All Perfectly Legal by Douglas Wilson

Many years ago I saw a cartoon that summed up our situation perfectly. A couple of explorers were standing in a huge cauldron, hands tied behind their backs, and cannibals were dancing around the pot, which was in its turn on top of the fire. One of the explorers was saying to the other one, “You know, the way their laws are structured, this is all perfectly legal.”

So this sums up our situation perfectly. Actually it sums up a number of them, but which one did I have in mind?

I was talking about education—government education. We have gotten to the point where virtually anything can be done to Christian kids in the government school system and, you guessed it, it is all “perfectly legal.” Your child can be given contraceptives without parental knowledge. Your child cannot be given a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the school cafeteria, even with parental knowledge. Your children will be taught that life has no transcendental meaning and that God, if He exists, is irrelevant to what is being taught in the classroom. And what is being taught in the classroom routinely includes the pedophilic grooming that we call sex education classes. In short, K-12, a child will be marinated in every form of unbelief.

So the pressing question is this. Why do we put up with this?

If outrages could cause a mass exodus of Christians from the government school system, we all would have been gone many years ago. There has been no shortage of outrages. Some parents have pulled their kids out of the system, but not nearly enough.

The thing we need that will motivate parents to do what they are called to do is simply and solely a Christian view of the Lord Jesus. That is what we are missing. If we learn to confess that Jesus is Lord—which is the fundamental Christian confession—we will discover that this entails His lordship over all things. He is Lord, not only of Heaven, but also earth. He is Lord, not only of the galaxies, but also Lord of math tables, beer barrels, butter tubs, umbrellas, stacks of firewood, roly poly bugs, and anything else that might fit within the entire curriculum.

If we see Jesus rightly, we will see that He has commanded us through His Word, both Old Testament and New, to bring up the children of the covenant within the covenant. Teach the law of God to your children, God says, when you rise up, when you lie down, when you walk along the way (Dt. 6:4-9). This passage on covenant nurture is the same passage in which we are given the very greatest commandment in all Scripture. We are summoned to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our brains (Mark 12:30). This means, simply and solely, that believing children are required to be brought up in an environment dominated and controlled by the Word of God. It manifestly includes their education.

We get the same thing in the New Testament. Paul tells Christian fathers to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). The word rendered nurture there is paideia, and is not a simple common noun. Paul is requiring here the paideia of the Lord, which is to say, he is requiring that Christian children be brought up in a way that enculturates, insinuates, and enfolds them into a Christian civilization. That is what paideia means. The word education might serve as a translation, but the concept is far deeper and far more profound than mere education.

It is worth pointing out that when this command was first given, there was no Christian civilization. Instead of using that as an excuse, our forefathers did the obvious biblical thing, which was to build one. They didn’t have one to initiate their kids into (as Paul had required) so they built one. They became shipbuilders before they became sailors.

We, on the other hand, with tremendous resources around us on every hand, and a long legacy of Christian culture, are neglectful of our responsibilities in this because private Christian education is expensive. We might have to make adjustments.

So our kids are still in the government schools because the devil told us it would be “free.” That’s what the cannibals said too, dancing around the cauldron. No, they said, you don’t have to pay for the meal. You are the meal.

And the way they have it set up, you have no rights, and everything they are going to do is all “perfectly legal.”