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    by Mike McHugh

Protected Yet Exposed
Date Posted: March 2, 2006

Martin Broadview, homeward bound from the cleaners on a Saturday morning, paused in his walk beside the white picket fence of his neighbor, Peter Sharp. Martin’s glance had hurdled the pickets and swept across the leaf-littered flower beds to light on the bent back of Peter, busy digging up his dahlia and gladiola bulbs for winter storage.

“Good morning, Peter,” he called. “Keeping your green thumb in condition?”

“Hello, Martin,” came the quick response. “No, it’s a brown thumb this time. To paraphrase the poet, the bulb that’s dug and stored away lives to bloom another day. Come on over a minute: I want to talk to you.”

Unlatching the gate, Martin put his clean clothes on the rose-arbor seat and sat down beside Peter on the casement next to the barbecue. Long acquaintance and a common faith had put the men on easy terms.

“What’s on your mind, Peter?”

“I’m still thinking about sending our children to the Christian school or perhaps home schooling them. Have you considered it any further since we talked last?”

“Yes, Mary and I have talked it over, but it looks like overprotection to us. Our youngsters have to meet the world sometime, and they may as well learn how to do it now.”

“Well, the Bible says there is a time for everything; a time to do things and a time not to do them. Isn’t it possible that there is a time to protect children as well as a time to expose them? We don’t send them over to the neighbor’s house when his child has diphtheria; we keep our children well out of contact. I don’t leave these bulbs in the ground all winter just to show how hardy they are; a good many of them wouldn’t pull through. You start your tomato seeds inside the house or under a glass just because they need to be sheltered while they are tender. And we gave up on sending raw recruits to war a long time ago. Thorough training under controlled conditions proved far more effective preparation for the battlefield.

“Now it seems to me the same principle holds true for training our children. Their minds are pliable, receptive, and easily influenced. The Lord has made them that way---- long on imagination but short on reasoning power. They can’t even see, to say nothing of bringing home for you to answer, the godless, secular view of life that in subtle ways is constantly handed to them in the schoolroom. I don’t mean that they are directly taught to embrace atheism, but their whole education begins and ends in man----in themselves. They simply get spiritual frostbite without even realizing it. And the application of spiritual warmth in family worship and church, indispensable as these are, may be no more a cure for our children than a place beside a hot radiator is for a frostbitten plant. We wouldn’t send our soldiers to be trained by the Communists; and if we expect our children to fight against an ungodly world, I’m convinced that we had better not send them to the world for their education.”

Martin stared at the sticks he had been playing with while Peter talked.

“No, Peter,” he said finally. “It still strikes me that the Christian school is too secluded. My youngsters have to brush elbows with the world. I don’t want them sheltered to the point where they can’t face the world. It makes more sense to let them stand out in the storm and grow strong.”

Peter’s face grew quizzical.

“Do you know, Martin, who I think are really sheltered?” he asked. “They are the children who are going to secular schools. There they sit, right at the growing stage in their lives, when they need all the sunshine for mind and heart that they can absorb, and we put them into a classroom that is thoroughly “blacked out” and as hermetically sealed off from the sunshine and fresh air of God’s truth as the “laws” regarding the separation of church and state can be stretched. Let’s remember that God’s truth is found in His creation and in history as well as in the Bible, and that any attempt to educate a child without giving him that realization is robbing the child of the most priceless treasure we can give him----the knowledge of God in Christ.”

“In that sense, Martin,” continued Peter, “I don’t want my children sheltered either. I don’t want them sheltered from instruction that puts God at the center of every part of life and leads the child to see the glory of God in every subject and in all of life. That sounds like spiritual sunlight and good air for a tender plant. I don’t want to deny it to my children and see them grow up sickly white like the weeds under our porch. They’ll get enough contact with the world as they mature. Putting them into it now for the training of their minds and souls sounds to me like planting these young bulbs outdoors in the winter time.”

“That’s a new approach,” said Martin. “You must have been thinking a lot about this. Say, I’ve got to get home with these clothes, but I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“All right,” answered Peter. “Don’t forget that you’re sheltering those clean clothes pretty carefully till it’s time to let them come into contact with the world.”

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Copyright 2006 Albert E. Greene, Jr.

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Biography Information:
This column is written by the staff at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, Illinois. As a pioneer in the homeschool movement, Christian Liberty ministries has been operating a full service, K-12 home school program for over thirty years and a Christian textbook ministry (Christian Liberty Press), since 1985. The mission of Christian Liberty is to provide parents with quality, affordable educational products and services that will enable them to teach their children in the home and to train their children to serve Christ in every area of life. A more extensive explanation of the CLASS home school program can be obtained at www.homeschools.org.
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