Last week the Obama administration handed down from on high a transgender bathroom decree directing schools to allow transgendered students unrestrained access to restrooms (and locker rooms) of their choice. Last night the Omaha school board voted to approve a sweeping new sex education curriculum that adds gender identity, abortion, and emergency contraception to the list of topics students will learn about. In my opinion, these mandates place a crucial fork-in-the-road before Christian parents, Christian administrators, and Christian teachers.
Broadly speaking, education is a place where Christians have freedom of conscience. Parents are responsible before God to fulfill their God-given duty of training up a child in the way that he should go, and the Bible leaves them free to choose from various means of education. I’m thankful that within Coram Deo Church, we have families pursuing public school, private school, and homeschool options. We also have members who are educators and administrators in schools throughout the city.
However, the massive falsehoods being forced upon us in the area of human sexuality require us to ask some hard questions and to engage in some important debates about education. And that’s easier said than done. Education is an issue that many people have deep convictions about, and emotions run high. But because of the dramatic importance of the spiritual and moral formation of the next generation, I think it’s a conversation we need to wade into as graciously and courageously as possible. I have three questions I wish to put before my readers.
First, for Christian teachers and administrators: how will you steward your influence at this moment in history? If you’re a Christian teacher or administrator in the public school system, I know that mission is a driving motivation for you. You work against the grain in a system committed to secularism because you know the value of Christians serving in hard places, and you want to be “salt and light” as Jesus taught. My question is: will you see this moment as a chance for a different sort of mission? Will you see this as your Esther moment, your Daniel moment, your Moses moment? Will you use the platform, influence, and position God has given you to stand up against this dramatic, immoral, ungodly government overreach?
Second, for Christian parents who currently send their children to public schools: what is your tipping point? This is a question very helpfully posed by Andrew T Walker in an online editorial posted on May 13. Walker writes:
What actions taken by your local school will be sufficient for you to re-evaluate public education? Is having a teacher reprimand your child for his or her belief about marriage, sex, and gender acceptable? Will you allow them to be in schools where bathroom policies are based on gender identity rather than biological sex? Are you uncomfortable with a biological male having access to the restroom and locker room that your daughter uses? Not establishing a tipping point could leave your child over-exposed to environments they shouldn’t be in. Not thinking about a tipping point is irresponsible and will communicate carelessness about a child’s education and Christian formation. It is advisable that spouses have a candid conversation and establish a line in the sand.
Third, for all Christian parents: are you practicing wise financial stewardship? Christian families need to maintain freedom to change schools if necessary. As Andrew Walker points out, there may come a “tipping point” where Christians cannot in good conscience continue to send their children to local schools (and discerning that tipping point will be specific to family and school district). I fear that for many Christian parents, financial pragmatism is a driving force in educational decisions. “Well,” the logic goes, “I could spend thousands of dollars to send my kids to a Christian school, or I could send them to the local public school for free. In light of the financial strains I already have, I’ll send them to public school.” I understand the thinking. We all have limited financial resources, and private education isn’t cheap. But the education of our children is more important than the neighborhood we live in, the car we drive, and the retirement savings we accrue. Every Christian family needs to create the financial margin to make a different schooling decision if (or when) it comes to that. I have seen Christian parents skimp and save to buy a new house. I have seen Christian men start companies or switch industries to increase their earning potential. I have seen Christian moms start home-based businesses to provide additional income so they can stay home with their kids. Whatever solution you brainstorm… now, not later, is the time to figure it out. Kill debt. Increase earning. Trim expenses. Get yourself in a place of financial freedom so that your schooling decision can truly be a decision rather than a default.
Finally, for any jaded cynic out there who thinks this bathroom decree is “no big deal:” check your spiritual pulse. Maleness and femaleness are foundational to the image of God in humanity. Willful disregard of sex and gender distinctions is a massive offense against God and good sense. And a civilization that willingly misleads and confuses its children on these matters is committing cultural suicide (if you doubt that, check out this video of college students unable to explain the difference between male and female). Christian mission in these new dark ages will require a moral conviction and clarity that many of us seem reticent to display. May God awaken us from our moral slumber.