In the last few years, there has been quite a bit of controversy over the use of “You” and “Your” in prayer. I would like to share some thoughts on this subject. In the preface to the New International Version of the Bible, you read this: “As for the omission of the pronouns ‘thou”, “thee”, and “thine” in reference to the Deity, the translators remind the reader that to retain these archaisms … would have violated their aim of faithful translation. The Greek text uses no special pronouns to express reverence for God and Christ.” Now, I am not here trying to promote this new version of the Bible. But I do think a good point is made in this preface, and that is that the language that the Word was originally written in does not use special pronouns to refer to God.
Many of us, however, have learned to use the special pronouns, “thee” and “thou” in our devotions. This having come about, of course, by the fact that for many years we have used the King James Version of the Bible which uses these forms. The KJV was written in the common, accepted English of the time. As this accepted English changed, we discarded the forms “thee” and “thou” from both our conversational and written language, retaining them when it came to Scripture reading or prayer. But the fact is that these forms are used in the KJV not only when referring to God, but also when speaking to any person. So we see that the pronouns in both the Greek original and in the KJV were simply the common pronouns in use at the time. (It is interesting to note that the pronouns used in the KJV to indicate God or Christ are not even capitalized.)
Because of the fact that the common pronouns were used previously, it strikes me that some Christians today should become upset when other Christians use the common pronouns “You” and “Your” in their devotions. This especially strikes me when you realize that in order to use the archaic forms, a person must also change the accompanying verb form. The only time we would ever use the forms “wast”, “wert”, “shalt” and soon, is when we use “thee” and “thou”. To me this sometimes has the tendency to make our prayers seem rather forced and unnatural.
When we as Christians look at the question of whether or not we should use the modern pronouns, we must be concerned with the respect due to God’s Name. And I know that many say that “Thee” and “Thou” show more respect and that tradition has hallowed their use. But we must remember that tradition doesn’t make holy. Isn’t that the truth that we must learn from Christ when the Pharisees condemn the disciples for eating with unwashed hands, thus breaking the tradition of the elders? We must see that just because we have always done something a certain way, that doesn’t make that the only way to do it.
Some will say that there are people who use the forms, “You” and “Your” to bring God down to man’s level. This may be true of some, although such people go much further than merely using the modern pronouns in their prayers. But the fact that such people exist has no bearing on the rightness of using the modern forms, just as the obvious fact that there are hypocrites in the Church doesn’t prove that no true Church exists. I am not talking about such people. I am talking about born-again believers.
Christians from other cultures must think it rather strange that we would use archaic forms when praying. And Christians from our own background may well use the modern forms because they feel their prayers to be more natural by doing so. Is it, after all, really necessary to use the archaic forms to show respect? I don’t think so. I respect my parents, but I have never said “Thee” or “Thou” to them. I respect my minister, but I don’t talk to him that way either. I would never think to address him as “Thou”, would you? Of course not. It is unnatural, and I think unnecessary. I think the fundamental thing to remember is this: it is the attitude of the speaker that counts. If the speaker has respect for God, then whether he uses “Thee” or “You”, he will do so in reverence of God. If the speaker does not feel respect for the Almighty, then regardless of which pronoun he uses, his prayer is disrespectful.
So what am I really saying? Do I think that it is wrong to use “Thee” and “Thou”? No. But I am saying that we may never condemn the man who with good conscience uses “You” and “Your”. Personally, I don’t think this issue to be vitally important. But it bothers me when so many people in our churches seem to think that the only way to address God is with the archaic forms “Thee” and “Thou”. The sincere Christian who uses the modern form respects his God as much as those who use the older forms.
