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* PRESERVING INNOCENCE(Adapted from the Newsletter of Grace Lutheran Church, Sleepy Eye, Minn. Paul Fleischer is pastor.)

I read an article recently called “Preserving Innocence.” The article addressed the fact that our children are increasingly exposed to the ways of the world. It described our day as “an age when anything goes.”

With the ever-increasing breakdown of traditional standards and mores, with many television shows, videos, and movies pushing those standards and limits ever farther to the non-Christian and anti-Christian left, what can a concerned Christian parent do? While some might argue that we can’t–and shouldn’t even try–to shield our children from ungodly and worldly influences since they need to learn what the “real world” is like to live wisely in it, some among us are more inclined to be in sympathy with this quote from the above-named article:

“How do you protect your children ‘from influences that would defeat and interfere with your goals to make their lives more God-centered?’ (One parent answers:) ‘Isolation . . . We are careful about their friends. . . . We control what they see on videos. . . . I don’t want to keep my children culturally illiterate or defenseless in the world. . . . Of course, when they get older they will confront circumstances beyond my control. But now I want their experiences to be clean and focused on what’s good for them. I want them to experience innocence and purity.'”

What is there being expressed is part of what we call “Christian education.” Christian education involves the formal imparting of God’s Word of truth through catechism/Sunday School lessons as well as through Bible study, Bible reading and devotions. That’s the “positive” side. But there also is what might be called a “negative” side: shielding and sheltering our children from the flood of worldly and ungodly influences all around them and us.

Christian parenting involves both the positive and negative. For Christ’s disciples to be a “light in” and a “salt to” the world, they are not to become hermits and withdraw from it. But this doesn’t mean either that our children need to learn and/or know everything they can about what it means to be “of the world” while living in it.

In other words, conscientious parents know that raising God-fearing children will involve a certain amount of ‘isolation.’ Parents who homeschool (such as the parent quoted above) or who send their children to a private Christian school have this ‘isolation’ factor going for them. On the other hand, Christian parents whose children attend public schools have their work cut out for them. Their children lack the built-in isolation factor that comes with formal Christian schooling. Such parents must work extra hard to guard their children against daily exposure to humanistic (God-less) influences in conflict with their and their children’s faith.

Here is more from the article mentioned above:

“The Bible admonishes us to be careful and diligent in the raising of our children. God also admonishes us to dwell on what is holy and pure. Combine the admonitions, and we have a biblical mandate for raising our children. Our No. 1 goal is to bring our children to saving faith in Christ. If we fail in that, we have failed in the only matter that matters. We are to deflect doggedly anything that would interfere, be it friendships or classes in current events. . . .”

In an age with anything goes, God strengthen and help our parents to do the very best they can to keep their children shielded and sheltered from the world.

* MORE ON “SHELTERING” CHILDREN (from a 1982 CLC Convention Essay):

. . . In connection with our promoting Christian schools, if we are accused of failing to prepare our children for this world, we are similarly charged with ‘sheltering’ them from it. On this subject, Paul Harvey is quoted as making the following observation:

“Years ago it was argued that students maturing in a sheltered environment would, like hothouse plants, be unprepared for the cold outside world. Now more than ever more Americans are eventually realizing that it is in fact the public or state school student who is ‘over-protected.’ He is ‘sheltered’ from religious instruction and exposed to all forms of non-Christian philosophy and behavior.”

Think of it. How devious Satan is! Since the hearts and minds of men are restless until they rest in God, how out-of-balance is that education which “shelters” men from knowing the one true God and His Word which alone can provide the real, true answers to life’s big questions. If they are rightly sensitive to the many and subtle influences of the ungodly world, parents who have a Christian school available for their children will think it over a hundred times before advancing the argument that they want their children to be prepared for the “real” world by asking them to “swim in it” as they “push them overboard” into the public school system of our land. . .

(Copies of this still timely essay may be obtained by writing the editor. Ask for “An Ongoing Crying Need: Educating our Children for the Real World.”)

* MORE YOUNG WITNESSES (in our June issue we passed along a true story of Christian young people letting their light shine; here is another such heartening account as reported this summer on our CLC E-mail discussion forum; the school mentioned is our Immanuel High School of Eau Claire; the reporter is Prof. Ross Roehl.)

. . . This past week eight young ladies from Immanuel traveled to Sheboygan, Wisconsin for a team basketball camp. The format was three days of basketball consisting of ten games against public schools from the eastern part of the state. Needless to say the girls were tired. How successful was the team? Very!

The girls ended up 2-8, losing 5 games by only 2 points each. They were very competitive and learned to play together well. But that’s not success.

The coach who worked with the girls said that he had the nicest bunch there. He actually said that they were too nice. They helped up the other team when they fell, and even said “Sorry” when they knocked someone over. They were the first to line up and shake hands with smiles on their faces, win or lose. Another observer commented that it was nice to see a team of ladies that you could tell were Christians without even knowing where they were from.

>From the girls’ comments, they had several opportunities to talk about their school and why they attended Immanuel. They said it straight and they said it well. This was in contrast to the vile language I heard in just the short while I was walking the halls the last day. This is truly success . . . of the Christ-centered education these young people have received from their parents and from the Christian schools they have attended.

Praise the Lord for these young ladies who will be carrying His Word to the world wherever they go.