While studying Latin and reciting catechisms are distinguishing marks of Classical Christian education, these two things are not our only distinctives. One of the others is our desire to develop an attitude of proper respect for one’s elders. This is done through the way students address adults but also by having the students to stand whenever an adult enters the room. This idea is gathered from verses like Leviticus 19:32 which says, “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.”
In setting this idea forward, some may think that it is both antiquated and foolish, since it is a practice that is not carried out by our present day culture. However, Christians are called to be set apart from the culture, just as Israel was set apart from other nations unto the Lord. We are called to display God’s holiness before a culture that has no regard for the King of Kings. Having students to stand when their elders enter a room is one small step in helping students to have a biblical worldview and teaches them that the Lord loves for people to submit to one another according to His perfect wisdom.
One might argue that there is a lack of such a practice in the New Testament since we as Christians are now to live under and according to the Law of Christ rather than all of the particular laws of the Old Testament. We would graciously respond by saying that the practice is certainly in accord with the fulfillment of the Law, because Jesus stated that whatever we wish others would do to us, we should do that to them. It is certainly my desire as a teacher that others would show respect to me, and so I not only want to see students doing so, I too desire to engage in the practice of rising when one of the other faculty members comes into my room. This serves a dual purpose of the instructor living out the instruction before the students and proving the application of the idea beyond one’s years in school. Jesus clearly taught that to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself were the fulfillment of all of the Old Testament Law. And as has already been noted above, these two things not only encourage the practice of standing when an elder enters the room, they go so far as to admonish all of us to engage in it – from students to adults.
Having stated these things, it is essential to point out that we at PCA are not saying that to do otherwise is a sin. We are simply stating that our aim as a school is to teach the whole person. Because we act as assistants to parents in fulfilling their duty to bring up a child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, we ought, as instructors, to be concerned with the student’s whole being. The aim of a Classical Christian education is to shape each student after the image of Jesus Christ: helping them to excel in seeing the world through the lens of the Gospel, progressing thoroughly in academics, and growing up socially in righteousness and holiness as unto the Lord and not for men. Thus, this practice of respect for elders is set forth not as something to give us reason for boasting but rather as a means to train up young people who possess an intense passion for the holiness of God expressed in every aspect of their lives, academic or otherwise.