Sometimes I think that we must beware that we are not “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mark 7:7) Let’s be careful. You use “Thee” and “Thou”? Fine. But don’t condemn the brother who uses “You” and “Your” in his devotions. Let’s not be guilty of straining at gnats, like the Scribes and Pharisees, but rather let us be concerned about the “weightier matters of the law, judgement, mercy and faith.” (Matt. 23:23)
You know, “patriotism” is an extremely relative term. Some of us feel that patriotism is waving “Old Glory” on the Fourth of July. Others feel it is serving in the Armed Forces or buying Federal savings bonds. Many people felt that the draft-dodgers who fled to Canada during the Vietnam War were very un-patriotic. But some of those very individuals who fled felt it was more patriotic to leave than to fight what they believed to be an “unjust” war. And do you remember how a very few years ago people were getting so upset because the American flag was showing up on purses, sweatshirts, and as patches worn on the seat of your pants? These people thought that was very un-patriotic. So on and on you can go. And we must decide where the Christian fits into all of this? It will be difficult. I think we must first look at patriotism and decide what it really is, and then try to discern what a Christian’s approach to it should be.
Patriotism is basically a feeling of love or devotion to one’s native or adopted country. Flag waving or joining the military is not patriotism, but simply an outward show of patriotism. It is the feeling that lies within a person that is really patriotism. A patriotic person loves his country and feels devoted to it. It is not an American institution, either. When we look at patriotism, we should be looking on a world-wide scale, one that encompasses all of time. We are not merely asking whether American Christians can be patriotic. We are asking if German Christians could be patriotic during the Hitler years, or if Chinese Christians can be patriotic in Communist China.
The answer to that question is a very definite “yes” and also a very definite “no”. On the one hand, only we as Christians can truly be patriotic, but on the other hand we must not allow ourselves to be overly patriotic. It sounds like a paradox, but is it really?
We as Christians must bow before our nation in humble obedience as we are called upon to do in Scripture. The Spirit says through the apostle Paul in Romans 13, “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers, for there is no power but of God the powers that be are ordained of God . . . Wherefore ye must needs be subject . . . for this cause pay ye tribute also.” Paul makes it plain that leaders in a country are placed there by God. And we must love these people. This the non- Christian can simply not do. And that is why I say that only Christians can be truly patriotic, for we only can truly love. We are exhorted by the Spirit that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men: for kings and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (I Timothy 2: 1-3)
Only the Christian can pray for the leaders of his country, whether American or German. I feel that we should hear more prayers for our leaders, both at our homes and from the pulpit on Sunday. We are perhaps guilty of not praying enough for these people as we are directed to do in the passage quoted from Timothy.
We in America can also be patriotic in that we are thankful to God for blessing us with such a beautiful land. The beauty and diversity of America is awe-inspiring. Certainly we can feel great affection for this land flowing with milk and honey.
And we in America can also praise the Lord for the religious freedoms we have here. We must not fool ourselves into believing that this is a Christian nation. But we in America have been blest with the freedom to worship the Lord as we see fit and to broadcast the truth we love to others also.
It is not wrong either for us to feel a sense of devotion to America. We must certainly be willing to answer the call of our draft board during time of war. This is our duty. Some would say that this is the only time we should serve in the Armed Forces. I do not agree with that view. I feel that the Christian should be able to serve his country even if he is not drafted.
Our country is always in need of servicemen, and I don’t feel that we should think it to be unnecessary for us as Christians to do our part in the defense of our country. I am nearing the end of a tour of duty with the Navy and I feel that not only have I helped to serve America in a small way, but in many ways the experience has been good for me also. The service is a very maturing experience in which a young person is forced to look at life realistically. He is forced to evaluate his relationships with his family, his church, and God.
Many feel that we should refrain from joining the service because we separate ourselves from our churches by doing so. That is a valid argument. For this reason I feel that making a career out of the service would be unjustifiable. It would simply be too hard to maintain a good church life. But it is different when dealing with one tour of duty-say two, three, or even four years of active duty. First of all, the Services try to provide the opportunity to worship, and although these services are often rather shallow, they do help. It is also possible to supplement ones spiritual food by reading. The “Standard Bearer” and the “Beacon Lights” are excellent helps as are the printed copies of the Reformed Witness Hour broadcasts, which are available for the asking. There are also many other Christian publications, books, and so on. There are other Christians in the service also that we can associate with and share with. Remember, “where two or three are gathered in My Name…”
There is another area of service that the Christian can involve himself in. That is the area of politics. There are many in our churches, I’m afraid, who feel that politics is too corrupt for a Christian to involve himself in. Personally I feel that is a bad attitude to take. We should not be willing to sit back and give also this sphere of life over completely to the non-Christian. Aren’t we to be the “salt of the earth”?
There is a place for Christians to serve in politics; I am sure of it. Especially in local levels of government. It is possible to do so without sacrificing our principles. It should be no more difficult than working any other job where there are non-Christians involved. There are temptations and pitfalls in all professions. Serving in the government is a way to show patriotism in a positive sense.
Yet at the same time we must not be patriotic to an extreme. We must not tie our souls to this or any other country. We must remember that we are “in the world but not of the world”. And that means America, too. I wonder how many of us would be willing to leave America like Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees to be led by God to a land strange to us? Would we be willing to move to Australia or India or Africa if God wanted us there? If we would not be willing to go, then something is wrong.
We must be like the heroes of faith about whom we read in Hebrews II, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth….But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city.”
Let us remember then, that although we are required to love and pray for our leaders; although we can enjoy and appreciate the beauty of our land and the freedoms we have here; and although we can serve America in positive ways; yet our citizenship is nevertheless in heaven. May our lives reflect that citizenship in a Godly, peaceable life, owing “no man anything but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you? . . . you are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”- I Cor. 6:19 and 20.
This verse which Paul wrote to the Christian, at Corinth deals with fornication, but it is so loaded with truth and principle that Christian ministers and teachers have often applied it to all of the other things that have an effect on our bodies. I have beard it used in regard to everything from drunkenness to drag racing. I would like to use it in dealing with smoking.
For the problem of smoking is one area in which there has been little said in our churches. Perhaps that is because it is so common to us.
You see, smoking is a mighty popular thing. Thousands upon thousands, millions upon millions of people smoke. Not all for the same reason, to be sure, but they all do smoke. So when people in the church smoke, they feel right at home. They don’t stand out; they blend right in with everyone else. That’s one reason why we don’t feel so guilty doing it . . . everyone else does, too. But Scripture tells us not to be like everyone else. Scripture tells us to be “transformed.” That is a mighty big idea to understand. We must strive to be different. How strange, how wonderful. The non-Christian must look at us and see something different in us. He must see in us a “new creation.”
“Wait a minute, back up,” someone is saying. “You are assuming that smoking is wrong. That’s jumping to conclusions mighty quick. I see nothing wrong with it.”
Well, I guess I did draw a conclusion too soon. Perhaps we should examine smoking first, and then pass judgment on it. Let’s see where its place is in the life of a Christian. For a Christian’s life must be full of things working together to the honor and glory of our God. In working toward that goal, everything we do must fit into the scheme of a godly life.
What does smoking accomplish? Does it provide our bodies with nutrition? No, I think it is obvious that it does not provide nutrition. Does it serve to ease pain, as aspirin, perhaps? No, it doesn’t do that either. Does it have any medicinal use whatsoever? None. Does smoking have any constructive value to the body at all? No, I think not.
The only reason that people smoke cigarettes is that it is somehow enjoyable to them. Yet not all smokers can even agree with what it is about smoking that they enjoy. Some smokers say that it tastes good, some say that it does not. Some say that it feels good, some disagree with that. At any rate, plain enjoyment is a poor reason to smoke if it is the only reason to do so. And I am afraid that it is the only reason.
Now, on the other hand, why would I ever say that it is wrong to smoke? First of all, let me deal with the externals. To begin with, people who smoke have the stench of smoke on their bodies, hair, clothes, and breath, and to non-smokers these people stink because of it. Also, the smoke burns the eyes of the partaker and all those near him. The cigarette often burn holes in carpeting, upholstery, clothes and so on.
It is rather sad that something as small as a cigarette, with as little value as it has, and with so many unbecoming characteristics as it possesses should control the lives of so many people. And it does control their lives. That is apparent when they try to stop.
But out of all this talk about smoking come the apostle’s words, “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit! That sheds a different light on the matter. That makes it mandatory that we are careful with our bodies. For Paul also says in Romans 12:1, “. . . Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” Can the smoking Christian do that as well as a non-smoking Christian? No. Why? Because of the true nature of smoking; whether cigarettes, cigars, or a pipe.
For smoking, especially cigarette smoking, is harmful to the body. The world realizes this. The surgeon-general of the United States has figured that out. Smoking is directly linked to cancer, of the lungs primarily, but also of the mouth and throat. With every puff, the chances of cancer increase. It is also had for the heart. Smoking constricts the capillaries, causing a sharp rise in blood pressure.
The whole body is affected. Infection sets in more quickly because smoking destroys the guarding action of the cilia (small hair-like projections) in the bronchial tubes by paralyzing them. The dangers of smoking are numerous.
The federal government, aware of this truth, has forced the manufacturer to put a warning right on the package that his product comes in, and also in all his advertising. Can you imagine anyone eating meat that had stamped on the wrapper the word, “WARNING”? Of course not, but people still smoke. And many of these people are Christians.
To smoke just for the pleasure of it at the expense of the temple of God is a terrible thing. It is lust. It is gluttony. It is drunkenness. “Present yourself a living sacrifice,” the apostle says. He leaves no room for smoking when he says that. That habit does nothing to help us in our lives as Christians. It has no place in the life of one dedicated to God, for it serves no purpose, it doesn’t work toward God’s glory. Smoking isn’t even fit for recreation. For smoking destroys our bodies, while recreation serves to give us new vigor for the tasks of life.
There are many people who have tried to stop smoking and haven’t been able to. They have tried pills, chewing gum, or other such things to help them break the habit. They may even have gone to a “Five-Day Clinic to Stop Smoking.” Perhaps some people reading this have tried that, all without success. These people would say. “I agree that it is wrong but how can I overcome the habit?”
Perhaps part of the problem is that we put our trust in ourselves. It says in Mark 11:22-24, “And Jesus answered them. ‘Have faith in God, Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, Be taken up and east into the sea and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will.” Christ meant what He said. It takes faith to believe what He said, and more faith and prayer to put what He promised into use. But the Spirit has been sent and it dwells in us. The power is there. And if we pray in faith for the strength to overcome smoking, the Spirit will give us that strength. That is promised. Now take hold of that promise.
Yes! Let’s live for Christ! Already, I feel that some eyebrows have raised . . . perhaps because “living for Christ” has the same ring to it as does “Crusade for Christ” or “Youth for Christ.” And that ring is the ring of Arminianism. Sometimes I think that we are so afraid of anything that sounds like Arminianism that we automatically shove it aside. But again I say, “Yes, Let’s live for Christ!”
Ever since I can remember, I have been taught in church and in catechism classes that there are three things that every Christian must know. First, we must know how great our sins and miseries are. We must know how great a salvation we have and from whence it comes — and we must live a life of gratitude. These three things are also known as the three S’s . . . Sin, Salvation, and Service.
Now we have heard a lot about these three things. They are spoken of in the Heidelberg Catechism …. I believe in question and answer two. We would all agree that they are the basics. These three things just about sum up a Christian’s existence. We are born dead in sins and miseries. For by Adam came death. He fell, we fell. It is very, very necessary that anyone who comes to Christ knows that he is such a sinner — hopeless in himself. And, in the second place, it is necessary to know that Christ is the means of escape. For as Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. Any man that cometh unto me shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
That is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. The darkness of sin overcome by light. The Light of the Scriptures. Again I say, beautiful. For the scheme of sin and salvation—also often referred to as “sin and grace”—is what brings us to heaven and gives us our hope for the future . . . we look for a “city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Adam died and brought us all death, Christ died and brought us all life.
But, we forgot a point. And I have long thought that the sermons we hear do not emphasize that point enough. We have heard all the time of “sin and grace.” We have heard of its development. We have heard of the Reformed truths — and truths they are. But they deal — almost exclusively — with sin and salvation, leaving nothing for service. Let me clarify what I mean. Take the five points of Calvinism . . . the TULIP. These points have been drilled into us. And I know that you know them, but let’s go through them a minute.
First, then, “Total depravity.” This means simply that we are all completely dead in sins; that we are not able in ourselves to do any good; and that our nature itself is in bondage to Satan. That basically says what total depravity is . . . the condition we find ourselves in without Christ.
The second is “Unconditional election.” This is a statement that we are elected not because of anything we did, or that God knew we would accept Christ, and therefore chose us, or that we are elect if we accept Christ. In other words, unconditional election states that God chose us before birth without regard to anything we would do.
“Limited atonement.” This is just what it appears to be. Christ died — not for all men indiscriminately, but only for those whom God had chosen. That Christ’s blood is accounted for — every drop. Christ died for an exact number of people and only those receive the benefits of His death.
The fourth petal the TULIP consists of is “Irresistible grace.” God’s grace can’t be thwarted by man. If God has chosen one, that one will ultimately be saved — no doubts about it. For God is sovereign and with God, to will is to do.
Finally, the last point it contains is “Perseverance — or Preservations of Saints.” Either wording is essentially the same. This means that those whom God has chosen; that Christ has died for; and the Spirit has drawn will be saved unto the very end. Nothing will take one of God’s elect from Him. I can’t help but add a verse of Scripture here that is so very beautiful and that emphasizes this last petal of the TULIP, “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38 and 39.
Now, I don’t claim that I have given an adequate explanation of the five points. But I do feel that I have given a basic description of what those points involve. Now look them over. What do you see? Sin and salvation are prominent in total depravity and limited atonement, and the other points emphasize other facets of God’s work in salvation. But where is service? You don’t find it there, do you?
And this is the point that I wanted to make. We dwell on the first two S’s, and seem to nearly forget the last one. And that is a shame. For if we were just saved for the purpose of being saved — we could just as well be immediately transformed into a heavenly body at the time of our realizing that Christ is our Savior. Why not? If that’s all there is to it? But it isn’t. We are saved for a purpose. We read of it in I Peter 2:9b “that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
After reading what I have written so far, some people might agree with me. They might agree that we don’t emphasize service enough. They might agree that we must live a life of gratitude. But that title, “Living for Christ” still scares them away. They maybe are asking, “wouldn’t it be better to say, “Living in Christ?”
To that I want to say this. We indeed live in Christ. It is in Christ that we have our salvation. It is in Him that we put our trust and find our strength. Scripture is full of verses that state that we are in Him, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works that God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10. But not only do we live in Christ, Christ lives in us! And because He lives within us, our bodies are temples of His spirit and we must live for Christ! What does this mean? Look back at the verse I quoted. What does it say our purpose is? To walk in good works. Isn’t that living for Christ?
In Romans 8:2, Paul says, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Free from the law of sin and death! Now that has to bring something more than personal comfort and peace. It must make us want to live for Him that died for us! What a Savior! Doesn’t it make you want to shout? To sing? All right. So now, let’s look at that third “S” . . . Service. In the catechism it speaks of it as a “life of gratitude.” What does that mean? First of all, it means that the law that used to be the condemning finger that pointed at us and convicted us of sin is now a guide for a life of gratitude. That’s what the catechism says when it deals with the Ten Commandments. It says that those commandments are a rule for a life of gratitude.
