by Steve C. Halbrook(originally posted January 2011)
A popular justification Christian parents give for sending their children to public schools is that at public schools their children can be “a light to the world.”
However, a more important question is whether parents are being a light to the world by sending their children to public schools. If they are not, then there is no justification for sending their children to public schools. One cannot do evil in order for good to come.
In any case, we will examine both the matter of children being a light in the public schools, as well as whether parents are being a light by sending their children to public schools.
The standard for determining how one is to be a light to the world is the Bible—not ourselves. And so, what does the Bible say about being a light to the world? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says,
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."(Matt. 5:14-16)
Note the connection between shining the light and good works. Shining the light entails good works. So to understand whether one is shining the light, we must understand what good works are. And according to the next few verses, good works are God’s commands as revealed in Scripture:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:17-19)
So, can children be a light to the world in public schools? More importantly, are parents being a light to the world by sending their children there? To answer this, let us see what God’s word says about the matter.
First, we must ask who God’s law has granted the authority for educating children. According to the Bible, it is parents—especially fathers. And they are to constantly teach biblical theology that is not to be undermined by unbiblical teaching:
“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.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
"You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.” (Proverbs 1:8, 9)
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
By contrast, the state has not been granted authority by the Bible to take children away from their parents for the purposes of educating them. Educating children is outside the state's sphere of jurisdiction.
Thus when the state takes custody of children by forcing parents to give them up under threat of arrest (at least those parents who can’t afford private schools or who the state hasn’t approved for homeschooling), then the state has engaged in kidnapping.
And according to the Bible, kidnapping is so heinous that, like murder, it deserves the death penalty:
"Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.” (Exodus 21:16)
The state, then, is not to engage in kidnapping, but to punish it.
Second, since public schools are based on the religions of secular humanism and religious pluralism (a euphemism for polytheism), then clearly public schools are not an option. Public schools teach evolution, hedonistic sexuality, that all religions are equal, that morals are relative, etc.
Since public schools teach non-Christian religions (indeed, all education is based on some religion or another), sending children to them is no different than sending them to Muslim, Buddhist, or Wiccan schools. Indeed, the word “public school” is a euphemism; they would be more properly labeled temples of humanism.
Remember, Ephesians 6:4 reads, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). All education that runs counter to this requirement to be raised in the discipline and instruction of the Lord--such as public schools--must be rejected.
Similiarly, Proverbs 22:6 reads:
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Notice the command given--children are to be trained in how they should go. This rules out public schools as an option, as they in their humanistic curriculum train up a child in the way they shouldn’t go.
Notice too it says “even when he is old he will not depart from it.” If you want your child to live a moral life, then raise him in God’s word, outside of public schools—and if God in His grace blesses your endeavors, your child will not depart from his godly instruction.
However, the opposite is also true: if one trains a child in the way he shouldn’t go, then that child can be expected to live an ungodly life. In short, a child is prone to living out whatever worldview/education he is raised in. As Luke 6:40 reads:
“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
When the public school student is fully trained, he becomes a God-hating humanist. (After all, to love God is to keep His commandments [John 14:15], and humanism naturally opposes keeping God's commandments and therefore teaches hatred for God [cf. Matthew 6:24].)
Thus contrary to the view that sending Christian children to public schools is part of making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), in public schools it is the (pagan) nations making disciples of professing Christian children. Why do you think professing Christian children so often depart from the faith after years of training in public schools in how to rebel against God?
Not only this, but when parents give their children to the state in the name of the Great Commission, they neglect giving their children a Christian education—and thereby neglect their Great Commission duties to them. What Great Commission duty is greater than to one's own family?
Even if parents teach their children God’s word with what little free time their children have left after school and homework, it’s an uphill battle trying to counteract the effect the constant bombardment of humanistic thought has on them.
Third, some hold that their children are somehow beyond being infected by the evils of public schools. But Scripture says the opposite:
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
At public schools, children are surrounded by both wicked teachers and wicked schoolmates. Of course their morals will be ruined.
Public schools are higher centers of learning for rebelling against God. Just as prisoners, due to exposure to other criminals, often become worse criminals than before they came in, those who attend public schools, due to exposure to many other sinners, often become greater sinners than before they came in.
Simply put, the public school is an arena where children come together and pool their natural sinful depravity—and each becomes more wicked in the process. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).
How much more does a lot of leaven, that is, entire classrooms of sinful children? Sending children to public schools then harms them:
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
Fourth, children are to receive consistent, biblical discipline—something that public schools do not provide.
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” (Proverbs 22:15)
What do public schools do? They encourage the folly in a child’s sinful heart by rejecting Scripture and teaching humanistic curriculums. And, they reject disciplining children with the rod for bad behavior.
This is serious. Public schools, by not driving the folly from children’s hearts, allow that folly to fester. This is why so many public school children become criminals.
Scripture also says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24)
|When the state--backed by coercive force--|
forces parents to send their children to
public schools, it has engaged in the
heinous crime of kidnapping.
And so sending one's child to public schools is to hate him, since public schools are an atmosphere where biblical discipline is denied and rebellion and folly are encouraged. Parents must be diligent to discipline their children--which can only be done in the context of a biblical education.
Fifth, public schools are not safe. By now it should be clear that public schools are not spiritually safe, as they teach children to hate God. They are also not verbally or physically safe.
In public schools, on a daily basis children are subject to ridicule and bullying. Drugs and sex are rampant. Children even die in school shootings and gang violence. The Sixth Commandment demands that children be protected from such dangerous environments that risk their physical safety.
And so back to the original questions: can children be a light to the world in public schools, and can parents be a light to the world by sending their children to public schools?
No. Given the corrupting influences in public schools, and since God’s word teaches how leavening corrupting influences are, to the extent professing Christian children are a light through obeying and teaching God’s commands in public schools, we can only expect it to be the exception, and not the rule—and that even in the exceptions, such children sooner or later could become corrupted and regularly disobey rather than obey God’s commands. In short, we can expect professing Christian children in public schools to become more and more sinful as time goes on.
And, the act of parents sending children to be discipled by anti-Christian humanists in public schools is clearly a violation of God’s word, and thereby sinful.
Sin--whether it's the sins that children commit through public school corruption, or it's the sin that parents commit by sending children to public schools--is darkness, not light. Christian children in public schools is thus not a light to the world, but darkness to the world.
Since “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23b)—and since humanistic public schools are extremely sinful—the wages of public schools is death. Almost daily, public school children are sacrificed to the state, with its imposition of an environment that is physically unsafe and that teaches the way to eternal hellfire through an
Sending children to public schools then is human sacrifice. It is sending children to their deaths—sometimes physical death, but especially spiritual death.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)