Homeschooling: Is It for Everyone? Part 2
Is homeschooling for everyone?
That was a question raised on this blog a while back, and it met with some interesting discussion. Due to my busyness at the time, the discussion had to be cut short, but some valuable questions were submitted to me via e-mail. One such question was the following:
QUESTION: What do we do for families where home education is not a possibility due to some problem in the home? What about situations where the parents have divorced or where the parents are neglectful?
This is truly a significant question because this is where many families are today. Divorce rates have risen in the United States over the last several decades. Custody disputes are the most prevalent cases in state courts. Parents neglect their children every day.
These things ought not so to be. James the brother of Christ used those words when describing a state of affairs that was contrary to God’s design. (See James 3:10.) He acknowledged there was a problem in the Church of God, but he did not concede that the mere presence of the problem was sufficient to lower God’s standard.
We recognize these problems in the modern world—indeed the modern Church. But God’s Word still remains the same. His standard has not changed.
Also, we recognize that this state of affairs is a problem. But where Christians are obeying God’s Word, divorce is absent. Where Christians are obeying God’s Word, the parents are not neglectful. Thus, if we presuppositionally repent of our self-will and complacency and surrender to the authority of God, and walk in the grace of the Holy Spirit, we cannot allow divorce and family neglect in our lives.
However, even as these problems are rising in America, families are becoming increasingly aware of other serious problems rising simultaneously in the government schools. We see reports about cheating in these schools—even by the teachers. The films Indoctrination and Agenda: Grinding America Down document how humanists have been deliberately working to use the educational system to inculcate America’s children in a statist and God-hating worldview.
Here in Georgia there has recently been a tremendous outcry against the Common Core Curriculum developed by humanists at the Bill Gates Foundation and pushed by President Obama through federal grants to the states. Georgia, like many states, voted to accept Common Core two years ago in exchange for over $400 million federal grant money to the state’s educational system. (By the way, how did our federal government, which is $17 trillion in debt and has $222 trillion in unfunded mandates outstanding, find it financially responsible to offer a $400 million grant to states? If every state accepted that grant at that rate, it would cost over $20 billion!) Common Core seeks to have one curricula for all students in all government schools in the U.S. A one size fits all for the millions of children of America. In Cobb County where I live, the school board voted 5-4 two weeks ago to not accept the Common Core Curriculum because of the concern that the books aim to further indoctrinate America’s children in ideas such as homosexuality and socialism. As parents become increasingly alarmed by these and other problems in the government school system, they are looking more and more to alternatives such as charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling.
Home discipleship is the approach to schooling I have been advocating for Christians for years. Due to a labor of love from my parents, I was blessed to be home discipled—not just taught academics primarily at home but personally discipled by my parents in the Word of God from home.
By the grace of God, our family was a “nuclear family” with the marriage intact, my mom a keeper at home, and both parents fervently investing their time and attention into our training and worldview development. Every day I thank God for this blessing. I would not be who I am today but for this investment by my parents. But where problems such as divorce, neglect, or the death of a parent occurs, the Word of God is not without a course. His Law has set up systems within the Family jurisdiction and the Church jurisdiction to fill in the gap when one becomes present.
For example, in the Bible the firstborn son was to assume the responsibilities of the father in the family if the father died, and thus was to receive a double inheritance. (See, e.g., Deuteronomy 21:17.) One of the responsibilities the firstborn son would need to assume within the family would be that of discipling his younger siblings with the help of his mother. But this is just one way that God provides for the families in non-normative situations.
Acts 16:1 indicates that Timothy’s mother became a Christian while his father remained in his Greek paganism. Consequently, in II Timothy 1:5 we observe that Timothy was taught in the faith first by his mother and grandmother prior to the Apostle Paul coming along to disciple him. This is another Scriptural example of how the Family jurisdiction may adjust to a non-normative situation.
What we clearly see throughout Scripture, however, is no endorsement of education performed by the state or done in a Greek style. God has revealed His designed methodology for education, and these man-made approaches are not a part of His design. We cannot deviate from His design.
God’s Methodology for Education
“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” Deuteronomy 6:6-7.
As I mentioned in our previous discussion, Deuteronomy 6:6-7 present four necessary elements for Christian home education. They are: (1) Parents must be (2) teaching (3) their children (3) virtually wherever they go and in whatever they are doing (4) the Law-Word of God.
Today many “homeschoolers” only teach their children academics at home. Many “homeschoolers” over-delegate the actual training time to other people. These families are failing to follow God’s design for family training, particularly if they are not personally directing biblical instruction and worldview training, just as most families who send their children to government schools. These are not examples of families where Deuteronomy 6:7 is being followed.
The Bible presents a consistent pattern that parents, and especially fathers, have the primary responsibility of training their children to serve the Lord. That is expressed in Deuteronomy 6:7 and Ephesians 6:4. But a principle of interpretation for any law is that the more specific statute brings clarity to the less specific one. In this case, since Deuteronomy 6:7 is more specific than Ephesians 6:4, its more detailed instructions elaborate on how parents apply the general principle stated in Ephesians 6:4.
The pattern giving the necessity of parental discipleship is also seen in Psalm 78:1-12; throughout the book of Proverbs; in Malachi 4:6, and in the relationship of God the Son and God the Father (as in John 5:30). The relationship described in these passages is intimate and personal. That kind of relationship is developed and maintained through a huge investment of love and time. The Bible puts special responsibility for this relationship on the father.
In the traditional Greek educational system, however, the father is usually replaced as the primary trainer of his children by the teachers that make up the faculty of the school. They become the child’s mentors. They set the values and vision to which he aspires. But the model we see throughout the Bible is of the father personally instructing those values from the Word of God. (See, e.g., Proverbs 1:8-16.)
The Root of the Problem
If you get right down to it, the failure to follow God’s design in family training is due to a failure to yield to the Lordship of God. Man-made educational methods are yet another way that man feebly attempts to replace God in his life. In his book Sovereignty, Dr. R.J. Rushdoony made this observation:
An April 1988 publication of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Moral Education in the Life of the School, totally ignores Biblical morality. It follows Emile Durkheim, who held that the three essential elements in morality are, first, discipline; second, “moral authority” that is “social in origin,” which eliminates God; and third, autonomy, self-determination, and the human being (not God) as “the sacred thing par excellence.”
R.J. Rushdoony, Sovereignty 227 (Ross House, 2007).
This article from Rushdoony demonstrated how man has sought to use modern education to replace God. Modern education is yet another way that our culture proclaims of Jesus Christ, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14).
What is the Scriptural reason that a father would have for sending his children to a traditional school? If the Bible is his only standard for faith and practice, why would he do it?
How does sending your child to a traditional school help a father have more time with his children to teach them the Law-Word of God and equip them with the skills they need to apply the Word of God? What can a school teach a child that parents cannot? Are those things that a school can teach better really necessary for a children to be discipled as a warrior for Christ? Could those things even be destructive?
Christians today often have such a low view of what training is necessary for the building of a spiritual army for God that it is no wonder they think they can get away without serious family discipleship (a.k.a. home education).
May we Christians diligently train our children in the Law-Word of God everyday in everything we do so that they turn not back in the day of battle. (See Psalm 78:6-9.)
 Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Moral Education in the Life of the School (Alexandria, VA, 1988), 16-18.