Responding with religion

Recently I’ve had many questions on tests that go directly against my Christian values, but if I don’t respond, I may get in trouble. I want to respond in a way that does align with my values. I’ve just skipped the question, because I believe that if I contradict my faith on paper, I may begin to do it in life.

However, I have friends who say that it doesn’t change their values to write what the “correct” answer is, and they get the points for it. Sort of like, choose your battles, since I seem to have lost some of the relationships my teachers have with me. Which gets me wondering:

How would you react with something that didn’t align with your faith (or even with your church doctrine) that had real consequences? I know you aren’t in school, but I’m sure you are still challenged with societal ideas within your lives. Would you choose your battles or stand your ground and risk consequences. Would you answer, avoid, accuse, or explain?


Hi @maylana :wave:

I appreciate your strong conviction on this dilemma. And indeed, it can cause trouble later.

My eldest daughter also had the same issue in the past. I just advised her to respond in this manner,
“According to the textbook reference… (state the expected answer).”
If space allows, and if she deems it appropriate, I also encourage her to state her perspective.


You ask such good questions @maylana! Yes, this is something all of us who profess faith face in one way or the other.

I think one important principle to remember is to not violate our conscience as inevitably this can lead to further doubt and compromise (1 Tim 1:18-20). Because when we do, we deaden our conscience, redefine/compromise our faith to align with our choices and bear the burden of violating it. I like the suggestion @dennis gave when it comes to your assignments. Another option may be to present the perspective that aligns with your religious convictions using reason as God’s commands are based on good reason. And perhaps there are ways of meeting the objectives of the course through alternate projects. This article on how to be a Christian in a public school helps understand our rights.

We have a right to our conscience. I think its important to set boundaries when someone asks to violate our conscience but we can do it lovingly and if needed with the help of others. I have not faced this in a public setting but in a family setting that required my partcipation in hindu religious family rituals. Initially when I was still a teenager and when I had not revealed to my parents that I was a Christian, I went along externally with hindu customs, while in my heart I prayed to Christ. It left me feeling unfulfilled and burdened. So I finally decided to openly share about my faith but it cost me in many ways.

There is often a cost to pay either way, whether we go with our conscience or not. The question is which one can we live with and what good will result from it.


Hi @maylana,

That is a really tough question.

I wonder if it helps to step back from it and ask two prior questions:

What does it look like to love God? What does it look like to love my neighbor?

In terms of the first question, we must be loyal to God, whatever the consequences.

However, God is asking us to love our neighbors. What does it look like to show love for your teachers?

Let’s take a worst-case scenario: a teacher who wants to deconvert you and is hostile to your faith.

Even in that situation, you have options.

For instance, as @dennis recommended, you can demonstrate excellence by showing the teacher that you fully understand the material as expected. Referring to the textbooks, lectures, and class discussion is a wise way to fulfill the assignment without expressing it as your own thoughts.

In addition, by treating the teacher with respect and elevating the classroom culture, you can make his or her job easier. It’s so hard to fight with someone who refuses to fight back! If your only response to their challenges is a genuinely kind and thoughtful answer, the contrast will be clear to everyone.

I think it’s then, once you have credibility because of your studies, and relational equity, because of how you treat people, that there’s more of an opportunity to share your own convictions. For instance, in addition to submitting the required paper, you can also provide an appendix with your own reflections on the topic. Or after answering the question on the test, you can also share another sentence or a paragraph with your own evaluation of what was taught.

Sometimes, I wanted to be “persecuted” because it felt good to “suffer for Jesus.” But in most cases, I was suffering for being obnoxious or unprepared. By asking myself how God could help me rise to a higher standard of love for others, I experienced new opportunities to share my faith in relationships where trust had been built.

From your posts, I don’t think that’s your issue, but I share what I’ve learned in case it is helpful as you discern your path forward. I think there are potentially many more options available to you than it might seem like you have right now. Perhaps ask God and others for creative ways to maintain your convictions in a way that builds trust.


@lakshmi Thank you so much for the article! It’s very interesting. Thank you for sharing your story.

It’s a good point how there are consequences for either action.

And @Carson, I have found that for me at least, It’s really hard to just write the textbook answer, but the more respectfully I say my answer, the better the teacher will react, and it’s almost halfway through the school year; I have a pretty good relationships with most of my teachers. The test that got me thinking about this, my teacher gave me full credit for the question, even though it was multiple choice and I skipped it. I believe this was because even though it is a super easy class, I put a lot of effort into making my answers as thoughtful as possible and actually thinking about the material.


I think that’s powerful - the teachers see that you are keeping to your conscience, which diverges from the lesson plans. But, what they can respect is that your conscience is leading you to treat them well, and they recognize that you are not dodging the work but doing your best. That sounds like a good witness to me!

1 Like