A quote that is sometimes mistakenly credited to C.S. Lewis declares, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” A clue that this was not uttered by Lewis is that it doesn’t quite capture the truth. As Lewis would well know, an education without values would be quite unlikely to be “useful.” What’s more, virtually all education incorporates some sort of values. A more accurate statement on values and education would be: “Education without the proper values, as useful as it may appear, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”
In The Abolition of Man (or Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools), Lewis’s seminal work on education and values, the case is powerfully made that a proper education must be grounded in sound moral values and that this proper education not only rightly informs the intellect of pupils, but trains their emotions and attitudes as well.
With this in mind, Lewis fondly reflects on our right-thinking instructional predecessors when he notes,
“St Augustine defines virtue as ordo amoris, the ordinate condition of the affections in which every object is accorded that kind of degree of love which is appropriate to it. Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought. When the age for reflective thought comes, the pupil who has been thus trained in “ordinate affections or “just sentiments” will easily find the first principles in Ethics; but to the corrupt man they will never be visible at all and he can make no progress in that science. Plato before him had said the same. The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting and hateful. In the Republic, the well-nurtured youth is one “who would see most clearly whatever was amiss in ill-made works of man or ill-grown works of nature, and with a just distaste would blame and hate the ugly even from his earliest years and would give delighted praise to beauty, receiving it into his soul and being nourished by it, so that he becomes a man of gentle heart. All this before he is of an age to reason; so that when Reason at length comes to him, then, bred as he has been, he will hold out his hands in welcome and recognize her because of the affinity he bears to her.”
In other words, contrary to what many in education say today, we are not only to teach children how to think but also what to think. It is not enough to have the right knowledge on things, we must also possess the virtue that will allow this knowledge to be put to good use. As Lewis puts it,
“Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism…In battle it is not syllogisms that will keep the reluctant nerves and muscles to their post in the third hour of the bombardment…The head rules the belly through the chest — the seat, as Alanus tells us, of Magnanimity…”
Modern American education—dominated by the godless government schools—has produced a mountain of “Men without Chests”—i.e. heartless, selfish men who become our “clever devils.” Yet our world “clamors for those very qualities” that our corrupt government education system has rendered impossible. As Lewis rightly concludes, “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”
Likewise, we promote promiscuity and are shocked to find our nation racked with sexual diseases. We reject marriage and are shocked when our children turn to gangs and drugs. We scoff at law and order and the police, and we are shocked to find criminals in our midst. We kill the unborn, and we are shocked to find callous disregard for human life throughout our culture.
If we want “Men with Chests,” if we want honorable human beings whose hearts and minds are filled with the right things, then we must have schools that are founded upon the Moral Law of the Law Giver. This is why I penned my recent column, A Challenge to the Modern Church: Invest in Christian Education. Americans—especially Christian Americans—must cease surrendering our children to be educated in the godless government (and private) schools, and followers of Jesus Christ must lead the way in providing our children the kind of education that will allow them to become who they were created to be. In other words, America needs a network of excellent, affordable, and accessible k-12 Christian schools.
Of course, above all, as many Christian schools across the U.S. are currently demonstrating, these schools should endeavor to teach children and young adults the truth about Jesus Christ and what it means to be a follower of Him. Among other things, this means diligently and daily studying the Word of God. Of course, this also means accepting the Bible for what it claims to be: the infallible, immutable Word of God, which not only reveals His redemptive plan for humanity, but also His Moral Law and is the final authority on ALL moral issues.
Additionally, Christian schools should prepare their students, and continuously develop their faculty and staff, to be powerful lights in our dark world. Given where the moral battles are in America today, this means special attention should be given to several specific topics.
Christian schools should teach the truth about marriage—namely that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life. Students should be taught that this view of marriage is a foundational and fundamental truth because the family, led by God-fearing mothers and fathers, is the foundation of every sound civil society in the history of humanity.
As I have said numerous times before, marriage is the oldest institution in the history of humanity—older than God’s covenant with the nation of Israel, older than The Law, older than the church. Marriage is one of the earliest truths revealed by God. If ANYTHING is true, marriage as the union of one man and one woman is true. On this, there can NEVER be compromise. Children should be taught this from a young age.
Noting how it has become one of the most “compelling issues in the City of Man,” Christian schools should teach the truth about sexual activity. This means teaching that the only rightful place for sexual activity is within marriage (again, the union of one man and one woman for life). Christian schools should go beyond merely teaching students to “wait until marriage” and take every opportunity to introduce them to couples who embody what it means to be godly husbands and wives.
On sexual activity, Christian schools should teach what ignoring the truth on sex has led to in our sex-obsessed culture. This means teaching about the lure, dangers, and deadly consequences of promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, abortion, and the like. Additionally, Christian schools should go to great lengths to teach students of the many evils of the wicked LGBT agenda and how to combat their numerous lies.
Christian schools should teach the truth about biological sex. This means reminding their students of the long-known truths on the differences between males and females, and how it is impossible to “transition” from one sex to another. Christian schools should teach their students of the many dangers of “hormone therapies” and mutilating surgeries that often result when one buys into the lies of the transgender agenda.
Christian schools should teach the truth about life in the womb, the evils of abortion, and the many lies of the pro-abortion industry. Christian schools should not hesitate to reveal the ugly, gruesome side of abortion and what it means to take a human life in the womb.
Christian schools should teach their students that there is no conflict between Christianity and science. Christian schools should teach the history of modern science and the widespread and important role that devoted Christians such as Francis Bacon, Blaise Pascal, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, and the like, played in its development. Since Darwinian Evolution directly undermines Christianity, Christian schools should give special attention to the Creation vs. Evolution debate and point out the many flaws of “evolutionism.” On the issue of modern science, Christian schools should also teach their students of the many flaws and lies of the modern climate change agenda.
Christian schools should teach the truth about America and her founding. Namely, Christian schools should pointedly teach the role that Christians and Christianity played in the miraculous founding of America. Christian schools should teach the ugly history of slavery in America and the huge role that American Christians played in ending this evil in America. Christian schools should strongly oppose the racism of “Critical Race Theory” and reject the evil notion that America is a “systemically racist” nation filled with “systemically racist” organizations and institutions. Also, Christian schools should teach the important role that Christianity has played in making America the greatest nation in the history of humanity.
Christian schools should teach the biblical principles of handling money. Namely, Christian schools should teach that each of us is a mere steward of God’s property and who we are as Christians is greatly measured by how we handle our earthly possessions.
Christian schools should focus not only on training pastors, teachers, and missionaries. Christian schools should prepare students to be writers, musicians, athletes, entertainers, politicians, lawyers, bankers, doctors, scientists, engineers, plumbers, mechanics, landscapers, chefs, husbands, wives, parents, good stewards, wise voters, and so on.
America is rife with cultural rot and “clever devils,” and one of the biggest reasons is that Christians have largely abdicated the education of our children to those who have mostly abandoned the notion of “just sentiments” and are failing miserably in training students to “feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting and hateful.” For this to change, sound, rightly missioned Christian education must become more prevalent in the U.S.
By Trevor Grant Thomas
This Article Originally Appeared on Blue State Conservative