July 14, 2011

Does the Bible Mandate Homeschool?

by Nathan Busenitz

As a topic, homeschooling can be a powder keg of controversy. Anyone who doubts that should read through the 376 comments that Tim Challies generated in his recent (and excellent) series on that subject.

I experienced the controversy firsthand several years ago, after running an article on the Pulpit blog entitled, “Home, Private, or Public School?” It addressed the decision Christian parents face about where to educate their children. The article concluded that the issue is ultimately a wisdom decision—one in which parents have freedom in Christ to do what they believe is right on a case-by-case basis.

The post itself was simply a summary of a seminar that one of our staff pastors had given at a Shepherds’ Conference. And when we initially posted the article, it seemed fairly benign.

It didn’t say homeschooling was bad. In fact, it noted a number of positives that can come through educating children at home. It also pointed out some of the potential challenges and drawbacks. But it did so in a way that was balanced, courteous, and non-controversial.

At least that’s what we thought.

The next day, I logged on to find a comments section that had exploded.

In the darkness of the early morning hours, like a team of paratrooping special forces, homeschool-only advocates had stealthily descended into the comments section and established a defensive perimeter.

Homeschooling, they argued, is not a gray area. Instead, it is a biblical mandate; the only option for obedient Christian parents. Not to homeschool, they said, is to compromise.

That kind of dogmatism is not uncommon on the battlefields of the blogosphere. Some of the comments (like one that compared choosing public school to choosing divorce) were more amusing than anything else. But when that type of narrowness shows up in the local church and threatens the unity of the body, it can have devastating effects.

As the comment-thread developed at Pulpit, one passage of Scripture surfaced more than any other. It was clearly a favorite of the homeschool-only advocates. Like a rhetorical hand grenade, it was repeatedly lobbed into the discussion without any exegetical explanation.

Boom. Argument over.

Supposedly, at least.

But, smoke screens aside, does Deuteronomy 6:5–9 really mandate homeschooling?

That’s a fair question. And it’s one I decided to investigate in a follow-up article on the Pulpit blog. Nearly 150 comments later, I realized I’d hit a nerve. My wife asked me later why I invited that kind of controversy into my life. My feeble answer sounded more like a question, “Because that’s what bloggers do?”

Well, call me crazy, but I’ve decided to post a large portion of that article again. I’ve made a few edits, but the essence of it is the same.

So, let the shooting begin. (I’m speaking facetiously, of course.) Seriously though, I’ll be monitoring the comments from the safety of my underground bunker.

Here’s the article, beginning with the following note:

* * * *

NOTE: Our objective here is not to attack homeschooling. We have many homeschool families here at our church; and I personally have good friends, and even extended family members, who were homeschooled or who practice homeschool with their kids. In instances where parents choose to homeschool their children—assuming their reasons for doing so are genuine and noble—our church gladly supports their efforts. So this post is not an attack on homeschool as either an institution or a community.

Our objective, rather, is to dispel the notion that homeschooling is the only option a Christian can legitimately choose—such that those who do not homeschool their children are in violation of a biblical mandate, and therefore in sin. We believe homeschooling is an option, and in fact a good one for many families.

But is it the only legitimate choice that Christian parents can make? Or perhaps more to the point: Does the Bible mandate homeschooling?

We can discuss more passages in the comments section, if our readers would like. But in today’s post we will consider Deuteronomy 6:5–9. The passage (in the NASB) reads as follows:

(5) You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (6) These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. (7) You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (8) You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. (9) You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

The command here, given to the second generation of Israelites (after the Exodus) on the verge of entering the Promised Land, is that parents must actively and consistently disciple their children in the truth—being faithful to teach them the things of the Lord as a regular part of life. It is a call to lifestyle discipleship, as parents bring up their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

But does it provide a mandate or a model for the modern convention of homeschool?

Despite the good intentions of many well-meaning homeschool-only advocates, this passage is really not the end-all proof text that some might suggest. In thinking about this passage, here are a few things to consider:

* * * * *

First, and perhaps most obviously, these verses do not directly command formal homeschool (in the sense that homeschool is practiced today in Christian circles).

Rather, they instruct Israelite parents to consistently teach their children the things of the Lord within the normal activities of life. The passage says nothing about subjects like reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Thus, the question of whether or not one should homeschool is outside the explicit command(s) given in Deuteronomy 6. Obedience to this passage demands that a parent consistently teach his or her children the things of the Lord as a regular part of life. Whether that parent teaches his children algebra or English grammar is not the point.

On a side note, because homeschooling is not directly commanded in this passage (or in any other biblical text), it can correctly be identified as a “gray area” or a “wisdom issue”—one in which Christians must make wise decisions based on biblical principles and within God-given parameters. Romans 14–15 gives New Testament believers guidelines for how to think through these types of issues; it also warns Christians not to force their own personal convictions (in gray areas) onto other believers.

* * * * *

Second, Deuteronomy 6:5–9 is an Old Testament passage. Even if the passage instructed the Old Testament Israelites to practice formal homeschool (which it does not), such would not be a binding command on New Testament believers.

In the same way that that laws governing the Sabbath (Deut. 5:12–15); dietary restrictions (Deut. 14); the Sabbath year (Deut. 15); and the ceremonial feasts (Deut. 16) are no longer binding on Christians today—so also, the type of schooling mandated for Old Testament Israel is not obligatory for the New Testament church.

Those who wish to find homeschooling in Deuteronomy 6, must apply all of the specific instructions in that passage if they are to be consistent (including writing Bible verses on their doors, gates, hands, and foreheads). And that doesn’t include the specific instructions found throughout the rest of Deuteronomy (or the Pentateuch).

The church is not under the Law of Moses, but rather the Law of Christ. And while much of the instruction in Deuteronomy 6:5–9 is repeated in the New Testament (in places like Mark 12:30–31 and Eph. 6:1–4), the New Testament nowhere mandates homeschool.

[NOTE: If anyone is interested in my perspective on the NT believer’s relationship to the OT law, you can find an extended series on that at this link.]

* * * * *

Third, the Jews did not understand Deuteronomy 6 as a mandate to homeschool. Alfred Edersheim, in chapter 8 of Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ explains that while children (primarily sons) did receive some education at home (from ages 3 to 5), they were sent to the synagogue for their education starting at age 6 or 7. There they would attend formal classes with the other boys from their community. This Jewish application of Old Testament instruction accords more with today’s Christian school model than it does with the contemporary convention of homeschooling.

* * * * *

Fourth, Edersheim further indicates that, for Old Testament Jews, the application of passages like Deuteronomy 6 was primarily the responsibility of the father. If a “homeschool-only interpretation” of Deuteronomy 6 is granted, it is inconsistent to place the primary responsibility for the child’s education on the mother (as most homeschoolers do)—since as Edersheim notes, “There can be no question that, according to the law of Moses, the early education of a child devolved upon the father” (p. 128).

* * * * *

Fifth, as we noted in our second point, the primary application of this passage (that parents are to constantly and consistently disciple their children throughout the normal activities of life) is an application that is echoed in Ephesians 6:4. That application (as a command given directly to New Testament believers) is mandatory for parents today. However, it is an application that can be fulfilled no matter which type of formal education parents choose for their children.

Whether the child learns math, history, science, and grammar in a public school setting, a Christian school setting, or a homeschool setting—it is still the direct responsibility of Christian parents to bring up their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

This responsibility is not necessarily met just because a child learns math at home. Nor is this responsibility necessarily abdicated when a child attends the public elementary school across the street. In either case, parents must proactively teach their children the things of the Lord, discipling them in the faith throughout the regular activities of everyday life.

Nathan Busenitz

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Nathan serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Church and teaches theology at The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles.
  • http://archersinsa.blogspot.com Clint

    I learned math, science, and sin at public school. But only one of the four could I do well without any teachers (and it wasn’t math!)

    • http://twitter.com/WilliamsonShane Shane Williamson

      Amen to that. Haha.

  • Robert Sakovich

    Good post, Nate. We just made the switch to homsechooling because of different issues with each of our sons. The church we were in until last year has a core group of members who are very pushy about homeschooling and have this air of knowing everything better about raising up kids than others. That type of attitude made us more hesitant to homeschool because we didn’t want our kids to think they were superioor because they were homeschooled. And that attitude does seep down into the children, too. The pastor at our new church has stated a few times (at least since we’ve been there – 6 months) that this is a wisdom issue…and the members of the church are very open on this as well. It made our decision a lot easier because we didn’t sense a lot of pressure one way or the other.

