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Does what a child learns stay with him or her for life? 

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #139 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

I confess that all my life, I thought the verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it,” found in Prov. 22:6, provided a principle directly referencing Christian education and behavior – until last week.

And of course it does. The verse is used by countless churches, Sunday Schools, Daily Vacation Bible Schools, pastors, church camps, Christian universities, Christian schools, and Christian families as a reminder that God will bless children who are taught moral truth, who are encouraged and expected to live righteously, and who seek to live out their faith as a testimony to God’s purposes in the world. Yes, this verse means all that, and it is a wonderful promise – “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

But what hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks last week is that this verse does not specifically reference any of those good, Christian behavioral practices. What it says is that what a kid learns when he or she is young is going to stick with him or her for the rest of their lives and in all probability will define their character. That idea, train up a child and he will not depart from it, works for good and for bad, for righteousness and unrighteousness, for blessedness and evil. That’s what hit me. 

I was thinking about the hundreds of American students and others who poured into the streets in the past few weeks, shouting antisemitic slurs, spouting diatribes against Jews, Israel, and often America too, and even siding with terrorist Hamas.

Where did these people come from? Where did they learn this hatred?

The short answer is they learned it, or at least the value basis for it, in public schools, or maybe online from internet influencers, or maybe from their often-fragmented families.

So, train up a child and when he is old, he won’t depart from it is a principle at work every day with millions of children and youth. The problem is the trainer and the trainer’s values are not always what they ought to be. And bad influences yield bad results.

All these shouting, virtue signaling, immature but loud voices letting rip chants, slogans, animosity toward Jews – me hearing things I never thought I’d hear in the U.S. – where did these people come from?

Short answer: they came from public schools that are far more anti-Christian, anti-learning or anti-critical thinking, and anti-patriotic than we thought. They came from families where right values were not modeled and right behavior was not demonstrated, or effectively demanded.

Now someone said recently, public education is not neutral. 

This surge of antisemitism in schools stems from a decade-long politicization of the education system, infiltrating every aspect from educational philosophy to curriculum and classroom discussions…We must understand its driving force: the new leftist dogma. At its core is “critical pedagogy,” an educational philosophy that fuels resentment, victimhood, and collectivism, while promoting hatred towards certain groups. It indoctrinates students to view the world through a lens of power dynamics and oppression. Cloaked in euphemisms such as "inclusivity" and "social justice," this ideology – like all aspects of woke education – contains a destructive mind virus.”

Yet for all this, “many young people believe all of this and conduct themselves accordingly, yet they’re not very happy. This decades-long bombardment of young people with anti-family, anti-religion and anti-personal responsibility messages is working, and the primary casualties are the people at whom it is directed. This is not happening by accident. Authoritarians (and this is not a conspiracy theory) have known for more than a century that it’s easier to subjugate a population when they are removed from allegiances higher than the government. That includes the family, the church, even their innate nature to strive. Americans under the age of 35 have been inundated by cultural and political messaging that paves the road to serfdom and the net is that many more of them are not very happy.”

Does this mean every teacher or professor in public education buys into leftist or radical or socially progressive philosophies contrary to a Christian worldview?

No, of course not. Many public school and university educators are dedicated to their task of teaching, appreciate and love students and learning, and work diligently to share not only subject content but character values that help young people mature.

While their numbers are dwindling, those conservative teachers and professors who remain active are a minority who themselves can experience harassment, professional peer pressure, silencing, threats of losing their jobs, and in some cases, actually being fired for refusing to embrace ideas like preferred pronouns, trans names, anti-America philosophies and attitudes, hostility towards free speech, or suppression of freedom of religion, specifically Christianity. Meanwhile, some of these same teachers and professors committed to teaching fall under immense social and professional pressure to embrace gender fluidity, America as a colonialist-settler nation that exists today solely because white supremacists took land from Indians, reaped bounty from the backs of Black slaves, is comprised of greedy capitalists and the materialistic middle class, and is an oppressor of one victim group after another.

Students are taught not to love their country and the freedom ideals upon which it was established but to distrust or despise their country as a place unworthy of its place in the world, and certainly not a country that has afforded them anything positive or good.

Students don’t know who Americans fought in order to win their freedoms or why, or what any of this means to them today. They think that capitalism is a synonym for raping the wilderness and stealing from the poor. They believe Abraham Lincoln was a racist. They don’t know what Americans and the Allies bequeathed to them via their ultimate sacrifice during WWII.

They’ve been given inflated grades, have been removed from any experience of competitiveness or earned accomplishment, have been led to believe they deserve more, more than whatever they have now, all of which has been handed to them, and they’ve consequently not learned a work ethic, to value punctuality, to honor authority, or to assume responsibility.

They’ve been led to believe various versions of pacifism is somehow higher order moral thinking that works in the real world and makes them feel superior for proclaiming it. They’ve been brainwashed to believe social activism, “by any means necessary,” including vandalism of property or assault upon innocent bystanders is somehow laudatory. Train up a child and when he or she is old they will not depart from it.  

In 2018, Christian social analyst, George Barna, said his research on Gen Z (that’s people born mid-to-late 1990s as starting birth years to early 2010s as ending birth years) shows that they are the first truly post-Christian generation. And Gen Z is twice as likely to be atheist as any previous generation. 

In other words, they are not given the truth of the Gospel or a Christian worldview and are allowed if not encouraged to grow up thinking, paradoxically, moral relativism is an absolute. There’s no better than, no right and wrong, other than what they prefer, a might makes right proposition. There’s no accountability to God, so there is nothing they won’t do. There’s no truth, so they get to decide what is “their truth,” and there’s no objective standard to which they compare anything, so anything goes.

This generation is sometimes called the “Connected Generation” because they are online as no cohort ever before, even more than Gen X and Millennials. Yet while they are connected to thousands, they also express feelings of loneliness, detachment, worry, disassociation with the family and an inclination not to have children in a world where climate change is going to kill us all, and depression and suicide.

These feelings of angst and anomie are being reinforced in public schools and in families. Train up a child. 

How we train or what we train the child in has consequences. We’ve possibly lost a generation. In our post-Christian culture, we seem to believe that what kids learn doesn’t matter – a dangerous mistake.

Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s 

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2024   

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