Contend Earnestly: Common Misconceptions on Public School: Part II

Monday, June 29, 2009

Common Misconceptions on Public School: Part II

In my last post I put forth a couple of passages that ultra homeschool only, kind of cultish like Christians use to show why homeschooling is the only way to go. I find their "exegesis" wanting and really, those verses show that it is the parents main purpose and calling to raise their children in a godly way to fear the Lord. It falls on the parents, not on anyone else. I have spoken to many who homeschool, but see why I am going to public school my children and agree fully that the homeschool only crowd really goes overboard in many of their yokes that they place on others. What is interesting is that the same interpretation usage that they impose on these verses, they scoff when applied to other parts of application in the Christian realm. I am glad I have many friends who homeschool, public school and private school. I am glad because I get the opportunity to see and pray for their struggles that they have in trying to live out God's mission in each one of these. What is sad, is that many of my friends who are either public schooling their children or who are homeschooled themselves, have told me that they would rather not enter the fray because they have decided that they don't want to get yelled at or ostracized. They have done it before and have seen the lengths that some of the homeschool only crowd will go to get their point across. That is weird. Sorry, but it is a strange phenomenon that people get so crazed on how others should try and live on mission for Christ and his glory when schooling isn't mentioned in the Bible. At best, this is a grey area and what I have found is that grey areas are often fought harder for than the gospel itself. I am going to give a couple of other misconceptions of public school that I have seen that need to be touched on.

Public School Isn't that Bad

This is actually a fear that I have for those who have chosen to public school their kids, yet do it cavalierly. There are some who just don't want to homeschool, who don't want to private school and just allow their kids in the public school system without care. This is very dangerous and is just as bad as letting the child watch TV, get on the internet, go over to other people's houses, etc. without continual investigation for the child's safety, both spiritually and physically. Public school has much to offer in the way of sinning and being led astray. The reason? It is of the world and doesn't have a Christian worldview. So, your child will be taught and led in odd ways that will require you to step in and know which defenses need to be put up at home, so that the child can carry those on to school. They need to be trained to see through the eyes of Christ and the abiding word of the Spirit so that they can notice and see those things that are contrary to the Word. This is something that starts at home so that they can discern for the rest of their lives. This will carry over to school, college, future jobs, current jobs, etc.

Not only this, but the parent needs to continually inquiry the student, the teacher and the administration. Will it be a fight at times? Yes. But to never acknowledge public school as being a place where battles will be won and lost is crazy and is inviting Satan to trample your child. This is not being a careful, God-honoring parent seeking to train the child in godliness. This is merely sending your child off to Caesar, hoping everything turns out for the best.

Know that public school is a difficult venture. Do not ignore this and seek to win your child's heart with the gospel so they too can see truth from error and show and tell and show the truth of God's indwelling Spirit to others.

We don't know if the child is saved, so how can they be salt and light?

This is true. We don't know who is saved and who isn't. But, if we carry this logic out, you should never allow your child to move out of your house. A parent's responsibility to their child doesn't end until the parent, or the child dies to be with their Creator and Saviour. Just because the government says that 18 is when a child becomes an "adult" does not remove the biblical standard of a child to honor their parent. I still go to my parents for advice and understanding and I still desire to honor them with my words and deeds. They are my parents. Kids get into their heads that once they leave the home that all bets are off. It never says that in the Scriptures. The closest it ever comes is when the child is married and they are to become one flesh submitting one to another. But, that still doesn't remove honoring the parent. Will there be times that a child has different convictions of the parent outside of the home? Yes, of course. But, the overarching way that a child can honor God, is by honoring their parent.

So, with this in mind, can my 6 year old, who loves Jesus in words, but not really in deeds be salt and light in his classroom? Yes. He is in a Jesus loving family. From the Scriptures, the family was always a unit, called to glorify God. When the father sinned against God in a way that caused the punishment to be death, who died? The whole family, including children. Why? Why would the children be killed for their father's sin? Because as a family they were a unit that was to sing and show the praises of their King, King Jesus. God sees the family as a unit. This is why God tells us that sin in the family usually carries over from generation to generation and why those who love God will carry that fruit from generation to generation.

How is my child going to be able to witness to others if he doesn't truly know it himself yet? He shows Jesus by deeds as well. He shows Jesus by listening to his teacher, honoring his teacher, helping those children in need, befriending the nerds, the jocks and the dorks. My child shows Jesus more than just standing up and giving a sermon about heaven and hell. In Matthew 28:19 we have the "Great Commission" where Christ calls us all to "Go, therefore." This term in the Greek is like saying, "As you go, make disciples". In other words, it speaks of as you go everyday make disciples of Christ. Sometimes it will be with words, sometimes in deed.

Because I am a child of God and called to show my children Jesus and tell them to follow Jesus, I will always speak and teach my child the ways of Christ and tell them to follow Jesus and do what he did and run to him when they fail because he died for them. I can't imagine telling my child, "hey, you don't need to be salt and light because you don't know Jesus, you're off the hook."

But, my child can be salt and light to the unbelieving world by honoring his parents. Will this develop through time to become "his own faith?" Yes, of course. But, before then, I don't excuse him because I don't know if he is saved or not, that is a copout.

