Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wake up, Parents! It's you who rear your children, not a school.

Over the past two years I've wondered "what's the point of a Christian School."  Over the past 5 months, I've realized that it might not make one bit of difference in my child's life to send them to a Christian school in the high school years if I'm only considering the student body.  Elementary years, I strongly believe in Christian education if that's what you're supposed to do with your family (I also advocate for public or home schooling...whatever's best for your child).  I grew up attending a Christian school minus kindergarten and 8th grade when I attended public school, and I believe that I was shaped positively by the experience.

But, if I'm honest, I was shaped "positively" in order to now be intolerant of judgmental legalism which is technically the environment of the Christian school where I grew up.  I cannot really credit my absence of partying or lack of teenage sexual activity to the school's influence; my mom can have the credit for that.  She was my "holy spirit" for years.  

I attended preschool, 1st-7th grades, and 9th-10th grades at the Christian school that seems to have harmed more students than it helped, to hear them speak now, and there are definitely negative things that happened at this school for me.  The negative aspects of the school I attended most of my years just built character within me, and it's true that mostly I learned how "not to be" there...but I have to admit that I was shaped positively there because the experience of being there ignited a fire within me to change and NOT be like the pretenders I witnessed at that school.  (The Christian school I attended my junior and senior years does not fall into this category because it truly allowed for denominations and individual personalities to attend and judgement wasn't part of the scenario of education there, at least as far as I saw.)  All Christian schools are not equal or even alike.

We're all influenced by our environments whether good or not so good, but it's the people more than an environment who make us who we are.  I have lifelong friends from every place I attended school, and often getting through hard times bond people closer than just hanging out and having fun in good times.

So, perhaps, I should focus not on the school my kids attend but on the quality of job that I'm doing as a parent.  The school can shape, but the parents are the ones given the charge to rear the child.

I realize that this blog has thus far been random, conscious thoughts thrown out there, but let me try to tie it all together...

The Christian school experience I received in my formative years is NOT the Christian school experience my kids receive today.  It used to be that the peer pressure was toward doing the right thing or at least pretending that you wanted to do the right thing, but the tide has shifted away from legalistic rules (which is a good thing) toward a type of grace that goes too far in the other direction. I still want the middle ground between those two extremes where students receive grace when they recognize the wrongdoing and truly turn from it AND where students are held accountable for their actions to an appropriate level.  I feel like Christian schools used to be a place where students who were Christians in faith received an education where Bible class and prayer were included and appreciated. kids have a teacher who curses in class, a Bible teacher who's so prideful that he or she puts down other teachers and students with differing minor denominational differences, fellow students who're on birth control while their parents outspokenly pretend the same child they took to get the pills is saving themselves for marriage, and a colorful spectrum of four letter words being spoken in the hallways, on ballfields, at lockers, and practically everywhere.  What's the point of the Christian school?  Any public school could give my child this same environment, except the students on birth control would actually be honest and not hypocritical, and the Bible teacher wouldn't have a job...but, in my opinion, he or she does more harm than good for the cause of Christ anyway.  So, I guess I might be pondering the idea that a Christian school for a Christian kid is not a better environment than a public school...I just hope it's not a worse environment.  I'm still on the fence after this year.

My children have attended both, public and Christian schools.  At the Christian school my teen girl hasn't been approached by a group of guys grabbing their crotches and asking her if she wants a sample (yes, that happened her freshman year at public school)....but, at the public school, my child was never faced with seeing terrible behavior repetitively swept under the rug by parents because the child was underage when they offended...seems like the punishment needs to fit the crime at some point, especially if the bad, definitely unchristian behaviors happen over and over and over again.  Whoops, did my "judgmental" attitude just come out?  Sorry...   

It just seems like the same old story of "Christians" frantically trying to hide sin or trying to escape natural consequences for their actions.  Getting off easy in this lifetime doesn't carry over into the next, especially if there's no sorrow or broken spirit over the wrong-doing.  

I'm so tired of Christianity being a word that means hypocrites or haters....or pretenders.  I'm a Christian, and what it means to me is that I want a daily relationship with God.  This relationship is possible in this broken world through His Son, and believing in Him restores the relationship so that mankind can commune with their creator.  That's it, plain and simple.  The Bible is not intended to be a "sword" to impale other people's purpose is to help us resist and combat "the dark side" of our own selves and resist a life that isn't God's design for us which is any life without God's love pouring out of us.

Christianity is not...

