Does it matter where you go to school–whether it is a place where God is believed and taught, or populated with professors and teachers who not only despise and ignore Him, but who also “…call evil good, and good evil…[and] put darkness for light, and light for darkness?”(Isaiah 5:20a)
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” (Proverbs 13:20)
The question of Christian versus public (or even private) secular education is a sensitive one because many people feel they have no choice but the most financially viable one. A pastor we had years ago went so far as to say that if you cannot send your children to a Christian college or university you should consider not sending them at all. Yet while there is no explicit prohibition against sending your child to a secular school, Biblically God commands us to learn from those who are wise, not foolish.
This is not to say that there cannot be times Christian families may benefit from public education–our daughter took a Japanese language class from the local public high school last year, and we anticipate her to continue to do so for at least two more years. Yet the principles presented in God’s Word are not only wise and true, but also given to keep us alert as to what we and our families are being exposed to.
So what does God say about whom we surround ourselves with and learn from? “Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.” (Proverbs 14:7 NIV) But our discussion is about teachers and professors; can’t we assume they don’t fall into the category of “fool?” No, we cannot, because God tells us, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm 14:1a NIV) A teacher who doesn’t believe in God may possess knowledge about certain specific subjects, but we will not get real wisdom from them. Spiritually the Bible says they are fools and not qualified to lead.
But why is it so important that we attend a genuinely Christian college or university–especially if we will be living on campus? The reason this is so important is because we are a composite not only of our life experiences, but also of the opinions and beliefs we pick up of those we surround ourselves with. But, you may argue, I know what I believe; I will not be influenced.
If this were truly the case, the advertising industry would be out of business. Yet it not only survives–it thrives, and that is because we all, as human beings, are influenced by the ideas we are exposed to and opinions of others. In testimony to this, millions of dollars are spent each year by corporations as well as political candidates to shift our attitudes and beliefs. God concurs. He tells us, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.'” (1 Corinthians 15:33) Spending time with the ungodly cannot help but influence us.
But can’t I just choose good friends? Certainly you can and should choose good friends; God agrees and tells us, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Proverbs 12:26)
Yet a college experience is so much more than just your friends. Even assuming you surround yourself exclusively with friends who truly love God, it would be very difficult and highly impractical to select classes based upon whether the professor is a practicing Christian. Furthermore, in college, as in the rest of life, what is picked up and learned from our role models along the way through a passing comment or a modeled life-style is frequently more significant than what is learned in class.
So does it matter spiritually where you go to school? The answer is an emphatic, “yes!” It may, in fact, be one of the most important and influential decisions you ever make in your Christian life!
Dear Lord God,
Help us walk with the wise so that we too might be wise! Amen.