How much should we as parents intervene if our children are suffering persecution for their faith? When our daughter Hannah faced pressure in school from a teacher who disapproved of Hannah's Biblical views on homosexuality and gay marriage, that question came to center stage in our home.
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Well, here is what I chose to do for Hannah initially....
I encouraged her to stay in the battle, honor her teacher, and work even harder to fulfill the teacher's requirements. As I listened to the wisdom of the Lord, I sensed this would be a significant faith event that would test our daughter's ability to stand.
In fact, of all my children, Hannah is one of the most impassioned to stand for Biblical values in the midst of a hostile culture. This was, in essence, a test of the multi-year training she had received from the dynamic programs called Lightbearers and Understanding the Times from Summit Ministries. I posted on these here, and now count them as essential for kids of today.
Now as sure as I share with you what I did when Hannah faced this kind of teacher challenge, I must caution you that my answer may not be the right answer for every teen and every family.
The stakes are high when our kids are exposed to teachers and authorities who seem intent on winning a convert to their political/moral/ethical/faith point of view. That is why over 80% of our young people walk away from their faith as they leave our homes!
So, it is right that I was not happy that this teacher seemed more concerned with changing Hannah's views than lining up her grammar! And it could have been right for me to remove her from that pressure if I thought it could crush her or damage her.
But Hannah needed to fight this battle herself, I figured. However, I became keenly aware that without me standing behind her, she could have had a disaster. She was in such a vulnerable spot looking for affirmation from her first college experience. I was sobered.
She had practiced the reasoning and worked with opposing worldviews and still this was very hard. So she added more and more and more research going way beyond the minimum requirements of the assignment and taking extra submissions to attempt to fix the "problems."
Here is a sample of the teacher's comments (some of which were genuinely helpful) that tipped me over to consider a new action. Hannah received this AFTER she had already made many changes to satisfy the paper requirements. Take a look.
What do you see here? And what would you do next?
You clearly introduce the topic, but the introduction lacks an attention getter. Your thesis is clear and specific. You make clear points, but the paper lacks actual evidence to support some of those points. You provide one quote about the impact of gender confusion but do not provide any evidence from research to connect reading a book about homosexual characters to gender confusion. You make some pretty inflammatory claims. For example, you equate a book about a homosexual couple to books about making bombs and taking drugs. A book about a homosexual couple is more like a book about a couple of different races. Your paper ignores the evidence of the opposing viewpoint. You cannot simply ignore the evidence and pretend it does not exist. For example, a preponderance of scientific research has found that homosexuality is an inherent trait, not a choice. How will you respond to that evidence. Teachers introduce and assign books every day that contain ideas that conflict with the personal views or beliefs of parents. For example my son was forced to read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, which justifies greed and selfishness. It didn't make him selfish or greedy. Exposure to ideas in a classroom do not generally undermine the values one is taught at home. Where is the evidence that it does? Your paper suggests that teaching tolerance is a bad thing. Why would it be bad for a kindergarten or first grade teacher who has a student who has two dads or two moms in her room to bring this book in to teach tolerance? Tolerance is different from acceptance. You also cite three different sources that are pretty old (2001, 2005, 2008). Is the information still relevant and accurate? These are just some things for you to think about as you make revisions. Essentially, you need to remember you are not preaching to the choir. You are trying to convince an audience that includes people who disagree with you and people who have yet to form an opinion of your viewpoint. Therefore, you must consider their views and beliefs in forming your argument. You have chosen a challenging topic and I commend you for taking on the challenge. I think you have made improvements to the paper, but at points your logic falls apart.
Photo courtesy of MC Quinn
You can find the first two posts in this series here: