Ask RC

Ask RC: Why are you so strongly against Christians teaching in government schools?

While in the end I think it important for both Christian students and teachers to leave the government school system, the case for getting the children out is by far the stronger, clearer case. The two are related, but not at all the same.

It is my conviction that education is everywhere and always inherently religious. That is, education is that process by which we pass on to our children our most deeply held convictions. An education that does not begin, end and stay focused on the lordship of Christ over all things is, in the end, not a sound education. I deny that there is a body of information out there that is separate and distinct from the Lordship of Christ. As I have stated before, 2 and 2 makes 4 because it is Jesus’ 2 and Jesus’ 2 and Jesus’ 4.

Christians who wish to teach in the government’s schools are left therefore with three choices. First, they can give the children a sound education. Here they are eager to affirm the Lordship of Christ at all times and in all places. There are, however, two problems with this approach. First, any teacher doing this would be violating the law. Every state in the union forbids teachers from teaching this way. Second, any teacher teaching this way will also be violating the law of God. That is, you would be failing to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is ungracious, unkind and unfair to tax unbelievers for the purpose of paying your salary to evangelize their children. This, of course, is what the entire system does, only it evangelizes children into the worship of the state. The solution isn’t to take the system and use it to evangelize for Christ. The Christian thing would be to tear the whole thing down.

The Christian teacher next has this option. He can remain silent about the Lordship of Christ. Here he will honor his superiors in the system. He will be able to keep his job. But he will not be speaking truthfully to the students. He will, long before we get to “health” class, biology class, or any overt attacks against the faith, communicate to the children under him that the Lordship of Christ is something worth negotiating over, something of indifference to an education. The teacher is teaching this, “You can be educated in a place where the name of Jesus is never mentioned.” Which is fundamentally false.

The third option is to attempt to carve out a niche between the first two options. This, I presume, is where my brothers and sisters in Christ most often see themselves. They are trying, in a desperately wicked system, to let a little light shine. They are trying to witness through their lives, in the hopes of being a help to the children. Those are noble motives, and should be seen as such. They are, however, in my estimation, doomed to failure. I tell my well intentioned friends who remain in apostate mainline denominations, so that they can “Reform from within” that all they are managing to communicate is that however bad it might be to deny the authority of Scripture, no matter how bad it might be to deny the resurrection, no matter how bad it might be to ordain practicing sodomites (which, truth be told is far less serious than the first two), that none of it is worth separating over. In like manner, whatever you manage to get through, however free you are to dishonor your bosses and their wishes (it makes no difference if your principal is with you on this. Sooner or later up the ladder you have superiors who don’t want you witnessing for Christ) you are still communicating to parents and the students, “This little light of mine is enough.” You are saying to the children, “You can live a God honoring life by keeping your Bible, unopened, on your desk.” You are saying to the children, “You can understand the world without understanding the Lordship of Christ.” You are saying to the children, “A little, unspoken, subtle Christianity is enough.”

I know that isn’t your intention. I know you’re trying to do right by these children and their parents. But you can’t, not just because the schools must be secular, but because they are financed by taxes of people of other faiths. The more you succeed the more you cheat the parents. The more you fail, the more you cheat the students. Trying to walk in the middle you cheat both.

This is why I don’t believe Christians should teach in the government schools. I understand that my position is an unusual one. I understand that fine men and women, godly men and women disagree with my position. I pray we can disagree while still remaining friends.

One last point. Please also understand that my most angry rhetoric is directed at the system itself, not well meaning Christians who are in the system. That is, at the end of the day, because all education is inherently religious, the state schools will inculcate the religion of the state, Caesar worship. That is why the system is an abomination. Don’t ever let anyone tell you the schools are failing. They are doing exactly what they are designed to do.