A Christian is a person who follows or belongs to a religion based on the worship of one God and the teachings of Jesus Christ as described in the Bible. A Christian is a follower, a believer, and an action-taker. A Christian is spiritual, loving, and moral. About half of American teens, ages 13 to 19, identify as Christians, yet only 8% display the beliefs and behaviors consistent with the Christian faith. Additionally, only 20% of teenagers read their Bible weekly, with double the amount never using their Bibles. The Bible is an essential factor of the Christian faith because it is the Living Word of God. Additionally, reading the Bible is said to have several benefits, including revealing God’s character and His revelation, producing profitable teachings, giving spiritual growth and maturity, and more. Today’s children and youth have fallen short of the glory of God, and this has roots in an increase in worldly values/religions. With the decline in the belief in Jesus Christ and God, there has been an incline in exposure to evil, familial and generational division, and negativity. Following is a collection of sources and data relating to the following topics: separation of church and state, religious practices, strong foundation, spiritual community, and faith and skills in the face of adversity.
Benjamin J. Bindewald of Oklahoma State University writes an article about conservative Christianity and its relationship with the American education system. He heavily bases his writing on the idea of the separation of church and state, which was heavily implemented by society and the American government. He introduces one of the key ideas that America runs on, which is the First Amendment of the US Constitution; it includes two religious clauses – the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. He also refers to many court cases and trials that support his thesis: the fundamentalists and religious conservatives’ fight for Christian influence in schools is heavily overstated and a direct attack on the nation’s religion.
Secular point-of-views may understand the reasoning behind Bindewald’s statements; however, I introduce a Christian point of view. The author’s statement that the education system uses “a Christian calendar that organizes school holidays around Christmas and Easter” (Bindewald 105) alludes to evidence that the presence of Christian influence is ludicrous. Winter break in the public school system does not simply allow time to celebrate one religious holiday – Christmas – but also multiple other holidays in different religions, which can include Hanukkah (celebrated by Jews), winter solstice (celebrated by Germanic pagans), and Kwanzaa (celebrated by those in the African American culture). Additionally, during this break, there is the possibility of bringing in two New Year’s, both the international idea of the new calendar year starting on January 1st and the Chinese New Year – which can last from late January to early February. Therefore, this idea does not provide sufficient grounds or reasoning for his claim. Lastly, the author states two court cases that violated the First Amendment and declared certain religious activities – official school prayer, school-sponsored Bible reading, and devotional activities – to be illegal and unconstitutional. In my opinion, I believe that eliminating these activities from a public school system is a violation of the First Amendment rights. Bindewald also somewhat loathes the type of material that conservative Christians wish to bring into the education system. He opts for educating for autonomy, which includes equipping children with the tools that they will need to be able to pursue their own goals in life, to think critically so that they might be able to evaluate multiple conceptions of the good or to be able to navigate the increasingly complex and globalized world (Bindewald 106).
After a long, harrowing experience in the education system, I can fervently declare that I was simply taught subjects in school that held little to no substance to my growing life as an adult. If I was to be taught how to preserve and promote faith, guide through salvation, and live with a foundation grounded in morality, then education would have a greater impact on my life.
Spiritual intelligence and Christianity have a role in helping society with its many evils. Elma Cornelius uses these two topics to develop the idea that Christianity should take part in society to provide moral behavior that can prevent power abuse, heal an out-of-control world, and benefit society. She focuses on the many problems that her society has, notices a marginalization between church and state, defines spiritual intelligence, introduces Christianity, connects the two topics, and explains how these two topics can combat the problems that are facing her society.
