Monday, August 27, 2007

Education: tool or religion?

Today is the first day of school for most of our city. This is a puzzling day for Kelly and I as we listen to so many parents who rejoice that their kids are off their hands and back to school. I usually hear several people say this is the happiest day of their year. Since Kelly and I (for the most part) enjoy being around our children, and enjoy raising them, educating, and training them, this really puzzles us. So why did they have kids if they can't wait to be rid of them?

But I digress.

I am concerned about a trend I see in our country. For the last 50-100 years, education has become the new god, and all the trappings of education the new religion. Education is hailed as the cure to all of society's ills. If we can just get them young enough, the professional educator or politician might say, then we can eradicate such and such. If we can just get them to believe the right things, or spend enough money, then we can alter the future. There is nothing from domestic violence to poverty that can't be defeated if the right education were in place.

This ignores some very basic Biblical principles. Man is sinful - is conceived in sin. All of the earth's problems stem from this fact. And the only way to address this very root of evil is the cross. Not the correct K-12 education.

The Old Testament is replete with examples of God's people turning aside to follow the gods of the land in which they inhabited. I fear that many Christians have fallen into the same trap. Some buy into the world's belief that society can be cured through the right school program or curriculum. This in spite of the fact that the public schools teach what is direct opposition to the Word of God.

But I am concerned that those who have bucked the public educational system, especially homeschoolers, can often fall into the same trap. I have read and talked to some homeschoolers who seem to have the idea that doing so is a guaranteed "Do not pass go, go straight to heaven" card for their kids. That somehow it is a guarantee that the kids will turn out well. I think it is really easy to fall into this holier-than-thou attitude when we believe in something so strongly. However, I believe it is a form of legalism to get into this thinking. But no matter our educational method, only faith in their Risen Savior can take these children from sinner to holy and saved.

As the school year begins for so many, remember that our purpose is to glorify God in everything we do, and that includes raising our children. We need to teach them that is also to be their aim in life. Education is a tool in which to do that, to show them how to hide His word in our hearts, and to prepare them for the work God will call them to as adults. If your method of education does not do that, whether your kids go to public school, private, or are homeschooled, might I suggest that this is the perfect time to reevaluate things. Education is important, but without faith, it like a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal.