“One trap that parents fall into is the trap of not wanting sin around their kids. But I suppose this requires some explanation.
“The mistake arises because there are a bunch of sins that parents should keep away from their kids — kidnappers, for starters, and cocaine dealers, and pornographers, and seducers, and Cartesian dualists. One of the accusations leveled against private Christian education is that conservative parents are sheltering their kids. What next?! Parents sheltering children! We feed them too.
“But here is where the mistake come in. There is a question of degree here. We are not supposed to keep our children away from the presence of all sin whatever. And that’s a good thing, too, because it is impossible. There is a type of sin, common to the human condition, that your children will encounter (on a daily basis) on the playground of the finest Christian school imaginable. If you don’t send your kids to that school (because of all the sin there), they will encounter even more of it at church, in their relationships with their siblings, in their bedroom all alone, and in the midst of all the dirty thoughts between their ears. The task of parents in this is not to avoid this kind of sin, but rather to teach their children how to battle it. You cannot learn to battle something if you are constantly endeavoring to stay away from it.
“In short, with this kind of sin, there are two errors — equally bad. One is to accommodate yourself to the presence of this kind of room temperature sin, in such a way as to assume room temperature yourself. That is the way of spiritual death. The other is to pretend to yourself that the choices you have made have somehow successfully distanced you from all that icky stuff. But it is as close to you now as it ever was, but is now invisible because you have daubed your eyes with a special Pharisee salve. This is another way of spiritual death.
“The mere presence of sin discredits nothing and no one. A school is not a poor school because junior high girls are catty at lunch, because one of the boys in the fourth grade makes earthy observations about certain bodily functions, or because some blonde named Kimberly gets great grades and the word among the kids in the back row who don’t like to study is that she might be the teacher’s pet. Welcome to earth, everybody. This is not the kind of sin parents are required to keep their kids away from. They are in fact required not to try. This is the kind of sin that parents need to teach their kids to handle, and avoidance is not a biblical strategy. Because it will be necessarily unsuccessful, avoidance is simply a pretence of avoidance, with the down side — because you are too busy kidding yourself — of having children who are not learning how to respond and resist.
“Suppose your child is in the classroom of a fine Christian school, one with a great reputation. You know the teachers and administrators, and they really love the Lord. But you know for a fact that two/thirds of the kids in your son’s class are all hot about the latest skanky movie. Just last night, after the youth group get together, they all went to see Skanky Movie III, one that has set records for both kinds of box office gross. What will your temptation be? Your temptation will be to think that however well-intentioned the folks running the school might be, the “tone” of the school is not nearly “high enough,” and that all these families clearly have poor standards. You regret having to do this, but you are considering pulling your son, wrapping him up in cotton batting for two final semesters of Mom School.
“You think the problem is low entertainment standards, when the actual problem is that no Christian parents — including you — are teaching their kids what moral leadership looks like. About a third of the kids who went to that movie didn’t really want to, and wouldn’t have gone if someone in the class — I am thinking of your son in particular — had done more than simply studied his shoelaces when the subject came up. You are tempted to think that the others have low entertainment standards, when the real lesson is that your son is not a moral leader. The response ought not to be to do something that will make him even less of one.”