By Bill Blankschaen
“I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of youth.” Martin Luther
It would be sinful for me to send my children to a public school in America. I’m not saying it would be sinful for you to do so, but I could not do it with a clean conscience. Therefore, to do so would be sinful for me. My parents took great pains to ensure I received a distinctly Christian education, and I am doing the same for my children.
Over my dozen years in Christian education, I interviewed a lot of parents and students. And I do mean a lot. I got to hear just about everything during that time. I heard every excuse a Christian parent could offer for NOT giving their children a distinctly Christian education.
I pleaded with parents not to put their children in secular, government-run schools. I helped pick up the pieces after years of their kids attending public schools. And I heard eight popular reasons from Christian parents trying to explain why they were choosing to send their children to those schools. Over the years, I responded to them all. So I thought it might be helpful to write about them in the hopes that some parents may be weighing the value of a Christian education.
MYTH 1: My child can be a light in a public school. Isn’t that what Jesus called us to be?
He may have called you to be a light, but nowhere does he call your child to the task of cultural transformation. His instruction about letting the light shine was to his adult disciples whom he had specifically chosen and empowered for the task before them.
As long as we are quoting Jesus, he also said that anyone who harms a child should have a millstone hung around his neck and be tossed into the sea. He clearly understood children should be protected from any and all who may harm them, physically or spiritually. Yet, many parents send their untrained children into a worldview battlefield every day, unprepared and unable to withstand the daily assault on their faith.
Scriptures teach that there is time for training—when we are children—and time to be what we have been trained to be—when we are mature. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
MYTH 2: My child will be a missionary in the public school system.
If the light of a candle represents your student’s faith, consider this simple truth: every light needs oxygen to thrive—or even to survive. The public school system currently prohibits the oxygen of God’s truth. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
On top of the oxygen-deprived environment, the state-mandated curriculum and procedures actively attack your student’s faith, creating a violent storm that threatens to extinguish the flame entirely. It’s like placing a lone candle in a sealed jar—in the middle of a hurricane! If it survives at all, the candle will likely burn out quickly. At best, it will burn weakly, a shadow of the flame it could have been. Why hope they survive when they can thrive in an oxygen-rich environment?
MYTH 3: We can’t afford to pay for a biblical education for our child.
Unfortunately, our current school-funding system does require that property taxes support the public schools whether you actually send your students to those schools or not. Thus, many parents who choose Christian education must pay twice.
The reality, however, is that it’s not a question of if you will pay for your child’s education, but when you will pay for it. A parent who invests time, energy, and resources in a biblical foundation will reap the promises of God as the child continues as an adult in “the way they should go.” On the other hand, a parent who does not invest in a biblical foundation will often pay in life consequences, heartache, and trials as their child nears adulthood—and beyond.
Lest we forget these Scriptures:
- “My God shall supply all your needs according to the riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
- “He who loves his child is diligent to discipline him” (Prov. 13:24).
- “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).
- “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Ps. 81:10).
MYTH 4: We can counteract the non-Christian influences in a public school.
Most of what our kids learn is caught, not taught. Your child will absorb more from the people around them than from the actual textbooks and curriculum—for 7-8 hours every day. They will absorb it both from teachers—whom you tell them to listen to—and peers. “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). Every time.
In a Christian education setting, your student will be surrounded by teachers, students, and other families who, while not perfect, share your faith in Christ. More than ever, we need to build authentic faith communities. In the public system, your student will be daily influenced by people who either do not want or are not permitted to live as if God were even relevant at all.
MYTH 5: My student will not perform as well in a Christian school as in a public school.
The two most significant factors to a student’s academic success have been well researched and documented: parental involvement and caring teachers. Most Christian education environments only partner with supportive and involved parents. Caring teachers are often second to none as they daily seek to disciple students in partnership with parents. These two factors alone are quantifiably proven to raise academic results. As long as a Christian education environment insists on quality from its teachers, your students will be well-positioned to succeed.
MYTH 6: My children will trust what I teach them instead of what the public school teaches them.
The most important lesson you will teach your child by sending them to a school where God is irrelevant is that—God is irrelevant. Although most Christian parents would never dream of sending a child to a school that would force them to publicly confess that God is dead, the public system accomplishes the same objective. By teaching students they can learn all they need for life apart from any thought of God, He might as well be dead. And they learn it all with your approval. Nothing is neutral. “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Luke 11:23). “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Prov. 9:10).
MYTH 7: My children will be isolated in a bubble in a Christian school. They won’t be ready for the real world.
First, public school is not the real world. It is a forced learning environment from which God is excluded. That description does not fit a biblical definition of how the world really is.
Second, students are like a young plant in a greenhouse. When it is younger, it must be protected, fed, and carefully cultivated. As it grows more mature, it can be exposed for seasons of time to the outside elements, although still under careful observation. Only when it has reached maturity is it able to enter the outside world and thrive.
Likewise, students in a Christian education environment are protected quite a bit when they are younger. However, as they mature, they should be eased into understanding the different points of view they will encounter and the temptations they will need to resist. By the time they reach their later high school years, students should be exposed to just about every false teaching they will ever encounter on a college campus and beyond.
As parents, we are called to be in the world but not of it. When we stand on the truth, we have no fear of falsehoods. For example, in the school I led, we taught a literal six-day interpretation of Creation based on the Genesis account. However, as our students matured, they learned of the different viewpoints within Christianity as well as the macro-evolutionary ideas that clearly contradict both Scripture and sound science.
MYTH 8: My child is a gifted athlete and needs to attend a public school to get noticed.
Sports scouts find talent wherever it may be. The list is long of professional athletes who attended Christian schools. Our school had graduated one professional basketball player by the time I had left.
But we as parents must always remember to keep first things first. Nowhere in Scripture will you find a call to play sports professionally. We do find a call to do all that we do with all our might. Thus, a full athletic program with many options for students can be a good thing, but should not be the main thing.
We give it 100% to please Christ. We play to win. However, sports are not, nor should they be, the most important thing at any school. We must refuse to follow the culture around us that seems at times to worship sports. We must intentionally choose to prioritize our focus based on the Worship of God. We play for Him—the One who laid His life down for us. “What does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)
Bill Blankschaen is a writer, speaker, blogger at Patheos, co-author of You Will Be Made to Care and author of A Story Worth Telling: Your Field Guide to Living an Authentic Life. Connect at FaithWalkers.com and @BillintheBlank on Twitter.