LCN Article
University or Skilled Trade?

May / June 2019

Gerald Weston

Dear Brethren,

Our world is changing at lightning speed before our eyes. Australia was one of the last English-speaking nations to accept same-sex “marriage,” and since that acceptance on December 7, 2017, it has become one of the most aggressively “accepting” countries in the LGBTQ+ movement. The United States is experiencing a political transformation that was unimaginable even three years ago. Activists in both academia and the media shamelessly spawn social tsunamis, which increasingly affect all of us.

How are our members to advise their teens and young adults about getting an education, in light of the war against godly values that has spread throughout much of academia? Universities are hotbeds of anti-God indoctrination, where naïve students become pawns in a grand, satanic scheme to transform our world into something very different from that which we embrace in the Church of God. Immorality of every sort is not only allowed but encouraged. What is a parent or young person to do?

Fundamentally, we must consider God’s design and the roles He has ordained for us. A young man is expected to one day provide for a wife and family, and a young woman is expected to grow into the role of homemaker, with the skills needed to uphold her husband and care for her children. The educational paths we choose should keep God’s loving design at the forefront of our minds.

With that understanding firmly in place, wise judgment is the key to determining how to prepare for future roles in life. For example, not every school is the same. On both the pre-university and university levels, there are still schools that restrain bad behavior and encourage character development. They are becoming fewer, but they are out there. Also, what is good for one young person may not be good for another. There are high-paying skilled trade jobs available for the energetic young man who is more inclined to work with his hands and who excels in doing so, and this option often avoids generating a huge load of debt. Nevertheless, skilled trades require education, which is often gained from a trade school, an apprenticeship program, or a combination of the two. The more knowledgeable and skilled one is in a trade, the more sought after and better compensated he will be.

Some young men are “all thumbs” and would starve if they tried to go down the skilled trades route, but they may make excellent engineers, accountants, and yes, even lawyers. The list of honorable careers that require a university education is long, but how does one gain such an education and avoid the destructive influences too often found in universities? Here are three suggestions.

First, the choice of career is vital. There is a great deal of wisdom in sticking to practical disciplines based on absolutes. For example, engineers must work within dynamic laws. If they don’t, the plane will crash, the building will collapse, the electric circuits will fail. A real estate or corporate attorney will spend his time learning about the laws that govern his discipline. An accountant learns the language and workings of that profession. In other words, there are honorable professions that avoid politics and social engineering. Other disciplines—say, pursuits in history or language arts—may involve more subjective evaluations but can still provide practical skills in writing, research, and critical thinking, if handled carefully. Regrettably, however, many of the social sciences are rife with the very trends and abominable philosophies that are tearing civilization apart, and their “leading lights” are often those most passionately seeking, through societal reprogramming, to undermine even the most fundamental godly values. It is foolishness to think that surrounding our sons and daughters with influential educators, passionate about promoting such twisted philosophies, will have no impact on our children’s worldview and character. Options should be considered and evaluated with care.

Second, carefully plan for the specific academic courses ahead and how to approach them. The first two years of a university education normally have general prerequisite classes, and these are not always directly related to one’s desired major. Some courses may deal with social engineering and attempt to break down biblical values. Science courses most often promote evolution, but this need not be a problem for the student who is well-grounded and who does some study on the subject. Our booklet, Evolution and Creation: What Both Sides Miss, is a good starting point, but there are many additional informative and helpful resources out there for anyone who wants to explore them. The greater problem is the indoctrination of students through a collection of classes designed to tear down biblical standards. This is why one must carefully investigate schools and the courses they require. By doing so, one may be able to minimize or avoid the worst influences of university life.

Finally, consider where your student will live and the pros and cons of that environment. The greatest challenge for young people on their own for the first time is campus life, which more often than not stands in direct opposition to the Christian life in many ways. This is why many of us in the ministry recommend that a young person live at home and attend a local or community college for, perhaps, the first two years. This decision can also save thousands of dollars.

At some point, a local institution may not suffice for the degree one is pursuing, and the last two or more years may require the student to attend university away from home. Certain decisions then need to be weighed carefully. Can the student live with a relative, Church member, or others who share your values? We must always remember to put God first and seek His ways above every other consideration. Is there a congregation nearby where your student can attend services and remain connected to the Church (Luke 14:26)? Is one required to live on campus as a student? There are reasons some schools require this. Just as our one-year Living Education program has this requirement in order to help us teach godly values, worldly universities use this requirement to indoctrinate young people into a radically different value system. Co-ed dorms, for example, increasingly mean co-ed bathrooms and shower areas. The Internet gives plenty of “what’s the big deal” advice on this, but one ought to ask the simple question, “Why?” What is it that they are promoting by breaking down natural barriers between unmarried people of the opposite sex? There is an agenda behind this.

Dr. Miriam Grossman worked as a psychiatrist at UCLA and has become an outspoken critic of what is happening on university campuses. In her seminal work Unprotected, she writes:

There are seventeen million students enrolled in [U.S.] colleges and universities. Many are still adolescents, impressionable and confused; they are at a critical point in their development, questioning who they are and what they want.... As a parent, I know that behind most students are a mother and father who are worried, hoping, praying for their child. I want to warn them.... The nurse teaching your daughter about herpes, the social worker reassuring your son about his homosexual thoughts—these people may have a vision for social change that you don’t share. They may see their jobs as an avenue for activism, and one of their goals is to influence your child.… Their goal is an androgynous culture, where the differences between male and female are discounted or denied, and the bond between them robbed of singularity” (pp. xx–xxi).

This only scratches the surface of the kind of thinking that a young student will encounter. University life has always had its challenges. UC Berkeley had riots in my day. Campuses spawned the public revolt against the Vietnam War. Illicit sex was rampant then, as it is now. But it has gotten worse. Today’s institutions are not the universities that those of us among the older generations attended. We did not need “safe zones” or stuffed animals to comfort us when we were presented with opinions that were unpopular. We never heard of, or even thought of, “micro-aggressions.” And speech was not stifled, as it is today when it disagrees with political agendas.

Does this mean a university education must be abandoned? Certainly not, but as I’ve pointed out, careful planning, wise choices of schools and courses, and considering where to live are all vital. One also needs to evaluate carefully one’s talents and aptitudes. University is not for everyone. The Apostle Paul and the prophet Daniel had formal educations, and it is evident that they were not without their challenges. Several apostles were fishermen with family businesses. Jesus Christ was a skilled carpenter. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong chose to learn on his own, with mentoring by experienced advertising men, yet he went on to found three colleges of higher learning.

Too often, we think only in terms of “either/or.” A careful study of the Bible shows that this is not always the mind of Christ. Throughout the centuries, God has called individuals with a wide variety of talents, and He does the same today. The Church needs young men and women who are formally educated, but it also needs skilled tradesmen and entrepreneurs who run their own businesses. Consider all the facts, make wise choices, and always put God first.

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