by Tammy Drennan
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine1 has been running a feature in The Homeschool Minute e-newsletter in which people share their top ten reasons to stick with the homeschool journey. The entries range from funny to touching to philosophical, and they all serve the excellent purpose of encouragement.
But there’s really only one reason for the Christian to reject public schooling – God did not give you children to house and feed on behalf of the government.
God gave you children to house, feed, nurture and educate on behalf of none other than himself. He stamped your children with his image, not Caesar’s, and not even the church’s. Then he placed those God-stamped children in your care with the profound and serious call to rear them to be God-obsessed – to honor and love and obey God, to think about him and follow him day and night, to long and work to become more like him, to grow into ambassadors for him.
God placed your children in your hands to ensure that as they grow his image becomes sharper and more pronounced in them, clearer, and unblurred.
The goal of public schools has absolutely nothing to do with God. However “good” a school might be (and what does that mean?), it aims to shape your child into something that neither considers nor needs God to navigate life. God is simply not relevant to the image public schools work to stamp on your child.
And don’t fool yourself into thinking they are not trying to stamp your child with any image at all. Education has a purpose, no matter who is doing it. Educators, be they in schools or be they you, are pursuing the shaping of children for some purpose. That purpose may be good citizenship, a workforce to promote the vision of the state for the future, the dream of a nation that beats all other nations on tests, or the desire to rear up a new generation of men and women doggedly in pursuit of God and his excellence.
Some people believe they see signs that God has called them to choose government education for their children. Maybe they get a flier in the mail that offers free state virtual school for their children. Or maybe the local high school has an excellent sports program that an athletically gifted son would like to take advantage of, or an incredible music program that might open doors for a talented daughter. Maybe it’s the school’s lab for your science-oriented child or the art program for your budding painter or sculptor.
Do not make the mistake of taking these things as signs. They are temptations. They leave God out of the equation, and God never gives us the option of leaving him out of any equation, above all the equation of education.
If it is God’s design for your son to have a football career or for your daughter to become a famous singer, he will make a way. But don’t be surprised if he has not chosen these paths for your children, talent notwithstanding. Think of Eric Liddell2 and his incredible gift of speed, yet his work for God led him to minister in China, where he ended up in a Japanese internment camp during World War Two and gave to others until illness cost him his earthly life. God may want to use a beautiful singing voice in an orphanage in Romania rather than in concert halls and on CD labels. Don’t mistake American ideals and definitions of success for Biblical ones.
God’s definition of success has nothing to do with America’s definition of success. The two may sometimes be compatible, but that is because America submits to God’s view and not the other way around. God’s ways are not our ways, and all too often our ways are not God’s ways.
This article would not be complete without addressing the very real problem of those who find themselves with no choice but government schooling. There are fewer than many think – there are plenty of people who think or claim, for any number of reasons, they have no choice who really do. They may have their priorities mixed up or they may be sincerely misjudging their situation.
But there are some who truly do not have a choice. This does not mean that God has ordained government schooling for their children. It means that fellow believers and churches have failed in their role to nurture and provide for their own, to secure the kingdom of God before turning to woo the world to God’s ways. It is not a reflection on God’s ways but a sad sign of our misplaced priorities. Our job is to set our priorities, as individuals and as churches, in line with God’s priorities and remedy the situation.
Finally, it is impossible to talk about this topic without also addressing the “salt and light” issue – the idea that God is calling us to make missionaries of our children.
Has God called any parent to send a child into an ungodly culture for the express purpose of fitting that child for life yet also for the purpose of having that child try to turn the culture on its heels and convince it that it is on the wrong path? How is it we send our children into a culture to be both shaped by it and to change its shape, to be educated by it and to educate it, to respect its leaders and get along with its followers yet reject what they stand for and how they live?
God does not even call adult missionaries to embrace the tutelage of pagan cultures while trying to also change them. Does the world of public schooling need a missions outreach? No doubt. Has God called us to send forth our children as missionaries disguised as students to do the job? We know he has not and that we do not seriously believe that in sending our children to state schools we are actually enacting the Great Commission.
May we pursue more avidly the godly nurture and education of our children and may we take more seriously our duty to help others do the same.