While Cornelius mainly focuses on her South African community, these ideas can be applied to the American culture. Our nation, too, struggles with drugs, alcohol, abuse, rape, murder, shootings, theft, hijacking, gambling, pornography, violence, social media, lying, cheating, destroyed families, idolatry, ignorance, anti-God philosophy, corruption, and more. Society and the government have allowed evil to destroy connections. Society has allowed evil to separate humans. With that, the idea of spiritual intelligence, which includes a source of guidance using spiritual information to facilitate problem-solving and goal attainment and the ability to use wisdom and compassion while maintaining inner and outer peace, is incredibly important in solving the problems of society. Spiritual intelligence in Christianity is of greater importance. To fear the Lord is to begin knowledge, and if we are to lack knowledge and wisdom, then our hearts will darken. Therefore, if we do not fear the Lord, then our hearts will darken, and society will continue to grow even worse. This strengthens my claim that Christian influence is necessary; it is important to start young and “to educate, motivate, and give people hope” (Cornelius 5).
A review by Larry Rasmussen on the book Spirituality: What It Is and Why It Matters by Roger S. Gottlieb focuses on how religious practices rooted in core spiritual teachings can help people in many aspects of life. One of these ideas is the Sabbath, which is the Jewish day of rest; it was created for man by God because He rested on the seventh day of creation. It is a mental health tool to step away from the daily tasks, chores, and demands of life; it is an effort to be in “awe and wonder before the God of life” and “fiery discontent over life’s violations” (Rasmussen 57).
While I agree that the Sabbath should be implemented into anyone’s life, I disagree that you can separate religious practices and religion, as Rasmussen states early on. I believe it is wholly necessary to implement religion in spiritual practices because that is what they were based on. So even though “[the Sabbath is] a way to stop the onslaught of obligations” (Rasmussen 56), it should also include the acknowledgment, loyalty, and responsibility to worship in full faith to God. It is also one of the Commandments to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy; if we are not keeping the Sabbath day nor keeping it holy – simply using it to relieve ourselves of any responsibility – then we are not following the Commandment of God.
More religious practices and teachings are in the Living Word of God, also known as the Bible. Rodney Stark proves that one of the benefits of Christianity is a longer, healthier, and better life. By simply following the Commandments and rules in the Bible, Christians in the second and third centuries have been able to aid in future research of medicine and environmental destruction. They did so by creating rituals such as nursing the sick with food and water, strengthening our immune systems by introducing viruses and diseases directly to our bodies, and engaging in social services, which were valuable in frequent natural and social disasters. Additionally, Christian communities had rules and morals to follow for women and men, generations, marriage and divorce, and more. Lastly. Christianity “offered a strong community and a disorganized, chaotic world” by offering and expanding “charity and hope . . . immediate fellowship . . . [and a] sense of family” (Stark).
It is important to remember that the acts of Christians in the second and third centuries were the results of the commandments of Jesus Christ. He has asked us to treat others the way we would want to be treated – also known as the Golden Rule – as a means of giving and earning respect. He has given us certain commands to heal the nation in various ways, including loving one another because He loves us. Early Christians used these commandments to aid those who were less fortunate and in need of help.
Another important feature of Christianity is that the religion and the teachings ground people with morals based on a strong foundation. We give our responsibility away to a higher being, everything is done with a purpose in mind, we are relieved of our burdens, we don’t need to be perfect, sin gives us the opportunity to be humble and to learn to confront and surrender, and we gain many positive feelings, like euphoria, to bring us from the darkness. Christian Smith writes an emotions-focused phenomenological account of why Christianity works. One of the main factors is the unconditional love that God gives and is. Smith reveals “the power of the intellectual and emotional earthquake and quiet stillness that believers basking in the pure love of God can experience,” (Smith 171).
Jesus gives everyone pure rest against the heaviness that the devil tries to give us. He invites us to relieve our burdens to Him rather than take on the burdens of the devil. Christians know that God is love, and He sent His Son to save us and give us access to a personal relationship with Him. He has done so much for us by taking our responsibility away, giving us everything that we could ever need, including people in our lives, revealing His Word to us, breathing His breath and Spirit into us, and allowing us the opportunity of free will. This strengthens my claim that Christianity is necessary for our societal benefits because we need to be grounded with these ideas in mind; we can continue forward without having to have the weight on our shoulders, holding us from the full potential that God has planned for us.
