By Dr. Glen Schultz
I have heard many reasons why Christian parents choose to send their children to secular schools. Most of these reasons are logical from a human perspective. However, human reasoning cannot be the basis for how parents educate their children and youth.
I received an email from a parent seeking my advice: “I want them to experience and get exposed to the public school while they are still at home under my care. That way, I can talk to them and help them through all of the issues they will face in a public school. Once they go off to college, I won’t be there to help them with this.”
Similar reasons for enrolling children in secular schools include:
I don’t want to shelter my children from the real world.
I am only doing this for academic reasons.
I believe my children need to be salt and light like Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.
How can we respond biblically to parents who sincerely believe it is best for their children to attend a secular school? It is clear from Scripture that parents have the God-given responsibility to educate their children. God will hold parents, especially Christian parents, accountable for how they fulfill this responsibility. God expects Christians to make schooling decisions based on biblical principles.
The Danger of Dualistic Thinking
I believe the biggest challenge facing Christians today when making major decisions is that we are plagued by a dualistic worldview. By this, I mean that Christians have divided life up into two compartments: the secular and the sacred. When this happens, life becomes fragmented with no biblical basis behind our decision making. The result is inconsistency.
Parents must be consistent in their theology. Parents who want their children to “experience” or be “exposed” to secular education while they still live at home must be challenged to be consistent with this type of reasoning. Would they send their children to a church that doesn’t believe the Bible to be God’s Word? Would they want their child to “experience” an Eastern religion or “be exposed” to Muslim teaching at the local mosque? After all, parents can “talk to them” and “help them through all of the issues” related to these false religions their children would encounter.
The Myth of Neutrality
Many parents believe the majority of the “academics” their children will learn in secular schools are spiritually neutral. They are also aware of some false ideas their children will be confronted with, such as evolution. However, they believe they can help their children navigate these big issues at home, and therefore, their children can survive being in a secular school.
The truth is, there is no such thing as neutrality when it comes to any aspect of education. All education is presented in the context of the worldview of the teacher and the textbook authors. That is why Jesus made it clear in Luke 6:40 that when a person is fully trained (educated), they will be like their teachers. A student will develop a worldview that will drive all of their attitudes and actions that will be in line with that of their teachers.
The Scriptures are clear on this point. Christians are to avoid false teachers. As I share these verses, keep in mind that we cannot apply them only to what is taught at church as this would require dualistic thinking. We must apply these Scriptures to all of life, including the education that our children will receive at school.
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction” (2 Pet 2:1).
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord” (Jer 23:16).
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:28-30).
“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24:24).
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matt 7:15).
“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him” (2 John 2:9-10).
No Biblical Worldview
Studies show that the majority of Christians today do not possess a biblical worldview. I recently was speaking at a conference and heard George Barna share some of his findings. Less than 10% of adults have a biblical worldview. When this is broken down by generations, it was found that only 4% of Millennials possess a biblical worldview. The Millennials are the primary parenting generation today.
Parents can only give what they possess! If parents do not possess a comprehensive and extensive biblical worldview, they will not be able to biblically help their children through all the issues that they will face in secular education.
Wrong Purpose of Protection
Scripture is clear about the fact that children are to be protected. This protection is not only from physical harm but also from mental and spiritual harm. The problem that homes, churches, and schools have caused when it comes to protecting our children is that they have not understood the biblical purpose for protection. Kevin Swanson said it best in his book Upgrade. “The goal of protection cannot be sheltering. The goal of protection must be preparation.”
Parents are to protect their children and youth from false worldviews or ideas. However, as they protect their children, they are to prepare them for spiritual warfare. This must be one of the main goals of the education Christians give their children and youth. They must be fit for battle, and this will take a united effort from the home, church, and school. If they are not fit for spiritual battle, children and youth cannot be sent to the battlefront in a secular school.
Parents have the God-given responsibility for how they educate their children. God expects them to provide their children with a biblically-based, Christ-centered education that is presented from a biblical worldview. This is because children and youth will develop a worldview that is patterned after the worldview of their teachers.
It is going to take a united effort between the home, church, and school to prepare our children for battle. I have talked with countless numbers of parents and pastors who have shared the sad story of how, after receiving a secular education, a child announces that he/she no longer believes in Christianity. This is because we have not addressed the issue of education biblically, and the results have been devastating.
In closing, consider what God told His people through the prophet Jeremiah when they chose education based on the world’s ideas rather than God’s: “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water ... And now why take the road to Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or why take the road to Assyria, to drink the waters of the River? Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the Lord your God, and the fear of Me is not in you” (Jer 2:13, 18-19).
I believe God is asking parents, church leaders, and educators a very important question about where and how our children and youth are being educated. This question must be answered first by parents and then by church leaders and teachers: “Where is the flock [children] that was given to you?” (Jer 13:20)
Dr. Glen Schultz has given his life to educating future generations according to God’s plan. After five years in public education, he entered the field of Christian education where he has been a teacher, coach, principal, and superintendent. He has directed the Christian school work at LifeWay Christian Resources, served as the Association of Christian Schools International Southeast Regional Director, Superintendent of Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Headmaster of Sherwood Christian Academy. Currently, Dr. Schultz serves as founder and director of Kingdom Education Ministries. He is the author of Kingdom Education: God’s Plan for Educating Future Generations and several parenting booklets. Glen and his wife, Sharon, have three children and six grandchildren and live in Summerville, SC. He is a member of the Renewanation Board of Directors.