  • Ryan Trzeciak

    Thanks for the perspective Nate. Having experienced all three (public, private, and home), I have seen the good and the bad of each methodology, and sin can be taught and learned in all three, just in different manifestations. That makes the true understanding of Deut 6:5-9 about the discipleship of children all the more important as parents seek to train their children in the ways of the Lord, no matter how the choose to educate them.

  • http://www.stayathomedaughter.com Ashley Schnarr

    I found this post very interesting and I agreed with much of it. I appreciate the loving spirit it was written in. I do have a question, one that I have been thinking much about lately. Do you see any place in scripture that indicates that it is wise to allow your children (young children especially) to be extensively educated by a person(s) who do not have a biblical world view or who are in opposition to the Scripture?

  • Eric Davis

    Thanks Nate. This blog keeps recruiting sound hermeneutics as a means to rescue the world from wrong thinking.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_265IAXAGLIATBAJQFQOILBPAL4 Go Gators

    Nathan I know you are a great student of the Word and I am thankful for your work and books! Your first point is good. The second point would you say it is void since we are NT believers?

    I was wondering in your argument you use synagogue in relationship to Deuteronomy 6 in the 3rd and 4th points. It seems that synagogues was a much later development and they are referred to by Christ himself as synagogues of Satan in the NT. So I wanted to know can you use Edersheims argument? If you can does that argue against public schools and only christian schools since they are only under Jewish authority. Your thoughts?
    I like how you have tried to take on Deuteronomy 6:5-9, it seems that how you apply this verse will be how you frame your view on schooling. It seems like Romans 14 with the conscience is where the argument should be at.

    • Anonymous

      Go Gators,

      Thank you for your comment and good questions.

      It is true that the synagogue system was a post-exilic development in Israel, while Deuteronomy 6 is a pre-exilic passage.

      Admittedly, we don’t have a lot of information about Israel’s education system before the Babylonian Captivity. Nonetheless, there is good evidence that at least some kind of formal schooling existed. For example, the ‘Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament’ (vol. 14, pp. 202-3) says this: “Analogy with Egypt and Mesopotamia, as well as diverse epigraphic evidence (alphabetical lists, student texts, translation exercises) and OT references, presupposes the existence of royal scribal schools in the capitals of the southern and northern kingdoms, though also in a series of additional fortress and storage cities, schools in which future officials learned the basic skills of reading and writing.”

      As to the synagogue system, the post-exilic Jews certainly saw it as compatible with Deuteronomy 6. They were fastidious in their zeal to keep every detail of the Mosaic Law. If homeschooling had been in Deuteronomy 6, they would have found it (and placed plenty of restrictions on it too). Instead, they formally educated their children in the synagogues.

      The New Testament does not condemn the synagogue system as an invalid paradigm for educating children. In fact, it is likely that Jesus Himself was educated in that very system.

      Our Lord’s words about the “synagogues of Satan” in Revelation 2–3 is not a rejection of Israel’s schooling method, but rather a condemnation of the apostasy that characterized the nation after she rejected her Messiah.

      Thanks again for your helpful comments!

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_265IAXAGLIATBAJQFQOILBPAL4 Go Gators

        Thank you Nate for your answer! Good stuff :)

  • Anonymous

    Homeschooling is NOT mandated in the Bible, if one means that ALL education must be in the context of the home. Training up the children in the fear and admonition of the Lord is certainly the responsibility of the father as certain as is overseeing baptism and the Lord’s table is for elders. When education works against what God has commanded, then – Houston, we have a problem.

  • Matthew

    Very balanced and biblical approach – this will come in handy…..
    Thank you Nate.

  • Michael

    Hi Nate. Thanks for the balanced perspective and for presenting each method of schooling as legitimate options, based more on personal preferences and convictions than a biblical mandate. I completely agree with your conclusions. For the sake of discussion, however, I have a question. What do you think about homeschool-only advocate developing a plausible argument that is more inductive than deductive? In other words, there are some things that the Bible does not explicitly prohibit or promote, but based on the collective insights from a set of biblical principles one may conclude that the a certain action or attitude is contrary to God’s will (granted one must be careful with these sort of conclusions).

    For example, to my knowledge the Bible does not explicitly require fathers (or mothers) to spend time with their children. Nevertheless, we can infer from proverbial wisdom and NT commands that parents must spend time with their children if they are going to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord – it is God’s will for parents to spend purposeful time with their children. How much time and what is purposeful may be a “gray area”, but the responsibility in general cannot be biblically given to someone else. So, do you think a homeschool-only advocate could form an argument that says, “based on certain biblical principles it seems not only wise, but necessary to homeschool”? Homeschooling itself is not commanded, but it is required in order to obey the commands that are given (e.g. Eph 6:4; 1 Tim 3:4; Titus 2:3-5).

    I understand that formulating the sort of argument mentioned would probably require more descriptive passages rather than prescriptive commands and may rely too heavily on inferences from Scripture, but it still seems like a worthwhile discussion. BTW: did I say that I am not a homeschool-only person?

    • Michael

      Where does boarding school fit into the discussion? In particular those instances when a child is sent to boarding school some distance away from their parents. Is that a legitimate option for Christians? It seems very difficult (impossible?) to be faithful to Eph 6:1-4 if your child spends the majority of his or her time hundreds of miles away. It would be especially difficult with elementary school aged children.

      Also, if we conclude that homeschooling is not a biblical mandate but decide that it is wise (especially with young children), should a pastor actively promote what he considers biblically wise? Church membership, children’s Sunday school, and family devotions, are not commanded, but many pastors/churches promote them as wise and beneficial. We have to be careful with the emphasis, the manner, and the tone when we promote “gray areas”, but still we ought to actively express what we believe to be wise. If, however, we conclude that homeschoooling is just one of the options and not necessarily a matter of wisdom, than its better not to promote any option.

      Personally, I think how a child is educated is to be determined on a case by case basis, discerned and decided by the parents. I would only consider questioning someone’s decision if at the heart of the concern was the parent’s faithfulness to train and care for their child and if the well-being of the child seemed jeopardized. But even then I would take extreme cation and aim at the heart, not the method of schooling.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your comment.

      “Gray areas” are, by definition, those areas in which the Word of God is not explicit—areas in which we must apply biblical principles in order to do that which we believe will most honor Christ.

      I’m not sure your example (of parents spending time with their children) is really a parallel case. All of the biblical commands to parents are predicated on the fact that there is interaction (and thus time shared) between the parent and the child. Looking back to Deuteronomy 6, for example, it would be impossible for a parent to apply the principle found in verse 7 without spending time with his children.

      But such does not hold true with regard to homeschooling. Parents can still faithfully apply the principles of Deuteronomy 6 (and other biblical passages on parenting) while choosing to educate their children outside the home.

      Because this is a wisdom issue, Christian parents must develop their own convictions based on biblical principles—applying discernment and wisdom to their own unique set of circumstances.

      In a gray area like this, the real problem comes when believers make their own personal convictions the standard by which they judge other Christians. If parents carefully determine that homeschooling is the best option for their family, that’s great. But if they start to look down on other parents who choose not to homeschool then it becomes a serious issue.

      Thanks again for the helpful comment.

      • Michael

        Hi again Nate,

        I appreciate and agree with your reply. In your response to my example of parents spending time with their children, however, you may be dangerously close to “the real problem” in gray areas like this.

        You said it would be impossible for a parent to apply the principle found in Deut 6:7 without spending time with his children. But the missionary who sends his children to boarding school may not agree. He may argue that the challenges of missionary work in a remote area lead him to conclude that spending his child to a distant boarding school is actually how he applies Deut 6:7.

        Although it is a unique and isolated case, what about Hannah? Was she being faithful to Deut 6:7 when she brought Samuel to the temple after he was weaned only to visit him once a year (1 Sam 1:24; 2:19)? Did she think entrusting her son to the priesthood at a very young age was actually an application of Deut 6:7?

        The point is not to argue that we don’t need to spend time with our children, but rather to suggest that in the same way you said it is impossible to apply Deut 6:7 without spending time with our children, a person could say it is impossible to apply Deut 6:7 without homeschooling. I understand you would not agree with that person (nor would I), but their rationale for making such a statement is similar to your rationale for disagreeing. Both statements are inferring an application that is not explicit.

        In the end, your last paragraph summaries the main point well. Parents should make their decision based on personal convictions and not criticize others with differing convictions. In addition, I think the topic of schooling our children should not be a taboo, unapproachable topic within the church (thanks for this blog post). We must acknowledge that it is a wisdom issue, but then lets share our wisdom with one another. Personally, I would be honored (and humbled) if someone had the courage to graciously offer wisdom on why they thought I should consider another option of schooling for my children. I may or may not agree with him, but would seek to receive it as his way of caring for me and my family.

  • Karl Heitman

    Nathan, exegetically and historically, I have to admit that it’s hard to argue against your case. However, for me, the main issue is the horrid ungodly surroundings the child is in at a public school setting. Now, I’m not trying to advocate the extreme “homeschool only” position, but I have an honest question regarding this statement: “However, it is an application that can be fulfilled no matter which type of formal education parents choose for their children. Whether the child learns math, history, science, and grammar in a public school setting, a Christian school setting, or a homeschool setting…”

    The main issue for me is not how or if my son learns calculus and chemistry; my concerns are the blatant immoral influence your child he be exposed to in the midst of fulfilling your responsibility to train your child in the Lord. How can a Christian throw their child into a place where God is hated and sin is surrounding them all day, then they come home after a full day of “school” and fail to discuss with you everything they learned (i.e., the story about Johnny finding his dad’s Playboy and brings it to school to show all his friends. Something similar to this scenario happened to me)? Honest question.

    Again, the issue is purposefully, with no supervision, putting your precious little one in the care of the secular world in the midst of other kids who will impose all kinds unimaginable sinful thoughts, words, and actions on your little one. How do you expect for your child to deal with all of that (1 Cor. 15:33)?

    • Jonmoffitt

      Well, I said I was going to stay out of this one…can’t help myself being a homelearn boy myself (I never could get my friends to understand the term is homeschool).

      Karl, this question really isn’t about where you send your kids for school as it is how you prepare them for life. In today’s world it will almost be impossible to keep pornography out of my son’s hands when he gets older, this is the reality of our world. Every phone in America has access to information that is harmful to the soul. To think that I am to prevent such information to ever cross my children’s eye and ears will be impossible (believe me, I will try my best).

      Therefore, I have two options: Place my children in a room with their Bible’s and never let them out, or place the Bible in their hearts as I let them out.

      My point? Everything is to be seen through the lenses of the gospel. If I enlighten my son to glories of the gospel and how it effects every area of life, even physical relationships, when he is faced with something that is contrary to the gospel it want make sense. When you place pornography at the foot of cross, how good does it look then?

      Therefore, my focus is not so much on preventing my children from the evils that exists as it is preparing them for when they come. It is much harder to be consistent in the gospel then to set up boundaries (and I’m not saying boundaries are wrong).

      Nathan’s post is helpful in that it really does come down to a wisdom issue. Homeschool or public, my responsibility as a father to minister the gospel to my children does not change. Each individual home must determine what is best for their family.

      My wife and I are still thinking this one through as a family. It is a healthy practice because you have to evaluate how effective the gospel is being implanted into your children’s hearts.

      Good discussion :)

      • Karl Heitman

        So, why would you not do everything within your power to keep porn (among other things his young mind needlessly will be exposed to) out of your son’s hands while he is your home? Do you honestly think that the best way to prepare your son for life is to throw him into the world before he is fully discipled? Are soldiers sent into the battlefield without being fully trained? (By the way, as I clearly stated above, I’m not advocating the extreme position that says we should “shelter” our children from reality.)

        • Jonmoffitt

          Hey Karl,
          Great response. I am going to do everything within my power to keep evil away from my son, but this doesn’t fix the problem. The issue isn’t keeping my son from evil, it is keeping the evil out of my son. The only way this is possible is through the gospel. If I put internet filters on my computers (which I have), filter the tv and movies, etc…this doesn’t fix the ultimate problem of the heart. I am attacking my sons heart with the gospel, not what is attacking my son.

          At what age will it be ok for children to attend a public school? When will a child be ready for the attacks of the world? Again, I believe this is a wisdom issue that is up to the parents to determine for their own children. Some could be at age 5, some later. What do you think?

          • Michael

            Karl and Jonmoffitt,

            Good discussion.

            BTW: In his book, “Gospel-Powered Parenting” William Farley has a good section where he argues that the goal of parenting is ultimately the child’s conversion. Once a child is regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, then the power to resist worldliness and temptations lives in him. The child may still be immature and certainly needs the counsel and wisdom of his parents, but the major battle has been won.

            Therefore, whatever schooling method is chosen, the essential role of parents is to keep the gospel before their children. They must see and believe that Jesus Christ is bigger, better, and more beautiful than anything offered by this world. Parents constantly cry out for mercy as they feel their desperate depends on the Lord and trust Him to protect and preserve their children, understanding that God uses them as a means of grace in their children’s lives to wisely set boundaries and to faithfully portray and proclaim the gospel.

      • momof3

        I really appreciated this response….very gracious and wise. Thank you.

  • http://www.proclaiminghisexcellencies.wordpress.com Charlie Frederico

    I think this is one of the better arguments against the Dt. 6 “homeschool mandate” that I have read. We have always homeschooled our children (we have 8) and it has been the best decision for us in many ways. 1) it has allowed flexibility in our lives as far as ministry is concerned, being able to take a half-day so that we can visit someone in the hospital as a family, for example. 2) it has allowed us the maximum time with our children to see their hearts and minds develop in order to work with them at every possible turn. True you can do that at 3:00 when they get off the bus, but you really have lost a major portion of the day. 3) It has allowed us to structure what the children learn so as to maximize and emphasize the teaching of Scripture in everything, i.e. six-day creation vs. evolution. 4) it has made it normal to be home, and abnormal to be anywhere else. That is, wandering the streets, malls, and friend’s houses just doesn’t happen, thereby lessening the influence of purposelessness in their hearts. 5) it has given us a greater opportunity to host people at our house. The children enjoy having guests. They work hard to help prepare meals and clean up afterwards. I really don’t think that kind of mindset would be there had they been used to being home only in the summers, weekends and evenings. 6) it has protected our children from the blatant corruption that is acceptable to the world, but unacceptable to Christ. Some would say that we can’t keep children away from sin. That is true since sin is in them. However, what are you drawing out of their hearts by way of a particular sin that you allow to be viewed, and/or experienced? Why work against yourself? Minimize the world and its influence and maximize the Scripture and its influence, and you will be able to deal with their hearts in a much more efficient way. 7) homeschooling has forced me, dad, to learn really what it means to take responsibility for my children. The reality hits you at some point that you are responsible for the amount (little or large) that they have learned. If most dads are honest with themselves, they will admit a deep longing to be left alone. How sinful. Being in the mix of my children and their lives at a tremendously constant level has taught me the joy of sacrificing “me” for them. What a joy!
    Now having said all that, no, Dt. 6 does NOT teach homeschooling. Nor does it teach public schooling. It teaches the priority of Scriptural truth over the rudiments of life in all places and at all times. It teaches the priority of the father to teach/train his children at all times (I believe that concept of the ongoing intensive training is behind Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 6:4 of ‘training’. It is ongoing, intense [Piel perfect verb] work, day-in and day-out, in the things of God). Home education may be a greater arena in which to obey that instruction, but Dt. 6 obviously does not mandate it. Practically speaking, if your child is at school from 7AM to 3PM (8 hours) 5 days a week, not counting sports in the evenings/weekends and church, in reality, how much time ARE you giving to them? How much time is left? Lifestyle discipleship sounds good and all, however, is that reality for most families? The home is a little Eden, and there is no better place to be.
    Thank you Nate. These are good thoughts.

    • Karl Heitman

      Thanks, Charlie. Extremely well said. What I’ve been trying to say you put in better words than I could: “Why work against yourself? Minimize the world and its influence and maximize the Scripture and its influence, and you will be able to deal with their hearts in a much more efficient way.” That’s the main issue for me. It seems simple to me…. Do you think that as a young pre-teen a gasped for air and ran home and confessed to my dad that someone showed me XXX rated material after school? Nope. Why? Because my sinful nature loved it and wanted more. If I was homeschooled in a Gospel-centered home, I would have been taught the Bible, not sexual lust as a norm. Obviously, this is just one of a multitude of examples you could use… I have heard stories that I could not post here because it would be so inappropriate.

      This is especially true in America: “…your child is at school from 7AM to 3PM (8 hours) 5 days a week, not counting sports in the evenings/weekends and church, in reality, how much time ARE you giving to them?” How does a parent find the time to effectively shepherd their kid in 0-2 hours per day? Plus you have absolutely no idea what the child has learned, in or out of the classroom in the 8+ hour day….

      All though I would go to great lengths not to make this a dividing issue, I still can’t fathom releasing my precious son and daughter into the hands of a stranger and catapulting them into a world they are not ready for by no means. They need to be trained BEFORE sending them out with the prayer that they will pass the test the world will present them. Thanks for sharing.

  • Tavis

    I’m waiting for the “work with and for Christians-only” controversy to be lit. That will be a fun one.

  • Shaun Marksbury

    Thanks for the post, Nate. I don’t see why this would be perceived as an attack on homeschooling. We decided homeschooling was best for our family a couple of years ago, but I find myself in full agreement with everything you’ve said here.

    Having grown up in public schools and noting recent policy changes, I understand the uneasiness with the current state of the system. Even so, it’s not the only valid option and it is certainly not commanded. Parents (fathers in particular) are responsible for the spiritual welfare of children whatever the choice of education may be.

  • http://virginiahuguenot.blogspot.com/ Andrew Myers

    Martin Luther is quoted as saying: “I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not unceasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.”

    In his 1520 Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation he wrote (§25):

    “But where the Holy Scriptures are not the rule, I advise no one to send his child. Everything must perish where God’s word is not studied unceasingly; and so we see what manner of men there are now in the high schools, and all this is the fault of no one but of the Pope, the bishops, and the prelates, to whom the welfare of the young has been entrusted. For the high schools should only train men of good understanding in the Scriptures, who wish to become bishops and priests, and to stand at our head against heretics and the devil and all the world. But where do we find this? I greatly fear the high schools are nothing but great gates of hell, unless they diligently study the Holy Scriptures and teach them to the young people.”

  • http://www.aboutmyfathersbusiness.net Sunny Shell

    I just tweeted this! Thanks brother! Through much prayer and heartache, we’ve public schooled both our sons (16 and 18, Junior in high school and one going to college this fall) their entire lives…so far. :o) We’ve always wanted to homeschool or private school, but was strongly led by God (through prayer and reading His word) that His plan for our kids was to be public schooled. We pray every year to bring our children home b/c it is so hard to public school Christian children. We’ve had to take extra measures to review movies, etc that are controversial and opted out for our children to be involved in many activities and optional lessons on sexuality and other worldly teachings provided by the public school system.

    We’ve had to take our school district to court twice for religious discrimination and have already won one case (SWAT Bible Club v. PISD) not only for the freedom of religious expression for all secondary students in our school district, but also for our entire state after our Gov. Rick Perry signed the bill. The first case is still in the courts (Morgan, et. al v. PISD, aka, the Candy Cane Case). This case involves the religious freedoms for primary school children, who currently in TX have no religious freedoms.

    After years of being told by fellow believers that we are “sending our children to the devil”, “you’re in direct disobedience to God’s command”, “you’re destroying your kids”, “you need to repent and mature in your faith so you can hear God better” and my all time favorite, “You can’t obey God’s command in Deuteronomy 6 b/c you public school your children” we’ve learned to quickly assess and stay away from the homeschool Nazi’s. We never knew that we weren’t able to obey God’s command in Deut 6, b/c if we had, we sure wouldn’t have wasted all these years doing it! :D

    But seriously, I really enjoyed this article and if you don’t mind, I’d like to link it to the two I wrote on the same subject after coming under much attack for how we have been led to school our children.

    If you’re interested here are the 2 articles I’ve written from a mother’s perspective and from one who wishes the church would try harder to love one another in Christ rather than divide on personal convictions.

    http://www.aboutmyfathersbusiness.net/2010/08/debate-public-school-vs-home-school.html

    http://www.aboutmyfathersbusiness.net/2010/08/debate-educating-our-children-part-ii.html

  • Bryan Morgette

    Thank you for this post. My wife and I wish to homeschool in the future, but it’s the “homeschool only” advocates that drive me away from looking into it further.

    Fantastic article dispelling the myth that homeschool is mandated in scripture.

    thanks!

  • AStev

    It’s my experience that parents become fanatics about their parenting choices (on all sorts of things), because they want their parenting choices to be vindicated and all the “roads not taken” to be put to the flame. Pride, pride, pride.