I wonder if those that use this defense allow their children to pray, allow their children to ask Jesus for forgiveness, or what they say if their child says that they love Jesus or call God Father? Are we to correct them and tell them, "well, we don't know if you are saved, so please don't do these things." Logic says that if your child can't be salt and light because you don't know their heart, then you can't expect them to do anything godly and certainly shouldn't allow your child to call God their Father or say that they love Jesus. This becomes a theological beat down.

Jesus welcomes the children and loves their faith. I will never tell my child to deny their duties that Christ calls them to, including being the salt and light to a world that needs Jesus and his hope. I desire to always call them to love Jesus and I pray that their desire will be to show off the glories of God to all those they come across, no matter their age or maturity in the faith.

I am sure there are other misconceptions or questions people have for me concerning public school. I welcome any questions or comments, but know that if you decide to call me a heretic or a pagan, or a secular humanist that puts God on top, I will take offense.

God has called his people to do all things for the glory of Him alone. When we decide to put anything before that, whether it is fear, comfort, or out of love for others, including our children, we make an idol. We must make decisions, not that are best for our families, but what is best for the glory of God. Will this be a struggle at times? Yes, but why is this surprising? God tells us through Paul that those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, hated and mocked. I am not saying that then all should be in public school, but to not see why some have felt the calling of God to do so is ignorant, misguided and is a shame.

I have spoken to a lot of people who are on mission in the public school, and find it disgraceful and have questioned their decision because of the hyper homeschool population. They haven't questioned it because of the great arguments put forth, but because of the great scorn they have received. Let me be blunt:

No matter how you school your child, you are not a more mature believer and Jesus is not pleased with you any more than others. But, if you make the decision of schooling your child apart from asking God where you can show off his glory most, you are making an immature decision and God is not pleased with that sort of decision making.

I don't care if you homeschool, public school or private school, you should be making this decision for the sake and the glory of God alone. Any other reason is stealing God's glory and giving it to another.


Anonymous said...

This is a helpful series, Seth. When it's complete, I hope you'll add a static page with links to all the posts in the series. Thanks!

Jackie said...

Hey Seth,

I just wanted to leave a comment from a kids point of view. I'm a Junior at a public high school, and I wouldn't want tit to be any other way. I believe that I wouldn't be the same Christian I am now if I had went down a different path. Going to a public school has forced me to question all that I believe and to constantly defend myself to my peers and even some teachers. It's not always a walk in the park, but I don't mind. I think that people questioning my Christianity has only reinforced my faith. If I had been homeschooled or put in private school, I think I would still be a Christian, but not as grounded. All those kids and biology teachers that debate with me have only secured my faith in Jesus. For that, I am thankful because now I have to tools to really become somebody strong in the real world.

I also think it's a huge myth that Christian kids are freaks, or losers in public schools. I have a different group of friends because I'm a Christian, but is that such a bad thing? Why would I want to associate myself with some of the "cool kids" when they drink and smoke and party? That's not who I am or who I want to be. If they want to make fun of me, that's their own problem. I'm not a loser because of my faith, and that's a fear parents shouldn't have. If their kid is a loser, it's probably for some other reason. haha :)

ANYWAY, I just wanted to say those things. :)

ProntoLessons said...

I homeschool my son and send my daughter to public school - they're actually I guess you could say I have a vested interest in both public school and homeschool.

I think what's most important here in the grand debate between public school vs. homeschool is to remember that whatever educational approach you take, it's parental involvement in your own children's education that really counts.

Both educational approaches will fail miserably if parents don't invest time with their kids in their education and similarly, will flourish and succeed if parents do get involved.

Tammy said...

Forgive me for popping in on the tail-end of this discussion. I just received this link through my google alerts. Looks as if you all have had a pretty thorough dialogue here. But, if I may, I'd like to bring up a few points.

First, a little background information so that you can be aware of my perspective. I have been a homeschooling mom for the past 10 years or so. However, before I enjoyed the privilege of educating my own children at home, I taught middle school in the public school arena, as well as elementary school in the private school sector. Therefore, I hope that my viewpoint is broader and more all-encompassing than some.

The major fallacy that is usually made during a debate over educational options is that there is a right and a wrong answer that is the same right and wrong answer for everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. In essence, each family needs to be secure enough in their faith in God to go directly to Him for the answers to that crucial question. Now that does not mean that we shouldn't seek godly counsel from others on both sides of the fence, nor should we neglect the arduous task of doing our own research. But the ultimate decision should be based upon the approval of God, not man.

Furthermore, I would even contend that the answer can change within the dynamics of each family. Families are ever-evolving organic entities made up of individuals who are in a perpetual state of growth and change. Therefore, it is possible that a family that has, for example, homeschooled for a season may need to consider public school for a span of time because of financial concerns or chronic illness. Likewise, a child who may be burned out in the public-school classroom might benefit from a couple of years of intensive de-schooling/homeschooling.

The point is that, as parents, we need to be able to discern the voice of God when it comes to this area or any segment in our lives, for that matter. We cannot hold tight-fistedly to an educational option simply because it’s what was previously “working” for our family or for a particular child. To do so, may cause us to miss out on some added blessings as a family and/or opportunities for witnessing. Our hearts must be malleable enough so that God can truly lead us and direct our paths even if that direction drives us in to unfamiliar, and seemingly, undesirable territory.

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