Is it time for Christians to pull their children out of secular government schools?
This question has been on my mind for quite some time, so I finally allocated time
to write a blog entry about it. This can be a hot topic of whether or not
Christians should be involved with government (public) schools. Even though it
is a hot topic for some, I think it is an important question to consider and to
discuss. Merely pushing it under a rug and hoping it goes away is not the best
This article includes a bit of my thoughts on the question from a
particular viewpoint. It is certain to ruffle some feathers and that is the purpose in order to get Christians thinking about it.
There is one primary reason that I often hear of why Christians do not pull their children out of government schools and that is so that their children can be a witness to teachers and other students. The secondary reason is often due to financial constraints as many Christian Schools are frequently more expensive than the family budget can handle. Although this second reason is a reality and often difficult obstacle to overcome, this article will focus upon the primary reason as well as ideas that are closely associated with it.
As a presupposition to the discussion, it should be recognized and understood that the government school system has become a very humanistic institution. It has abandoned the Judeo-Christian principles upon which it was founded and has embraced, as the only possible alternative, the philosophy of humanism and atheism. This reasoning is based upon Jesus’ own words in Matthew 12:30, which will be discussed later, where He states, ’He who is not with Me is against Me’ along with what He stated in Matthew 6:24, “‘No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.’”
On Being a Witness and the Greatest Commandment
It is true that Christian students can be a witness to their classmates. There is no disagreement on this aspect. However, to think that a student can have a significant impact upon a teacher who is humanistic, skeptical, or atheistic is naïve and often unrealistic. What often happens (and what has been statistically proven, by the way) is that a student begins taking on the thought processes and beliefs of the humanistic or atheistic teacher rather than vice versa. Even if a student attends church Bible studies, such studies are not frequent enough or thorough enough in comparison to being feed small doses of humanistic teachings every day of the week for twelve years.
What has statistically been proven as the most frequent happening is that a student slowly adapts humanistic teachings while, simultaneously, slowly and quietly dismissing Christian teachings as time goes on. Often what happens is a student seems to, all of a sudden, do or say something that shocks a parent or Church worker in a way where the response is: “How did this happen,” “Where did this come from,” or “How did you start thinking that way?” And at this point, the humanistic and anti-Christ thought processes have already overshadowed any Christian teachings, and, in addition, to address such thought processes can be quite difficult to unravel.
It could be asked, at this point: is it not the church’s responsibility to teach students how to overcome humanistic teachings that are frequently taught in schools and learned in other places such as books, movies, acquaintances, or websites? Yes, it is; however, a better question to ask is: why even place a student into an environment where such humanistic and anti-Christ teachings will be taught and spoon feed to a student to begin with?
Although a Christian student can be a witness to others, this elevates the importance of others above Christ, which is contrary to Jesus’ teaching: “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment,” (Matthew 22:37-38). Since God is to be primary, our students should be taught in such a way that they are learning with God as the centerpiece rather than as humanism as the centerpiece.
It is true that Christ has commanded us to witness to others; however, such a command falls under the second greatest commandment and not the first. Thus, it could be argued that it is more important for a student to be in an environment that teaches Christian principles on a regular basis that enables the student to better confront humanistic teachings rather than being in a humanistic environment that teaches humanistic teachings on a regular basis and being able to witness to others in such an environment.
In addition to the Scriptural aspect, also consider the practical aspect. What is the primary purpose of education? Is it to educate a student or is it to provide an opportunity for a student to witness? Here we are looking for a primary reason, so an answer of both is not valid. Another way to ask the question is: what is the higher priority of education? Is to provide an opportunity to witness or is it to educate a student? Additionally, as Believers and followers of Christ, the answer should be in line with Jesus’ teachings of the greatest commandment and not of the second.
So which is the primary purpose of education in relation to what Jesus said is the greatest commandment? Consider what Joshua said,
““Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful, (Joshua 1:7-8).”
How does this passage relate to the primary purpose of education? It relates because as Christians the primary purpose of our education is in conjunction with the greatest command and with keeping the law and ways of God on our minds. The practical application of loving the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind is the primary purpose of our lives; therefore, it is also becomes and should be the primary focus and foundation of any education that is received. Thus, the primary purpose of a Christian student is not have an opportunity to witness but rather to be educated with Christ as the foundation of any subject or knowledge that is taught.
