To train a child: Who’s responsibility is it anyway?
“Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born” (Judges 13:8). Manoah was the father of Samson, who was a mighty judge over Israel. Before Samson was born, an angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and told her that she would conceive and bear a son who would begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. When Manoah’s wife came to him and told him what the angel of God had told her, he prayed to God and said, “teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.” Manoah did not go to the world or the philosophers and psychologists of his day to find out how to raise his son. He went to God, the One who is the source of all truth and wisdom. May we as Christians follow Manoah’s example and seek to be taught of God as to how to raise and teach our children. It is no secret that recent generations have become increasingly wicked against God. This is true not only of the world, but of God’s own people. Many professing believers have forsaken God’s ways and followed after the ways of the world. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” This passage applies today just as much as it did in the days of Hosea. We are witnessing the destruction of God’s people because of their rejection of knowledge and truth. This did not happen overnight, but slowly from one generation to the next. Christian parents are failing to instill in their children the ways and precepts of God, and we are seeing the result of it. Home education is an important subject because it is one area where there is a great lack of knowledge among God’s people, yet it is the means whereby future generations can be preserved in righteousness. Proverbs 22:6 teaches us to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 29:17 says, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” There are clearly great blessings that result from the scriptural training and education of children. It is not only a great blessing to parents who train their children properly, but to others as well, including churches and society in general. However, it is not an easy task to train children, and in this important work we must search the scriptures for guidance. We must seek the leadership of the Holy Spirit and look to God for understanding as did Manoah. Let me also say here that our subject is the education of children, not the education of adults. There is a fundamental difference between public schools where children go to receive training and instruction, and colleges or schools of higher learning where adults (who should already be trained) go to be taught a trade or a skill whereby they may adequately provide for the needs of the home. Christian home educators are not against education, but the indoctrination and bad influences of the public and private school systems. The Authority and Responsibility of Parents The first reason that I believe in home schooling is because God has placed children under the authority of their parents, and therefore it is the parent’s responsibility to educate them. Parents should seek to guide their children to a life pleasing to God. This entails teaching their children what their purpose for existence is, what their relationship to God is, and what their relationship to their fellow man is. Ephesians 6:4 reads, “ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Notice who is addressed here, it’s “ye fathers.” It is not “ye schools,” “ye daycares,” or “ye babysitters,” but “ye fathers.” It is the father’s responsibility to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Authority comes from God. Proverbs 6:20 says, “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother.” Similarly we read in Colossians 3:20, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” Children are to be obedient to their parents because God has placed them under the parent’s authority. The parent’s word is law to the children. This point is critical and must be taken seriously because the parent’s authority comes from God. Nobody has any authority whatsoever unless God gives it to them (John 19:11), and God specifically gave authority to parents to train and educate their children (Proverbs 22:6). This is why Manoah wanted to know how to raise his son. He understood it was his responsibility to do so and took it seriously. He did not want to dishonor or belittle the law of God. The authority that God gives is non-transferable. If God tells us to do something, then we cannot tell someone else to do it in our place. Could the members of a church decide to hire professionals to do all or part of their evangelism? Certainly not! God told the church to go into all the world and make disciples. There is no institution that can do the church’s work for them. The same is true of the home. There is no institution that can adequately do the parent’s work for them. In addition, when God gives authority He requires accountability. Thus parents are accountable to God for what they allow their children to do. A good example of this concerns Eli the priest. He learned that his sons were committing terrible sins against God. I Samuel 2:22 says, “Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” Eli found out what his sons were doing and told them to stop (I Samuel 2:23-25), but in verse 25 we see that his sons did not obey him. The Lord ended up punishing Eli for the sins of his children because he did not make them stop. “For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.” (I Samuel 3:13). Eli told his children to cease their wickedness; but he did not exercise his authority to restrain them, and consequently God held Eli accountable for this. Likewise, God will hold us accountable if we fail to exercise our authority over our children. If we send them to public or private schools we will be held accountable for everything that they see, hear, and learn there because we are responsible for their training. If our children are taught evolution or humanism in school, God will hold us accountable for it, just as if we taught them these things ourselves. If our children are exposed to pornography, drugs, profanity, homosexuality, etc. at school or other places, we as parents will give an account as to why we sent our children into such an environment. Furthermore in a school setting, teachers must be given a certain authority over their pupils in order to teach them. This means that children who are sent to schools are taken from under the authority of their parents (where God placed them) and placed under the authority of a teacher. This is confusing to children. No matter how good the teacher may be, it is inevitable that the teacher and the parents will contradict each other in many areas. This is especially true since the teacher works for the school and not for the parents. It is dangerous for parents to surrender control over their children’s education this way. The school teacher is not the authority that God ordained to be over our children. Moreover, the education of children is not the government’s responsibility. God never gave this authority to the government. The mandate that God gave to civil government is summed up in Romans 13:3-4, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” The government has no business in social programs such as welfare, social security, or education. The government’s purpose is to simply enforce God’s law and be a terror to evildoers. The education of children is not the church’s responsibility either. The commission that God gave to churches is found in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” We certainly ought to take our children to church and our children ought to see us faithfully serving the Lord in church, but the mandate to educate our children does not belong to the church but to parents in the home. When God gives authority, He gives it for a specific purpose, and the authority that God gives to men has a limited jurisdiction. No one has all authority except for God. According to His word, the education of children falls under the jurisdiction of the home; not the jurisdiction of the government, the church, or any school. The Perpetuity and Propagation of the Truth The second reason that I believe in home schooling is because it is God’s first plan for the perpetuity and propagation of the truth. In the New Testament, the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) was given to the church and is God’s plan for the propagation of the truth, yet the home was instituted before the church (this does not diminish the Great Commission in any way). God’s word tells us in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 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. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” We note that it is our responsibility as parents to make sure that we teach our children God’s word so that future generations do not forget God and forsake His law. “Beware lest thou forget the LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:12). God puts children in homes for this very reason. As far as children are concerned, all education should be subjective to the scriptures. In other words, as we teach our children things that are secular in nature; it should be from the viewpoint of God’s word and in a Christian light. Secular education that is not overshadowed by God’s word will not be good for any child, but will simply teach them to be humanistic in their thinking. Biblical Separation The third reason that I believe in home schooling is because of the Bible doctrine of separation. II Corinthians 6:14-18 says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” God’s word plainly teaches that we have nothing in common with the world and that we should not have fellowship with unbelievers. I John 2:15 says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” God’s people are not of this world. We should not think or act like the world, and we certainly should not train up our children in the ways of the world. It’s not that we should isolate ourselves from the world, for we are placed here for a reason. We are the salt and light of the earth. But we are the salt and light of the earth only if we are separate from the world by living according to God’s word. We have influence on the people of the world if we do things God’s way. Therefore we should be governed by His word alone and not the vain philosophies of men. If we are doing what the Bible teaches, we will be hated of the world. Christ said in John 15:19, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” The public school system has now come to represent gross immorality and humanism. God’s people should be peculiar and separate from such institutions that openly oppose the things of God and come out from among them. Would we support other institutions that oppose God, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood, etc? I would hope not, for it would violate the Scriptural principles of separation. Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.” The word ‘counsel’ has to do with teaching. We should not walk in the teachings of the ungodly. Jeremiah 10:2 reads, “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen.” This is easy to understand. Learning has to do with education, does it not? In Proverbs 19:27 we read, “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.” We should not heed instruction that is contrary to God’s word. The bottom line is our children should not be educated by the world. Separation from the world will also protect our children from evil influences. I Corinthians 15:47 says, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” It’s no wonder that most children today have no manners. They have been corrupted by evil communications. James 4:4 reads, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” God’s people have no business being friends with the world. Take note also that Christian schools can have just as many bad influences as public schools. Even though they may not teach atheism and liberalism, they are full of children who are worldly. In many cases, the children who get expelled from public schools for being a problem end up in Christian schools. It is the responsibility of parents to guard their children against these evil associations. There is nothing wrong with our children having friends; however it is foolish for parents to allow their children to make friends of the world. Failure to separate from the world will lead to future problems for both parents and children alike. Galatians 6:8 reads, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Modern secular education in schools is at best, fleshly, and at worst, Satanic. There is nothing spiritual about it. This is the problem. How can we think that as Christian parents we are going to “un-teach” all the worldly things our children are being taught for thirty to forty hours each week in school? If parents spent an hour a day in Bible study with their children (and most don’t do this), it would still be insufficient to counter everything their children are hearing in school. Having to un-teach children what they are learning is also counter productive and a waste of precious time and energy. The best thing to do is to have our children at home under our guidance until they leave home. This is the way God intended for children to learn. God Instituted the Home The fourth reason that I believe in home schooling is because God instituted the home (Genesis 2:18-24), but He did not institute schools for children. Many parents think that public schools ought to be a fundamental part of society, but the Scriptures do not teach this. The home and family are a fundamental part of society because God is the one who instituted the home and family. Civil government is a fundamental part of society because God instituted civil government. But did God institute the public school system? Did God tell us to send our children there to receive an education? By no means! Schools for children are neither necessary nor good for society. Although schools for adults have been around for some time, the public education of children is a relatively new invention. Society has been brainwashed into thinking that public education is the only way, though it is not according to God’s word. Home school is the only scriptural way for a child to be educated. Any institutions, public or private, that substitute for the home are contrary to God’s revealed will. If we think about it, we can see that public and private schools exist only because there is a demand for them with modern day parents. Even many Christian parents are living for worldly success and material gain rather than for God. They are too busy to bother training their children and are happy for someone else to educate them. But we as Christians should never be guilty of placing material gain or personal success before our spiritual duty (Matthew 16:26). I realize that not all Christian parents who send their children to schools are trying to avoid their responsibility. Many are simply ignorant as to what their responsibility is, and they think that they are supposed to send their children to public school because that is what society has taught them. It can be difficult to accept God’s word when it contradicts what one has previously been taught, however “let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). Common Objections to Home Schooling In conclusion, I’d like to deal with some common arguments against home schooling. First, I have heard it stated that home schooling does not prepare children for the “real world.” Many people think that children must be placed in a public school so that they learn how to deal with public society. What they do not realize is that schools maintain a synthetic environment. Where else in society do you find thirty people who are nearly the same age sitting in a classroom together and listening to a teacher? Public schools do not prepare children for the “real world.” Why is it that so many high school graduates cannot make it through college? They have not been prepared! Why is it that so many of them cannot hold down a job? A large part of them cannot even read nor do basic math. They are simply not prepared for the “real world.” According to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), home educated children do not generally encounter these problems. The truth is that home schooled children are the ones who are best prepared for society. NHERI has found that home schooled students do well in college, on the job, and in society in general. In a 2003 report their research showed that 71% of adults, who were home schooled as children, were active in some ongoing community service, compared to only 37% of similarly aged U.S. adults. They also found that for all civic activities (such as voting or supporting a political cause), and at all age groups, the home educated adults were more civically involved than the general population. Another NHERI survey of adults who were home educated found that none of them were unemployed or on welfare. This shows that parents, not schools, are the ones who are effectively able to prepare future generations for society. The second argument that I’ve heard is that it is not good for children to be at home so much of the time. They say that children need more social influences than what they get in the home. However home educators do not stay locked up behind closed doors all the time (although this is how some would like to portray us). The answer to this is simple. Where were Adam’s social needs met? When God created Adam and said that it was not good for man to be alone, what did God do? He gave Adam a wife. Our social needs are met in the home, as well as our physical, mental, and spiritual needs. Besides this, our children can have plenty of friends at church and among other Christian families. They will go places and do things with their parents, and they will have just as much exposure to the world as is necessary. Perhaps the real reason for this argument is that parents do not want their children to be different from the world. Perhaps they want their children to fit in and be popular. Perhaps they want their children to be sports stars and great achievers in school. Yet if we live godly, we will be hated of the world. We cannot serve God and mammon both. The third argument I’ve heard is that we need to send our children to school so they can let their light shine. My question is how are they letting their light shine by attending school? Are they standing before the class and giving their testimony? In addition, how many first, second, or third graders are even saved? For that matter, how many high school age children are saved? We have to be saved before our light will shine or before we can witness to others. And if this argument is valid, should we then only send saved children to schools? Why don’t we send our saved children into bars or other places in the world to let their light shine there? The fact is that God never told us to send our children into the world to let their light shine. They are still in training and not emotionally equipped to do this. And though it is many times unwittingly, once we compromise God’s standard, our light is no longer shining for the world to see it. We must do things God’s way, and then our light will shine as a testimony before men. The fourth argument that I’ve often heard is that parents do not feel qualified to home school their children. This argument is largely based on the constant propaganda of the media, school officials, and government officials who contend that parents are not qualified to teach their own children, however this assumption is not based on truth. According to a 1997 report by Dr. Brian Ray of NHERI, home educated students excelled in national standardized achievement exams. This research showed that home school students outscored public school students by 30 to 37 percentile points across all subjects in the K-12 grades. He also found that the education level of the parents had very little impact on the scores of their children. Out of all the home school children surveyed, the children whose parents did not finish high school scored nearly as well as the children whose parents were college graduates. Regardless of the educational achievement of parents, home school children receive a better education than their public school peers. If parents are not qualified to teach their children, then why did God give them children? Why did God then assign the responsibility of education to the parents? This argument is a direct insult to God’s sovereignty. According to this logic, we need something beyond what God has provided in the home. This is wrong. Teaching children is not easy, but the tools that we need are made available to us from God’s word. If He has given us a command, then He is the One we must look to for the strength to fulfill the command. “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17). If parents want to be obedient to God and educate their children at home, then God will give them the means to do so if they trust in Him. Home school is God’s plan for educating children. It was His design from the beginning. May God grant us the grace to return to the “old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16).