Christ & Culture Series: Education

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This is part 2 in a series exploring areas of culture through a Biblical lens. The first post introduces the series, and in it I’m talking with my husband about juggling artistry, business, and theology. In this post I keep it in the family and talk with my older sister (Charity Bianchi) about her specialty: education. She hails from Syracuse, NY, where she lives with her husband of 19 years and her 6 children, who range in age from 15 to 3. She homeschool’s 4 of her children, while the oldest 2 attend Christian school.

She graduated from Oswego State University in New York state with a bachelors degree in Elementary Education in 1997, and in 2000 she received her Masters degree in Special Education. She was a full time 5th grade teacher at a Christian school for 2 years, but quit to stay home with her children. She began homeschooling in 2005.


What are some ways the culture views education?

The culture elevates education to a higher function than necessary.  Many people, even in Christian circles, can view education as the answer to a “successful life”  leaving out the true core of what makes success. Because academia is so important in our world to acquire a job and good standing, many can run to it as the answer to the problems we face. The mentality being that, “our society would be better if only we had a better education system.”  Our culture also can rely heavily upon our government as the answer to education.

What makes an education distinctly Christian? 

I believe when you place Christ and the gospel at the center of all you teach it becomes distinctly Christian. Because God is our creator every discipline of education intertwines (such as various subjects: reading, math, science, history, as well as the building of the child’s biblical worldview) and is interrelated to God’s plan for mankind.  When you use Gods word as the foundation of education, truth and insight will be transposed.

What’s your goal in educating your children?

I have two goals. The most important is from two verses. One is from the Old Testament book Deutronomy 6:4-9 and from Proverbs 22:6,

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old they will not depart from it.” 

If my children are the most educated, well read, and well spoken people, but do not love their God and know his word I feel I have not truly educated them.  I have to constantly remind myself of this and keep this on the forefront as I teach them daily, even though I am not consistent and as faithful as I would like to be in this area.

The second goal is to give them a good education, while instilling a godly work ethic, with the basis of gaining a Biblical worldview.  My children’s academic capabilities vary greatly, and I don’t know what God has for their lives in the future, but I know I want them to be set apart (be a light in the darkness) by their knowledge, work ethic, and godly character.  It is wise and important for us to raise a generation of Christians that can be intelligently articulate on many issues and most importantly to be able to express an accurate Biblical worldview about them. (A great resource for homeschoolers on this topic is When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling by R.C. Sproul Jr.)

Can our culture’s view of education and a Christian education coexist?

It really depends on what the parents or school convey to the children and how.  It’s interesting, because the school systems want “moral” acting students, but they want to teach immoral and ungodly information.  Worldly humanism is pervasive in our schools and homes.  Humanisim can be taught both socially and educationally. We can all fall prey to it if we are not vigilant and active thinkers.  A Biblical worldview is the answer to this and training children in discernment at a young age (seeing Gods evidence in creation) and as they get older asking the right questions (based on their previous knowledge of scripture) will help them sift through the worldliness and into the truth.  Our culture wants us to behave in a moralistic fashion by teaching children not to lie, steal, and cheat, but they do not understand where morality is rooted. I don’t think morality and humanisim can coexist and produce authentic Christian children.

How can Christian parents who don’t homeschool give their kids a distinctly Christian education, and one in which they are involved?

There are many wonderful Christian schools that will partner with parents to provide their children with a distinctly Christian education.  If that’s not an option and your children are in public school, it’s going to look different and may require more intentionality, but parents can work with their children and discuss with them how topics are being taught at the school and any social issues with peers. Parents can use God’s word and other Christian literature to supplement and teach them how to refute opposing secular views.

Being in a non-Christian educational environment can be helpful for the child to learn how to put a Biblical worldview into practice.  Depending on the child’s age the school can also be a good outreach for the child to pursue others who need to hear the truth. Parents can actively get involved at the schools by volunteering or being a part of a school board. I know many families that have done a tremendous job guiding their children spirtually through their education process at public school.

