by Patch Blakey

Have you ever wondered about standards? I was taught at a very early age that there was a Bureau of Standards in Washington, DC. But who established those standards? What about the myriad of standards constantly being created by other government bureaucracies? Where do they come from? What are they based on?

I once helped remodel an office building. After submitting the drawings to the city code-and-zone man, he asked me how many people would be working in the remodeled office. I told him there would be five people, two full-time, and three half-time employees. To the code-and-zone man, my explanation equated to exactly five full-time workers since his code manual didn’t distinguish between full-time and half-time employees. I humbly protested that the number of employees better equated to three and a half employees since all five of them were never in the building at any one time. At the very worst, no more than four of them were simultaneously present in the building, and that was relegated to the extremely odd and rare occasion. The city bureaucrat demurred that “five is five, and that is that!”

What was the source of my concern on this particular detail? City building code required one bathroom for every four employees. A fifth employee necessitated the installation of a second bathroom, a requirement that seemed to be a rock-bottom, creation-mandate that was impervious to any alteration or deviation anywhere or at any time in the universe. With the financial constraints I was limited to, the addition of an extra bathroom for one employee was a major and unwanted perturbation in my plans.
Who comes up with these criteria? How do the bureaucrats know that their requirement of one bathroom for every four people is unquestionably ultimate? Is it indelibly etched with a cosmological stylus on the backside of Jupiter? If this standard is such a universal absolute, what about the people in Africa who have never heard of it? One of the major problems with bureaucracies is that they never tire of making rules. If you ask a bureaucrat for guidance, he will be more than happy to provide it, and hold you accountable to it.

Well, what about educational standards? Who sets those? Most government schools and many Christian schools seek accreditation from an accrediting agency that either conforms to or is patterned after a government approved set of standards. Where does the government get its standards for education? Wherever they come from, we can be sure that its not from the Bible, the inerrant and infallible word of God While not condoning government schools, we expect them to follow government standards. What we can’t understand are those Christian schools that seek such accreditation, We should favor standards, especially high standards that are biblically derived. But we should question our motives if we think a school that claims to be under the headship of Christ should seek the blessing of the godless state bureaucracy (John 5:44; 12:43, 1 Cor 6:14).

Why should Christians seek the blessings of the godless state, either directly or indirectly, for accreditation of their schools or certification of their teachers? Is the state really qualified to make such determinations? Are not saints, the people of God, who will one day judge the world, capable of judging in smaller matters such as educational standards for their sanctified children (1Cor 6:2)? Are Christians so bound to this world’s standards that we cannot establish our own standards based on Scriptural principals?

Certainly, our standards should be no less academically demanding than those of the godless state. Jesus did all things well (Mk 7:37), and His people should strive for no less. But are all of the state’s educational standards directed at relevant issues? Do they represent true quality? Do “Goals 2000, ” “Outcome-Based Education,” and a computer for each student in our land really represent those pedagogical standards that our Lord demands of His people? We need to be subject to the authorities God has placed over us to the degree that what they require of us does not violate God’s absolute standards. Should opportunities present themselves for Christians to exercise godly authority, we must pursue it graciously and aggressively. Standards for Christian school accreditation and teacher certification are two such areas. But if our students aren’t allowed to transfer credits to the state schools because of their Christian accreditation or our Christian certified teachers aren’t allowed to teach in the state schools because they haven’t attended a course on cultural diversity, then we need to be willing to live with the consequences, and rejoice (Matt 5:11,12)!

As for my problem with the two bathrooms, when I left the code-and-zone man, I had to get the building inspector’s approval. He asked me how many people would be working in the remodeled building. I told him five and explained that I already understood the requirement for two separate bathrooms. He said, “Just put in one. Where’s it written in the universe that there must be one toilet for every four people?”