Recently a few friends were talking about their children’s experiences in government schools. They were both pleased and encouraged that their children had Christian teachers in the school who did not shy away from telling the truth about Christianity. I was happy to hear about the Christian teachers and their efforts to teach the truth. We need Christian adults in the schools! However, does having a Christian teacher make government school an acceptable choice for a Christian family? Christian teachers cannot change the curriculum. A Christian teacher has very little control over the government school curriculum. They cannot decide to teach creation instead of evolution, for instance. They may be able to share their personal opinions, but they cannot change the science textbook. Whether it is the politically correct social studies textbooks, the evolution-based science curriculum, or the sex education study materials that tout ungodly alternative lifestyles, the Christian teacher can only fight it so far. The Christian child is still bombarded with a high percentage of falsehood and unbiblical worldviews due to the material he has to study. What would you think of an Olympic gymnast training full-time in a gym with faulty, broken pieces of equipment, simply because the gym has a Christian coach? Yet, in an educational context, that is essentially the practice that the “he has a Christian teacher” argument is defending.

Christian teachers cannot control what other children say and do. As a music teacher, I interact with children routinely. It is frankly appalling the terrible things that children learn about from other children. It used to be that kids could grow up fairly innocent and learn about adult-level things when they were old enough to handle it. Not anymore—and it’s not necessarily because of the official teaching in government schools, but because of what the kids see, hear and experience among their peers. All the Christian teachers in the world cannot control every playground conversation and interaction. I’m not suggesting that Christian children be detrimentally sheltered, but I do suggest that parents, rather than the kids on the playground, should be the ones deciding when and how their children are exposed to certain ideas and behaviors.

Christian teachers are not a biblically-authorized justification for sending your child to be educated by the state. The Bible expressly tells Christians to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4). This is not a suggestion. It is a command. Government schools, whatever other good points or bad points they possess, do not fit the
“nurture and admonition of the Lord” definition of training, due to our country’s frenzy to separate church and state. In fact, in many cases, government schools have been overtly hostile to any kind of Christian activity among the students. While a Christian teacher can be a softening influence on the secular humanism taught in the schools, they are no substitute for teaching that is fully Christ-centered. Again, I applaud the Christians who teach in government schools and think that they can serve a valuable missionary role. However, they cannot single-handedly transform a worldly education system into one that trains a child biblically. Their presence in the school, although welcome, does not automatically authorize Christian parents to send their children to a secular institution for training.

As you prayerfully consider where to send your child to school in the upcoming school year, don’t let the “Christian teacher” argument play a role in your decision. Christian teachers can blunt harmful influences to a certain degree, but they can’t eliminate them. Sometimes the effects are subtle and don’t bear fruit right away, but the harmful influences nonetheless exist and will influence your child. Don’t be lulled into a feeling of complacency that the Christian teacher will miraculously fix the problems of a secular, humanistic, anti-God education system.

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Mike Scruggs