What are some ways we can glorify God through education?

Education is a good thing and God wants us to acquire knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to ultimately glorify him. One way we can glorify God through education is by aiding our children through the education process and training them toward godliness in their school work ethic. School is a child’s “job” and we need to teach them to “work as unto the Lord” at a young age. Another way we can glorify God through education is to have children grow to embrace the Biblical worldview and be able to stand firm in their faith despite contrary beliefs.

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Loreal Self-Worth and The Christian Woman

Part 2 of the Christian Thinking series.

Because you’re worth it. This famous tag line from Loreal Paris advertisements goes deeper than just four words on a screen. This one line embodies a cultural philosophy that has been adopted by many Christians, especially women. As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, we need to be aware of the false teaching aimed at women in our culture and begin to think rightly.

Nancy Leigh Demoss says it perfectly,

“Christian women need to open their eyes and begin to evaluate what is going on around them — to wake up to the deception that is so pervasive in both our secular and our Christian cultures. So much of our lifestyle is rooted in ways of thinking that simply are not true.”

She cites music, TV, movies, books, advice, and advertisements as some of the vehicles that perpetuate deceptive ways of thinking. Demoss gives three helpful questions to help us evaluate popular cultural messages:

  1. What is the message here?
  2. Is it really true?
  3. Am I being deceived by a way of thinking that is contrary to the Truth?


So, what is the message behind Loreal Paris advertisements?

It’s a popular message today aimed at women; it’s the mask of the self-movement hiding the face of humanism. The self-movement is my way of describing all the ‘self’ words we see and hear today: self-esteem, self-image, self-love, and self-worth. All of these words are just modern day packaging of an old philosophy called humanism.

What is Humanism?

Basically, it is a man-centered way of thinking, which views man as basically good and moral and finds no need for any supernatural power. In humanism, man is God. Man can then decide for himself what is true and good and worships himself as true and good.

Humanism came to a peak during the middle ages when a new spirit of learning developed, and the once dark ages saw a new light as the arts flourished again. This period is known as the Renaissance. It was during this time that man again became confident of his ability to determine truth and error.

The American Humanist Association describes what philosophical humanism is:

“…Any outlook or way of life centered on human need and interest. Sub-categories of this type include Christian Humanism and Modern Humanism.

Christian Humanism is defined by Webster’s Third New International Dictionary as “a philosophy advocating the self-fulfillment of man within the framework of Christian principles.” This more human-oriented faith is largely a product of the Renaissance and is a part of what made up Renaissance humanism.”

Today we are guilty of Christian Humanism. The ‘self’ words have been adopted by Christians as truth when in fact they are error. These are not just cute harmless phrases empty of meaning, because their roots go deep into anti-God ways of thinking. The messages of self-esteem, self-love, self-worth, and self-image are not the Gospel message. The message of the self- movement puts man’s needs and interests first, but the Gospel message is death to self.

Humanism in Light of Scripture

God’s Word makes it clear we naturally love ourselves enough and commands us to do what goes against our nature, which is putting ourselves last. We are repeatedly told in Scripture to put others needs and interests before our own. God knows we don’t need the message our culture sends us, because we are already always doing it. In Ephesians 5 Paul tells husbands to love their wives as their own bodies, which assumes we don’t hate our bodies, because we feed and care for them. We need to look out for others in the way we already look out for ourselves.

Our image and worth should not be defined by a humanistic way of thinking that looks inward, but defined by what God says about us in his Word. The truth is we are completely unworthy and Christ is the only worthy one. Yet, once we believe and accept this truth, Christ accepts and loves us in our unworthiness and shares his worthiness (sinless life) with us. We become
worthy to God through Christ, but not through ourselves. Nancy Leigh Demoss sums it up well:

“Our malady is not “low self-esteem,” nor is it how we view ourselves; rather it is our low view of God. Our problem isn’t so much a “poor self-image” as it is a “poor God-image.” Our need is not to love ourselves more but to receive his incredible love for us and to accept his design and purpose for our lives.

