by Bob Thune, TCA Board Chairman
One of the best-selling book series targeted at late-elementary and middle-school kids is Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants. It should say something about the state of education in America that we have resorted to potty humor in a desperate attempt to get kids to read. But like it or not, the series has sold 50 million copies in the U.S. alone. DreamWorks Animation has acquired rights to the series, which means it will soon be coming to a big screen near you. With a pro-gay-marriage message.
That’s right, in the 12th book in the series (released last month), one of the main characters, Harold, comes out as gay - in an understated, third-person-limited-omniscient-narrator sort of way.
In the book, the narrator is describing Harold’s imagined future as young Harold sees it in his head. Harold pictures himself and his friend George as adult men:
“Old George, his wife and their kids, Meena and Nik, sat on the couch, while Old Harold, his husband, and their twins, Owen and Kei, plopped down on the giant beanbag chair.”
Gay-friendly literary critics are raving about the “normalcy” of this coming-out – no fanfare, no celebrations, no pride parades. This is the next component of the gay-activist social agenda: to portray homosexuality as so normal that we don’t even need to make a big deal about it.
In making the case for Christian education, we often say that there is no neutrality. Education always proceeds from a worldview – a set of basic assumptions about reality. Nothing could illustrate that more clearly than Captain Underpants. This book assumes a particular worldview and is seeking to impart that worldview to pre-adolescent students. All education is the passing on of some vision of the good life. The question is: which vision?
The Christian response to this foolishness is not to go on a book-banning crusade. We Christians embrace freedom of speech and of the press. We know that truth always shines more brightly when contrasted with error, and that God’s wisdom is always more beautiful when contrasted with the futility of ignorant idolatry. But this Captain Underpants saga – and others like it – do highlight the urgent need for Christian parents to be resolute in three areas:
Robust discipleship. Christian parents must impart to their children deep conviction, wise discernment, and the capacity for critical thinking and moral reasoning. (Which means parents must first be marked by these things themselves). Parents who are just seeking to raise “nice kids” shouldn’t be shocked when they find their children spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally unprepared to face the challenge of Christianity’s cultured despisers.
Vigilance. We have reached the day in America where Christian parents need to vigilantly examine all input into their children’s lives – from books to movies to websites to friends. Wise parents have always done this. But the days of general cultural consensus about what books, topics, and issues are “appropriate for children” are behind us. The moral revolution which began as a revolt against traditional morality has now become a crusade for alternative (im)morality.
Intentionality. Because all education is the inculcating of a worldview, and because the culture around us is deliberately seeking to impart a secular-humanist, relativistic worldview, Christian parents and educators must aggressively impart a classical/Christian worldview. God must be at the center of everything. The reality of objective truth must be taught. The end for which God created the world must be made clear. (I refer to “a classical/Christian worldview” not to imply that they are the same (they are not), but to emphasize a very important area of common ground that unites both: the reality of absolutes.)
We are passionate about classical, Christian education precisely because we recognize the need for thoughtful, wise, culturally discerning leaders who can winsomely and effectively apply the gospel to the idols of the age… and who can distinguish literature from propaganda.