By Mark Kennedy, ACSI Canada
My childhood friend Bill grew up to be a respected and successful bank executive- a man who occasionally helps financial institutions beyond our borders. A few years ago while consulting for a bank in Dublin he made his temporary GHQ in a small hotel that boasted a dining room for its guests. On a Thursday evening he ambled down to this quaint eatery for a taste of Celtic cuisine not suspecting the violent conflict that would arise later in his stomach.
“I was sick all last night after eating in your restaurant!” He told the manager the next morning.
“Well what did you have for dinner?”
“Roast pork!” said Bill.
“Ah yes,” replied the manager philosophically in a lilting Irish brogue, “You have to watch out for the pork on Thursdays.”
You can imagine the questions in my friend’s mind when his initial shock wore off. Maybe foremost was
“Why didn’t someone tell me?!?”
Sheltering someone from reality can be dangerous. And sometimes the consequences can be much more serious than a minor case of food poisoning.
Consider the effects of an education that intentionally shelters students from the most important realities about life and living- a secular education where the daily presence of the living God is ignored and the authority and guidance of scripture is dismissed- an education that edits out the creator and sustainer of the real world.
Paul warns about a day when:
Men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn away from truth and turn aside to myths.” 2 Tim 4: 3 & 4. That time sounds uncomfortably familiar.
It’s not that a secular education necessarily speaks out against the God of the Bible or openly denies the authority of the scriptures. It simply remains silent about them. And that’s the problem. If a student from a Christian family receives a consistently secular education how surprising can it be if he comes to think that God can’t be very important? ‘After all they never talk about Him at school’ he might reasonably say to himself- and his logic would be pretty hard to refute. He got the silent message.
Robert Louis Stephenson expressed it plainly,
“The cruelest lies are often told in silence.”
So when important, even vital truths are kept from people who desperately need to hear them, Stephenson says it is a cruel deception.
The silence in secular education has implications for the way children learn, believe, think and face life’s challenges. When students are sheltered from God’s reality they are prime candidates to be “taken captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” 2Col 2:8. Philosophies produce actions, and actions produce consequences. So it should be no surprise that sex education that ignores biblical standards produces ever growing rates of sexually transmitted diseases, abortions and accompanying psychological problems; that a purely mechanistic and evolutionary view of humanity convinces some students they are worthless genetic accidents so that suicide becomes a reasonable option; and that when personal troubles for which secular minds have no real answers overwhelm students they turn to illicit drugs in an attempt to escape. The world of drug and alcohol abuse and promiscuous or perverse sexuality is so often a false refuge for people who have not been equipped to deal with the real world.
In Christian schooling we don’t shelter students from reality. We prepare students by telling them the whole truth about the real world and by honoring the presence of the source of all truth and by teaching future generations about his standards for living. As the Psalmist says,
We will not hide them from their children; We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4
In the early 1990s after Russian Communism collapsed I found myself on a team of North Americans instructing hundreds of Russian educators about how to teach the Bible to Russian public school students. Evgenity Kurkin of the Russian Ministry of Education explained why we had been invited to do that,
Seventy years ago we closed Him (God) out of our country and it has caused so many problems in our society we cannot count them…..We must put God back into our country and we must begin with our children.
One evening as I walked with some of our Russian hosts down a snowy street in St. Petersburg, a translator told me about his life in Chernobyl after the nuclear accident – the one that killed and crippled thousands.
“For three years after the accident nobody told us what had happened, all we knew was that our children were getting sick. We finally learned about it through BBC radio.” Those people in Chernobyl knew the cost of being sheltered from reality – and it was far too high.
And what about the future cost for students who have been sheltered from the realities that matter most for living now and for the life yet to come?
We shy away from sounding a warning to families in our churches. “Try to focus on the positive aspects of Christian schooling and don’t offend anyone” we tell ourselves. But maybe the time has come to tell the whole story to Christian families for the sake of their children and the future of the church in North America.