You know, when Rev. Lubbers was the minister at Southwest — my home church — he always said when he read the Ten Commandments in the service — “the law as the rule for a life of gratitude.” I’m glad he did. He made me see it more clearly than I had ever seen it. So many of us are like the Jews —the Pharisees — who were so very law conscious. We are still afraid of the law, because we know we are sinners. This is only natural, I guess. But we don’t see the law as a vehicle to better serve God. The law is the basis for our life. The law is stated negatively, but the Christian must live it positively. The law says, “Thou shalt not steal.” The Christian must not just try to keep himself from stealing. He must see the positive side. He must see that now, not only can he not take from others — he must give to others. And it’s that way with the whole law. It implies how we should live.
Faith must be the rule for our new life. We must have faith in Christ and in His promises. But faith is worthless, unless it is coupled with good works. For James 2:6 says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (Read the rest of the book of James —it is short and beautifully tells how we must live in good works.)
What are some good examples of living for Christ? We must live in a way that all can see Christ within us. Live in peace with others. Work in the Church. Give readily for the benefit of the poor . . . not only those in your local church, but all the poor. Give of your time to help others. Reach out to your unsaved friends. Share the blessed news of salvation. It is a blessed thing, a glorious thing, something that so many do not have. Visit the sick and the people who can’t get out, those who are old and forgotten. These are all ways to live for Christ who lives in you. It is hard to list specific things or ways to live for Christ because each person’s life and circumstances are different. But Romans 12:1 describes what the attitude of each of us should be, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present yourselves a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
This may seem like an old question of a lot of our readers. It is no wonder that it would. After all, we have been brought up with the idea of Christian education pounded into our heads from the pulpit and also in the Standard Bearer. Yet sometimes we as young people doubt the real necessity of our own – very expensive, I might add – Christian schools. Sometimes we feel that perhaps our ministers are over-emphasizing the role of the school and generally being a little too tough on public education. Sometimes we feel that education is outside the church’s sphere of influence just as the state is. And it is for that reason that I – as a questioning young individual – am writing this paper.
I would like to begin by quoting a very familiar Psalter number, taken from Psalm 119. “How shall the young direst their way? What light shall be their perfect guide? Thy word, O lord, will safely lead, if in its wisdom they confide.”
This psalm contains the most important thing that we must realize when dealing with religious education. That is, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Since education is a search for wisdom, we must begin with the fear of the Lord.
All parents vow when their children are baptized in our churches to see that they are brought up in the doctrine of the Old and New Testaments to the best of their ability. This means, first of all that education must begin in the home
The home is probably the most important unit of government and instruction there is. If the home is corrupt, education facilities, coming under the preaching, and other outside influences will very likely be ineffective. The home is the important thing. The home must be an expression of Christianity – with Christian parents taking the time to instruct their covenant seed in the way of truth.
Because the home is so important to Christianity, the home must remain pure. This is very difficult in the world of today to say the least. Many of our homes have a direct link with the world occupying a commanding place in our living-rooms or dens or rec-rooms. I am referring of course to the one-eyed monster, the television set. The T.V. is one instrument which can often nullify the work of parents to teach their children the truth – especially today. There is so little on T.V. that is worthwhile! Most of it is direct appeal to our sensual instincts. And sometimes we may say, “Oh, but Johnny knows what to reject – he knows what’s right and what’s wrong!” But when small children grow up with a television spewing forth the world’s deadly poison constantly, the effects can creep in. But I have deviated from my topic.
I think we agree that the home is the primary place of instruction. And this is why many people say that Christian schools are unnecessary. “I can teach my son the doctrine at home and he will be a witness at school of the Christianity we love.” It wounds very noble, I must admit. But the problem is that the children are at school a large portion of the day and what you can teach them at night cannot offset the ideas they mold in school. For children are very impressionable people, and the public schools are not neutral, but set forth ideas which go along with the philosophies of the times and not Christian principles.
This is why it is so important that we are able to send our children to schools where we know the teacher is a saint, teaching in a Christian school because he is motivated by a desire to instill in our youth a proper sense of their relationship with God and their fellow men.
Do we need Christian high schools then? Isn’t ten years of Christian education enough? The answers to those questions are Yes! And No! in that order. High school students are at the age where they really begin to dig deeply into life and it is very important that they are able to ask more mature Christians for their answers. In the public schools, the answers must be found thru the use of logic and reason – not reliance on God, but reliance on man and man’s intellect.
Now, so far I must admit I sound exactly like the ministers that we have heard explain why Christian education is important, i.e., 1. Our parents vowed to instruct us to the best of their ability in the Truth. 2. The home is the principal place of instruction. 3. The Christian school is an extension of the home. 4. The public school teaches a rationalistic, not-Christian philosophy damaging to our youth. 5. The Christian school on the other hand, preserves the idea that we rely on Scripture for our sense of values. These things we have all heard. But I am a student, and students are known to be natural skeptics. I must concede that I felt the whole thing was a little over-done. After all, only a small portion of Christians maintain day-schools. Notably, the Christian Reformed, and the Protestant Reformed Churches.
So now we must ask ourselves if Christian schools are really worth the price we have to pay for them? Could we attend public institutions and still come out all right? There was a time when I could have answered those questions “Maybe not,” and “Yes, I think so” in that order. But no longer. You see, I now go to a public institution of so-called higher education. I was appalled at what I encountered.
I would like to give a sampling of the things I have actually heard. In my English class – where my teacher was of a Baptist background, but had become discontent with Christianity, I listened as Christianity was equated with Islam, Buddhism, Shintoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Brahmanism, and Sikhism! We were told outright that all religions were the same – only the symbols different, and therefore the important thing was to believe in some set of symbols whatever they were. But John leaves no room for that kind of philosophy when he says in his first epistle, chapter two, verse twenty-two, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?”
In my biology class I was told that the only possible view of the world is mechanistic – that is, entirely without the supernatural. Quoting from my textbook, “If outcomes of natural events were pre-ordained, then changes in conditions could not affect the outcomes. But since preordination does not exist in nature, it is erroneous to say that nature exists for a certain purpose.” This is of course, contrary to any scriptural approach to nature.
My political science class heard the professor telling us – “If you feel the war in Vietnam is wrong – protest it! Resist the draft, change the schools, and demand your rights!” Certainly such a breeding of disrespect for authority by our public educational system is responsible for much of the unrest of our campuses now.
Let me quote something my English professor said to me last semester. He knew my religion because I often wrote of it in my compositions. “Ken,” he said, “you will find that as you progress in your education, you will more and more reject the supernatural. For an educated person to accept supernatural events as recorded in the Bible is a very rare thing. You will realize that scholars cannot accept such views!” Believe me, that shakes one up!
I could go on…perhaps telling you of Mr. B. who said to our class that we were “all part and parcel of God. I you love something, that’s God. If you care for life, that’s God…” But I feel that I have made my point. The public school system leads to a denial of the supernatural and of the values dear to Christians.
I feel now – more than I ever did when I attended our own schools – that they are indeed very important. They are worth the price we are paying. They are worth much more. I feel that Christian education is vital to the proper bringing up of our youth – as an extension of the Christian home.
I began this article by quoting Scripture – so also would I like to end it. This time quoting Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he shall not depart from it.”
Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 1 March 1970
Editor’s Note: The following article was originally given as a chapel speech at Calvin Christian High School in Grandville, Mich. We hope that these thoughts will also benefit our readers.
My topic is not foreign to us, but I must admit that we do not hear many students speak on my subject. Usually ministers, or at least teachers, will try to communicate their thoughts on this topic. But, somehow, it just doesn’t seem to sink in when a teacher lectures on sex. Maybe it is hard for us to imagine him ever being really involved in our situation. I hope this is one vantage point that I have, being a student. The problems of sex, love and dating are real for me as they are for you. And because I am a student, I don’t have to preserve the image that a minister or a teacher has to. I am free to speak openly about this subject. So let’s be honest with each other in order to take a critical look at ourselves.
