Recently my wife and I have been doing a lot of research regarding the Common Core State Standards (CCS). We’ve also been fielding a lot of questions and reading comments made by literally hundreds of people around the country. A few nights ago, after reading some very specific comments, Ellen asked me to use my blog to address the issue of Christian homeschoolers who are fearful of the CCS, testing, college admissions, etc. She asked me to write about this through the eyes of Daniel the prophet.
I realize many of you do not homeschool for religious reasons; many of you don’t even identify yourselves as evangelical Christians. That’s perfectly fine. We all homeschool for different reasons. But for those of us who are evangelicals, God provides a perfect example of what our perspective ought to be through that old prophet most-known for time he spent in the lion’s den.
There’s so much more about Daniel than just his encounter with the lions. But that’s another blog post for another time. For our purposes we need to go back to the start of the book of Daniel, understanding that when this prophet was taken captive by Babylon he was just a young boy.
He and his cohorts were taken into the royal household of Nebuchadnezzar in order to be trained as Babylonian magicians and soothsayers. Being just a youth, Daniel had no choice in the matter. With that said, let’s stop a moment and read the following passage of Scripture (I know it’s long, but I believe you’ll really benefit if you read it all the way through):
3 ¶And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes;
4 Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah:
7 Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abed–nego.
8 ¶But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
9 Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.
10 And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king.
11 Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,
12 Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.
13 Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.
14 So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.
15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat.
16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
How often have we read this portion of Scripture and simply taken for granted what Daniel and his friends did, without giving it a second thought? Far too many, I fear. But it provides a perfect example of how we Christian homeschoolers should view the CCS.
As I explained in two previous posts (if you haven’t read them the first is here and the second is here) the CCS has nothing to do with legitimate education or higher standards. It has everything to do with creating loyal, obedient minions of the state; in the same way Daniel’s training was to completely separate him from his former life in Israel and make him a loyal servant of Babylon.
By the way, this was common practice for Babylon. It was one of the tools they used to make sure their enemies were thoroughly defeated. They would take the best of the young generation, train them in their own ways and philosophies, and raise them up to be good Babylonians who would marry and have more loyal children. After just two generations a conquered people would be a mere shell of their former greatness.
You’ll notice Daniel purposed within himself not to be defiled by the king’s meat. Was it because there was anything physically wrong with the food he was being offered? No. Was it because Daniel was a strict vegan who could not eat meat or dairy? No. It was because most of the food served at the king’s table had been offered to idols prior to being used for food. Daniel was not going to go down the road of idol worship — neither purposely nor accidentally.
If you know the rest of Daniel’s story you know he and his friends never did bow the knee to the pagan gods of Babylon. Yet in the end, what happened? Nebuchadnezzar came to know the Living God while Darius and Cyrus at least surrendered to God’s will for Israel, even if they did not submit their own hearts and lives to him. As for young Daniel back in chapter 1, let’s finish that story.
You can see from the end of the text that Daniel and his friends ate their strict diet of vegetables for 10 days. Not only did they not end up sick, they were healthier and “fatter” than their counterparts who had been eating the king’s meat. Upon seeing the results, the steward assigned to watch over the group excused them from the king’s meat permanently.
Do Not Submit, Do Not Worry
Today the CCS is nothing more than a portion of the king’s meat with some state training to go along with it. Don’t submit to it. It is idolatrous, it is statist, it is completely contrary to everything we know about individual responsibility, liberty, and freedom. We were not created by God to be wards of the state. We were created to please him in everything we do. So don’t submit to the king’s meat.
More importantly, don’t worry.
Did God allow Daniel to become malnourished? No. Did God allow Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego to perish in the fiery furnace? No. Did God allow Daniel to perish in the den of lions? No.
At every attempt to destroy Daniel and his friends, God was there to protect them and bring them through. If you are a born-again Christian you are just as important to the Creator as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. He will not allow you and your children to perish at the hands of the godless.
It may be that the state hassles you because you’re not using CCS aligned curriculum. So what? It may be that the PASS Test becomes illegal next year. So what? It may be that the standardized tests used by your state end up being so foreign to your kids they have a hard time passing. So what?
So many things can happen as the result of this new educational paradigm that you and I won’t even recognize the education system five or ten years from now. Again I say, “So what?” Jehovah God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His will and desires are not determined by federal or state education standards. His will is determined by him, and him alone. And he will never let you hang from a tree and sway in the breeze because you chose his will over the state’s.
That’s not to say things won’t get difficult; they may very well do so. But just as the Lord was able to carry Daniel and his friends through a very trying time in Israel’s history, he will carry you through if you’re willing to follow him without fear. Just look at all the scriptural examples we have: Noah, Joseph, Gideon, Joshua, Samuel, David, Moses, Nehemiah, Ezra, John the Baptist, Peter, John, Paul, Stephen, and so many, many more. You can find them all listed in Hebrews Chapter 11.
Here’s the thing to remember: all of those “heroes of the faith” were human beings just like you and I. We tend to look at them as great men and women, as opposed to our mediocrity, but the only difference between mediocrity and greatness is a willingness to follow the Lord without fear. Those who do so rise to the occasion and seize victory from what would otherwise be the jaws of death. Those who cower in fear end up being devoured by the very thing that threatens them.
My fellow Christian homeschoolers, God is bigger than the state. So purpose in your heart to not eat of the king’s meat no matter what happens. God will give you the victory, in whatever way he defines it, if you’ll follow him without fear. Remember this:
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.