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The Frontlines of Spiritual Warfare:
Creating a Culture of Life in Your Classroom and School

Death. Through continual exposure to 21st-century postmodern culture, today’s children, tomorrow’s leaders, will eventually come to value death. That is, unless they are intentionally and deliberately instructed in the value of life. Lutheran educators bear a tremendous blessing, privilege, and responsibility bestowed on them by our heavenly Father to lead the next generation in treasuring God’s gift of life! While the pro-life message rightfully concentrates on the beginning and end of life, it is much more than just an “anti-abortion/anti-euthanasia” mindset. The Culture of Life is a whole-life ethic, valuing individuals made in God’s image regardless of their contribution to society, including support for caregivers of the vulnerable. In the last decade, the pro-life position has also expanded to address heart-breaking issues of identity and sexuality that cry out for answers only a Christian worldview can adequately provide. Teachers in Lutheran schools are uniquely positioned to strategically foster a Culture of Life in the classroom and to communicate more persuasively and more lovingly than society. Let us, then, catechize the children in our midst about God’s plan for life, because whether we do or not, the world will catechize them in the culture of death.

In our broken world, many classrooms include students from weak or unbelieving homes.Ideally, your students’ parents are the frontline soldiers in this battle, defending their children from the cultural onslaught of anti-life messages. However, in our broken world, many classrooms include students from weak or unbelieving homes. But, whether or not the parents of your students are faithful Christians, simply enrolling their child in your school indicates a delegation of part of their parental office to you. This is God’s invitation to engage in spiritual warfare on the parents’ behalf, authorized by these very parents to stand for His truth. As a professional Christian educator, you have the opportunity to impact students, both in your school and in your classroom, with a positive pro-life message, including the life-changing, life-giving Gospel.

Pro-Life Self-Care

macpheerson familyBefore delving into myriad opportunities for promoting a pro-life message in your school and classroom, let’s take a moment to talk about you. As a flight attendant reminds passengers before take-off, “Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” When you invest in yourself and your own family, you will be better equipped to do the same in your other vocations. We all know teachers have so much heaped onto their proverbial plates—lesson plans, coaching, grading, and more. But, God has called you first to your family and only secondarily to your career, even as a called worker. 1 Timothy 3:12 Step back from your work responsibilities and take time to nurture your marriage and mentor your children, if you have been blessed with them. There will be other teachers for your students; there cannot be another spouse for your husband or wife, or another father or mother for your child. Make your own family devotions and Scripture reading a priority. Be aware of your own media intake, which may subtly influence your perception of life issues. Above all, do not let the sins of your past prevent you from engaging in conversation with your family and students in the war for life. Repent and believe that Christ’s forgiveness for you is full and free. You are His own dear baptized child, bought with His blood, which He gave and shed for you. It is He who provides the whole armor of God for you in this battle. Eph. 6:10-18 So, take up His sword of the Spirit!

A Pro-Life Message in the School and Church

Regularly request prayers in worship and among congregants for populations struggling with difficult life choices or in challenging situations.Within the network of called workers in your congregation, collaborate for the message of life. One vital way is through a channel that already exists: worship. Encourage your pastor to observe “Life Sunday” in the future, if he doesn’t already. Perhaps he would be willing to incorporate life themes into the daily or weekly school chapel messages. Regularly request prayers in worship and among congregants for populations struggling with difficult life choices or in challenging situations.

Hosting Parent Training Sessions

Under the leadership of your pastor and principal, your congregation may consider hosting training sessions for parents in engaging their children in discussion about chastity and life issues. As mentioned earlier, ideally parents are engaging their own children in these conversations, not just leaving it to the school. But, even when they are unbelievers, equipping parents to share truth with their children capitalizes on the most influential people in children’s lives. Hosting such a class would create an opportunity for parents to hear the Gospel from pastors and teachers, while tangibly demonstrating to them the value of the vocation of parenthood. Consider utilizing Teaching Children Chastity (for Life): Talking Points for Christian Parents to guide your church leaders, and make it available for any parent in the congregation or school.