If Christians are to “be careful to obey all the law of my servant Moses,” and to keep Christ as the primary reason for learning through education, then that can be very difficult for students in a secular and humanistic environment that is consistently anti-Christ and teach with a humanistic background. In addition, the practical application of placing God as top priority in education in conjunction with Christ’s teaching is greatly hindered in an educational system that prevents its application. A teacher in a government school who attempts to teach with Christian principles, even without mentioning the name of Christ, is to bring the wrath of the ACLU and similar organizations.
On Being a Stumbling Block
If we are to “not turn from it to the right or to the left” yet a student is placed into an environment that is humanistic and anti-Christ, is that not being a stumbling block to a student in his or her walk with Christ? And does the Scripture not teach that we are not to be a stumbling block to another brother or sister in Christ, and especially to children?
“But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak, (1 Corinthians 8:9).”
In context this is discussing food sacrificed to idols, but the principle can be applied to our current discussion: does our liberty to put students into humanistic Institutions become a stumbling block to those (students) who may not be as strong as we think they are. It is definitely something to consider and is certainly just as important as, and maybe even more important than, other ways this passage is often applied to such as drinking, smoking, dancing, etc.
On Inadequate Training
Is a new Marine recruit given battle gear and sent immediately into battle without training or is the recruit first provided training in order to battle and then sent into battle once trained? It can be said that this is what Christians are doing with their students by sending them into humanistic and secular schools with little or inadequate training rather than into Christian schools, with Christ as the educational cornerstone, to train for battle.
At this point it could be asked or mentioned again: but the church helps to prepare students for the battle. Yes, and churches need to be more diligent in teaching apologetics, but that is not the core issue. As already discussed, even if a student attends church Bible studies, such studies are not frequent enough in comparison to being feed small doses of humanistic teachings every day of the week for twelve years.
On Christian Educators in Government Schools
Some may think that their government school teacher is a Christian or that they are not teaching humanistic principles. This is a weak argument and does not deal with the core issue. Certainly it is good that Christians are involved with government education; however, a Christian teacher in such an environment cannot teach in such a way that involves the things of Christ in his or her teaching lessons. Is this important for a student? It could be said that this is not too important in some subjects, and I would agree to an extent. The need to balance between grace and legalism is apparent with this consideration. Yet to follow and to implement the first and greatest commandment according to Christ and to follow what the Lord told Joshua (and all Believers) in meditating on the law day and night is quite difficult to avoid or to justify away. Generally, there is always some way to bring a lesson back to Christ, and for a student to be withheld from hearing such a connection is a missed teaching opportunity and a missed opportunity in implementing Joshua 1:7-8.
Along that line, consider this scripture:
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up, (Deut. 6:7).”
Is being mediocre about a teacher not being able to mention anything regarding God or Christ in class a way of being “diligent” in teaching children or students as written in this text? No, it is not teaching diligently, but rather surrendering to the ways of the World. And this surrendering to the World is something Christians should know is contrary to Scripture.
On Supplemental Bible Studies
Some may object because they do teach their children God’s principles in addition to what the student learns at public school. First, one needs to understand that the humanistic principles that are taught in government school are presented in quiet, subtle ways that slowly seeps into the minds of students. It is the frog in the kettle situation. Second, the objection does not consider that the student is still in such a heavily humanistic environment, and this is the main issue.
It is admirable and it is complying with Scripture to teach a student outside of school; however, it does not address putting a student into a known humanistic environment that can be a stumbling block to the student nor does it address the problem that government schools actually undermine Scripture when teaching that the teachings of the Bible are not reliable or even wrong. Such teaching may or may not be stated bluntly, but it is taught in subtle ways that have been documented.
On Schools and Humanism
In regards to one thinking a government school is not teaching humanistic principles, consider that the absence of God is atheism and that humanism is often its pseudo foundation. There are no other cornerstones. Jesus said, “’He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters,’ (Matthew 12:30).” So if any institution does not have Christ as its cornerstone, then such an institution can be considered atheistic or humanistic and both lead to scattering according to Christ. And in the case of government schools, since it is not allowed to mention Christ or teach Christ, then it must utilize humanism as its cornerstone in teaching.