1.  putting on a good show by following a bunch of rules that may or may not be in the Bible. Serious on this one guys...that 2/4 rock beat did not ever entice me to have premarital sex like the term "rock and roll" suggests it will, and listening to Wayne Watson did not lead me down a path to listen to Megadeath.

2.  proving to others and God that you can deny yourself so much that the actual denying becomes the focus instead of the loving.  Too many people miss their whole lives because they're fixated on avoiding movie theaters so that someone else won't think it's okay to see a porno...the false teaching has led people to focus on other's lives and ignore our own.

3.  pretending to have a Godly life but not being authentic when you're all alone with your own thoughts.  You've heard it...the true you comes out when no one is watching.

4.  talking about how God's in control of your life that you forget to actually live like it.  If you truly believe, God knows if He's not leading your's not like you can actually fool Him.

5.  putting others down because they aren't following the "rules" as closely as you.  Usually, if you're looking at the speck of fault in my've got a huge thorn tree growing on your head.

6.  praying words into the air for others to hear and never letting the words penetrate your heart where God resides.  How many times have you said "Praise the Lord" but you never actually did or "I'll pray for you" but just say words and actual actions are foreign to you.

7.  sending your kids to a Christian school for a better environment or to get them straightened out.  This is the classic.  The place won't change your kid...parents have the biggest influence on kids.  

8.  letting a Christian school do a parents' job...there is no substitute for a parent guiding their child toward God.  Leading the way for them will do so much more than putting them in a Christian school and feeling the freedom to wipe your hands of their spiritual education.

9.  living differently in any way than you let others perceive your life, you have to be authentic or you're just faking.  Better to be yourself, always.  God knows who you are anyway, and in my experience, He's much more important than people who want me to impress them.

10.  saying you're a Christian but never sticking up for injustice...there are no such things as innocent bystanders.  My pet peeve is hearing someone say, "but I didn't do anything" when they stood by and watched or looked the other way.  If you could do something to stop it or at least speak up for wrong-doing and don't...YOU ARE GUILTY too!  This argument really gets me mad enough to want to punch the self-righteousness right out of you.  (oops, did I write that out loud?)

11.  thinking you're okay with God because you didn't actually do a crime yourself.  God commands Christians to stand up for people who are too weak to stand up for themselves like orphans and widows, and anyone else who's in a situation where they need help...again, if you know about it and don't stop it, you're guilty too.

12.  living life and never having an urge to read the Bible.   That would be like saying I want to dye my hair and never reading the directions of which chemicals to mix or having an engine light on and ignoring it and never looking in the owner's manual to see how to fix the car.  If you never want to read the Bible, there's a reason, and it's that you don't know the One who inspired the Book in the first place. 

13.  living with a lack of respect for God's creation: His world which includes animal life...which includes human life!!!!  Use animals for food and other useful things, but don't cut off animal fins and let them drown in the ocean for sport.  Don't tease people...don't haze people...don't talk about people.  If the person you're saying or doing something to doesn't want it to happen, DON'T DO's simple, folks. 

14.  your parents' child gets to see God just because mom or dad was a Christian...the faith is personal.  In case you didn't know, personal means that it's on you...

15.  surrounding yourself with others who claim to be Christians.  An apple in the citrus bowl doesn't become orange juice when it's squeezed.

16.  saying you're a Christian when nothing about your life sets you apart from the rest of the human race.  Just stop claiming to be a Christian,'re making the authentic Christians look bad, stupid, hateful, and hypocritical.

Christian schools?  Just pray about it, but know that the statistics for almost everything in this world is the same in or out of a "christian" world: divorce, rape, incest, battered wives, abuse, etc.  I still think the place of education is a personal choice, but I really no longer see a Christian school as a definitively better choice than an education at other institutions.  I'm sad that the Christian school I see doesn't look much different across the student body as other schools, sure...the staff could be different, but not enough to make the impact that parents should be making.  Besides, teachers spend their time on academics, as it should be.   I'm including myself in that because I used to teach at a Christian school.  The high school student body statistically isn't different in private or public schools is my point.

PARENTS WAKE UP...We are LOSING OUR KIDS.  That's on our SHOULDERS, not some school.  YOU STILL HAVE INFLUENCE as long as the kids live with you in your home.  Your job is not to be a BEST BUDDY...PARENTING is more than BRINGING A CUTE BABY INTO THE's EVERYDAY, it's GOOD AND BAD, it's usually HARD WORK, and it's SOMETIMES UGLY TO WATCH.  We cannot give up on this generation!  If you're saying "not my kid," then look again...I said that too and was wrong, and unless we're daily's everyone's kid that strays.

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