Saturday, April 28, 2012

Teaching our children

It is being reported that Dan Savage was invited to speak against bullying at a recent National High School Journalism Conference but instead used his platform to attack the Bible and Christian values.  His verbal assault on Christians and vulgar language caused around 100 students out of the several thousand in attendance to walk out.  As they left Savage continued his attacks and began calling those leaving derogatory names.  The sponsors of the conference later issued a statement offering their regrets about the message Savage gave but offered no apologies to the students or their schools.  Instead, they encouraged the schools to use this as a teachable moment.  To me, it seems that the person who was to speak against bullying in fact used a public forum to ridicule and bully Christian young people, and an organization who should serve to protect students from bullying failed to do so and so far have refused to admit their failure.

Schools across the nation have adopted zero tolerance policies against bullying.  Students have been punished for publishing statements on social networks that were construed as bullying other students.  It has been reported that some schools have even banned students from hugging one another on school property in an effort to stop bullying.  Yet, the sponsor of a major high school conference allowed a speaker to engage in bullying students who hold to Christian beliefs and values.  Did the sound system not have an off switch?  Did no one in charge of this conference have the courage to step up on the stage and inform Mr. Savage that his comments were out of order and his services were not needed?  Or, as it appears more and more to be the case, is it permissable for Christian beliefs to be mocked and those who hold to those beliefs to be ridiculed?  One can't help but wonder what the sponsors would have done if Mr. Savage had attacked one of the Eastern religions instead of Christianity.  At the very least I think it is safe to assume there would have been profuse apologies given immediately instead of saying how this can become a teachable moment for the students.

This is one more example of why it is vitally important that we as Christians take seriously our responsibility to teach our children our beliefs and the doctrines of our faith.  In Dt. 6: 6-8 and throughout the Scriptures we are told that we are to ensure that our children are well-grounded in the teachings we find in the Bible.  In his message to the students Mr. Savage used vulgarities to describe the teachings of the Scriptures, and unfortunately he represents many people our children and grandchildren will encounter in today's society.  Unless they are well-grounded in the teachings of Scripture and are taught to hold the Bible in high esteem, their fragile faith could well be shaken when they encounter those people who detest God and the Bible.

Where are our young people to learn the doctrines of the faith?  It begins in the home.  Some parents think they can drop their children off at church and return an hour later and they've done all they need to do to teach them biblical truth.  There is no way the church can counteract all that young people encounter in a week in only one or two hours on Sunday morning, and, in fact, the church is not given that responsibility in Scripture.  It is the parent's responsibility.  The church is to reinforce and support the teachings the children receive at home, but parents have the primary responsibility to teach their children.

Regardless of the size of one's church, discipleship and biblical instruction must be a major priority.  We need strong Sunday school classes or some type of small group setting where adults can be discipled and taught Scriptural truths.  Unless they are growing as Christian disciples they will be unable to help their children learn and grow.  We need strong classes for our children and youth where they can learn biblical truths and have opportunities to put their learning into practice.  Then, when these children go away to college or enter the workforce, they will be able to defend their faith from those who would challenge it.  I cannot say this strongly enough: it is time to stop playing church games and get serious about giving believers of all ages the spiritual tools they need to stay strong in the faith while living in a culture that is growing more hostile to that faith.

I do agree with the conference sponsors that Mr. Savage's comments at this conference can be a teachable moment. I pray that it teaches our parents and churches the importance of adequately teaching our children and youth the tenets of the Christian faith.  I pray that we not only teach them what we believe but why we believe it, and that we help each of them to make that faith personal for themselves.  I further pray that churches of all sizes will decide that disciple-making is going to become a priority for their churches and that they use whatever resources it requires to do this with excellence.

No comments: