by Patrick L. Hurd
As our first child Lindsey approached school age, my wife Carrie and I wondered if there was an alternative to giving our daughter to the influences of perfect strangers. We were witnessing the products of the public school system and were not enthused by what we saw: educational mediocrity, less than desirable behavior habits, dangerous conditions at school, influences and ideas contrary to our convictions, and the transfer of loyalty to those outside the family. Home schooling seemed to be the answer to most of our concerns. In reality, it was just the beginning of challenges yet to come.
That schooling gets harder in the high school years is not the major problem home educators face. Home schooling in the high school years is hard, but can anything be more tedious and laborious than teaching your young child to read (yawn)? The real challenge facing all home-schooling families is the ongoing accumulation of convictions that are logical extensions of why we began homeschooling in the first place. Each new conviction demands a response either in the form of adjusting personal and family life according to the newly acquired conviction or simple refusal to adopt the new standard. In the former case, one can be assured that new convictions will be on their way. In the latter, one can be assured that previously held convictions would be in danger of compromise. In either case, one never holds his position for long; there is either progress or regress.
Anchoring to God’s Calling
The Christian parent understands his family as an extension of and the means toward accomplishing the Great Commission of our Lord: going, teaching, and baptizing. Our desire is for our children to go farther, teach better, and baptize more than we ourselves have been equipped to do. In other words, it is our vision to equip our children to advance the of farther and more effectively than any previous generation. Our desire is to equip our children to stand on our shoulders, thus enabling them to see farther and accomplish more than our generation did.
It should be obvious that such a vision has many more implications to a life and worldview than one that simply aims to grow them up, pay for college, and see them successfully marry and have a career. Accordingly, to persevere to the very end of rearing our children is to recognize the threats and dangers to God’s calling and to be equipped and willing to make the difficult choices for the sake of the next generation.
The home-school movement was the first grassroots movement (and remains one of the few) to openly reject the lie of neutrality. Under the guise of separation of church and state, the public school system promotes a system of education that claims to be amoral but is, in fact, atheistic. Across the nation, Christian parents recognized the deception. If “the beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord,” then any educational system that does not start and end with the triune, self-attesting, Christian God of the universe is a false education. It is an education that does not and cannot account for or portray reality.
To equip our children to advance the Kingdom of God farther than that which we ourselves are capable entails educating them differently than we were educated. Neither the public school system nor the charter school is going to accomplish this. The Christian private school may be an attractive alternative, but one must consider closely whether their method of teaching the disciplines begins with the fear of the Lord or simply tacks the fear of the Lord onto the curriculum. Home schooling is the better solution because the education is framed by the vision of the parents.
To better equip their children, parents must come to grips with the debilitating effect of their own public school education, be willing to jettison it, and do the work to embrace a thoroughly Christian world and life view. Although it is a tall order, I dare say that once parents embark on the road of revamping their worldview, even if ever so slightly, public education of any sort quickly becomes a non-option. Conversely, the parent who is convinced that he turned out OK in the public school system leaves the door open to retreat when the going gets tough.
The best education and most meticulous, professional training can be quickly neutralized by bad character. Therefore parents should not only teach their children diligence, thoroughness, punctuality, courtesy, attentiveness, etc. but also proactively protect them from the lifelong consequences of emotional and physical baggage that can occur from just one unfortunate indiscretion.
One might think that the boy/girl, dating scene is the place where sexual indiscretions begin. I submit to you that the dating scene is where that which has been previously discussed between boy/boy and girl/girl at sleepovers, youth group meetings, and such is played out. You can be sure that if the kids are allowed to be in an environment that facilitates the learning (Christian romance novels, TV ads, billboard ads, grocery store check-out stands, Dad’s hidden pornography, etc.), they will take advantage of the opportunity to experiment with the knowledge.
A vital ingredient to staying the course of the vision, especially through the hard times, is teamwork between the parents. Teamwork may include sharing some of the workload of schooling, but more importantly it is sharing one’s life with your life-mate on an ongoing, day in-day out basis. The really difficult times of raising a family and making the hard choices for our children are easier to manage when the husband and wife work together with the same vision and for the same goal. More and/or older children are difficult to manage when one or the other parent is emotionally and/or physically absent.
It is the husband’s job to keep the parenting team together and on track. His physical presence is not as critical as his emotional presence and support to his wife. His leadership is essential in steering the course of his family down the path of the vision. His uncompromising support of his wife, especially in the eyes of the children, is crucial to the success of his wife as mother and teacher. One can be assured that his wife and children will get their vision and convictions somewhere if not from the husband.
The Christian parent has the distinct and high calling of equipping the next generation in advancing the rule and reign of King Jesus and defending the Christian faith against every false doctrine that attempts to exalt itself above our Lord. Home schooling is a vital part of fulfilling this calling, but it is only one leg of the adventure. Submitting to the conviction that education necessarily must be Christian only opens the door for a progression of new convictions. Call it “hav(ing) the mind of Christ,” “being transformed in your mind,” or sundry other similar biblical admonitions. It all boils down to the willingness to be sanctified with fire.
No one likes being molded and tested with fire. For the Christian, it is the hope of God’s hand seeing to the success of our calling that gives us the joy to go forward even when the circumstances beg us to quit. It is not easy for a husband to be sanctified by his wife and vice versa. Nor is it easy for parents to put restrictions on their children and teenagers when all the world and the rest of the Church promote every form of hedonism. The stakes are too high to resolve anything but to be faithful to the very end.
If I have seen further [than other men] it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.
– Sir Isaac Newton, February 1675