Along with what Jesus stated in Matthew 12:30, consider also what He said in Matthew 6:24: “‘No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.’” In context He says one only loves money and riches more than God or vice versa; however, the core principle is applicable to this discussion. It applies in that one cannot love both God and self, which is the basis of humanism. If God is kicked out of an education institution, then some other cornerstone must become its foundation. In the case of the current circumstance of the government schools, the alternative has become humanism.
It should be noted that humanism has two possible foundations. One is atheism which in regards to Scripture would be against God and therefore with Satan, even though atheists would deny it, and the other is Christianity. A humanist would deny that Christianity is the undiscerned foundation, but the problem is that the only other foundation for humanism is atheism, which has absolutely no foundation for right or wrong outside of what has been defined in Scripture. The only foundation for atheism is based upon the principle of Darwinism’s teaching of the survival of the fittest. And the principles based upon Darwinism can change from one culture to another and even be contradictory, and when contradiction occurs, no one can say the other is wrong because it is all completely relative.
In order to avoid the chaos that Darwinism leads towards (if you doubt this look to Adolf Hitler, who wrote in his diary that he used Darwinism to justify his actions, or to Joseph Stalin as they are the best modern examples of applied Darwinism) right and wrong are discernable only because God has defined them.
So if humanism has two possible foundations and one of the foundations has been rejected, then in time the rejection of God will lead in a downward trend on a pathway that leads to destruction. And as a wise man once wrote: for there is a way that seems right to human logic apart from God, but the end thereof only leads to destruction.
I do not think Jesus would support this type of institution, and I would suggest that he would almost certainly tell his followers to not encourage their disciples, children, or students to be taught by such an institution. To do so would be, bluntly speaking, to be educated under the guidance of Satan who spoon feeds humanism to unsuspecting believers until they follow Eve in wondering if something is really what God commanded or not and then taking a bite out of what is forbidden.
At this junction, should one still be in denial of humanism as the basis of government schools, then consider the following quote from an active humanist:
“I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level—preschool, daycare, or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, (The Humanist magazine).”
Christians need to take this seriously and realize that the government school system has become a battleground where humanism has the upper hand since prayer and God were abolished from the public school classroom during the 1950s. It may be of interest to note that the above was published back in January 1983. For a reader thinking that such a time is a long time ago and may not apply anymore, be aware that the author of this quote wrote a follow up article in 2005 in the Secular Humanist Bulletin. In this article the author re-emphasized the importance of humanistic efforts in schools and to significantly increase their efforts in enthroning humanism in public schools in America and to keep the message of Christ, specifically the Bible, out of government schools.
Such humanists are enemies of the Lord, and Jesus said this of those like them:
“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God, (John 8:43-47).”
On School Reform
Rather than withdrawing Christian students from government schools, should we not try to reform the school or get prayer back in school? Although this is a good question with a noteworthy cause that should be continued, it has yet to be successfully implemented. In reality, it may never yield to God or Christ being taught in government schools due to a variety of factors. Many, many attempts are underway to help bring government schools back to using the principles of the Bible in its teaching; however, the school system and forces outside have consistently resisted and blocked the attempts. Since the system continually indicates that it is resisting the gospel, there comes a time when other options need to be explored.
It should be considered, then, that there comes a time such that when people have consistently refused to yield to the Lord’s teaching and embrace his Gospel, one has to wipe the dust off the feet and move on as Jesus said in Matthew 10:13-15:
"If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. "Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. "Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.“
This can be applied to the government school system. At some point a Believer, or Believers, have the option to walk away from a house or city (or institution in this case) that has not “heed[ed] your words.” This does not necessarily mean that all efforts to transform are abandoned, but it does mean that other cities, houses, or institutions should become the focal point. And while moving on and focusing on another Independent School District may seem promising, such a move often results in the same result: God is still not allowed in the teaching curriculum or in the teaching lesson. As a result, the entire system needs to be disregarded and a separate system utilized, so in this case: the government school is disregarded and the Christian School is embraced.
And at this juncture it can be asked: at what point in time should Jesus’ teaching to shake off the dust be implemented and acted upon? This is subject to much speculation, but I would suggest it should be implemented once one realizes the importance of keeping the Lord as the highest priority, of following the Lord’s teaching to teach our students God’s law rather than man’s law of humanism and of atheism, of realizing that government schools and Christian content have been in conflict for over 50 years and Christ is still disallowed, and of realizing that the spiritual aspect of students’ faith is not worth the statistically shown high risk of falling prey to atheism and humanism within the government school system. In regards to this discussion, it should begin henceforth.
On Church Delegation to the State
It is often said that the people of the Church need to “wake up” and see what is going on in order to make positive changes. I suggest that the question discussed herein should be considered as an applicable “wake up” action item.
Indeed churches need to continue and definitely increase their efforts in Biblical teaching and applied apologetics; however, the people of the church also need to consider this question. With a government school system that is becoming increasingly humanistic and anti-Christ in spite of Christian efforts to bring Christ back into the system, maybe it is time for the people of the church to consider following Christ’s instructions by shaking the dust off our feet regarding government schools and to put greater efforts into providing Christian Education with Christ as the cornerstone instead of encouraging each other to send sensitive and malleable minds into the teachings of atheism and humanism.
As influential as the Roman Empire was during the time of Jesus and in spite of the education system that the Empire provided, Jesus never delegated the responsibility of teaching to the state educational system. If Jesus never delegated teaching responsibilities to the existing Roman State, then we are faced with asking the question: why should the church delegate the responsibility of teaching Christian students to the State when Christ did not do so?
Jesus said, “go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” He did not say, “go therefore and delegate the making of disciples to the Nation for the nations.” The command was to the Apostles to implement themselves. Jesus was indicating that it is the Apostles who should actually do the teaching and not to delegate it to the Empire. The Apostles were taught to follow the example of Christ, and they followed him as instructed. So if Jesus never delegated to the State in regards to teaching and educating in Biblical matters and since the Apostles also did not delegate to the State, then the church should not delegate either. Since the church continues the work of the Apostles, we inherit the method as taught by Jesus and followed by the Apostles. This is an important thought to consider.
One may suggest at this point that the teaching that Jesus mentions in Matthew 28:19a is regarding spiritual matters and has nothing to do with nonspiritual matters such as reading, writing, arithmetic, biology, etc. Although I would consent to this point to an extent, it does not mean that it cannot include such matters.
If we are to be making disciples, then do we really need to be sending Christian students into an environment that utilizes a humanistic worldview rather than a Christian worldview in teaching? By doing so Christians are contradicting and working against what Jesus teaches in this passage of making disciples that follow the Lord and His teachings. And this is important to consider because research has shown that students begin to question their Christian teachings as early as middle elementary school because of the humanistic worldview they are indoctrinated with in government schools. As was bluntly mentioned previously, to send malleable minds into a humanistic teaching environment is to send students to be educated under the guidance of Satan who spoon feeds humanism to them to scatter them and lead them away from the Almighty God.
On Solving the Core Problem
Will educating Christian students in a Christian School solve the problem of students falling away from Christ? It will greatly help in the matter but to think that it will completely solve the problem is unrealistic. Although the problem will still be present, it does not mean the idea of moving Christian students from humanistic government schools to Christian schools should be disregarded, discounted, or tossed aside. To use this or any other related problems as an excuse to abandon the idea is to know good that ought to be done but not to do it, which James mentions in James 4:17: “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
There are many things to consider with the idea of Believers pulling their children and students out of government schools and placing them into Christian schools. Yet should we abandon the idea simply because much work must be done in order to accommodate the need? Jesus, I think, has a direct answer to this:
“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me,’ (Luke 9:23).”
How does this apply? It applies by us denying our desire to be lazy or procrastinate hoping that the government schools will one day soon allow Christ back into its teachings so the entire ordeal can be put to rest. It also applies by us taking up the cause and responsibility of educating our disciples in all subject matters in a way that has Christ as the cornerstone rather than humanism. Furthermore, it applies because Believers have been commanded to do the work of Christ even when it is inconvenient for us or when the workload seems overbearing. This overbearing aspect becomes a practical way to use spiritual gifts in a collective way that shares in the burden of doing the Lord’s work.
On Christian Schools and Worldview
Although a Christian parent who places their child into a Christian school expects the curriculum and teaching to be from a solid Christian and Biblical worldview, sadly this is sometimes a false assumption. Unfortunately humanism and its teachings have infiltrated into many Christian schools as well. Although this is not discussed or elaborated in this article, this issue should not discourage Christians and cause one to abandon efforts to place students into a Christian environment rather than a humanistic one. Furthermore, a parent should ensure that a chosen Christian school teaches from solid Christian principles and still be active in the education their child is receiving.
