Either / Or

It can be really frustrating living in the Bible Belt. There is no shortage of churches; there’s practically one on every street corner. Just not one you would want to attend– that is, if you’re looking for balanced Christianity. It seems it’s always a choice of either/or. You can have a very conservative church that believes in the power of the Holy Spirit, evangelism, personal relationship with Christ, and the inerrancy and literal interpretation of Scripture; or a very liberal church that cares for the poor, stands for justice and peace, encourages thought but has also become unmoored from the Bible.  Seems as Christians we either hate the world so much we build high walls to keep it out, or we love it so much that we become too much like it. Jesus loved the world so much he laid down his life for it. For God so loved the world…  He also called his disciples to be in the world but not of the world. Do not love the world or the things in the world…

Searching for a church to attend has been discouraging enough. Now we are looking for a new school for our daughter.  Again it’s a choice of either/or. You can have a secular school that is very strong academically but offers no spiritual nurture, or a Christian school that teaches God’s Word but little else. Frankly, I don’t want my child taught that science is of the devil and evolution a lie, that the earth is only six thousand years old and cavemen rode on the backs of dinosaurs.

Yes, spiritual nurture is primarily the responsibility of parents, but in the absence of a strong children’s program at the church we attend, our daughter needs at least a few Christian friends. She currently attends a secular school with a high academic rating. She is developing beautifully from an intellectual standpoint. Yet the schoolmates who are influencing her now are not Christian, and she is bringing home behaviors that do not belong in our home. Of course, there is always homeschooling, but neither my wife nor I feel qualified to teach pre-K.

So it comes down to this:  Do I want to expand my child’s mind or her spirit? What kind of beschissen choice is that? I want to teach her to be a thinking Christian. In the end it will probably be easier to help her to develop a biblical Weltbild at home, rather than having to undo much of what she would be taught in a fundamentalist Christian environment.

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4 responses to “Either / Or

  1. I went to public schools my whole life. I got the moral teachings at home and at my church. In fact, if anything, I am probably better off for it since I learned how to balance and interact the two – though I certainly struggled at times (I didn’t know that God was pro-evolution for a long time, for instance, so had a crisis of faith for a while).

    Of course, one size never fits all. I trust you guys will figure it out.

  2. Peter

    We also chose to send our kids to secular school (broader education than possible from us) and to progressively inoculate them against the World. Un-teaching false Christianity and hypocrisy (and getting a weak education) is loose-loose.

    The needless hostility of right-wing Christianity to education pains me.

  3. I can so relate! Just this week we also started (again) exploring schooling options. Our 12 year old daughter is at a school that leans way to the right. Its not unusual for teachers to express their political views, beliefs about evolution and creation and such. My daughter has come home saying that Mrs. So and So said (in so many words) that if you believe in such things as global warming you can’t be a Christian. Horrific. Just this week I wrote a letter to the administration letting them know that we are looking at other options, and why. I suggested that it would be so much more helpful if the school/ teachers could focus on the things upon which most Christians agree (Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, etc) and recognize that on many other issues that there are varying thought and opinions by well intentioned Christians on both sides. I know that is harder said than done, but its at least a hope that my children could attend a Christian school that allows for diversity in the non-essentials of the faith. It is so hard. And, as you said, the same difficulty goes with finding a church…. we’ve been in that boat for quite a while as well. Nice to always know that there are others who face and find their way through these same issues and struggles.

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