A Biblical Perspective on Homeschooling
Homeschooling was not on my radar as a young adult. In fact, I loathed the idea until about 15 years ago. Having attended a private school, I knew the influence and confusion that comes from being taught a false gospel. I knew the hypocrisy of men who led secret lives that later came to light; all while being told I was on my way to hell, with no solution in sight. No Savior. No grace. Only religious moralism.
Fear and legalism were common themes in my youth. I realize now that not all Christian schools are harmful, but shaken by my past, I wanted nothing outside the “norm” for my own children. Public education, in my mind, had to be better than what I experienced. I convinced myself that I could teach them about God after school and other activities, in the hours we had left together at home.
That was, until I read my first Christian biography.
I clearly remember the moment my attitude about parenting started to shift. As a new believer, I found myself devouring “George Muller of Bristol: His Life of Prayer and Faith”, each time my infant son napped. I could relate to Muller - an obvious rebel turned saint. I was in awe of how God transformed him into a man with an enormous trust in the Lord, a deep affection for the Word, and an intense prayer life; but, one paragraph shook me and altered the trajectory of my family’s life:
“Many Christian parents have made the fatal mistake of entrusting their children’s education to those whose gifts were wholly intellectual and not spiritual, and who have misled the young pupils entrusted to their care, into an irreligious or infidel life, or, at best, a career of mere intellectualism and worldly ambition. In not a few instances, all the influences of a pious home have been counteracted by the atmosphere of a school, which, if not godless, has been without that fragrance of spiritual devoutness and consecration which is indispensable to the true training of impressible children during the plastic years when character is forming for eternity!”
I kept re-reading those words. “Entrusting their children’s education to those whose gifts were wholly intellectual...worldly ambition.” “All the influences of a pious home have been counteracted by the atmosphere of a school, which, if not godless, has been without the fragrance of spiritual devoutness and consecration”.
I had not thought deeply enough about education. The concept Muller describes is in fact biblical. Luke 6:40 says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” I knew for certain that I did not want my children conformed to the image of those whose sole concern was, at best, “wholly intellectual”. I also knew that I did not want my children conformed to the image of a fellow classmate.
All kids are born into sin (Rom 5:12), not knowing right or wrong, truth from lies. They are lacking physically, emotionally and spiritually which makes their ability to navigate carefully through a corrupt world impossible on their own. Proverbs 13:20 warns, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” I wanted my children’s examples to be godly adults (1 Cor 11:1).
I began to realize that I cared much more for the soul of my son than I did his academics. This is not to say that math, science, and history aren’t important. They are. He needs to appreciate and understand the world - but what good is secular success if he doesn’t also know the One who created and set the world in order? What is the point of influence if his character isn’t shaped by the Word of God? What use is the acceptance of peers if God’s wrath is still on him? In other words, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Mt 16:26)
J.C. Ryle expounds,
“No interest should weigh with you so much as their [your children’s] eternal interests. No part of them should be so dear to you as that part which will never die. The world, with all its glory, shall pass away; the hills shall melt; the heavens shall be wrapped together as a scroll; the sun shall cease to shine. But the spirit which dwells in those little creatures, whom you love so well, shall outlive them all.”
As a new creation in Christ, I was famished for every morsel of who God was, who I was in Him, and how I was to walk wisely as a sojourner on this earth. The Holy Spirit had opened my eyes to the beauty of Christ and His grace. He had lit a fire in me. I spent hours listening to solid teaching and pouring over Scripture in order to undo my shallow theology. I inhaled truth with joy and I wanted to transfer that passion on to my little ones.
I know that even this won’t guarantee their conversion: Only our sovereign God can draw them, but I must also be faithful.
The Word of God had become my food. How could I not want to feed my own children what I myself was consuming (Matt 4:4)? Was I really to learn Scripture, as a way of life, while starving my children for 5 days a week, 7 hours a day? Not only would I be depriving them of nourishment during those times, but I’d be filling them with a government-run institution that has a distorted worldview. For the most part, public schools are anti-God and anti-bible. A place where Darwinism, gender fluidity, and moral relativism are ironically taught as fact.
