By the time homeschooled or Christian schooled graduates attend college they have a long history of being trained to respect and honor authority. This is how it should be because the fifth commandment begins with the concept of submitting to the rule and directives of one’s parents and extends out to all legitimate authority ordained by God. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism makes clear, one honors God by honoring those He places in authority over us, which begins with parents and extends to those in authority in the various spheres of life. By implication, all people are to be treated with honor, whether positionally they are our superiors, inferiors, or equals.
When young people venture into the secular settings of higher education, all too often those in authority have achieved their position because they subscribe to the “religious” tenets of the institution. Godless worldviews and philosophies rule the day, and the tenured professors are those who adhere faithfully to the doctrines of a humanistic worldview. It is standard operating procedure for students to be barraged with humanistic, materialistic secularism in classes ranging from English composition to biology to language. How do we help Christian students facing these assaults?
First, by answering some questions:
1. Are they attending the institution with a specific goal in mind, or are they just killing time?
2. Are they really prepared for what lies ahead?
3. What subjects will they be learning about for the first time?
4. Are they willing to spend the time it takes to verify the truth of what they are learning?
The first question is a very necessary one. Without a specific purpose, attending college can be a huge waste of time and financial resources as the student struggles to find his calling. It may be more beneficial for the young person to spend time doing volunteer work, going on a short-term mission trip, apprenticing in a field of interest, or getting a job. The decision to attend college can always be postponed to a future date when the student has a goal in mind.
The second question is meant to identify whether or not the young person truly knows what occurs on a college campus. In addition to the intellectual assaults, there are moral assaults that come from the hedonistic lifestyle of non-Christians. Christian worldview conferences like the yearly worldview conferencesare designed to prepare students for what lies ahead.
Third, how does one know that the information he is being taught is true? For example, without a prior knowledge of Biblical economics, a student may not be able to see through the fallacies of Marxist economic theory. Without a Biblical understanding of history or mathematics, a student will not be able to recognize the lies being taught and false teachings can easily erode the solid Biblical foundations laid in earlier schooling.
The fourth question will prove to be the most unpopular. With all the work involved in carrying a full credit load, there is little time to check what a professor teaches against the more reliable teaching of Christian scholars. Moreover, if a student does this and brings the Christian perspective into class, the reaction of his classmates and professors can be very harsh. So, does the student blindly accept what he is being taught or take the time to counter the instructor and perhaps, double the time it will take him to get through school, if he is even permitted to graduate with such unpopular views.
With these issues in consideration, it is easy to understand why Christian students need to find mentors and develop a support group to check with regularly and discuss what is being taught in their classes and the temptations and moral assaults they face on a daily basis. Without this assistance, it can be difficult to recognize whether they are being converted to another way of thinking.
There may come a time when the content of a particular class becomes intolerable for a variety of reasons. The teacher may be antagonistic to opposing views. The teacher may be a Christian basher and refuse to allow Christian perspective or analysis to be introduced. I know of a recent case where the class discussion contained offensive sexual jokes and class discussions originated by the teacher, all under the banner of becoming an “effective” communicator. In truth, it was just an excuse to be crass. In cases like this, it is appropriate to drop the class and have nothing to do with such deeds of darkness. At times, this may mean dropping a class that is required for graduation. Ultimately, principle must govern rather than pragmatism. If Christians are to be salt and light wherever they go, physically remaining in degraded situations may serve to significantly dim that light.
The Lord often calls us to what we consider to be less than ideal circumstances. That is why it is necessary to stay connected to His Word and listen to the Spirit’s leading. It is also important for young people not to buy into the lie that once graduated from high school they are adults and no longer in need of direction and guidance from their parents. In God’s economy, turning eighteen or finishing twelve years of schooling does not remove a person from honoring God and his parents. Secularists count on young people responding to the lie that they should be able to stand on their own two feet, as a way to dislodge them from their belief structures and their community. Additionally, many schools require that students live in dorms for, at least, their first year. Why would they do that? Because it is a good way to debase students. Exposing and subjecting them to immorality is a way to break them down so that they are more open and susceptible to other wicked teachings.
In the end, those who have been trained to respect authority must be discerning when it comes to how they obey God in these kinds of circumstances. The key is in obeying authority that honors God. No one has any obligation to obey God-less authority or accept a bill of goods from subversives bent on denying the truth of God’s Word. Unlike when they were children, they do not need to eat everything they are served!