Arushi Srivastava conducted a study among Indian women to understand the role of spiritual groups on spirituality, hope, resilience, and social connectedness. The hypothesis was that women in spiritual groups would have higher levels of the topics listed previously. It is clear after the study that “women who were a part of a spiritual group were statistically significantly higher on the skills of spirituality, hope, resilience, and social connectedness in the group of women who are not a part of any spiritual group . . .” (Srivastava 366).
This study brought in women of many different religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and Sikhism, and allowed a certain number of them to experience a spiritual group. This strengthens my claim that spirituality is important no matter a person’s background. Additionally, is it not important for children to understand that they have a community and extended family beyond their home to make them who they are and define how they live? A previous author reveals that:
Most Christian Church congregations provide their members with enough of that right kind of community belonging, social security, group identity, relational networks, material resources, reward activities, interesting responsibilities, and mental and spiritual stimulation to keep a lot of people attached to invested (Smith 176).
Therefore, because Christianity provides community and spiritual groups that are necessary for increased hope, resilience, and social connectedness, this means that religion should be implemented into our culture immediately, specifically in schools.
Arushi Srivastava also told us that heightened spirituality, hope, resilience, and social connectedness can be used as a shield in the face of adversity. In turn, lecturers, psychologists, and an associate professor collaborated on a measure of spiritual sensitivity for children. They revealed that “a child’s spiritual being provides the foundation for growth and development through interpersonal experiences with the self, others, the world, and for some, a Transcendent being” (Stoyles et al. 203). The study sought to describe spiritual sensitivity on spectrums of the aspects that emerge, such as self-esteem, hopefulness, morals, values, etc. The study revealed that “even in the face of adversity, a highly spiritually sensitive child would most likely remain hopeful and not allow him or herself to be diminished personally by this adversity. Sadly, the converse would most likely be true” (Stoyles et al. 213).
With the two authors revealing that spirituality is beneficial and necessary to remain hopeful in the face of adversity, then it would make sense to include this as a step in the path of personal strength. Multiple authors have suggested that spirituality and Christianity need to be included in a child’s life somehow. The best way to do this is to start in schools when children are young and most moldable. Additionally, as revealed before, the fear of God is knowledge; therefore, spiritual intelligence must come from the fear of God. Society has taken a child’s easily moldable mind to its advantage, allowing children’s minds to be corrupted with evil and sin. However, we can completely flip this by introducing our children to Christian values and morals so that in times of hardship, we can push forward and combat the attacks of the enemy.
Thanks to the following authors, researchers, and writers for your share of information.
Bindewald, Benjamin J. “In the World, but Not of the World: Understanding Conservative Christianity and Its Relationship with American Public Schools.” Educational Studies, vol. 51, no. 2, 2015, pp. 93–111., https://doi.org/10.1080/00131946.2015.1015343.
Cornelius, Elma. “Spiritual Intelligence Can Heal South Africa and Christianity Has a Major Role to Play.” In Die Skriflig / In Luce Verbi, vol. 54, no. 2, 2020, https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v54i2.2546.
RASMUSSEN, LARRY. “Spirituality in a Broken World.” Tikkun, vol. 28, no. 3, 2013, pp. 55–57., https://doi.org/10.1215/08879982-2307247.
Smith, Christian. “Why Christianity Works: An Emotions-Focused Phenomenological Account*.” Sociology of Religion, vol. 68, no. 2, 2007, pp. 165–178., https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/68.2.165.
Srivastava, Arushi. “Understanding the Role of Spiritual Groups on Spirituality, Hope, Resilience and Social Connectedness amongst Indian Women during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Indian Journal of Positive Psychology, vol. 13, no. 4, Dec. 2022, pp. 361–367.
STARK, RODNEY. “LIVE LONGER, HEALTHIER, & BETTER.” Christianity History, Feb. 1998.Stoyles, Gerard John, et al. “A Measure of Spiritual Sensitivity for Children.” International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, vol. 17, no. 3, 2012, pp. 203–215., https://doi.org/10.1080/1364436x.2012.733683.