Tomorrow, President Obama is scheduled to speak to the nation’s school children. This speech has not yet taken place, and already Christians are lining up on both sides of the argument, ready to battle and accuse one another because of it.
I have been surprised at the reactions, the harsh words, accusations, and demands coming from both sides of the issue – those who believe this speech is harmless and appropriate, and those who believe it is potentially detrimental and outside the presidential realm of authority – are simply stunning…and not exactly what I would call Christ-like, or pleasing to God.
I recently responded to poll on Facebook, which asked a simple question:
“Should the United States President be allowed to do a nationwide address to our children at school without prior parental consent?”
I emphasize the last part, and ultimately answered “No” to this poll, for that reason – among others. My response was based partially on the unknown nature of the content of the speech (which, was only recently released), and the supplemental “lesson plans” aimed at encouraging children to do what they can to help the President achieve his goals. While I am fine with a message of stay in school and work hard, I have done some research on President Obama’s educational policies, and the people within his administration that he has chosen to head certain education-related boards and committees, and, that is what makes me most uncomfortable about this speech. I do not want anyone asking, or encouraging my child to help further certain aspects of that agenda – especially without my prior knowledge and consent. Because, although he may be the President, the last time I checked, I am her mom.
And, in my mind, that is a very high calling, and carries with it an immense responsibility to help my daughter form biblical convictions, and to practice discernment in all areas of life. Contrary to the accusations that have been flying recently, I am not opposed to, or afraid of my daughter hearing, or being exposed to differing, or opposing views. Quite the opposite, actually. But, I do not want her exposed to them before she is ready, causing her to be tossed about by every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14). I want her to be well-rooted morally, doctrinally, and spiritually, with a strong biblical foundation before exposing her to those myriad other views and philosophies. And, despite what some may believe, that is not grounds for me to find a new country to call home.
I can still submit to, and honor the authority of the office, while respectfully disagreeing with certain philosophies, or methodologies presented by said administration. Regardless of our feelings about our President, or his policies, as believers we must heed the words of 1 Timothy 2:1-3:
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.”
“Godly and dignified in every way…pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” That should be the distinguishing characteristic of our behavior as Christians, even, and especially if we disagree with one another on how to handle this particular situation. But, sadly, the most heated discussions that I have heard/read on this topic, have been between Christian homeschooling and non-homeschooling families. This has been a long-standing point of contention within the Christian community, and it probably comes as no surprise that President Obama’s planned speech is only adding fuel to the fire.
Over the past several days, godly, Christian families that have chosen to send their kids to public schools have been told that they are lazily shirking their parental responsibilities, and blindly handing their children over to an evil and corrupt system. They have been accused of being disobedient to Scripture, and disregarding the high call of parenting. (Maybe, in some cases these accusations are true and valid. And, if you are not homeschooling, perhaps it is worth examining in your own heart before the Lord. But, these statements are absolutely not true of all Christian families who have chosen to put their kids in the public schools.)
The accusations being leveled at Christian homeschooling families are just as fierce. Homeschoolers are being told that they are parenting out of fear. They are overly-protective, and sheltering their children. They are instilling fear and distrust in their children, and modeling for them an attitude of rebellion and disrespect – to God, and to the government. (Again, these statements are likely true of some homeschooling families. And each family needs to carefully consider their true motives in light of God’s Word. But, once again, this is certainly is not true of all who choose to homeschool.)
My daughter is not even “officially” of school-age. And, when that time comes, we are choosing to homeschool her. So, under normal circumstances, it would not even affect her this year. And, I find it somewhat odd that I am even addressing this, as I have not yet explained our reasons for choosing to homeschool our daughter here on the blog. Maybe I will someday, but for now, I will just say that we did not make this decision lightly, out of fear, or out of some misguided belief that by doing so we could create the perfect child. It was made after much thought and prayer. And, we believe it to be the best decision for our family. And, I am sure that many Christian families who have opted to go the public, or Christian schooling route would say the same of their decisions.
My main concern, in light of the hubbub surrounding this speech, is not whether Christian parents will, or should, pull their children out of public schools – for the day, or forever. It is the way those who claim the name of Christ, on either side of the educational fence, are reacting to one another as a result of this planned speech. As believers, and brothers and sisters in Christ, we must be especially careful to behave towards one another in a way that is God-honoring would point others, not to a particular method of education, but to our Lord, and His Word.
As far as the President’s speech tomorrow is concerned… If you choose to allow your children to listen (in a school classroom, online, or on television), do so with a discerning ear, and an eye toward helping your children understand, and process what is/was said in light of Scripture. If you choose not to allow your children to listen, whatever your rationale, please, do so with the respect and honor owed the office of President…
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God…Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” Romans 13:1, 7