It is important for Christian Schools to adopt a completely Christian Worldview rather than a hybrid view of Christianity and Humanism. A specific example is that Christian Schools must completely abandon the secular and humanistic teachings of Darwinism. Although other articles and studies have been written about Darwinism and its relation to Christianity, it is adequate enough in this article to state that Darwin’s theory on macro-evolution has failed to produce sufficient evidence and has been shown to be not congruent with Biblical teachings. In addition, research from Christian and from even non-Christian scientists has revealed that methods used for age dating can be misleading and problematic to traditional Darwinism timelines.
Abandoning Darwinism and embracing Jesus’ teachings regarding Creation in the Gospels and in Genesis is vital. This is especially important because recent studies and surveys have revealed this as one of the primary reasons why Christians walk away from their faith and from the church. Christians walk away from the faith because if the writings regarding the creation account in Genesis are said to be untrustworthy, then how can one be certain that any other Scripture is trustworthy. In short, if Genesis is an allegory, then how can it be stated that Jesus was born of a virgin or that Christ even existed much less arose from the grave? If the account in Genesis is merely a story, then the account of Christ can be allegorical, too.
Much more can be mentioned about this, but I will return to the original discussion and state that this is the core issue as to why Christian schools must adapt a purely Christian perspective with the Biblical worldview. A Christian school must abandon Darwin’s macro-evolution and embrace the Biblical creation account as historical fact rather than mere poetry. After all, Moses wrote the account and he spent forty days on Mount Sinai in the presence of God Almighty. It would be logically unreasonable and inconsistent for Moses to be in direct communications with God for such a period of time without learning and then writing of how God really did create this Universe in which we live.
On Next Steps and Moving Forward
So from the perspective written within this article and from the presented reasons as written from the perspective, the answer to the original question of “is it time for Christians to pull their children out of secular government schools” is: yes.
The government schools have rejected Christ and continue to reject Him and have adopted the principles of humanism instead; thus, we are justified in redirecting efforts in attempting to bring Christ back into government schools towards focusing on creating, developing, and enhancing Christian Schools as Jesus mentions in Matthew 10:13-15 regarding shaking the dust off our feet and moving on. And although students have opportunities to witness to their peers within the government schools, such an option is not as important as the primary purpose of education, which is to teach, train, and educate in a way that places Christ as the most important part of the learning process as shown through Jesus’ teaching on the Greatest Commandment.
Jesus’ teaching regarding the making of disciples is the focus and primary mission of the Church. Since these efforts are hindered in the lives of Christian students placed in humanistic government schools, it is in following Christ’s example to not delegate the education of Christians to the state but rather to educate them within a Christ-centered environment of a Christian school. By Christians not sending their children or students into government schools eliminates the hindrance of the primary mission that Christ has commanded.
Even though a student would be taught with Christ as the cornerstone in a Christian school will not completely solve the problem of individuals turning away from the Lord, it does not mean that the effort of moving from government schools into Christian schools should be abandoned or discounted. In addition, the invasion of humanism into Christian schools is a real and unfortunate event that needs to be confronted and addressed whenever it is encountered. Humanism must be completely abandoned within Christian schools in order for Christ to be the chief cornerstone for education rather than humanism or atheism and its associated philosophies.
Christians follow Christ and apply His teaching for us to denying ourselves, taking up our Cross, and following Christ by taking on the responsibility of providing a Christ-centered environment for educating students. This is done not only to follow and to obey Christ, but also to not be a stumbling block to other Christians by placing them into an environment that is hostile to the Gospel and that causes many to lose faith. Such a stumbling block is removed when Christians transfer their students from government schools into Christian schools, and it better trains and educates believers to “not turn from it to the right or to the left” (Joshua 1:7-8).
As Christian schools provide a better environment and have Christ as the cornerstone, it is a practical implementation of what Jesus stated in Matthew 6:24, “‘No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.’” It is an implementation in that we understand one cannot have both Christ and humanism as a cornerstone but rather one or the other. And as a result of this understanding, a Believer chooses to place a student into a Christian school instead of a humanistic school.
In regards to why Christians need to fully abandon Darwinism, see Lee Strobel's book entitled, "The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God."
With regards to statistics that show how the teachings regarding the handling of the inspiration of Scripture has caused many to be disillusioned with Christianity, see "Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do To Stop It" by Ken Ham, Britt Beemer, and Todd Hillard.
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