and exhort them to pursue a life-giving relationship with Him. We are to help shape and mold them in ways that are honoring to the Lord while they are young and to guide them on the right path.

We are not to send them into battle before they know who and what they are fighting for.

One professor who was asked about the prospect of witnessing to our children's friends' parents responded, "Enjoy your conversations (with them), because you'll lose your children."

Though there are many facets to consider (and I understand that not every school district is the same), one obvious response is: Not every Christian family can afford to send their children to private school or to home school.

I couldn't agree more! These education options are expensive and/or time consuming.

However, the truth is, the public education system cannot possibly be expected to teach our children to know and love the Lord. This creates a tension for Christians.

The Christian response on facebook last night and today has been "All we can do is pray."

Hear me, I am not demeaning the power of prayer in the slightest! Oh yes, pray. However, let's not believe that that is all we can do.

When we baptize a child into the covenant family of the Lord, we as a congregation affirm that we take responsibility for aiding that child's family in raising him / her to know and love the Lord. Does this extend to helping support that family in sending that child to a school where the faculty know and love the Lord?

Have you ever considered financially supporting private Christian schools with scholarship money to enable poorer Christian children the option of attending?

I understand that many Christians will disagree with me on some of these points, even some of my best friends! This post isn't really aimed at convincing those who disagree or laying out a million justifications for my stance.

Rather, this is for those of you who do agree with me already, who understand the essential power of the first formative years of a child's life. This is for people who see Biblical Christian schools as one of the best options for our covenant children.

You want to build the church? You want to ensure that the generations after us hold to the same truths you do?

Keep these things in mind. Pray. And perhaps, consider what you can do.

Lesson Learned: If we truly want to stand distinct and set apart as the church universal, then we need to be thoughtful about ways in which we can support one another in the raising of covenant children. This is especially important as the culture will continue to grow more hostile towards our beliefs.

* I have a few other ideas for ways that Christians can respond to the election results that I hope are Biblical and honoring to the Lord. I will be writing on them over the next few days. Come back for more!


  1. I have always been very pro-public school because of the witness and wanting my children to experience things while they are still at home with me before being sent out and then experience things for the first time away from me. Also, YL has such an impact and I think that impact is stronger often if there are some Christian kids with Christian parents to come along beside YL. But BUT BUT BUT we are now facing this issue as we send a kid to Kindergarten next year, and my heart is heavy with the decision to send her into the hands of teachers who she will completely trust and believe what they say that live lives so far from Christ and teach against the Lord to their little hearts. The local private school here would cost us for kindergarten and 1st grade for what I paid for my Bachelor's degree at Virginia Tech, it's just not an option. I've prayed about Homeschooling, but as of right now I don't feel like this is an option, I have various reasons for it, but as of right now I am 100% certain it is not for us for next year. We live in a small town, our kids would encounter a lot of Christians in the schools, but it is not an easy thing to deal with. I think before you have kids (even Christians) and after kids are grown it is easy to not see how big of a deal this is. There is a program (at least down here) called GOAL that scholarships based on income and in some cases will provide up to 85% of tuition. There are some resources to look into, but as of right now they don't seem abundant.

    1. Lyns,

      I understand your heart heaviness. The arguments really can be circular ... around and around. So often, I think that the Gospel is pretty straight forward and clear, but it's the working all of this out in practical life with wisdom that is difficult.

      In Mark's ethics class recently, the professor has two students defend Biblically opposite sides of an issue. Mark had to defend, "No public school for Christians." The other student had to defend, "Yes, public school for Christians."

      At the end, the professor sort of found some middle ground by saying, the most important thing for parents to do (in either scenario) is to prayerfully consider and to prayerfully decide. He said, don't be naive in either direction. Acknowledge - be aware that the public school is adverse to Christianity, and if your child goes there, make a conscience effort to counteract it with home time / teaching / church, etc. Be prepared!

      Similarly, hopefully no one believes that homeschooling / private school will ensure the salvation of your child! We all know that it is the Lord who saves!

      My hope was to make this difficultly of parents known to the greater church (both those without kids and those with grown kids), so that Christians whose conscience does lead them in a specific direction are able to follow it!

      Thanks for being so honest here! Mark and I will keep y'all in our prayers.

    2. Ha, I don't think I made my concluding point of it all which is that we trust in the sovereignty of the Lord, in his goodness and mercy and in the fact that he loves to work through families.

      Our prayer will be that the Lord will give you peace in whichever situation you end up with, and ultimately, that your sweet children will become followers of Him!

  2. On a side note, but related the book "Going Public" by Kelli and David Pritchard is a really great resource! They are on YL staff in the Northwest and have 8 children who are almost all grown now. Good resource for those who do send to public schools!

  3. Great, articulate thoughts, as always. I will be sharing with a couple friends with whom I've been discussing public vs home schooling.

    As a (former) public school teacher in a school system that I loved, loved, LOVED (I still cry over not being there), this issue is near to my heart. (I do think that system is an exception, since many families, administrators, and teachers are believers) Oh, and I graduated from a Christian HS, went to public university, and now teach home school students. So yeah, I have seen a lot of the sides of this, and really appreciate the time you took to continue the conversation I've been having in my own head. Thankfully we've got 4 years before Kindergarten to decide...

  4. Brad and I were both public school teachers and attended public schools, yet after many long discussions we still feel that we will probably end up homeschooling at least initially. We know the kind of people we hope our children will become, and we want to raise them to become those people. We don't want to trust their upbringing to a class of their peers and other adults. We know many great teachers and have few regrets from our own public school experiences, but we want to be our children's teachers.

  5. Hi Katherine,
    We have discussed this before so I will try to keep it short. Before rejecting all Catholic schools as an option for your children based on my sister's response to your question about scripture a few months back and of course on your disagreement with many of its doctrines, take a good look at the one closest to you. Talk to the teachers there. Ask them to see the curriculum. See if you can sit in on a few classes. Ask yourself if discipline is being taught and modeled? Is love of God being taught and modeled? Most do include attendance at Mass at least once per week as part of the curriculum. Would they consider another option for your children who are being raised in a reformed tradition? Perhaps other Protestant children attend. Perhaps they would be allowed to do something else like sit and read their bibles or perhaps you could go there for that time and read scripture with Julia and the other children who are not Catholic. I have no idea if this would be possible, but since scripture is read at every mass, it seems that there should be room to discuss it. And you also know that it would never be allowed in our public schools. This in itself should cause you to look more seriously at Catholic schools.

    I know your concerns are real and obviously weighing heavily on you. As I say to any patient who is confronted with a difficult disease, especially cancer, and weighing various treatment options, do yourself a favor and pursue as many options as you can. Research all options because it is your life. So in this case, it is your child's life. Then, when you look back years later, you will have the benefit of knowing that at least you looked into this as carefully as you could and made the best decision possible after considering all the options available. If you neglect to even consider Catholic schools and then come to learn something better about them later in life, you may be left regretting your decision to not take a serious look at them. Catholic schools have been around for a long time and have had a lot of success teaching a lot of students over many years. Consider this also. Whatever research you do on this will benefit your readership here but more to my concerns will benefit your current and all future nephews and nieces.


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