Christian College Kids

My husband links to this, and I am going to follow his good example for any Christian parents of (present or future) college students. We’ve known this for a long time, but it is now becoming more and more obvious. As long as we enroll our children in schools the secularists run, we can’t be surprised when our children learn their lessons. Of course this is true of Christian kids in elementary, junior-high, or high-school who attend the government schools. But it’s also true in the secularist colleges as well.

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10 thoughts on “Christian College Kids

  1. When do we stop, though? Why stop with education? Should we also refuse to work for secularist employers? Is this an area where there’s room for discernment: Kid A is solid enough to handle enrolling in Secular U, whereas it might not be such a hot idea for Kid B?

  2. I don’t know if anyone else experienced this, but when I linked through Femina our system got attacked. Norton squashed it, but it said it came from this post. I’m using our trusty Linux computer to write this. I used ye ole standard Windows and Explorer when I first linked.

    Anyways, the article echoed what we figured the left was doing. A few years ago there was a Doonesbury in which a couple was up late at night worried about all us conservatives breeding . . .

  3. “They’re mine”? That’s a disturbing, if not a surprising, quote.

    Valerie, I don’t have any college-age kids yet, but I am a former college student myself—as well as the wife of a college professor and the daughter of the president of New Saint Andrews College—so I’m going to go out on a limb here and try to answer at least part of your question.

    First, we should (obviously) never stop considering the company we keep, whether it’s at a job or at school. Bad company corrupts good morals—which assumes that good morals had to be there in the first place in order for them to be corrupted. A 9-5 job surrounded by God haters should normally be a last resort, even if the pay (or the scholarship money) is fabulous. And college is for most students more of a total-immersion experience than any 9-5 job will ever be, particularly if that college is far from home.

    Your college choice will likely determine not only what you learn in class, but also a number of extracurricular situations—where you will live, what your selection of friends will be (including your pool of potential suitors), and where and what you will eat, to name a just a few. It will also shape your sleeping habits, social habits, study habits, and so on.

    Over the course of four years, the effect can be something like bringing the proverbial frog to a slow boil; your college kid may never notice he’s being cooked alive. He may not become an outspoken convert to atheistic Marxism, but the steadily increasing heat provided by god-hating professors, classmates, friends, roommates, lab partners, coaches, teammates, librarians, baristas, and counselors will not be without effect.

    I wonder whether any Christian parent should even consider a college that demands the question, “Is my child strong enough to handle the anti-Christian onslaught he will encounter here?” Even if the answer is yes, the better question might be, “Will my child come away from here with a richer understanding of God and His world, and a greater love for the true, the good, and the beautiful?”

    If all we’re talking about is vocational-technical training in small engine repair, then the kid might come through the program without permanent damage. But if we’re actually talking about education then the expectation should be that the student will become like his teacher (Luke 6:40)—not that he should be prepared enough to escape becoming like his teacher.

    The NSA catalog says this:”…what is taught can never be separated from who teaches it and how it is taught. Biblically, education is always a personal, communal and covenantal act of spiritual nurturing.” And this, I believe, is true whether the education is Christian or secular.

    Not that I’m trying to recruit new students or anything. 😉

  4. As someone who is a missionary to college students, I WILL say that 1) I went to a secular school and found better Christian community than my friends who went to christian colleges 2) These secular universities do need Christians influencing the environment and reaching the lost. By the time kids are in college, many of them are equipped enough to sort out lies from truth. college is a PERTINENT time when people are searching for what they believe-if we remove all Christians from their influence, who will reach them?! Yes, I am a missionary to college students, but as one I can say that STUDENTS are more influential in reaching thier fellow students than some 29 year old missionary.

  5. I really wasn’t too surprised when I read the article that Nancy linked. My husband and I both have close acquaintances that are Christians (most of them coming from Christian families) that have attended/are attending secular universities. Sadly, I can’t say that I’ve seen a single one graduate/come home for the summer unscathed. Even the ones that didn’t end up dropping their faith completely, spout ideas that they would never have dreamed of thinking before they enrolled and have become more “tolerant” than any Christian should be.

    I understand that some young adults out there might have a firm enough foundation to be lights in such dark places. But, is that why they’re going on to “higher education” in the first place? Isn’t it to get an education that will equip them with an accurate understanding of the world that God made? Do we really want pagans teaching our children about these things? Especially pagans whose intent is to lead them astray? I just don’t think that it is wise to place our children into secular universities that hate God, are proud of it, and are more likely (from what I have witnessed) to influence them.

  6. Hannah, your comments are along the lines of where I’ve been thinking since I posted my question: The express purpose of education is to mold thinking, whereas a workplace typically is not. I think the question was prompted in part by the fact that I’m in a workplace that does persistently aim to mold thinking.

  7. April,

    I attended my first two years of college at a Christian school (not NSA, I might add) and my last two at a secular university, and I don’t doubt your first point. The only time I’ve ever had to call the police was to report the dangerous and illegal activities of a roommate at the Christian college, while I’ve known extremely dedicated and upstanding groups of Christians enrolled at the state university. Nevertheless, neither instance was consistent with the overall cultural and moral aims of the respective institutions.

    I also, of course, agree wholeheartedly with your second point. Christians need to reach the lost, and college can be an ideal time for evangelical outreach. I would never argue that Christians should remain forever in a sealed bubble.

    However, the question remains, what exactly is the point of a college education? Are we sending our sons and daughters off to educate or to be educated? Realistically, who will be doing the teaching, and who is going to be taught?

