Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20-21
Justice is turned back,
and righteousness stands far away;
for truth has stumbled in the public
and uprightness cannot enter.
Truth is lacking,
and he who departs from evil makes
himself a prey. – Isaiah 59:14-15
Several weeks ago I learned of another instance where the verses above have played out once more in our own culture. By all means, this happens on a daily basis, but this particular instance stood out because it comes very close to home. Recently, one of our parents in our congregation told me that his son, in grade 3, was taught, in the classroom of his public school, that boys could marry boys and that girls could marry girls. Same-sex relationships were normalized and legitimized by an authority figure, in a room, with a group of young and impressionable minds.
The teacher was merely being consistent with the new health and physical education curriculum. His parents were not notified in advance, and even had they asked to be, recent developments in the Tourloukis case in Hamilton raise questions as to whether or not parents will be permitted by the state to remove children from such lessons on the basis of religion. This should send a shiver down your spine, in case your sensitivities are not attuned to the increasingly tyrannical, totalitarian muscle-flexing on display.
All of this to say, now you know that you regularly rub shoulders with a family, and a young boy, who have been forced to navigate a complex issue at far too tender of an age. The following are some prevailing thoughts from hearing such news.
First, while many in society would celebrate such an occurrence, we ought to grieve. We ought to grieve with these parents, and others like them, whose children have been and will continue to be exposed to the celebration of relationships that the Word of God does not sanction. We ought to grieve for our culture who gives approval to that which must be repented of in order to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, as 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 teaches us. [A brief though necessary update:] Believing what this passage and others state, in love, I am committed to communicating the truth of God’s Word, as patiently and graciously as possible, with the full recognition that I am no less in need of the same forgiveness that God so kindly offers in the gospel. If you read that particular passage, you’ll notice a list of sins, which is rather all inclusive, especially when you ponder the mention of idolatry, or perhaps greed. All sinners must repent, not some more than others. When God calls our attention to the many ways in which we have offended him, we all ought to grieve, which, Jesus assures us, will lead to comfort when we look to him for salvation.
Second, although perhaps simultaneously with the aforementioned grief, is prayer. Is there a better way to express our concern than before God’s throne of grace? Should we not pour our hearts out together before the Lord for our nation, for our leaders, for our schools, and our educators? Should we not be found on our knees together for families, for the wisdom to navigate our times, for the means to respond in every necessary way (see below), for the Word of God to spread rapidly, for the Lord to reach for mercy before judgment? Again, here is another reason for us to meet together on Sunday mornings from 9:30-10:15am to plead, as Isaiah did in 64:1:
Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence.
Plan an Exit-Strategy
Third, I will say again with others, as I have publicly on several occasions, that it is past-time for Christian parents to prayerfully consider – and execute – an “exit-strategy” from public education. The implementation of the health and physical education curriculum must awaken us to a reality that has long been overlooked by many. Sex education in our public schools is not our biggest problem. A bigger problem is that we think the sex ed curriculum is our biggest problem. But this is only the tip of the sword. What we have failed to recognize, myself included until only a few short years ago, is that education is never neutral. Education can never be morally neutral, value neutral, or, to put it another way, worldview neutral. The truth of the matter is well captured by T.S. Eliot:
“We derive our theory of education from our philosophy of life. The problem turns out to be a religious problem.”
Education is never neutral because knowledge and wisdom are imparted by an educator, by an individual, whether in person or through writing. And since no individual can be worldview neutral, whatever they present will always come through the lens of how they view reality. Whether we are teaching science, art, history, english, religion, philosophy, business, mathematics, economics, or sex-education, how we look at the world influences our approach to every single subject. Believing the myth of neutrality, however, has cost us dearly, and now we have ground to make up. In fact, the degree to which we are shocked by the immoral advances (retreats) we’re witnessing today is an indication of the degree to which we’ve failed to apply what Proverbs 1:7 teaches us: we either build on the foundation of the fear of the LORD, which is wisdom, or we don’t, which is folly. As Christians, we believe that knowledge and wisdom begin with God:
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever (Romans 11:36).
Scripture elsewhere testifies to the absence of a neutral, middle ground, such as from the lips of Jesus in Matthew 12:30:
Whoever is not for me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Romans 8:7-8 is equally explicit:
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
This, of course, is why we continue to proclaim the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, believing that there is no salvation for us or anyone else apart from His finished work on the cross. But we also must raise this potentially painful question: how are fulfilling our mandate to educate our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord while delegating our parental authority to those who want nothing to do with Him, for some 30 hours a week, beginning at 4 or 5 years of age, and beyond?
The reason I know this question to be painful is because it is one I wrestled through personally. After much prayerful wrestling, as parents, we concluded that we could not faithfully steward the children God has graciously given us by submitting them to the public education system. We have come realize that, in the Bible, children are described as arrows in the quiver, who when raised in the fear and admonition of the Lord, are weapons of righteousness, justice, equity, truth, wisdom, and knowledge; shot into the darkness as blazing messengers of the gospel of the Kingdom, declaring the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Spirit. Or, as another so beautifully expresses, with an allusion to Psalm 8:2:
When children are raised to love God with their hearts AND MINDS, where they are faithfully instructed in a biblical understanding of all of life and grow as true worshippers, God’s ordained future emerges and thus his enemies with their false gospel are silenced. The enemy and avenger is stilled by the strength of tomorrow sitting at small desks with the curriculum of Christ.
Though it is difficult to imagine any Christian parent reasonably dismissing such a wondrous, hope filled vision, many become discouraged at the thought of bringing such a vision to fruition in the midst of their real-life circumstances. Already the thoughts are going through your mind: private Christian education is expensive; I wouldn’t know where to start with home-schooling; living on one income seems impossible; and those are only the beginning. Believe me, I know the feeling, so I will offer some short, concluding thoughts in response to some of these realities.
One: begin with conviction. Search the Scriptures yourselves. Pray and ask the Lord to lead you in your educational choices for your children. Don’t default to what you’ve always done, or how you were raised, or what your friends have decided. This is your decision, and one you are accountable for, so you must make it.
Two: trust the Lord to provide the means for how He is leading. The cattle on a thousand hills belong to God. Ask Him to supply you with what you believe He is asking you to do!
Third: be prepared to sacrifice.
Fourth: talk to your pastors/elders about your convictions and ask them for help in seeing them realized. They would gladly pray with you and assist you in navigating the terrain of schooling and homeschooling options (or connect you with those who can).
Fifth: call your local Christian schools. There are bursaries and scholarships available that you will never know about if you never ask. Apply and see what happens, if that is how the Lord is leading.
Sixth: utilize the blessing of belonging to a local church by talking with other parents and asking how they have navigated the same terrain.
Since we believe that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (Colossians 2:3), let us not settle for anything less than the wondrous, hope-filled endeavour of teaching our sons and daughters to take captive all thoughts in obedience to Him!