Worldview Education: A Family Affair

8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, 9 for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. 10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.

Proverbs 1:8-10 (ESV)

If swimmer Michael Phelps was a country, he would have won more medals in the 2004 Olympics than Brazil, Canada, Holland, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and Spain.[1] When he stood for the sixth time on the winner’s platform adorned in an Olympic medal with a laurel wreath on his head, his phenomenal achievement was visibly obvious to all the world.

In this text Solomon warns that there are two potential paths before every child or every student. They may either heed godly wisdom in the fear of the Lord (v. 7) or pursue folly in the way of death (vv. 10-19). The way of wisdom presupposes godly parents and teachers who take a lead in their pupil’s moral development. Moral and spiritual education is the responsibility of both father and mother (v. 8). A well taught child will not heed sinners, no matter how capable or how well qualified they seem to be (v. 10), for he will understand that they lead to death and destruction. Discernment is the hallmark of wisdom.

Solomon’s “garland for the head” (v. 9) and “the pendants for your neck” (v. 9b) are emblems of honor (cf. Gen. 41:42). While they are not material objects like Michael Phelps’s medals, they nevertheless symbolize the achievement of wisdom, recognized by anyone who observes the child’s life. They witness to an educational goal attained and rewarded with the prize of favor and honor. Listening to godly teachers brings great reward. Following sinners leads to a downward spiral of destruction.

Education is never value neutral. A Christian worldview education integrates a theocentric perspective to life and learning across the disciplines, whether in history, politics, geography, or any other subject in the academic curriculum. While schools can serve the family by providing specialized knowledge in particular disciplines, parents fulfill their responsibilities only when they ensure that their children are taught in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Wise children will not consent to evil. They know the difference between the way of life and the way of death. That discernment will mark them as unique among their peers.

Helping parents instill moral and spiritual discernment in their children should be a priority in every congregation. Nothing witnesses to the power of the gospel more than a community of believers whose lives are consistent with their beliefs. Training a generation of children recognizably informed by the Christian worldview is the responsibility of both the family and the Church.

[1] Phil Gordos, “Phelps’ Star Shines Brightest,” BBC Sports Online, August 31, 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympics_2004/3608042.stm.