First, we live in a sex saturated society. If anything in the whole, wide world is true, that is. We are not isolated from this saturation simply because we are Christians attending a Christian high school. Sex is all around us—we are bombarded with it all our lives. Before we are ten we are laughing at dirty jokes. We may not understand them, but we still hear them and laugh.
As we grow both physically and mentally, our knowledge of sex grows also, but its growth is usually not a healthy one. It seems as if every time a bunch of kids gather, talk turns to sex. It is really no wonder. The world uses sex in all sorts of ways, even as an advertising technique—and it is one of the best. Everyone knows that if a cute girl digs a guy in a Dodge, a lot of guys will go buy Dodges. All the songs we hear on our favorite radio stations have as their basis that three-lettered word “sex”. It is always covered over with the word “love”, but it is still “sex”. I could give many examples, but I hardly think it necessary.
Have you ever looked at the movie page? If you thought that I was exaggerating about the role of sex in our society, look at the movie section tonight—and don’t forget Floyd Bloss’s ad for “adult movies”—that’s the best of all. We can bring the subject even closer to home that. The number of illegitimate children has risen steadily over the past few years and the dropouts from Christian schools because of pregnancy number more than a handful.
The basic problem is that the world presents sex in the wrong light. It keeps trying to substitute “eros” (physical love) for “agape” (Christian love) and it cannot be done. The world cannot be the place where we learn our morals because of that wrong standard. Nor can we find those morals from the animal world or in ourselves. We must take them from the Word of God. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage if honourable in all, and the bed undefiled, but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
If we are to follow God’s Word, we must live sanctified lives. This is hard. Face it. We are created male and female and God has placed in each of us the desire for the opposite sex. If that was not the case, the human race would soon die off. We have this desire—and it is as natural as the desire for food or drink or shelter—and it is meant to be fulfilled in sexual intercourse. But it must be fulfilled only in the marriage state which God has instituted as a sign of the relationship of Christ to His Church. Only then is the fulfillment of our natural desires in accordance with God‘s will. To break that sign is to commit fornication.
This poses a problem for us. In the time of the Old Testament and in a few societies today, people married when they first came to realize the desire—that is, when they had grown up physically. But in our society, people usually wait until they are 20 or 21 or older if for no other reason than financial difficulties. The result is a long waiting period, which can get pretty rough sometimes. But we must wait if we are serious about fulfilling the requirements set by our glorious God.
The fact makes a lot of difference to Christian young people who are dating. Society now accepts pre-marital sex. Why not? Contraceptives rid people of the consequences and it is much harder to fight one’s passions than it is to give in to them. But we must not go along with society, for we are called to be pure—both the woman and the man.
When we date, then, we must seek to love those we go with; for love is unselfish, it is kind and it is thoughtful of the other person. We must not seek to rouse each other’s passions, but rather we must concentrate on learning God’s will. We must ask ourselves, “Is this the one God would have me marry?” because that is the purpose of dating after all—to find a mate. And as we search for the right person with whom to share our lives, we must strive to keep ourselves pure as we also keep the Church pure for Her Husband.
Now let’s get a little more practical. What should we do on dates? I cannot stand here and tell you what you may or may not do on dates. But I can tell you that we must flee temptation. We should always know what we will be doing and where we will be going on a date. Unplanned dates are often those which lead to temptation. Parking is another thing we must avoid. No good ever came out of an evening which was spent necking. Things like that leave us wide open for temptation.
Let’s keep our dating what it should be, a searching of one another’s personalities to see if the other person is the one that God wills you to marry and save our love-making for marriage. It is certainly something wonderful to look forward to if one has kept himself pure.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 29 No. 4 June July 1969
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