Education is the sacrament of the Enlightenment. That is, when people caught up in enlightenment thinking, whether inside or outside the church, see a problem, their means of grace of choice is ever and always more education. The priests of the secular realm are, after all, educators. Consider all the public service announcements we are given on radio and television. Are Americans growing too fat? We run PSA’s wherein big brother tells us to eat our vegetables. Carnage on the highways? More PSA’s of big brother telling us not to drink and drive, and to buckle up.
Every election cycle politicians on both sides of the aisle promise to save us from ourselves, usually by promising to throw money at the education god. “If I’m elected I’ll be certain to teach the students x, and then everything will be alright. My opponent is not only opposed to teaching x, but thinks all teachers should be sent to Guantanamo Bay.”
Nowhere does this folly show up more frequently than in dealing with sundry issues related to the marital act. Are kids hurting their friends’ feelings, using “gay” as an all purpose insult? Well, we’ll create anti-bullying curriculum to reinforce the Gay is OK curriculum we already use, that supports the whole K-12 “Whatever You Do With Your Pants Off Must Be Good” program we created last election cycle.
I’m old enough to remember the early debates about whether we ought to have any sex education curriculum in schools at all. Time was we didn’t argue about what should be taught, but over whether this was a family issue or a school issue. We eventually gave the issue to the schools. We whizzed past “If you must, wear a condom” to “You really ought to try everything your imagination can come up with” in less than a generation. But, the good news is that the more sex ed we have given kids, the fewer STD’s, abortions, and ruined lives we’ve had. It’s a decent trade off, right?
Except that’s not what has happened. Their sacrament has failed. Just as with the anti-drug program DARE, the more we “educate” the children, the more we destroy their lives. More STD’s, more unplanned pregnancies, more murdered babies, these are the bitter fruits of more education.
The call for more education, more often than not, is the fruit of a failure to understand our problem. We drink and drive, we grow obese, we take off our pants when we should not not because we haven’t been told about the consequences, but because we don’t care about the consequences. Our problem is not that we are stupid, but that we are seekers of pleasure. Our problem is that we are foolish, and thus foolish enough to believe we can educate ourselves better. No need to confront anyone for their folly. No need to confess our own sins. We will call sin wrong choices, and assume the root is a lack of knowledge. No need to repent. You just need to fill out this study guide.
And in the church we will do the same. We create educational programs, curricula, lesson plans when what we need are prophets. We turn sermons into lectures, when what we need are priests. We turn His body broken, His blood shed into an audio-visual aid to a lesson in our condition, when what we need is to feast with our Husband, the King. Stupidity is not a sin, and that is precisely how we know that stupidity is not our problem. Sin is. We need the gospel preached more than taught, tasted more than explained. We need to repent. But then, we already knew that, didn’t we?