Scores of Christians and conservatives are denouncing President Obama's announced speech to children in schools across the country tomorrow. Notables like Michelle Malkin are concerned with subversive activism. Republicans are accusing the President of imposing a political agenda on the nation's children. Other conservatives see the move as socialist indoctrination. Of course, references to certain dictators' propagandizing of children abound. Numerous parents intend to keep their children home tomorrow.
On the one hand, I certainly have some concerns of my own with the current administration, the direction of the country, and the increasing intrusion of government into our lives, including the speech tomorrow. At the same time, Christians who have children in public school ought to keep at least four critical thoughts intermingling here.
First, is the President's speech not an opportunity for you to not only give your child the tools of critical analysis as you dissect it, but, is it not also an opportunity for you to train your child to engage with his friends and/or teachers? There will be discussion in the class room about the speech. Opinions will be offered. What better way for your child to really be salt and light than to offer an informed, timely, winsome, biblical response? If you and your children are going to engage the culture, you must be in the culture, not stay home that day.
Second, what do you expect? Is it really a surprise to you that government officials want to have influence over your children? Just today I received a phone message from one of our state senators who is also concerned about the speech from the President and is promising to promote legislation to "protect our schools from becoming propaganda tools." While I do appreciate his sentiment, my first thought was, "You're kidding right?" Is that not what they already are in so many ways? While you as a Christian parent can choose to send your children to a public school for a number of valid reasons, you should not do so with your eyes closed. The worldview being put forth in your child's school is opposed to the worldview given by the Scriptures. This dynamic goes beyond the science class and affects everything that is taught. If God is not the foundation for what your children are taught, then they are getting a view that is opposed to God. Pluralistic indoctrination need not be directly taught, though it is, to set forth a worldview that is unbiblical. There is no such thing as neutral ground. Either the foundation of what is taught assumes the reality of God or denies Him. You need to understand that your child is being indoctrinated into a secular worldview each and every day. That being the case, why does it surprise you the President wants to address your children?
Third, the fact that your child is being taught something contrary to the Scriptures on a regular basis simply magnifies your need to intentionally influence his thinking. You need to teach the Bible to your child on a daily basis and apply it to his heart. It is not just a matter of information but devotion. You want your child to be devoted to Christ. Moreover, you need to engage in worldview dialogue with your little one or teenager constantly. Every message you hear flows from a particular worldview. When the news anchor talks about the "innocent slaughter of trees" you know he is coming from a different worldview than you. That comment provides you with a teaching moment. Talk to your kids and talk to them often about how to look at the world through the lens of Scripture. A review of what they learn at school would be a great place to start.
Fourth, you won't change what the government does by political pressure of any kind. Sure, you will gain some ground here and there but it will be temporary and temporal in effect. In other words, it will pass when the next group gets their way by getting out the vote and the impact you have will be earthly. It will be what you want as opposed to what others want and of little, if any, eternal value since it will be the result of political action and not the result of God doing a work in the hearts of people. You should be engaged in the political arena if God has called you to that. You should have a say as to what goes on in your child's school. But, just remember, the direction of our government and culture is a reflection of the ideas and attitudes that dominate our culture. Only when hearts are changed and the Christian worldview gains ascendency in our culture again will we see real change at any (and every) level of society. Use spiritual weapons (2 Cor. 10:4-5) and faithfully live out the calling God has given you, whatever it is.
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He hosts a live, call-in radio broadcast every M-W-F at 1:00 pm Eastern. You can access archives or join the conversation by logging onto www.callingfortruth.org. You can also sign up for "The Dean's List," a free news and Christian worldview e-letter. Check out his new book, Disciple Like Jesus for Parents. To schedule Dr. Dean to speak, simply e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About Paul Dean
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
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