Challenges Christian Parents Are Facing in Education

In the 1970s and ’80s, I went to public schools from kindergarten through my first year of college. . . . It wasn’t a Christian environment by any means, but it was a decent education. There were leftist teachers, but there were also
conservatives. Ideology did not dominate the curriculum.

Those with similar experiences tend to begin with a basic trust in the public education system. Parents assume their children will receive roughly the same education they did, albeit with the added complications of technology and social media. If that isn’t enough reason to send your children to public schools, finances usually seal the deal. Why should parents spend large sums of money on a private or Christian school when their children will receive a good
education for free, in addition to access to all of the extracurricular programs such as sports, music, and drama? It’s simply not affordable, the thinking goes.

That equation is wrongly formed. Today, generally speaking, Christian parents cannot afford to send their children to “free” public school. The cost is that child’s mind (and body). Most schools have become indoctrination centers devoted to the sexual revolution and the implementation of Marxist ideals. The vision of Freud has come to pass. In his book The Future of an Illusion, Freud saw two particular problems in the education of children: the failure to help children develop sexually and the inculcation of religion. Broadly speaking, public schools in America today have understood the assignment: children from the very earliest levels are taught to affirm all things LGBTQ (and question their own identity), while the Christian faith is banned from the conversation.

What Students Are (Really) Learning

One evening, I was walking out of a classroom where I had just finished teaching a catechism class at church. We have a parochial school at my church, but these students attended public school. One student was aghast as I unconsciously tossed an empty aluminum can into a trash can. “Pastor! You didn’t recycle!” I’m not against recycling, by any means. But what struck me here was the stridency with which the child condemned the sin against the commandment “Thou shalt recycle,” while utterly failing to learn the assigned memory work from God’s Ten Commandments. The lesson was clear in an instant: the real catechism lessons (through no personal fault, although the parents bear the responsibility) were taught in the public school, while what I was teaching was merely the means to attain the familial expectation of the Rite of Confirmation. The commandments to recycle, reduce the carbon footprint, embrace socialism, and accept the LGBTQ revolution had already been learned by heart, while God’s commandments were optional. The child was quite nice, to be sure, but dropped out of church a few years after confirmation. The years of cultural catechesis took their toll: the parents divorced and the children drifted. I bet, however, they still recycle.

I write this not to condemn them per se. I bear much of the responsibility. I should have rebuked the parents earlier but found it easier to simply go along. In the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, where the price of real estate is astronomical, the temptation is to buy a big house far out in the distant exurbs. This means a long drive (in some cases more than an hour) to get to church. Attending a Christian school is impractical. These parents trade a serious Christian upbringing for a comfortable, luxurious dwelling at a lower cost. It seems like a lifestyle choice, but only later, after seeing the effects, did I fully realize it is sin.

The Need for Lutheran Education

What was necessary several decades ago is critical now: live near your church and send your children to a Christian school or homeschool them. It may require sacrifice—significant financial and lifestyle sacrifice. You may need to live in a smaller home, take a more modest vacation, or cancel your streaming services with their monthly bills (you should probably cancel them anyway, as
they likely fund degeneracy and are destroying your mind). Whatever sacrifice you are making is nothing compared to the loss of your children’s faith. What shall it profit a man if he gains a large new home and forfeits his children’s souls?

A father whose children abandoned Christianity in college once said, “I don’t know what more I could have done. I took them to confirmation class.” A one-hour class during seventh and eighth grades will never overcome the everyday stream of indoctrination during thirteen years of the K–12 environment. And then, like a successful big-league closer in the ninth inning, the “higher education” curriculum, steeped in cultural Marxism, takes the mound to
seal the deal on total indoctrination.

Watch Out for Social Agendas

Critical Race Theory (and other Critical Theories) advocates have focused much of their energy on the transformation of education in America. Issues like test-taking, discipline in classrooms, history and social curricula, and grading are all affected by CRT advocates within the educational systems, from kindergarten to graduate schools at once-elite universities. For example, the classicist Victor Davis Hanson documents how even some classics programs at top graduate schools have ceased traditional studies, focusing instead on subjects such as transgenderism in Homer’s Odyssey.

Many university programs, particularly in the field of pedagogy, focus on creating activist teachers. Thus, even at the kindergarten level in your local public school, it’s very possible your child’s teacher has an agenda outside of the formation of early reading and math skills: that of indoctrinating your child in queer theory, anti-Christian morality, and racial divisiveness under the cloak of anti-racism, generally with the support of the administration and school board. Children deserve to be in an environment that respects all people and emphasizes learning the foundational disciplines. Do everything you can to create this kind of environment in your local Christian school. Choosing a school is the most important parenting decision parents make. It is important to choose one that does not undo all your child learns in the Sunday or midweek teaching program of your church.

This blog post is adapted from (Dis)Ordered: Lies about Human Nature and the Truth That Sets Us Free, © 2023 Christopher S. Esget, published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

disordered-3dExplore contemporary challenges to the biblical worldview in (Dis)Ordered: Lies about Human Nature and the Truth That Sets Us Free.

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Picture of Rev. Christopher S. Esget
Rev. Christopher S. Esget is senior pastor of Immanuel Evangelical- Lutheran Church in Alexandria, Virginia, where he has served since 2001. He previously served Bethel Lutheran Church in DuQuoin, Illinois. He and his wife, Kassie, have one son. Esget is the Fifth Vice President of the LCMS (representing the East-Southeast Region). He holds a bachelor's degree in music from Berklee College, Boston, and master of divinity and master of sacred theology degrees from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. He enjoys playing classical and jazz piano.

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