As the nation emerges from the set of political, health, and economic crises it has wrestled with over the past year, and as children head back to school in the fall, a battle is heating up: the fight for America's schools.
Recognizing the growing battles within education, the Associated Press published an article last Friday titled "Tears, politics, and money: School boards become battle zones." The article highlights debates in school board meetings across the country over new curriculum, how racism and American history will be taught, mask mandates, and transgender issues. How some of these fiercely debated questions are resolved will affect the trajectory of our schools and, ultimately, our nation.
Christian parents face questions even more fundamental than any of these. Namely, what is their responsibility when it comes to their children's education? And does it matter if said education reflects a biblical worldview?
A quality education is a good thing to desire for one's children. Desiring good things for one's children is not a uniquely Christian trait; it is a human one -- a reflection of the heavenly Father earthly parents are meant to resemble. Jesus was addressing a large crowd when he said:
Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Mat. 7:9-11, ESV)
Desiring a quality education for one's children is not a uniquely Christian trait, but Christian parents ought to combine this excellent desire with another one -- that their children would learn to embrace a biblical worldview.
The process of building a biblical worldview begins in the home. However, this process is also either helped or hurt by what happens in the classroom. A person's worldview is not merely shaped by how they spend their Sundays or whether they learn good habits and spiritual disciplines. It is also shaped when they are being taught history, science, literature, and math. Therefore, Christian parents should care deeply about what their children are being taught and who is teaching their children. Children's worldviews are constantly being shaped, and not necessarily by a biblical one.
Let's briefly consider the state of worldview in America. According to George Barna's America's Worldview Inventory, a person's worldview (the lens through which they see and understand the world) is solidified by age 13. Although someone's worldview may change or adjust throughout their life, the overwhelming majority of Americans have their worldview in place before high school, with little to no change afterward. Barna's research shows that today only six percent of American adults hold a biblical worldview. Even more troubling is the finding that only 21 percent of those who regularly attend evangelical churches have a biblical worldview (despite 81 percent thinking they do).
Christian parents must consider these numbers. Simply put, most Americans -- including those who attend church -- do not have a biblical worldview. This means that most of our children's educators are not teaching from a perspective informed by biblical truth. Even those with good intentions will not be able to help our children see how Scripture answers the most fundamental questions we face.
God has clearly outlined parents' responsibility for their children. When Moses was passing down the law of God to the people of Israel at Mount Siani, God commanded parents:
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deut. 6:6-7)
By issuing these commands to parents, God made them ultimately responsible for educating and instilling a biblical worldview in their children. For a variety of reasons, parents may choose to delegate some of this responsibility. If and when they do, they should be careful to do so wisely.
For some parents, ensuring their children are taught a biblical worldview might mean homeschooling them. For other parents, it might mean finding a Christian school that instructs its students from a biblical worldview and enrolling their children there. And for others, it could mean being intentionally involved in the local public school system. This involvement might look like discussing and supplementing the public school curriculum at home with your children, attending school board meetings and speaking up when appropriate, running for and serving on the school board, or even working as a teacher or principal. Regardless of what form it takes, Christian parents should be intentionally involved in their children's education.
Active parental involvement in the education of their children is a theme found throughout Scripture. For example, parents are advised to "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6). The apostle Paul wrote, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). Furthermore, the apostle John embodied the attitude all Christian parents and teachers ought to have when he wrote, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 1:4).
Whether parents choose to homeschool their children, enroll them in private school, or send them to public school, they have a responsibility to raise their children in the Lord and will be held accountable for how they steward the blessing of children (Jesus gives a sobering warning in Matthew 18:5-6). What are our children learning? More importantly, what kind of people are they becoming because of their education? What virtues are they learning to cherish and embody? These considerations are at the heart of discipling our children because what happens in the classroom does not stay in the classroom -- it shapes hearts and minds. Christian parents must be active participants in their children's education as an act of obedience to God and out of love for both God and their children.