The State Wants all the Children

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:1-3

Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus about an issue Moses had thoroughly covered right before he died – God’s plan for the upbringing of children. God’s plan includes a father and mother who produce children and rear those children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord.” God’s plans for families put heavy responsibilities on the parents. Children are admonished to listen to their parents and to obey them, because the parents will be held accountable by God for teaching their children to know God and to live according to God’s teachings. Moses, Paul, and most parents actually believe that children belong to their parents, and that their parents have the final authority over those children. The laws at every government level in the USA have upheld this model of family.

Two weeks ago there was a considerable uproar when a commentator on television promoted the notion that children belong to the community, not to their parents. When something like this is expressed in actual words, it sounds extraordinarily outrageous, but the fact is that the same thing is being said in many different ways throughout the culture.

For example, the President of the United States of America recently began to advocate mandatory kindergarten for four-year-olds. Four-year-olds. Many parents struggle when it is time to let a five-year-old go to school, wanting to be sure that each child is actually mature enough to benefit from school and enjoy it. Any number of parents have dug in their feet and refused to send a child to school before they thought the child was ready, and many is the parent who, on high school graduation day rejoices that they refused to rush the child. If the President gets his way, however, it may be very difficult to keep a child at home through his fourth year, let alone his fifth. What is the rush? Obviously, the rush is to get the child into a state-controlled environment early in life. Parents who know how teachable a four-year-old is may very well want to do all the teaching themselves rather than make their child available to be taught a secular morality or other ideas in conflict with their own family values.

Further, it can no longer be assumed that if the subject of sex is going to come up at school, the parents will be notified. Recently, a school in the state of New York scheduled a day of anti-bullying training without any notice to parents that the topics covered would include homosexuality. Confronted by angry parents after the fact, the school explained that homosexuals had endured bullying, and the session was intended to teach children not to do that. Few parents would object to a teacher saying, “Please be kind and respectful of everybody.” Many parents could and did object to a teacher asking girls to pretend they were on a lesbian date. Almost every parent would object to discovering that girls were told to ask each other for a lesbian kiss. Many more parents would object to learning that older girls also gave presentations encouraging the girls in the school to experiment with sex and to enjoy it and not to feel embarrassed about it.

The school took the stance that because the session was about bullying, not sex education, it had no obligation to tell parents about the lesson plan. It is very obviously a deliberate strategy to obtain an outcome that the state wanted. By pretending they had no obligation to tell parents what was coming, they deprived the parents of any opportunity to keep their children from being exposed to this behavior.

Unfortunately, parents must simply opt out of public school altogether in order to retain their control over the kind of teaching the Bible says they are to give their children. The Bible says, “Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Encouraging girls to pretend they are on a lesbian date is not included in the “instruction of the Lord.” The schools, read that “the state,” have many ways to undercut what parents teach their children or even how much time parents have to teach anything.

Think about this. Schools are now trying to feed children all their meals. There are schools that actually offer three meals a day, and the meals are available not just to children who might not get food at home. The meals are offered to all, and some parents are falling for it. The child leaves home in time to eat breakfast at school and never comes home again until after eating a third meal. The child need never sit down at the table with the parents to eat a meal. Well, maybe on weekends. In summer there is the Summer Food Service Program. All these programs are advised in government guides to provide both nutrition education and physical education as part of these programs. So your children can learn and will learn to eat what the government wants them to eat and to exercise the way the government wants them to exercise.

Then there is history. Children are taught a version of American history that might shock parents and grandparents. The Pilgrims were not seeking religious liberty. The Founding Fathers had no religious principles, being driven to separate from England by capitalist greed and slave-holding bigotry. Schoolhildren are not taught to honor and respect founders of the USA or the Constitution they wrote. They are taught that the USA has prospered on the backs of poor people around the world rather than as a result of personal liberty, free enterprise, and limited government. God might not have an agenda that parents should control the teaching of history, but he does have an agenda for the truth. He would object to the complete rewriting of history to fit a Marxist worldview.

It is time to ask the question again. If you are a parent, to whom do your children belong? Who is responsible for their character development, their general deportment, their personal integrity, and their outlook on fundamental moral values? Have you handed off that responsibility to the public schools? Or do you still think it is your job to teach your children how to be honorable, mature adults? How will you answer God on the day when he asks you about deeds done in the flesh with regard to the upbringing of your children? What will God say if you respond, “That’s the school’s job.”