Again, J.C. Ryle poignantly explains my about-face:
“To pet and pamper and indulge your child, as if this world was all he had to look to, and this life the only season for happiness - to do this is not true love, but cruelty. It is treating him like some beast of the earth, which has but one world to look to, and nothing after death. It is hiding from him that grand truth, which he ought to be made to learn from his very infancy - that the chief end of his life is the salvation of his soul.”
Looking back, I can see that my initial view of education was naive due to a crude understanding of my God-given responsibility as a parent. There are ample reasons to consider homeschooling, and while there are other options for Christian education, I will only focus on what I believe to be the one that truly outweighs the rest. I became persuaded by the Word that I am required, as a parent, to train my children with the Word of God in all of life - the exciting and the mundane. Children formed by Him (Ps 139:13-16), created in His image (Gen 1:27), born to Him (Ez 16:20), and given as a gift (Ps 127:3-5). They are His and I now understand that the current public education system is in direct opposition to my task.
When we seek the Scripture, we can see that God clearly tells us our primary function as parents in Ephesians 6:4, “...but bring them [children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The words “discipline” and “instruction” involve much - evangelism, teaching, example, correction, guidance, encouragement, and counsel. It’s an all encompassing ministry in order to shape our children’s minds, bodies and souls. This describes discipleship within the home. Sacrificial love.
The key phrase in this passage is, “of the Lord'', the Greek word “kuriou”. It means “Master, Lord, Supreme in Authority”. This is what makes Christian parenting differ from any other form of parenting. God is our authority and we are to parent “from Him and through Him and for Him” (Rom 11:36).
I have often heard, “homeschooled kids are weird”. They should be - they should look completely different from the world. Unusual. And if our Christian homes don’t look different, we need to do a serious examination as to why this might be (2 Cor 13:5).
“Of the Lord” requires training our children with a correct worldview. A biblical worldview that comes out of God’s Word. As Nancy Pearson explains, a “worldview is the sum total of beliefs about the world. The big picture that directs our daily decisions and actions.” We should desire Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3), to be the “big picture that directs our (and our children’s) daily decisions and actions”.
There is an Old Testament counterpart to Ephesians 6:4:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-9
It is worth noting that the above passage was written to Israel as they were about to enter the promised land, a land entirely made up of idol worshippers. The encouragement given to them was to love God, fear God, keep His commandments and to pass this on to their children. Parents educating their children “of the Lord” was crucial to keep Israel from forgetting the Lord (Deut 6:12) and from going after the gods of the people around them (Deut 6:14).
Unfortunately, Israel - though devoted to God themselves - failed to pass this devotion on to their children. Judges 2:10 tells us that another generation rose up who “did not know the Lord or the work that He had done for Israel''. This is a caution for the Church today.
God knows how influential parents are in their children’s lives. He knows how this will bless them but also bless parents, as we too, meditate on His Word and teach our children to apply it. He ordained that families operate in exactly this way (Prov 22:6). In all our natural rhythms of daily life - sitting, walking, lying down and rising - we are to bolster an appetite for spiritual things in our children. This is what “teach them diligently” means, constantly placing Christ before their eyes so that they would taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps 34:8). Our faithfulness now may affect generations to come.
My goal in writing is not to shame, but rather to call Christian parents to examine their God-given responsibility in regards to educational choices. Simply put, is what you’re choosing for them “of the Lord”?
To encourage further thought, I want to end by listing Scripture. Read these prayerfully and consider - are you applying these words to your own life? Are you making choices for your children, in such a way, that these truths are being passed on to them as well?
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.”
~ Psalm 1:1-2
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
~ Proverbs 1:7
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
~ Romans 12:2
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
~ 2 Corinthians 10:5
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
~ Colossians 2:8
“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’, for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.”
1 Timothy 6:20-21
“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment’.” ~ Matthew 22:36-38
“George Muller of Bristol: His Life of Prayer and Faith” by A.T. Pierson