I know I this post will not make some happy. That is not my goal. My goal is to hopefully help Christian parents have clearer thinking when it comes to the schooling of our children. Our tendency, because of the world we live in and its influences on us, is to adapt our lives to what everyone else is doing. Sometimes that may be good. Other times it may not. I hope to generate some good dialogue with this post.
The first thing I need to do is to lay some groundwork from Scripture. If you are not a Christian and are reading this, I hope you will hang on until the end, as I want to give a few words of wisdom that I have learned in growing up one way and educating my children in another way. I am not the expert, just someone who has thought about this issue a good bit. Here are some key passages to think about:
“Make them known to your children and your children’s children.” – Deuteronomy 4:9 (speaking of the ways and commandments of God)
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you way by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-7
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4
There are other passages like God commanding Abraham to teach his descendents about God’s promises (Genesis 18:19), Psalm 78:1-4 admonishing parents to tell the generations after them the ways of the Lord, and Timothy being influenced by his mother and grandmother with the word of God (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15). These are really “cornerstone passages” when it comes to raising kids in the Lord. Most Christian parents have read some or all of these passages on numerous occasions to help them in our calling as parents to teach their children. That is what we are called to do: teach our children about the Lord, His ways, and His promises. And we are to make it part of the family lifestyle to discuss those things.
But the question that many ask is, “Because of these passages and many others, does God command Christian parents to homeschool their kids?” Now my answer to that question will be followed by a series of warnings to all three groups mentioned in my title for this post. My answer to this question is: No. While it is very clear that Christian parents are to teach their children about the Lord, it does not forbid a family to send their children to a public or private school. I am sure I have all the homeschool parents all pulling their hair out, especially those that know me and know that Isabelle and I homeschool our kids. Let me clarify that: Isabelle does most of it :-). Now, before all you non-homeschooling parents celebrate too much, I think you need to consider a few real and important warnings. Homeschoolers: got some for you too. Most will agree with these warnings for all three groups, but are we really heeding them? That’s my motivation for writing this post. I think we hear and know the warnings, but are not doing much about them.
Warnings to public school parents
- Your kids are getting bombarded with anti-God, anti-Bible, and anti-church stuff at school. If you do not stay on top of what influences they are around, they can begin to be influenced more by the world than by the Lord. This is dangerous.
- Your kids are learning things about sex and other inappropriate and ungodly norms in our society that if you do not stay on top of what they are learning about these things, they can very easily get entangled in immoral behavior.
- Your kids are learning about evolution and not creation, humanism and not Christ. Not only is evolution false and humanism self-centered, they dishonor God. You must teach your kids about creation and why we, as Christians, can confidently trust creation, reject evolution, and at the same time not ignore true science.
- You cannot think that 1-2 hours a week at church is enough to train your kids in the Lord like the above verses command. You must do your part, and with your kids in school so many hours per week, and you probably working, you have to work even harder to find time to teach your children about the Lord. The church is to help you in your job, not do it for you.
- You must work hard to be involved in your kids lives. Homeschooled kids are more often with their parents, and so have a better communication level with their kids. Your job is harder, and you must stay connected with your kids.
Warnings to private school parents
- Really the same warnings as the public school with a few exceptions.
- If your school is a Christian school, do not assume they are using text books with a Christ-centered approach. Many use secular text books that teach the same as public schools.
- Private schools are usually more disciplined than public schools, but you do not just want a disciplined child, you want a godly one. Make sure their outward conformity is to Jesus, not an institution.
Warnings to Homeschool parents
- Just because you homeschool and teach your children the Bible and creation is not a guarantee that they will follow the Lord. We as parents guide our children, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit that saves and sanctifies. Do not trust in homsechooling. Trust in God who you are teaching about. Teach your kids about Jesus a lot and with conviction.
- Homeschoolers have a tendency to be judgmental towards non-homeschooling parents. I know, because I have heard it. Remember, my kids are homeschooled. Our comments within our own homeschool culture still hurt. Our kids are listening to us, and the last thing we want is for them to think they are holier because they are homeschooled and go and judge their non-homeschooled friends because of things we have said. The effect is the opposite of why we homeschool.
- Homeschooling will not protect our children from the world. Sure, they are less exposed than schooled kids, but eventually they will be exposed. You cannot isolate them enough, nor should you. That is dangerous and foolish. They will even be exposed to things from kids at church who attend school. Use it to teach. The worse thing you can do is pull your kids out of church because they are hearing things you are not ready for them to. Protect: yes. Isolate: no. To isolate them would be a greater evil, for you would be teaching them that Christian community is only good on your terms. That is what I call: Me-church, and is unloving to others. It also teaches them that homeschooling is more important than church. It is not.
- Our kids can learn some good things from schools. Community, order, teamwork, obeying non-parental authority. I find many homeschool families in my area simply people who hate authority. Authority can be good. Daniel did it with the officials in Babylon. My point is that we should not not flush everything schools do. Much of it is good, and we can learn from it.
Well, those are my thoughts. My answer to my question above, “Does God command Christian parents to homeschool their kids?” is found in the belief that God’s commands are universal. Good in all places, all cultures, at all times. If God called me to go to a country where homsechooling was illegal, I would have to send my kids to school (Romans 13 & 1 Peter 2). I would not like it, but I would have no choice if I wanted to honor the Lord and His word. Again, public and private school is not a sin. It is just harder when it comes to teaching our children about the Lord. And when it comes to being a parent, that is our mandate from the Lord. When I boil it down to why we homeschool, that is why. Isabelle and I want to do our part as parents to influence our kids to follow Christ, and we decided as a family that this was the best way we could do that for our children. Each family must make their own choice.