From the time I was a small child, I’ve worn a uniform. Not a school uniform, not a uniform on a sports team. Ok, so I *did* wear a physical uniform all ten (yes, ten) years of marching band–four in high school for Hazelwood East HS in St. Louis and six during my undergrad at Missouri State (formerly Southwest Missouri State).
The uniform I’ve worn is that of a conservative Christian. It’s not as nice-looking as it once was. It’s worn in the knees and I think the shirt is a bit tattered. It’s still recognizable, though. I made it well past the age of 21 before I got drunk or kissed anyone. (I have yet to do both at the same time.)
I’ve never dated.
I made it well past 25 before I even *tried* to smoke. (I don’t care for it…except for hookah. Hookah is amazing.)
I’ve carried a Bible to school since the fourth grade and to church since I was too young to recall.
And I’ve believed that God, through the words of Scripture, has the final say on what I do with my body in my spare time. I’ve spent a great deal of time on telling others through this blog about the good news of Christ and the importance of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Christ.
However, for some, this is not enough.
After all, to teach children, one must lie via omission so as to not actually communicate that adults are real sinners with real struggles. That would appalling, would it not? Because we’re trying to teach our children that Jesus is our hero, not the adults in their lives…which is best done, of course, by showing ourselves to have our act together, all in the name of “setting a good example.”
Because, as we all know, we point kids to Jesus best by teaching them to worship us, the adults in their lives. Isn’t that the way that the Bible teaches that we should interact with our children?
The school that got me to resign gave me the following reason in writing as to why I was asked to resign:
The Board has consistently expressed a concern that your public blog, which has already been viewed by some parents, is inappropriate for the ages of the children under your care at [name of school] and therefore detrimental to the best interests of the school; and because it is inappropriate for these young children, the Board, if it supported you in this, would be placing our school parents in the position of having to deal with their children and the issues of your blog on your terms and timing. However, when and how parents teach their children how to deal with the adult issues discussed in your blog is a matter for the parents, not the Board, to determine.
The best I can do in terms of understanding this whole event is to guess that the reason they gave me is the “nice” equivalent to saying, “Thou shalt not commit publicity.” This blog is not for minors. However, this blog also doesn’t have negative messages that minors would encounter on prime-time television or in Facebook ads.
I suppose the Board thinks that to be a teacher, one should be silent about what God has done in one’s life. It’s best to not be a real human being; it’s better to put on a fake face and tell no one (especially not children) that God loves even really messed up people, regardless of if the messed-up stuff looks like not loving siblings well or parents, or others. And if parents don’t want this message given to their kids, then I suppose they’re really not being the covenant parents of covenant children that they should be, biblically speaking.
I thought the goal of Christian education was to provide lenses through which children of varying age could perceive the world. Instead, the goal of Christian education at this particular school set forth by this particular board is to preserve a sinful, Christian bubble which nurtures both naivete and, later in life, either bitterness or self-righteousness.
Is the Gospel best preached to our young children when we isolate them, or when we show them God’s working in the world through repentance and the forgiveness of sins?
[As an aside, my degree is in music education, K-12. If your comment is to lecture or "remind" me about age-appropriate discussions, I have two things to remind you. First, I am a teacher and so I'm aware of developmental appropriateness. Second, I was the kids' music teacher, not sex ed. So save your keystrokes.]
And so I wear the uniform of conservative Christianity, by choice. And yet injustice seems to prevail. On Sunday, however, I was reminded as I sang of the victory of Christ:
Yet in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth” I said
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, for God has come
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor does He sleep:
For death has failed and Christ prevailed
With peace on earth, for God has come!”
And ringing, singing on its way
The world will turn from night to day:
“Make new all things, our gracious King!
Bring peace on earth, for God has come!”
–”I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” Longfellow (1864) and Marks (1950), words revised by J. T. Hewitt (2011)
God’s not sleeping in my loss, even though hate and fear are strong at this school. Christ will make all things new. In the meantime, God Himself will provide. This is the promise of the incarnation. It’s the promise of Christ Himself.