Reconsidering the School’s “Sex Ed” Program

Even in a Christian setting with a Christian curriculum, sexual education assumes a number of premises, which may or may not be true.Encourage your faculty to reevaluate the school’s sexual education/human growth and development curriculum. While there have long been biology and hygiene classes offered in schools, today’s explicit “sex ed” is a relatively new phenomenon. Even in a Christian setting with a Christian curriculum, sexual education assumes a number of premises, which may or may not be true:

If your school still feels a formal curriculum is appropriate, look for a curriculum which focuses on the health of the whole person, which the National Institute for Health, the World Health Organization, and the Center for Disease Control all agree include physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, and social health. A comprehensive sexual education curriculum generally does not focus on well-being, but rather, encourages sexual experimentation while creating rifts between children and the traditional values of their parents. Delve into the philosophy behind your curriculum: What are the goals? Are they God-pleasing? Even though it is secular in nature, a sexual-risk avoidance curriculum may better suit the needs of your school. While they might not use the same terminology, science, government, medicine, and sociology all agree: God’s plan for sexuality yields the best outcomes for all realms of health (by far).

When Pro-Life Isn’t Popular

Even a Gospel-centered, life-affirming curriculum may be received with negative feedback from parents or the community. Continue to speak the truth in love. Eph. 4:15 Hold fast to your pro-life position, knowing it is really God’s position, and you are called to battle not just flesh and blood, but also against the spiritual powers of darkness. Eph. 6:12 Our Savior reminds us that we will be hated for His sake, and yet, we are blessed amidst this persecution: “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt. 10:22, 24:9-10; Matt. 5:11-12 Even if a pro-life stance causes families to unenroll, God still calls teachers to remain faithful to His  Word. Your duty is not to dilute truth to manipulate families to stay in your classroom. Your duty is simply to faithfully teach and shake the dust from your feet, if necessary. Your calling is not to be popular in your community. Your calling is simply to preach the Word, knowing that the Word does not return to God empty. Your task is not to harvest all of the fruit of the Gospel. Your task is simply to plant the seeds of truth, and let the Holy Spirit do what He does best, in His own time. Mark 6:11, Is. 55:11, 1 Cor. 3:6-8

Continuing Education

The more primary resources and books you read, the better informed you will be, and the more naturally conversations can flow in your classroom.Encourage opportunities for continuing education in your church and school regarding life-issues about pertinent trends in the culture. This could be as simple as taking a few moments to discuss a Lutherans for Life brochure or video at the end of a regular faculty meeting, or as complex as inviting the pastor to train the teachers in the heresy of gnosticism (see Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcey), which influences modern ideas about the body. Does your church subscribe to the free Life Date magazine and Life News bulletin inserts? Members can also receive free Life News weekly email updates. You might start a bi-monthly study group to keep informed about the latest scientific research. Pro-life resources may reveal some surprising discoveries: many “contraceptives” work by obstructing implantation of an embryo rather than strictly blocking conception1, many vaccines incorporate aborted fetal DNA,2 many professionals question whether donors of vital organs have truly died3, and many lives created through IVF are left frozen indefinitely. The more primary resources and books you read, the better informed you will be, and the more naturally conversations can flow in your classroom.

Capitalize on using worship to be a conduit of a pro-life message. Educate parents on their vital role when it comes to sexual education, and equip them with materials that support their vocation. Re-evaluate the sex-ed curriculum in your school. Create opportunities for continuing education in pro-life issues. With the church and school, these are all great opportunities to engage in the battle for life against the spiritual forces of the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh. Within Lutheran classrooms, educators have occasion to present an inspiring pro-life message to their students in engaging ways.

Continue reading this article as a Shaping the Future PLUS article. Contents include A Developmentally Appropriate Message in the Classroom, Integrating a Pro-Life Message Across the Curriculum, Developing a Culture of Life in the Classroom, A Vocation for Life, and citations. Click here for the complete article in Shaping the Future PLUS.

Marie MacPherson is a certified classical educator (CCLE) and author of Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood (2018), Mothering Many (2016), Lutherans for Life/Concordia Publishing House booklet The Story of Baby Shalom, and the upcoming Teaching Children Chastity (for Life). Her bachelor’s degree is in elementary education with a specialty in communication arts and literature and Synod Certification from Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minn. Visit her family website at www.intoyourhandsllc.com.

ENDNOTES

1. https://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Feb/17/short-condensation-does-birth-control-pill-cause-a/
      also see chapter 4 of The Ethics of Sex: Contraception, An Embryo’s Point of View by Dr. Donna Harrison

2. https://newcitytimes.com/news/story/vaccines-aborted-babies-should-christians-be-concerned
      also see links provided in this article for primary sources

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3372912/
      Note that I do not support the thesis of this article, but find the admission that organ donors are not dead to be compelling in this peer-reviewed article.

4. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/18/us/embryos-egg-donors-difficult-issues.html
      Note that I do not support egg and sperm donation. See also: https://thefederalist.com/2017/08/22/embryo-adoption-industry-not-pro-life/

All Scripture taken from the New King James Version.

©2019 Marie MacPherson. Edited and used by permission.