Gas or Education?

Gas prices, as everyone knows, are on the rise. The jump has affected just about everyone, certainly anyone with a car. Yet, the rise has also had an impact on the most unexpected areas, such as, of all things, private Christian education.

Families who are paying for private Christian education are feeling the pinch of high gas prices. The rise comes at a time when private K-12 schools around the nation are re-enrolling children for the upcoming academic year. My guess is that most schools have had to raise the cost of tuition due in part to the rising costs of energy. Many moms and dads are feeling the pain at the gas pump and in their heating bills and are asking themselves, “Is it worth it?” My wife asked me this question.

My wife, my wonderful partner and mother of our four children, knows that our core beliefs are important because they have ramifications for all of life. Persons with a truly well-rounded education will possess an education based on their faith (a Christian faith in our case) and that education will measure the influential ideas of the ages against the presuppositions of their faith. Why is this important? Christians believe that as sinners we fall short of God’s standards for living, yet we seek to lead lives in conformity to God. Christians will be much more successful in this pursuit, and less prone to spending years wandering down the wrong paths of life, if their education is based on the principles of their faith.

This, of course, has implications beyond the personal lives of those possessing a rigorous Christian education, because the lives of those Christians will affect others. A few Christian-educated children, I hope, will rise to positions of leadership — with like-minded spouses at their sides — because our lives in both the eternal and temporal worlds are profoundly important.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Bernard Lewis, the preeminent Western scholar of Islam, compared the era of World War II to today. Lewis is a Brit who served in British intelligence during World War II. He said:

In 1940, we knew who we were, we knew who the enemy was, we knew the dangers and the issues. In our island, we knew we would prevail, that the Americans would be drawn into the fight. It is different today. We don’t know who we are, we don’t know the issues, and we still do not understand the nature of the enemy. … It may be that Western culture will indeed go: The lack of conviction of many of those who should be its defenders and the passionate intensity of its accusers may well join to complete its destruction. But if it does go, the men and women of all the continents will thereby be impoverished and endangered.

Of course, radical Islam is just one enemy and one struggle we face in this world. We face many others that wreak poverty and danger. Read, for example, Heritage Foundation Vice President Rebecca Hagelin’s book, “Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture That’s Gone Stark Raving Mad,” or New York Times writer Jason DeParle’s “American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare.” But the point is this: I believe that Christian education is the best tool to prepare children to be good stewards of their own lives and of this world because, as Proverbs states: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” What we base education on is important. Christian education gives children hope and clarity of mind.

A Christian education gives children hope because they learn that God loves them. They learn that they are valuable, because they are made in God’s image and that He has a purpose for them and for their friends. They learn that they are not perfect and that sin and evil do exist. They learn that they should live unselfish lives in service to others. They learn that there is purpose to life because God is present in all of life — we find God in math, the sciences, economics, languages, literature and history. They learn that they have an obligation to make the world the best it can be. And they learn that freedom is important because, when men and women are free to use their God-given talents, they are best able to contribute to their well-being and to that of others.

Moms and dads, grandfathers and grandmothers, gas prices are going up … and Bernard Lewis says we don’t know who we are. Clarity of mind comes at a high price, but our children and our nation are worth it.