I have been reading a lot lately on several blogs about the downward spiral America's teenagers are in. Granted, several other prominent and key leaders have weighed in with their estimation of what the church's real problems are. Only pat answers are given; there is a need for greater discipleship; more authentic Christianity; preach the Gospel more dynamically; eliminate hypocrisy. None of these answers strike at the heart of the matter. None of these answers address the elephant sitting quietly in the corner.
Let's face it. In order for the church to be all Christ wants her to be changes will have to be made at the germinal level. Changes that upset our routines, shake us out of our slumbers, inform our ignorance. Whoever said ignorance is bliss knew what he was talking about. For far too long, there have been articles, books, activists, and prophetic voices screaming for us to look at the elephant. There is a cancer metastisizing thorugh the public school system and avowedly there have to be few that readily admit that there is something wrong with the public school system, problems beyond remedy, problems beyond reformation. Can't we do something about that elephant?
Yet this is what many sympathizers cry out; the public school system is too powerful, the educational professionals cannot be swayed, the intelligentsia know what is better for my child than I do. Do we really not know that the public school systems are factories of ignorance and rotten character? Donald McConnell, aka Trinitarian Don, said in an August post, "As dean of a Christian law school, I am often in the position of interviewing prospective students. I have seen and heard with shock and surprise philosophy majors who cannot tell me what existentialism is, economics majors who do not know what externalities are, and history majors who cannot describe in detail the characteristics of their favorite era in history." Maybe someone sees the elephant.
Just a few days ago a fourteen year old girl was molested by the janitor at Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. Why are things like this not uncommon? If it was an isolated incident and things like this did not make headline news nearly everyday, even I might ignore the elphant. However, some things hit too close to home and even in our quaint community, a girl was molested in the county middle school by a fellow student. A fellow student. The elephant just charged from one side of the room to the other.
So, let's continue to anesthetize our wounds with the delusional beliefs that "our schools are different from those out there," or "my child is salt and light," or "public education is a right." Eventually we will be forced to confront the elephant in the room and try to run him out. If we are forced to face the sobering facts about the public school systems, we nervously shuffle our feet, wring our hands, and slyly change the subject. Why?
Bruce Shortt is a leading proponent of running the elephant out of the room. His latest article in the September 2006 Baptist Banner helps somewhat to clarify the issue.
Are 70% or more of our children leaving church after they graduate high school? The self-deceived Christian responds, "Let's train 10-year-olds to be evangelists so there will be one in every classroom!" Does research clearly establish that fewer than 10% of our teens who claim to be Christians in fact really are? The self-deceived Christian responds, "Let's start after-school Bible clubs!" Are our children successfully being indoctrinated with the view that homosexuality and promiscuity are acceptable behavior that can be pursued safely if you take the right precautions? The self-deceived Christian responds, "Let's fight to get abstinence included in the curriculum!" Do a majority of Christian teens believe that Jesus was a sinner? The self-deceived Christian responds, "Let's get a 'Bible as literature' course included in the high school curriculum!" None of this is new.Do we continue to ask the wrong questions, seek the wrong answers? Do we continue to rub ointment on an open, festering wound?
2 Corinthians 6:14 , a drastically misapplied verse, says, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?" But is this not exactly what we do when we trot our kids off to public schools? Is this not what we do when we entrust our children's education and character formation to the state? Can somebody do something about that elephant?