A few weeks ago it became clear that there were not enough faculty members available to chaperone the senior trip for the graduates of our local Christian school. Since my wife is considered “a party waiting to happen” by our daughter and her peers, she and I were asked to help chaperone the trip. So here we are in Myrtle Beach, SC, enjoying the beach and the time with a really great group of Christian kids. Imagine our surprise, then, when we see that our little school is making national news. For some reason Democrat congresswoman, Katherine Clark, from Massachusetts chose to single-out a small, Christian school in Indiana in a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing with Secretary of Education, Nancy DeVos (details here).
The issue is whether or not the federal government should make grants available to states so that the states can enhance their voucher programs. Vouchers allow parents to direct their tax dollars to follow their children to schools of their choice. State voucher programs greatly expand educational choice for parents by making non-public school options affordable for families that would not ordinarily be able to send their children to private schools. The Trump administration is supportive of trying to expand school choice programs by making federal dollars available for the states to use to supplement their various programs (or to try new ones). At the hearing, Representative Clark mentions Lighthouse Christian Academy (LCA) from Bloomington, IN as an example of a school that upholds the biblical view of sexuality, marriage, and personhood. Since LCA’s mission is to partner with Christian parents to educate their children in a Christ-centered manner, the school reflects its commitment to biblical norms in its admissions policies.
All of this was too much for Rep. Clark, who describes LCA’s standards as “discrimination.” She pushed Secretary DeVos to denounce LCA and to affirm that the Department of Education would “overrule” such policies and force Christian schools to adopt the norms of political correctness in place of the Bible. To her credit, Secretary DeVos pointed out that it is the parents who are most equipped to decide where their children are educated. The Huffington Post, NPR, Slate, CBS, and others weighed-in on the hearing with a healthy dose of scorn for Secretary DeVos.
There are many issues raised by this incident. Let’s leave aside the question of what (if any) is the proper role for the federal government with regard to education, and let’s not discuss the outrageousness of a sitting Congressperson using her power to harass a particular, Christian school. The take-home message from this event is the truth that Christians can run, but they are not going to be able to hide from the cultural forces demanding that all bow before the idol of sexual liberation. First it was Christian businesses such as bakeries, floral shops, and even pizza parlors. Now, it is Christian schools and colleges. Ultimately, it will be churches themselves. It is not enough to have universal access to gay marriage in America; every institution and individual must be forced to positively affirm the new sexual ethic or face the consequences. The heat is going to continue to rise, and we all must be ready for it.
I have no idea how a K-12 school of just 320 students in Indiana was identified by a member of Congress from Massachusetts, but I do know that it was not an accident. God has His good purposes for all that happens. Our school enjoys the blessings of living in a state that has been extremely progressive about promoting parental choice in education. By God’s grace, we have a school that has benefited significantly from our state voucher program. This program has allowed many children from lower socio-economic backgrounds to study in an academically excellent and Christ-centered environment. With great blessing comes great responsibility. This is true for all believers. There is, ultimately, no place to hide. God’s people need to be prepared to stand up and speak the truth in love with great confidence in our Savior, who is the Lord of All. As one of our board members at LCA wrote this morning, “What a blessing today for us to carry the name of Christ!”
Is that how you approach the challenges you face? Jesus Christ was cast out and ostracized by all the fashionable people in His day in order to deliver His people from slavery to fashion and the approval of men. By His grace may we continue to serve Him and others with the confidence that comes from knowing that, although, they may come after our businesses, schools, and churches, they can never separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.