    It’s quite possible, with adequate preparation, the help of Christian friends and roommates, a solid church, and input from godly parents, to get a degree from a secular school without contracting the moral sickness infecting the institution at large. (And some state schools are, of course, less infectious than others.) But I’ve also seen first-hand that smart, moral, church-going, Christian kids can very gradually and subtly let down their guard under the constant onslaught of a morally bankrupt college experience. Behaviors that would once have been shocking no longer seem like a big deal after four years of seeing repeat performances.

    If we’re sending Christian teenagers out as sheep among wolves, we can’t pretend that we’re really sending them out as sheep unto shepherds. Even if they meet plenty of other friendly sheep there, they need to be absolutely on their guard, knowing that they are surrounded by those who would rather devour than feed them. And I’d hardly call it a “successful education” if those sheep manage to survive four years in the wolf-infested wilderness but come home on the verge of spiritual starvation.

    If Christian students were really as bold as they ought to be in standing up for the faith, it’s likely that many would never graduate; they’d never be able, in good conscience, to meet the requirements of their Intro to Feminist Social Theory class.

    I’m all for mission work on secular college campuses, while at the same time, I think we need to be clear about what we’re doing. Christ came as a physician to the sick; he did not come to breathe their infected air and to contract the same diseases. Reaching the lost at the local state U shouldn’t necessarily require spending hours a day sitting at the feet of their pagan priests of higher learning and diligently taking notes.

    I’m also in favor of sending missionaries to unreached tribes in the jungle. But I don’t think that should mean sending 18-year-olds into the jungle for an apprenticeship with the local shamans and witch doctors simply in the hope of being a good Christian witness while we’re at it. A missionary should be there to teach the unregenerate. Not the other way around.

    In other words, I think that Christians need to be far more clear about their goals in pursuing higher education. While the two may not be mutually exclusive, we need to know which will be our primary pursuit during those years: to preach the truth or to learn it?

  8. This is a very good and timely discussion. May I jump in with some thoughts and questions?

    Hannah, I agree with you completely. I have discussed these same issues with your mother and father. I myself went to a secular state university, doing physics no less, so I know first hand about the onslaught of the atheistic or agnostic secular scientists. I received their theories and their opinions. Sometimes my mouth would drop at their unabashed Darwinian remarks. I never lost my faith, I could never stop believing in God and all their theories seemed pure silliness to me. So in that regard I was untouched, and in a few classes I was even bold enough to speak up and argue with some of my professors. Now this could very well be due to the fact that I continued to live at home and go to church during this entire time. (Any thoughts on whether living at home or away makes a huge difference?)

    However, there were other areas where it hit me hard. It was hard to find good Christian friends, and so most of my friends were non-Christians. My husband, on the other hand, was raised Lutheran but walked away from God and was a self confessed agnostic when I met him. He is a physicist, after undergrad he went to graduate school to be immersed even deeper in that culture. I married him anyway. So you see, the worldly culture on campus still affected me. Of course my husband now is a committed and strong Christian. It took someone like R.C. Sproul Sr. to really get through to him, and bring him back to a robust understanding of who God is, who man is, and what God requires of man.

    I recounted that story as a way to refute people who continue to claim that they come out unscathed.

    But real life is messy and complicated. We have this beautiful Biblically based principle but how does it play out? I have some real life questions to throw out:

    Our oldest is a girl. And as much as I’m on fire for NSA she seems to show no interest. There are only two “Christian” colleges here in Arizona. We wouldn’t dream of sending her to either one. There are some affordable Christian colleges in Southern California which is where her father lives but we want her with us because of the home environment. We also would like to see her in a position where she can meet some strong Christian suitors. Do you see the conundrum we’re in.

    This piece is timely indeed as we are at this moment struggling with this question. As Pastor Wilson is fond of saying, we cannot use our principles in a wooden way. Life can be complicated, so how does one apply this principle in this situation?

    I’m asking in order to delve deeper into this subject not because I necessarily want you to just tell me what to do. :-) My goal here is to discuss how we as parents are supposed to live these things out.

  9. I really appreciate this discussion. I think your college/university system is different than ours (in Australia). Am I right in thinking that you first get a general degree and then go on to specialise? So, for example, to become a doctor, you might first get a science degree and then go on to study medicine? I ask this because here you would just enrole into medicine/law/engineering/whatever and do the requisite years for that course. So my son did a four year Geomatics (surveying) degree in the Engineering Department at the State University. (I believe that some universities are looking at the U.S. model – more money in that system, it seems.) So, all that to ask – what if there are no Christian universities that offer the course you need to get the qualification you are after? Would it then be better to choose another vocation?

  10. Ellen, you are right that here we spend four years getting a “general” degree (something like a branch of science, or a modern language, or English) before going to graduate school (frequently at a different institution, but not always if it is a large university) for something more specialized (such as medicine, law, a more specialized scientific field, or preparation for teaching on the university level.) A minority of students pursue what we call advanced degrees — they are generally not needed for the entry levels of teaching, nursing, working in business, engineering and so forth.

    To answer your question, as far as I know, there are Christian colleges and universities that offer four year degrees (generally known as a bachelor’s degree) in every field of study you would need to pursue further education elsewhere. There might be some very specialized fields that some schools offer that no Christian institutions do, but you could probably be accepted into a graduate school taking a more general degree in the same area (e.g., if you wanted to study linguistics there are relatively few schools that offer that as a bachelor’s, but you could get into most higher level linguistics programs with a degree in a modern language, or in anthropology or something like that, which are more widely available.)

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