Book Review: Excused Absence

Book Review: Excused Absence By Doug Wilson

My son and his family live in a conservative suburb of Milwaukee County. The public schools have a decent reputation for a good education and the buildings are top-of-line facilities. What could go wrong?

My son and daughter-in-law decided to try the local school for their oldest son. He spent two years in the local elementary school-kindergarten and 1st grade.

While he was in kindergarten one of the other elementary schools in the suburb caused a bit of a stir by announcing they wanted to have the kids who attend there to dress up as the opposite gender. In other words, cross dress for a day.

When challenged as to the agenda behind the idea, the administration replied that it was for the purpose of “school spirit.” What cross-dressing has to do with school spirit is beyond me, but it is an interesting choice of words to describe the event.

I think Doug Wilson, a man who can turn a phrase pretty well, might say something like this about “school spirit.”

There is indeed a school spirit that has authority in the government schools and it is the spirit that hates God or treats God as irrelevant: I drew this imaginary quote from what Wilson actually says in Chapter 8, With All Your Mind in Excused Absence:

“Christian Education is mandatory if we walk in obedience to the greatest commandment. “Jesus said unto to him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37, KJV). We cannot dismiss the imperative  given to us in this text.

Wilson goes on to write; “Our children come into this world not knowing how to do anything with their minds, and God places on them the mandate of loving Him with all their minds. How and when are they going to learn this lesson?”

Wilson continues: “The world is a fallen and sinful place, so this task is daunting. How can our children learn to love God if men and women who do not love God teach them? Will our children learn to love God with their minds if the people responsible for training their minds have no idea what this passage means? And even if some teachers at the government schools happen to be Christians, how will our children learn to love God with all their minds when those teachers who do love God are prohibited from teaching them anything about Him when school is in session?”

The obvious answer to Wilson’s questions are our kids will not learn anything about loving God with all their minds if they are cooped up in a government school for six-seven hours a day, five days a week for months at a time.

What will inform their minds is the spirit of the age that we could call the  “school spirit” the administrator of the school spoke of.  By placing our children under that spirit’s authority for that amount of time we should not be surprised that when they get older they reject God or ignore Him. This is why Wilson makes it matter of obedience to pull children out of the government schools and move them to home schooling or a good Christian school.

My one and only quibble with Wilson is that you cannot find a direct command in Scripture that demands that Christian children not attend a government school-a fact that some, if not many might use to justify using the government schools. The argument would go something like this; that which is not prohibited, is permitted.

The argument is valid in the sense no direct command exists and Wilson has to use inferences from both Testaments to make his point. The fact that he does it very well has convinced me that my quibbling is just that-quibbling that misses the much larger and critical point.

All people are worshippers whether they understand that or not. We will either worship the true God in heaven or will worship something else entirely. Romans 1:18-32 is crystal clear on that truth.

By turning over our children to a government school that is openly or covertly hostile to the worship of the true God we open our children’s minds to the worship of multiple false gods that rule the spirit of this age.

I believe that this is Wilson’s main point as he supports his argument and reinforces the idea that it’s a bad plan to have younger children under the kind of influence that rejects the God of the Bible.

Some might read this brief review of the book and immediately jump to the exceptions such as, what is a single mom who works supposed to do with her young children? It’s not right to put her under an implied command that she cannot possibly fulfill.

Fair enough and Wilson does deal with questions like that toward the end of the book. Most the answers revolve around what it means to function within a covenant community. I suggest reading the book to explore those answers more.

I did not need convincing as to the validity of Wilson’s arguments and I’m happy to say that my three grand children will not be part of the government schools while they are young and extremely vulnerable to the “school spirit” that rules the roost in the government schools.

So, what does Wilson’s book have to do with biblical counseling?

Over the years as a counselor I’ve had to counsel a number of male teens while my female associate counseled young teen women.

The commonality in counseling both genders might be boiled down to Proverbs 1:7:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

By turning over our children to the government school system we place them under a system that does not fear the Lord and thus receive the wisdom the fear produces. Instead, we give our children every opportunity to be educated as fools who will despise wisdom (personification of God) and hate His instruction.

My counseling of teens has taught me that much parenting hangs on Proverbs 1:7. If the government schools are involved, it will be far more likely the teen will adopt a worldview that ignores God entirely or treats Him are irrelevant.

My counsel to parents is simple; why run that risk if you have a choice? Instead, carefully consider the arguments Wilson makes in Excused Absence.

Father’s: Disciple Your Children or Someone Else Will

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4  NASB

A link to Al Mohler’s The Briefing led to an article titled Four-Year-Olds Discuss Love and Marriage at rethinkingschools.org.

The author of the article is an educator who works with four-year-olds and observes their conversations.

fathersThe author remarks that four-year-olds discuss things about love and marriage, no doubt parroting what they’ve heard from parents and others.

The author does not identify himself or herself as either male or female.  He or she works at a public nursery co-op in Chicago. His or her goal is to challenge binary thinking.

Binary thinking according to the author needs to be challenged in order to expand the minds of the little ones in his or her care.

The real goal is political correctness and this ought to be a concern for any Christian parent that uses public education.

The binary thinking that needed expanding in the conversation he or she over heard involved, you guessed it, homosexuality.

One or more four-year-olds said that boys marry girls and another said that girls can marry girls and boys can marry boys. Apparently, there was a slight disagreement among the four-year-olds.

The educator came to the rescue. What an opportunity to have a conversation and expand (change) the thinking of narrow minded four-year-olds.

The educator explained that love is the issue and not gender. Since love was the issue anyone can marry anyone.

Christian parents that take Ephesians 6:4 seriously should be alarmed.

You work hard to educate your precious four-year-old in the discipline and instruction of the Lord and in public pre-school their binary non-“pc” attitudes are corrected. Did you know? Do you care?

Please do not take this as a total dissing of public education. I realize that many have good reasons for using it including no other choice.

My point is this: Biblical counseling is discipleship as I’ve said many times before. Discipling and counseling your children could not be more important.

I think of a friend who told me that he had four little boys to disciple and that was his priority; His attitude was spot on. Parents must be on top of discipling their children because if they do not someone else will.

Do not assume the public education is neutral. It is not.

Even a casual observer of public education must realize there is an agenda afoot; There has been for some time. It’s just now it is more and more overt as a genuine Christian worldview is mocked and disparaged and corrected when your four-year-old innocently reflects the worldview of his or her Christian parents.

I am a grandfather now and my five-year-old grandson starts public kindergarten this fall after “graduating” from a Christian pre-school.

I am certain that my son is serious about Ephesians 6:4. I am equally certain that he will be on top of what my grandson hears, understands and repeats. I am equally certain my son will challenge the public school if and when my grandson is mocked, corrected or verbally abused by educators with an agenda. My son will be on guard.

I’m simply sad that we have to fight this fight in the first place.

Dads: disciple your kids because if you don’t someone else will and you probably won’t like it.