By now everyone who could possibly view this blog has heard of the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. Now one of the leading nations in the world has joined the first generation in world history to redefine marriage to apply to same sex couples. But that is not what I want to write about today. Today I want to write something brief about one Christian response to the court’s decision.
John Piper shared this article by Douglas Wilson on facebook the Sunday following the Obergefell decision. The pun in the article’s title is impeccable, and therefore requires some explanation. St. Augustine is famed for the quote, “Take up and read,” or in Latin, “Tolle lege.” Douglas Wilson is arguing that the responsibility of Christian parents is to “Take up” their children from government education and “leg it” to Christian schools or home schools. So before recommending the several books he has written on the subject as reading material, he exhorts parents to “Tolle, leg it.” One can’t help but notice that this response to modern events is totally legit, or, “Toe Lee Luh Jit,” or, “Tolle, Leg It.” Hence the title of my post. I beg your forgiveness for this paragraph.
Unequivocally telling Christians to take their children out of public schools is highly controversial. Thus it is no great wonder that the comments section of Wilson’s article is filled with pure venom, exquisite vitriol, excellent miscommunication, superb misrepresentation, flawless fallacies, splendid propaganda, unadulterated malice, and the finest verbal abuse. It raises the fine art of internet argumentation to unprecedented heights of beauty and intellectualism. The works of Monet, van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Michelangelo tremble knowing that such superior artwork exists. Needless to say, you should read the comments on the article.
I here offer a more conciliatory examination of the issue, despite my bias towards homeschooling. I trust this post will help you learn to think deeply about the issues surrounding education.
I first want to address the absurd notion that the command for Christians to be salt and light to the earth requires the Christian to place his children in a secular school. Only Christians can be salt and light. So before your children can effectively evangelize their unsaved peers, they need to be saved themselves. Additionally, the most effective salt and light to children in the public school system would be Christian teachers and staff. If we really want to reach out to public education, we should do so through working in it. Christian public school teachers are some of my heroes.
More importantly, it is not the parent’s responsibility to force their children to evangelize, but rather to evangelize their children, disciple them, and teach them how to make (and that they should make) other disciples. The unbelievers, the lost in the world, that Christian parents are first called to evangelize and are most responsible for are not the heathen cannibals on some undiscovered island or the diverse population of American schools, but rather their own children. This is the Christian parent’s number one priority as a parent. Evangelism is the best objection I’ve seen to Christian education, but it is not valid. Granted, Christians have often failed to provide their saved children with other avenues of evangelism, but those other avenues (club sports teams, after-school clubs, homeless and hospital outreaches, unsaved relatives) do exist.
I proceed to explain what Wilson is actually saying. We take as an axiom that the chief responsibility of the Christian parent is to raise his children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. This involves teaching children a Christian worldview, reading and explaining the Bible to them, exemplifying prayer and missions and service to them, showing them what it means to live a Christian life. Since this is the chief responsibility, it takes priority over all others, so that the Christian child’s scholastic education is a secondary priority. Herein lies the difference between those who argue so vehemently for Christian education and those so viciously for public schooling: no Christian will deny that their child’s earthly education is secondary to his spiritual development, but we disagree on how to appropriately balance and achieve those distinct goals. The upshot is this: the importance that a Christian parent puts on secular education is determined by the parent’s own wisdom, not by explicit commands in Scripture.
This paragraph will be controversial. I concur with Wilson insomuch as I believe that there is indeed unwisdom in the continued decision of Christian parents to enroll their children in government schools. I concede the nobility of the evangelistic opportunities afforded by that enrollment, but I find it highly un-strategic and disadvantageous to the goal of parenting to let your children sit under the secular and scholastic teaching of those who hate God and His Word and will offer to your children a secular and sinful worldview, and now more than ever promote amorality and sexual perversions. Obergefell only makes it worse. If this conclusion seems new or foreign to you, I recommend you look up Voddie Baucham. Also notice: Al Mohler has for years assumed the time is coming when Christian children should leave the public school system (that article was written ten years ago).
You don’t have to agree with me on my conclusion. But you do have to agree with the facts: our national education system is more secular and depraved than ever before, and is only becoming more so. Sending your children to public school cannot be your automatic decision, regardless of what experiences you had in it. God requires much thought and prayer of you as you seek out His wisdom. And once you decide, I strongly discourage you from vilifying on the internet parents who made the other decision. That is all I hope to encourage you to do with this brief post.