Once we have received His love, we will not have to compare ourselves to others; we will not focus on “self” at all. Instead, we will become channels of His love to others.”

The ‘self’ words should change to Christ-esteem, Christ-worth, Christ-image, and Christ-love. All of these words need to be defined by Jesus Christ in our life. Everything is ours in Christ. We don’t need to look for our image, esteem, and worth in the offers of this world, just truly believe and accept we are accepted and loved by God through Christ.

The world’s offer is cheap like Loreal hair color that washes out in a few weeks, but God’s offer came at the high cost of His Son and is an eternal guarantee. You don’t go to Target to purchase this product, because it is already paid in full. The lines have fallen for you in pleasant places, my dear sister, just be content and believe. He will help your unbelief.

Part 3 >>

Getting to the Root of True Beauty

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Facebook has now become a news stand. Every new and noteworthy article or video you should read (or not read) has probably made its way into your news feed. Some are newsworthy and some are just cute or inspiring. Here is a cute and inspiring one that has been circulating around: http://www.quickmeme.com/p/3vug8k

It is important to not be deceived by this cute little letter. There are statements in here that we as Christians can agree with, but there is nothing distinctly Christian in it; any religious or non-religious person can agree with this letter.

I wouldn’t uphold this letter to my future daughter, because though it does put down a negative cultural attitude, it also promotes a secular philosophy. The world solves the true beauty crisis by looking inward. They put their hope and promise in the truth of themselves. It’s about me. My strength, my heart, my center, my dreams. Look within yourself and believe in yourself.

The Philosophy Behind the Culture

This way of thinking is rampant in our culture. It’s a humanistic philosophy that should be rejected as much as the cultural beauty pressures women face. Humanism is basically a man-centered way of  thinking. Man is basically God and basically good, and we can find value in our human nature. This father isn’t solving the root issue, he’s just feeding the flame of self to his daughter. He doesn’t know the truth of the Gospel and the true beauty in Christ of dying to self. Self. That is the root issue. Self-obsession. Self-love. Self-hatred.

In every culture and generation there has always been varying ideas of what is and isn’t beautiful. The pressure women feel to be outwardly beautiful isn’t a new concept. (We just have it more in our face now with such an image driven culture.) The pressure has been on our external self, but the way to find freedom is not to look to our internal self. We need to get completely outside of ourselves to be free. Anything inside of us is just as ugly and flawed as anything we perceive about ourselves externally.  C.S. Lewis says this,

“Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

Our Biggest Enemy and our Role-Model

Our biggest enemy as women is not the makeup and fashion industry, but it is ourselves. We love ourselves too much, we think about ourselves too much, and when we do this we enslave ourselves. The letter I would write to my future
daughter would solve the true beauty crisis by encouraging her to look to Christ. He is the picture of true beauty.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  -Philippians 2:5-11

Christ made himself ugly by entering our world. He sacrificed his heavenly radiance and clothed himself in sinful flesh. The one person who actually deserved to think well of himself and who was completely worthy, forgot himself completely. He lived this way and died this way. He became ugly to make us beautiful in Him. Once we believe this, with faith, then our worthiness and our beauty is found in Him.  We are perfectly flawless before God by the blood of Christ.

This is what I want my future daughter to believe in — not herself. The woman who dies to self daily increases in beauty daily. She is a lovely scented perfume to God and to those around her. Christ makes us beautiful inside, and that is our hope.

“C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity makes a brilliant observation about gospel-humility at the very end of his chapter on pride. If we were to meet a truly humble person, Lewis says, we would never come away from meeting them thinking they were humble. They would not be always telling us they were a nobody (because a person who keeps saying they are a nobody is actually a self-obsessed person). The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.

Excerpt from Tim Keller’s book, The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy