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).