Thursday, May 03, 2007

Parental Responsibility

While listening to a call-in radio program on media censorship recently, I overheard a comment to this effect: "Having children is a choice. If you choose to have children, it is up to you to monitor what they see and hear." My immediate response to this was, "Really?" I think that the speaker might want to rethink this comment. What if we applied this to public education? Does the public have the responsibility to educate someone else's children? I have a problem with those who argue against support for public education with the comment, "I raised my children. Why should I have to pay higher taxes to educate other people's children?"

I presuppose a couple of things. First, when we agree to be part of a society, we agree to accept certain responsibilities. One of those is nurturing an educated populace. You may call this social planning, but in frontier America the first institution planted after the church was (sually) the school. Why? So people could read write, and "cipher" so that they could make a living and not be a drain on socieity. Also, they could inform themselves to be good members of the republic. Second, if I am to have a better life, others are going to have a better life, too. That won't happen unless they are educated to be good workers and good citizens.

What does this say to the church? Baptists don't "baptize" babies, but their parents do come to many of our churches to "dedicate" their children. In this process, the church agrees to aid the parents in the Christian nurture of their children. What does this involve? It is more than providing a children/preschool minister and a budget for children and preschool ministry. This means that we are concerned about growing them in the Christian faith. We will volunteer to work with them through the program organizations of the church, we will work to keep them from harm, and (beware) we will be good examples to them in the way that we conduct ourselves inside and outside of church gatherings.

It would be easy to say, "Hey, you had the kid. He's your problem!" As a Christian, I can't say that--not if I believe in the future of the Kingdom.

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