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    What to Do When School Conflicts with God

    Let me share a story with you. When I was a freshman in high school, my English teacher assigned a book that I was to read and then review. The book had some inappropriate themes and I felt uncomfortable reading it. I went to my teacher and told her that, as a Christian, I didn’t think the book was appropriate for me. The teacher was kind and listened but she told me that if I did not read the book, my grade would reflect that.

    I tried to read the book anyway, but couldn’t. When the time came to turn in the assignment, I restated my position and did my review on the inappropriateness of this book for students my age. I think I received a D on that assignment. The only reason my teacher didn’t fail me was because I put thought into my argument against the book.

    I wanted to tell you this story so you understand that if you take a stand against a school assignment for religious reasons, there may be consequences. You always need to be prepared for the consequences that could follow.

    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment (Romans 13:1-2).

    A teacher is a person in authority, so this verse from Romans applies. However, there are a couple of things you can try if you feel strongly that what you are being asked to do for school conflicts with what God wants.

    • Pray! This should always be your first step. Take the issue to God and ask Him what He wants you to do about the situation.
    • Respect those in authority. If you are thinking about refusing an assignment based on a religious belief, talk it over with your parents first. Let them know what the assignment is, how you feel about it, what you are thinking about doing, and what the consequences might be.
    • Go to your teacher in humility. Don’t accuse him/her of assigning inappropriate material. Don’t act super religious or holy. Approach your teacher with humility and grace. Explain how you feel about the material. Ask if there is a different assignment that you could do instead. Be willing to do extra work and be willing to submit to the decision of your teacher.

    What if none of those tactics work? Well the Bible is pretty clear: Those in authority have been instituted by God, so we need to submit to them.

    But there is an upside to doing assignments that favor the world over God. In doing so, we gain a clearer perspective of what non-Christians are experiencing. It gives us the opportunity to pray for wisdom and develop an argument for what God offers. If you understand both sides of any issue, then you are more likely to develop well-constructed and compelling arguments for your side.

    What are some of the benefits of submitting to authority?

    First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

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    Jenn Arman
    Jenn Arman is a youth pastor, freelance writer and blogger. She was born in San Diego, California and raised 2 hours north east in the Inland Empire where she lives with her husband David and their cats. Jenn desires to bring glory to God and a healthy dose of reality to Christians through both writing and preaching. Visit jenniferarman.com for more on her work. You can also connect with her on www.facebook.com/JenniferArman.Writer and https://twitter.com/JennArman

    34 COMMENTS

    1. Great article!! I actually went through something similar in kindergarten. It came time for halloween, and my teacher wanted us to recite a poem about “witches, ghosts, and goblins” as a strong Christian, I knew that this was wrong, so I changed the words or decided not to say it at all. I got in major trouble for it. So my teacher called in my mom, and told her what I did. My mom backed me up. The teacher was still mad at me, and called me out in the middle of class about it. But I didn’t care.

      Don’t EVER do something that is against your beliefs. LOVE this article! 🙂

    2. I agree that there are both benefits and disadvantages. Understanding both sides really does give you a fuller understanding, and that is why I think that it’s good to protect kids but not shelter them too much. If they’re really sheltered and know hardly anything about the not-so-great stuff in everyday society, they’re only going to get hurt and/or rebel. Protection is good, but being too sheltered is dangerous. I think that we should submit to authority unless we feel like God is specifically telling us not to. You just have to be careful.

    3. Thank you for this article! I’m doing Biology class this year, in a public school, and I’m a bit nervous about what is going to happen later in the year when we study Evolution, so this article is really useful.

    4. Great article! I totally agree. I’m taking honors biology this year, and unfortunately we are doing a unit on evolution. I’m trying to handle it indifferently, and I always call it the “theory” (i.e. “Accoring to the theory of evolution…”) If I’m asked to give my opinion on it, I say that I believe the evolutionary theory is wrong, and that I believe in Creation. Last year we learned about the big bang and I handled it the same way.

    5. Thanks! I’m actually going through something like this right now. We’re reading this book in English about the Japanese gods and the monkey king. I don’t want anything to do with it, but I think I’ll just suck it up so that I can learn about other cultures.

    6. Just out of curiosity, what book was it?
      I know a lot of time I just think, well times have changed and some of these things aren’t such a big deal anymore, so I don’t even think about it when I read it. I don’t stop and think, “should I as a Christian be reading these things?” Maybe I should. But with everything that’s out there nowadays it’s hard when to know where to draw the line

        • I think she was asking Jenn. I was interested too, because I know that a lot of classical literature could even have stuff that could be deemed as innapropriate.

    7. I usually have no problem with such things. I have no problem accepting other points of view–like evolution. There’s nothing that says God couldn’t have created things through evolution. Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish… We need each other to be what we must be, what we are called to be.

      • I don’t think it’s about point of view, I think it’s about inappropriate things for Christians (or all people) to be reading. Also, the Bible says specifically that He created us, not that we came from monkeys. Smaller things of evolution, like adaptation and natural selection, maybe is true, but when they try to force big things like that down our throats, you have to cross the line. Plus, if you just accept everything, how do people know where you stand? How do they know that you stand on faith?

        • Accept does not equate to agree. Just because I accept a point of view as valid does not mean I agree.

    8. Someone once told me that if on a test, or a question, your teacher ask you how old the earth is, just answer, “Many scientists believe the world is [insert number of years teacher has told you] years old.” That way you aren’t saying it is really billions of years old, but you don’t have to get points taken off your test. Maybe others feel different about this, I don’t know.

      • It is very important to know what you believe and why. In college, you will have to do assigments on things that do not agree with the Bible and your professor will not care if it offends you. However, you can use that assignment as a way to shine the light of Jesus by standing up to those false beliefs. So, its important to understand why those other beliefs are wrong. For example, how are you going to argue against evolution if you don’t even know what it states? If you try to argue against evolution without learning about evolution first, you won’t make a very good argument. Assignments in high school like the ones above are helpful because they will expose you to other people’s views so you can understand them and understand why they are wrong. You also need to know the Bible well so you can better understand your own beliefs. How can you argue against other beliefs if you can’t explain your own?

        • P.S. 1 Peter 3:15 says: But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

        • I totally agree. I have spent time reading books on Creationism, and also articles on websites like creation.com, that really helped me to better understand this topic.

    9. ok i have a question it doesn’t haveanything really to do with this but i really need an anwer:
      ok so at my church they describe Him kind of as a harsh teacher and I’ll get so confused because I will open up a teen devotional book and they will describe Him as kind and gentle. Like in this article they would say that if that was Jesus He woulden’t confront them very kind about reading a book like that. And I’m so scared that God isn’t pleased with me because I constantly go through the motions and I don’t think I have truly led anyone to Christ. I feel awful and I’m not doing anything to extroidinary for God’s Kingdom because I’m so wrapped up in school and idk i guess i let friends and guys distract me but idk it’s like I’m trying to find balance because I haven’t even been a full Christian for a year,plus I’m trying to get rid of 4 fears that are deeply rooted in my heart.also idk why but I have a hard time making friends at church but i have no issue at school! sorry it’s so long but I’m desperate for answers, please reply it’s driven me to the brink of tears!

      • I know exactly how you feel. I used to be in the exact same position you are in right now. I have learned and grown so much in the past years, and have found answers to some questions about God that had ben tugging and eating at my heart, and it seems like you and I have a lot in common, so I want to share what the Lord has opened my eyes to.
        First, I know you are confused by the different ways that God is portrayed in your life (ex. Is he a harsh leader or a gentle lover?). God tells us in Matthew 10:13 to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves. If that’s what He wants us to be, don’t you think that’s what he is like as well? He rules the universe and the heavens with an iron fist and strict judgement, but He also loves us and is our daddy that wants to cuddle us in His arms and love us for eternity. Most people find it hard to wrap our brains around a fierce God that is still loving, and that’s okay. If we ere meant to fully understand all of God’s ways, there would be no need for us to be here on earth. He made it that way so that we would be so intrigued and mystified that we would want to know Him more and want to dive deeper into a realtionship with Him. You don’t need to be scared of God in the way that you are constantly fearing harsh punishment for any misstep. God loves you and wants the very best for you. He’s not a big meanie in the sky that is just waiting for you to mess up so that He can pound you with His hammer of punishment. He is like a father who loves His daughter dearly. A good parent will punsih their child.
        Proverbs 13:24
        “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”
        The word “chasteneth” means the same as “punish”. God is saying that if a parent does not punish his child he hates him, but if a parent loves his child he will punish him so that he may learn from his mistakes.
        The same is true with God. Just like a parent, he does not enjoy giving spankings, but he knows that it is good for us and he wants us to learn and grow in Him.

        Now for the flip side of that coin.
        Our God is a God of grace and mercy. He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He will love us until the end of days, then keep loving us for the whole span of time. We deserved Hell, and He offers us Heaven. We murdered Him on a cross and He offered us fogivenss and redemption from the evil we commit every day. He just wants to love us and for us to love Him. He is jealous four our affection.
        Exodus 3:14
        “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:”
        His love is like a hurricane and we are merely trees bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. (Credits to David Crowder Band ;D http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzfPHnoT0-0 ).

        Now about the friends and guys…… I definately know first hand how distracting they can be. One thing I started doing the really helped me a lot is to read your Bible every day. Wether it’s in the morning when you get up or before you go to bed at night, read at least a chapter. At first, you may have to force yourself to read beacause it may seem boring or hardto understand, but that’s okay. God is just pleasd with the fact that you are following His commandments and reading His word every day. Over time you will start to understand what you are reading and God will begin to speak to you through the words on the pages, and eventually, you will love reading your Bible so much that you can’t wait to crack it open and are thinking about it all the time. If you are thinking about God’s word, it’s going to be hard to be distracted by friends or guys.

