The article below was written in February 1999 for a now deceased publication. I have attached it here “as-is” even though there would be some minor edits and different word choices if it were written today. The main thrust of the article is still applicable for current reading.
Is Home Schooling a Cure-All?
With the rapid increase of home schooling parents many fundamental churches, individuals, and pastors are facing areas of questioning over whether home schooling is the scriptural method of educating our children. Is home schooling the panacea as presented to the Christian community? From a pastoral viewpoint, are there any disadvantages to home schooling? Having three children whom have been home schooled for the majority of their education and having a ministry within my church to home schooling parents, certain opportunities and cautions have surfaced over the years.
The psalmist wrote under inspiration, as arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth (Psalm 127:4). Home schooling grants unto the parent the opportunity to maximize their responsibility before the Lord to sharpen the children given under their stewardship. Personalized educational instruction in the areas that their child shows deficiency further sharpens them unto salvation and service in Christ. In a home atmosphere it is difficult for a child to hide his or her weaknesses in a “class of one.” Children can be fully directed educationally, with little outside influence, for a lifetime of service unto Christ, contributing to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
The great commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Matthew 22:37). Home schooling permits the parent to reinforce those scriptural, life-giving truths presented in their local church by grounding their children in the person of God in Jesus Christ. Parents are able to monitor more closely the child’s wholeness of heart-love to Christ, shepherding the child’s affections to Him, and overseeing the child’s mental development, both in thought and speech. The world is eager to indoctrinate our children. Home schooling allows the parent to indoctrinate their children in Him, which is holy, righteous, and pure (2 Timothy 3:15).
The Holy Spirit, in Ephesians 5:22-33, speaks of Spirit-filled relationships at home. However, the true import of the passage is to teach the relationship between Christ and the church (5:32). Therefore, Christ, church, and home should have a common oneness in purpose, doctrine, and practice. Home schooling provides an opportunity to maintain this unity educationally. The ideal circumstances for the nurturing of our children is when Christ, the local church, and the truths being taught and lived at home are consistent, fervent, and correspondent. In practice, children thrive when the home and church are both in agreement under Christ. Home schooling allows the parents to watch over and guard this equilibrium. A church should consider having a ministry towards home schooling parents and children in this regard.
If the above were all the considerations necessary to determine the qualifications of home-schooled children, then yes, it is the panacea that many claim. However, snares abound. In many home-schooled homes, parents abandon separatist doctrine in order to accommodate support groups that operate outside of the accountability of the local church. For example, a statement of faith by CHEC, an organization dedicated to promoting home schooling in the state of Colorado, is comprised of a statement on inspiration, a statement concerning the Trinity (with elaborations on all members of the Trinity except the Holy Spirit), a weak statement concerning man’s sinfulness, and a statement of a salvation which excludes repentance. There is no statement on separation (ecclesiastical or personal) or the edification and strengthening of the local church. An acceptance of involvement in such groups leads to a gradual demising of the importance of biblical doctrine and a compromising of a militant separatist spirit. Ultimately, the destruction of the equilibrium of Christ, the church, and the home becomes inevitable. Any group or fellowship that a believer would be involved should be in agreement with the constitution and direction of that family’s local church.
Scripture emphasizes the truth that none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself (Romans 14:7). There is no such thing as Christian independence. Have parental educational decisions been evaluated, advised, and prayed over with their pastor? Many home schooling parents refuse biblical guidance and accountability in the area of education. Parents take it upon themselves to determine the doctrinal soundness of a curriculum. Parents determine without shepherding whether they have the ability and grace to teach a child unto the highest possible academic standards. In an attempt to recover some imaginary historical precedent for education, home schooling parents fail to realize that in early America local church pastors were heavily involved in the education of the community’s youth.
A common snare concerning the issue of home schooling involves a misunderstanding of parental stewardship over the education of their children. Home schooling is not the perfect methodology for educating children. Many home schooling organizations and parents see home schooling as commanded by scripture. The question is where? Parental stewardship is clear. The method of educational stewardship is not explicitly defined in the scripture. Moses was educated in Pharaoh’s court. There were schools of the prophets in the Old Testament. Daniel was trained in the Babylonian system of schooling. Paul was trained at the feet of Gamaliel. In New Testament times, children were taught in connection with the synagogue. In America, parents have a choice. Parents should, in conjunction with the Lord and their pastor, choose the best methodology for educating their children. Parental stewardship can be accomplished whether it is in a scriptural Christian Day school or a scriptural home school.
Perhaps the most subtle caution concerns the unconscious elevation of the home over the church. Home schooling parents tend to develop a withdrawing independent spirit where the home becomes the substitute for the church. The focus of the local church is Christ and not the home. The focus of the home is Christ but always operating within the context of a local church body (Hebrews 10:24-25). Both parents and children should be immersed in the ministries of their local church. One of the by products of this obedience is that secular socialization concerns are addressed within the ministry and body of the church. The use of any system of schooling or curriculum in the education of our children should edify your children, edify the church, and provide a blameless testimony to the lost.
Home schooling is not the cure-all nor is it the only scriptural method of educating our children. Every Christian parent will not be directed by the Lord to home school. However, the Lord may direct many to do so. Although home schooling is not the panacea proclaimed by some, its advantages must be considered.
February 4, 1999