The Case for Christian Education
Up until around 175 years ago, most people were educated at home, or by the church. As such, public education is a relatively new phenomenon. But today it is the major means of education in the Western world. Sure, there are religious schools, private schools, and home-schooling, but most people attend public schools.
Perhaps 50 or 100 years ago, this was not a bad thing, as most schools back then reflected the culture at large, and in most of the Western world, that culture was primarily Christian in nature. But times have changed, and secularisation has pushed out religion, making our schools – and everything else – not only devoid of religion but often quite hostile to it.
Christianity is especially unwanted in our modern educational system. Secularist values, along with New Age nonsense, political correctness, and leftwing politics and ideology reign in most of our schools. Thus the Christian parent is in a dilemma as to where their children should be educated.
Because of this increase in the radicalisation and secularisation of our educational system, more and more parents are putting their kids into private schools – especially Christian schools – or are resorting to home-schooling. These trends have been steady for some time now and look to continue for quite a while.
A major reason given as to why parents are unhappy with the public education system is the lack of values. Faith and family values are largely absent from our public schools. Instead, they have become hotbeds for all sorts of radical and trendy causes. Thus schools are breeding grounds for political correctness, homosexuality, radical feminism, and anti-Western values.
Many have documented these worrying trends. Kevin Donnelly, an education expert, has written extensively on these concerns. So too has this author (see my website for example). The horror stories coming out of our public schools are all too frequent and all too problematic, and many parents are voting with their feet as a result.
But there are critics of the exodus away from public schools. Secular objections include the fact that students will be brainwashed by religious indoctrination, and will come out as rabid fundamentalists, incapable of objective thinking.
In response it can be pointed out that for many children in public education, there can be similar results. They are subjected to a relentless barrage of secularist propaganda masquerading as education. As a result, many students are coming out of public schools not only illiterate, but lacking in basic conceptual tools. They simply imbibe the secular syllabus, and come out rabid secular fundamentalists. Secular indoctrination, in other words, can be just as mind-numbing and dangerous as any religious indoctrination.
Religious concerns can also be heard about abandoning the public school system. Some Christians rightly ask, “If all the Christian kids pull out of our education system, it will just go further downhill. Why not let them stay and be salt and light?” That is a fair comment. Our school system certainly does need Christian influence, as does our political sphere, our legal world, our media and all other areas of society.
But what about the reverse concern: of Christian kids losing their faith in a secular classroom? That is a very real concern as well. We have all heard stories of good Christian kids losing their faith while in school, at least when going through college.
So what is the answer? I think it depends on the family. If the parents are sure the child has a solid faith and a well-thought out Christian worldview, and will not be easily swayed by secular educators, then it would be great to have those students in the public schools, standing up for truth and biblical values. But the parents and students together must decide if that is the case.
The same criticisms can be said about home-schooling. It is said that in home-schooling, we are leaving out much needed salt and light in the school system. We are depriving non-believing students and teachers of a Christian witness, of a chance to hear the gospel. Yes that is a concern, and again, parents and students need to think these issues through carefully.
Another criticism levelled at home-schoolers (and I have heard this made by both believers and non-believers) is that the children will lack socialisation. They will not be mixing with other kids, and will grow up stunted in their social skills.
I do not think this is much of an objection. Home-schooled kids get plenty of socialisation, including that of other home-schoolers. And I always wonder, what important socialisation skills will they be missing out on at public schools? They might avoid drug use, promiscuity, profanities, experimentation with alternative lifestyles and other “socialisation skills”. That might be a very good thing indeed. There is so much negative influence in our public schools, that I do not see it as a great loss, if kids are not exposed to it.
In sum, there are many good reasons why parents may want to opt out of the public school system. The Christian school alternative is vitally needed. But it needs to be zealously guarded, as there are many secularists who would like to see it closed down or over-regulated in this country.
12 Replies to “The Case for Christian Education”
Thank you for taking up this case. Recently I have a chance to review my daughter’s school syllabus (year 10) for human sexuality. I was appalled to note the following: 1) the teaching of this subject is relegated to the Physical Education Department which treats its purely as a health education subject; 2) the syllabus only deals with sexual health, ie. how to avoid getting infected with sexually transmitted diseases, how to recognise sign of sexual diseases; 3) there is absolutely no teaching of the right and wrong of pre-marital sex. The syllabus was developed on the premise that teenagers are going to have sex as a matter of fact and acceptable lifestyle, and how they should take precaution to avoid contracting sexually transmitted disease. I could not find anywhere in the school syllabus which teaches the Biblical values that sexual relationship is confined only within a marriage relationship between a husband and his wife. The Physical Education Department teaches it as a health education subject. It does not deal with the moral issues. No wonder we are seeing more and more teenage pregnancies (and abortions) in this country and the growing trend is worrying.
Therefore I fully agree with your view that there are more negative values that our children are exposed to in a secular school environment. As Christian parents, we must strengthen the teaching of Christian values to our children at home so that they will grow up to be men and women with strong Christian values. Christian children should be trained to have the courage to stand up for what is right and not to succumb to peer pressure they face daily in the secular school environment. I believe there is now a vital need for Christian values to be taught in school if we hope to reverse the trend of further moral decay which ultimately will weaken this nation.
Song Huat Tan, Perth
Thanks again, Bill. for the great article.
One point that I think should be mentioned is the biblical responsibility of parents to raise their children. The humanists might argue this is brainwashing (like they do any different anyway) but God commands parents to instill the fear of the Lord in their children and to teach them the Truth of His Word. In the humanist view you could say that we are required to ‘brainwash’ our children.
What’s more, though, is that public schools instil an unwritten philosophy that the state provides, that the state is responsible for our children. It is not.
Is it not, therefore, somewhat hypocritical to complain about government ‘interferrence’ on parental authority – such as wanting to ban smacking – whilst at the same time we encourage their authority to raise our children by sending our kids to government schools?
You seem to be raging over the state of our public schools, but to be honest, the private Christian schools are not so much better.
I attended a private Christian school (which I will not name) and not once were we ever told about the evils of premarital sex. Further, we received sex education in Physical Education and Science. In both classes, we were informed that the number one way to prevent pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases was, of course, abstinence. But, to teach us about other safe-sex practices was a lot better than just leaving it at abstinence. The assumption that young people are going to have sex is not an assumption – it should be seen as fact. And putting kids in private Christian schools isnt likely to make things better in this regard, because my school was single sex, and guys were always talking about sex.
So, basically, if you are going to attack public schools, I think it is only fair that you attack the state of private schools too.
Matt Page, Melbourne
Yes in many respects you are right. I do often hear of religious schools which are doing a pretty lousy job as well. Not all are, of course, but some.
In the same way, there is no perfect church, religious leader, or Christian. We all fall short and need to keep humble and on our knees.
But there are also many fine believers, pastors, churches, priests, Christian schools, and so on. A mixed bag admittedly, and we can all lift our game.
As to the best sort of sex ed, I discuss those issues in other articles on this site.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Very good article Bill. I would say that the situation re public education is actually worse than you portray. “Secular indoctrination” as you put it, is nothing less than the promotion of the false religion of secular humanism under the guise of religious neutrality. Secularisation hasn’t just “pushed out religion”, it has replaced it with it’s own brand based upon philosophical naturalism.
The argument that says that Christian kids are needed in the public education system so as to be salt and light, is so much baloney! The fact is that peer-pressure to conform is such a powerful force especially in the teen years that the Christian child is far more likely to conform to the ungodly examples than for the converse to occur. Let’s face it, how many Christian teens have a “solid faith and a well-thought out Christian worldview” such that they will not be easily swayed by their ungodly peers and by secular educators? Certainly not the ones I know and certainly not the ones who belong to the Christian parents who resort to using such absurd “salt and light” type arguments.
Christian parents are taking a huge risk in sending their children off to public schools. They are gambling with their child’s eternal destiny. School is not the place to be worried about “salt and light”. Better to raise children in a Christian environment either at a Christian school or home and once they have developed a “solid faith and a well-thought out Christian worldview” then they can be let loose on society to be “salt and light”.
The Christian parents who put their kids into public schools to be “salt and light” should be asked whether they would consider placing their kids into an Islamic school for the same reason! In either case there is a false religious worldview being taught. One is covert and subtle (secular humanism) and the other is overt.
Ewan McDonald, Victoria
I hear you, but I nonetheless know that there are some believers who do have children in public schools, and they feel this is what they are meant to be doing, and some are having a great impact as a result.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Hi Ewan, like and agree with your comments. I agree that it is important to “train your children up in the way that they should go” – I don’t think that placing them in the thick of the ‘fighting’ is a great way to do this, personally. I strongly believe that our children’s Christian education should come first and foremost from home, their parents, particularly during the primary school age.
We are blessed in Australia that we do indeed have a vast array of quality choice in Christian schooling. I have 4 children, three of which currently attend a Christian private school and largely all of my children have attended such schools from a young age. As I believe education to be the foundation of so much of our life I feel that it is something that I cannot afford to view only from a financial point of view – in other words I am willing to sacrifice many things to ensure that my children get a solid Christian-based education. For a couple of years we even homeschooled my two eldest children which significantly benefitted them academically and personally.
Ironically, while I strongly believe in Christian children getting a solid Christian-based education, I also have a daughter who currently attends a selective public high school. We made this choice based on the fact that she narrowly missed out on a scholarship to a Chrisitan school in the area which has consistently excellent academic results and felt that to do her justice for her future she needed to be at a school which would offer her the challenge and resources for a gifted student such as herself. We just could not afford to send her there without the scholarship. However, my wife and I carefully considered whether she would be up to the challenge of attending a public school and whether her Christian walk would be affected adversely and came to the conclusion in her case that it would not. We monitored it closely (she is now in year 9, her 3rd year at this school) and it has been a resounding success as Jesus has been her strength and she has been able to be a very strong witness to the other children with some astounding conversions – not without some considerable hardship , trials and resulting personal growth, I might add.
However my daughter is very committed to her beliefs and is a strong minded and strong-willed young lady. In contrast, my eldest son was also offered a position at the same school, but we felt that while he is equally gifted, this situation was not the best for him particularly as he is an integral part of a remarkable group of boys of his year at the Christian school which set such a high personal, ethical and academic standard. We weighed the fact that even though he could benefit more academically from the selective public school, the risk was not worth it, particularly as he has always been a very popular boy and he would be much more likely to seek approval, leading to incorrect decisions and an erosion of his personal and moral standards.
I tend to agree that Christian parents nowadays really do need to seriously consider the ramifications of placing their precious children with not wholly formed minds into a secular humanist philosophical arena such as the Australian public edication system. Having said that, it comes down to the child and the situation. Some just cannot afford private schooling, and cannot homeschool.
The decline of morality in our society can be directly linked to the attack on Judeo-Christian values that our country was founded upon. This decline has been led chiefly through the erosion of Christianity and its core values being expressed in our classrooms from 1952 onwards. It continues today as minorities are given access to public schools to push their philosophies and political idealogies on our unprepared children. How far down this track of division do we need to go before we experience the destruction brought about by fascist and leftist philosophies – Hitler’s Third Reich was built upon the same approach to infiltrate education, politics and social organisations with similar ideas and this is the fabian’s modus operandi. We need to wake up!
I assume this won’t get posted on your website, however I believe I have the right to express my opinion. I honestly believe that religion, of any sort, should not be taught in schools as education and religion are two entirely different institutions. If people wish to bring their children up within a particular faith than they should have that right. However, that should be kept at home or at church within that religious community.
Let’s not blur the line between religion and education any longer.
But it is not your content that will get you barred from this site, but breaking my first blog rule about providing a full and proper name. But I will let you be an exception here, because your argument is worth replying to.
Your plea for no religion in schools is misguided. The truth is, everyone is religious, including you. Religion has to do with worldviews and the big questions of life. You have a worldview that you are pushing right now, in insisting on secularism in the classroom and the public arena.
But since everyone has a worldview and a commitment to various values and ways of looking at the world, it will always be impossible to keep religion out of the schools, or anywhere else. Indeed, there already is a major religion in our Western schools – it is called secular humanism. Are you as concerned to get the humanists out of schools?
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Why is it when Christians quote the argument about salt and light they only use the first part of the scripture. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. Matthew 5:12-14
Salt can lose it’s saltiness. Parents using kids as evangelistic props is a risky exercise. I don’t see Christian schools as separating kids from society but preparing them for it. School is only 11-13 years. We are called to be salt and light for all of life. I think you better lay some good foundations during the schooling years and Christian schools can help parents do this by working in partnership with them.
I have been following your blog for sometime and am always stirred by your comments and insights and prophetic nature of what you’re doing.
I can see too that the church has put itself to be and is having a long deep sleep and needs to be woken up
So I guess I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate you, and the time you take to document what is going on in the world and assessing the times and seasons and what God is doing in the world.
Be blessed, thanks for your watchmen words, depth of your commentary, and persistence in a flood of threats and discouragement and hate from the tolerance brigade!
Blessings, and God is with you