        Next, I know you haven’t been feeling like a “full Christian”. That’s tough. Your reationship with God is like a marriage. Marriages go through rogh patches where they are tempted to give up hope on the entire relationship. It’s getting through the though spots that make the bond stronger and the love deeper than it ever was before. Now, thinking about a marriage, can a couple survive if the never ever talk to each other? NO! This is why it’s important to pray every single day. Talk to your Creator. Even if you think He doesn’t care, HE DOES! Talk to Him when you’re getting ready for school in the morning. He cares about what you wear, believe it or not, so talk to Him when you’re deciding what outfit to put on. Talk to Him before and after you read your Bible about what you read and what that means to you. Talk to Him when you’re lying in bed trying to sleep. Talk to Him when you are sad. Talk to Him when you are happy. Talk to Him when you are mad ar confused. He is the best companion.

        Now about these four fears. Give them o God. He want to take them off your shoulders. He doesn’t want you living wth these fears inside your heart. Talk to Him about them. Let Him show you how powerful He is. Your whole life is in His hands and He can protect you from whatever you are so afraid of. Give your feas over to Him. He can carry them for you so you don’t have to be crushed under the desperation and weight of these fears that have a tight grip on your life.

        About making friends, I wouldn’t worry too much. I went through a time when I didn’t have a single true friend. God kept me going. All you need to do is pray and ask God to bring you a good Christian frind that will be with you and can support you in your Christian walk. It may tak e a while, but just be persistent. Keep praying. The Lord will hear you and deliver you a great friend. I had asked hime for years and e finally, just recently brought me several Christan friends who I love dearly and who support me in my time of need.

        I hope this helps you a lot. I’ll pray for you every single day. Stay close to God and never forget how muchh He loves and adores ever part of you.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzfPHnoT0-0

        Love your sister in Christ,
        Kaitlyn Counts <3

    10. There’s actually a lot of evidence against the theory of evolution that’s been found over the years. It’s really interesting to do research on, there are scientists that support and conduct research and searches for evidence for young earth theories (some of Einstein’s theories support the young earth stand, whether he meant for it to do so or not–though he may not have been a Christian, or just didn’t believe in religion, he did believe in God if I’m not mistaken). They are definitely in the minority in the scientific world. popular science is so biased, you can’t believe everything they tell you. If a person tells you “evolution is a fact”, that’s their philosophical standpoint, not a proven fact, just like Creationism is our philosophical standpoint (which to me makes more sense than life spontaneously appearing, and people decended from fish). In most schools and colleges/universities, you have to sit through and do assignments on stuff you don’t agree with. I don’t shut off, that’s willed ignorance to me, but I look and listen, then look at why they are wrong. That’s what Christian apologists do, and the good ones argue from the Biblical standpoint very effectively, so that believers and nonbelievers can understand. The world is full of sin, so naturally, what is actually true is being rejected and replaced by false knowledge, and it’s just ‘less confusing’ to teach only the popular theories.

      • There was also a Christian IB student who actually had to get media exposure in order to receive an alternative assignment and not get a bad grade, because the book assigned to her had several pornographic chapters (her teacher said there were only a few, but my teacher said there are several in that book), and a lot of cursing. She showed the book to her parents, dropped the book, and said “Eww, gross.” Poor girl, she wasn’t trying to get out of doing work, but keeping away from something that offended her and disturbed her conscience. Everyone in the U.S. has freedom of religion, and that includes Christians too.

    11. Engel v. Vitale (1962)- Separation of Church and State (i.e. State Funded School Programs)

      Plus, Private Christian Schools are allowed to give any curriculum they want because they are not regulated by the government under state allocated funds. So, if you’re going to read a book like “Plainsong” by Kent Haruf or “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger because your school told you, you should lie down and obey, because the school is trying to teach you valuable life lessons through literature. Plus, Jesus said to turn the other cheek, so Jesus wants you in addition to your privately funded institution.

    12. Yes, but God also allows us to desobey some authroity, such as the teacher in this case, if it desobeys God. For example in class we were studyin about Greek mythology and one of th assignments was to become one of the gods. I’m sure the teacher meant it as a “fun activity” but for me I felt very uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure if I was suppose to do this so I asked my parents. The thing is, my dad said “not to overanalyze things so much” my mom told me to “go with your gut”. I prayed and when I thought about doing the activity I had this sick feeling I knew it was from God so I did not do it.
      The reason why was because this “innocent” acitivty wasn’t so. I felt if you were to become a god, it’s leading you into temptation to make you seem higher than God AND the Bible says not to make any idols.
      I went to the teacher and told him this and I asked if I could do an essay or something and he allowed me to do a presentation on Alexander the Great 🙂

    13. That is probably how i felt when I read this book called “Bless Me, Ultima”. I didn’t like it all, because the book accepted that paganism was okay, that you should “believe what you want to believe.”

      From reading this article, I was convicted by God that I should stay away from the book “A Clockwork Orange” no matter how curious i am to read the book since i already know how inappropriate it is for a Christian.

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