Many pastors and elders believe they should not speak out on the issue of whether sending a child to be educated in an anti-Christian public school is sin. However, silence on this issue or advocating sending a child to be trained in an anti-Christian school to be indoctrinated with a secular humanist worldview is not a minor theological issue. It is contrary to the historic and universal understanding of the Christian church regarding what the Bible teaches about raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and contrary to God’s will as revealed in Scripture.
In Deuteronomy 6:4–9 God doesn’t say I suggest, or I recommend, or I feel it would be a good idea for parents to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In spite of what we would like, He says, I COMMAND you. In the case of public schools, we all know what is right, and as the brother of our Lord pointed out, if we know what we should do and do not do it, it is sin.
We’re witnessing a growing trend within Christendom wherein many liberal church leaders’ worldview is, “If God’s Word doesn’t agree with my view of morality, then I’m right and God is wrong—He needs to get with it. Why not support and send our children to an anti-Christian government school? No problem.”
We need to face reality. Research shows that public schools have been devastating our children spiritually, morally, and academically. A report by the Baptist Council on Family Life in 2002 found that 88% of children from evangelical homes who attend government schools leave the church within two years of graduation from high school, and most never return! That is the optimistic study! Christian researcher George Barna1 states that the number of children lost to the world approaches 96%. Contrast this with studies by Michael Ferris, which show that 94% of homeschooled children accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. Other studies show homeschooled children as being not only academically years ahead of those who attend public schools, but also having better socialization skills.
The church is largely engaged in “Cliff Side Evangelism,” which has been described as a rescue service that waits at the bottom of the mountain for cars that fail to make a dangerous curve with no warning signs or barricades preventing them from going over the side of the cliff. Most of those who plunge into the gorge are lost despite the expenditure of large amounts of time, energy, and money by rescuers to save them. How much better it would be for them to erect warning signs and barricades preventing people from going over the side.
An analogy is the loss of our children to the world. The church spends 85% of its time, energy, and money on adult evangelism. It would be much better to spend the greatest percentage of our time, energy, and money giving children a Christian education and a Biblical worldview either in the home or a truly Christian school in order to save their souls. These children would then become spiritual champions impacting the culture in whatever vocation they choose. Only 0.4% of Southern Baptist churches have a Christian school.2 Doesn’t the mission field include discipling children? Does one to two hours a week in Sunday school fulfill the church’s responsibility in this regard?
Granted that homeschooling or placing children in a Christian school is more demanding than simply putting them on a yellow bus and sending them to a state school. However, in spite of the difficulties, many single parents and poor families homeschool their children. Today there are websites and co-ops dedicated to assist parents. For example, the Robinson Curriculum (robinsoncurriculum.com) costs only $195.00, and it will carry a child (with the exception of math) from the first through twelfth grade. Any church with unused space from Monday through Friday can set up a one-room school at practically no cost. A major mission of the church should be to help single parents and those with limited funds raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
The struggle to release children from anti-Christian schools and see that they receive a Biblical worldview has many similarities to William Wilberforce’s struggle to bring about an end to slavery in England.
- Wilberforce’s struggle was a long-term struggle.
- He was fighting a long-established institution.
- There were many defending the institution, including many Christians.
- Relatively few people supported him.
- The struggle was very important.
- The opposition was seemingly insurmountable.
- He suffered ridicule and criticism.
The salvation of our children’s souls and preparing them to become spiritual champions so that they can labor with Christ to reclaim the world is the most important issue facing parents, church, and nation. When will Christians begin to see the consequences of their inaction that impacts every other issue that matters? It is nearly impossible to reach an uneducated citizenry that doesn’t read and receives its information and worldview from television and other secular media. An example is the pro-life movement, which for 34 years has been very dedicated and persistent in its struggle to end abortion, but with little success.
If we are going to call ourselves Christians, the least we can do is honor the Bible, not rip out and trash the pages we don’t agree with or that we are afraid will offend. There’s nothing Christian about that. I pray that there are committed Christians who will have the courage to address this issue and start a dialogue on how the church can best help parents provide a truly Christian education for their children. I do not know what it will take to wake the church, but if we fail to act swiftly, we will complete our cultural suicide.
Dr. Bruce Shortt asks, “If you have placed your children, God’s gift to you, under the authority of pagans and the godless during their most vulnerable and impressionable years, do you truly expect to be told at the end of your race, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant?’”
What does it matter if we gain the whole world and lose our children?
2 Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools