Texas elementary schools will stink again!

After a six-year reprieve to catch our breath, the smell of sweaty, un-showered children will return to airtight, over-crowded classrooms. The State Board of Education has decreed that Texas rad schools require exercise for 30 minutes per day or 135 minutes per week. Perspiration will again gain respectability alongside inspiration as a valued teammate in child developement.

Imagine it: kids hiding in baggy clothing now becoming aware of their own emerging bodies and having to learn the social embarrassment of the flesh just the way we did. Justice is served.

Seems our children have been growing up in all the wrong ways these six years since PE was phased out in favor of a back-to-basics plan. The state of physical education in our state is dreadful. Obesity and diabetes are rising, along with other health problems caused by poor nutrition and lack of exercise.

These are weighty matters. Our Board divines flexed their muscles to get our kids to do the same. They are only trying to cut out the fat from our children’s education. They want to get the blood pumping from stomachs, where fast food is digesting, to brains, where the mind can lift heavier thoughts.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and will all your might,” Moses told the Israelites (Deut. 6:5). To love God with all one’s might is aided by increased endurance – whether of a steeled will of extended wind. Loving mightily requires regular exercise.

Jesus punctuated Moses and added “…and with all your mind” (Mk 12:30). The Hebrew “heart” carried the sense of mind, but by Jesus’ day using the mind was worth emphasizing by mentioning it. Greek gymnasiums, with all their naked athletes, were turning attention to the body from the heart, soul and mind.

Physical education and spiritual education go hand in hand. We are made in the image of God. Some days when I look into the mirror, I wonder if God is so slovenly put together as I am. When I look at others who worship in the gym, I wonder if God is so dim-witted, albeit ripped.

The early church theologian Irenaeus said: “The glory of God is a fully alive human being.” Honing the balance of physical, emotional and mental realms of life will make God more glorified by making us more fully alive.

Adults could lead the way with more than mandates to our children. We can hit the pavement ourselves for 30 minutes per day or 135 minutes per week. We can set aside time for prayer and reading and worship, too.

Shaping up our kids is fitting. Shaping up ourselves is more fit still.


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