As I was talking with my younger daughter about the significance of Daniel 1 I was reminded of an experience I had when I was first off to University. I remember a concerned member of our congregation expressing alarm that I was studying philosophy at University. Her alarm was right to be voiced but her understanding of being helpful wasn't well thought out.
Today I have similar feelings about certain subjects being taught at University, some with their non-Christian worldview blatantly set forth in their teaching about the nature of mankind. Subjects such as Psychology, which set forth a view of man that is many times antithetical to the Christian understanding. Yet perhaps just as dangerous are those subjects that assume such views but are not forthcoming about those assumptions.
So what is one to do about this? Do we tell our young people that they just shouldn't do such subjects?
Here Daniel 1 gives us practical insight and guidance.
Daniel and his friend were taken off into exile to Babylon, a pagan and demonic culture. He was taken into the Kings palace to learn their language and customs and culture. Did he object? No. not even when they changed his name to represent that of one of the pagan gods of the Babylonians.
Only at one point did he object. At the point of food and wine from the kings table, because such was defiled.
But it wasn't objected to by Daniel because of his feelings. Not even because he didn't like that food. After all you would be hard pressed to make me eat eyeballs as some cultures do. But that wasn't Daniels reason for acting as he did.
Rather it was because of was forbidden by the word of God. As we find in Deut 32.
What this passage tells us that one can be godly in the midst of a pagan culture, even when learning their culture and language and customs. Still even when learning these things it doesn't mean one has to agree with them or have them assimilated it into their own lives.
So the helpful thing for our young people is to prepare them rightly for living in a pagan culture which is done by grounding them in the clear Word of God as evidently Daniel and his friends had been before the exile!
It means understanding God's Word and talking about such practical ramifications as Daniel met in the Culture he was dragged into and the Culture we are born into!