Most Christian homeschoolers are keenly aware that they can’t save their children’s souls just by keeping them out of public schools. If the blogs I read are any indication, we’re required by some unwritten code of behavior to admit that fact at least once every five posts, lest someone get the idea we’re doing this for any moral, judgy reason. In case you’re one of those who don’t already understand how little control we really have over our offspring’s fallen nature, though, here’s a clue, from Dan Phillips’ excellent book, The World-Tilting Gospel:
Nor can parents produce flesh-conquering children by the implementation of precise techniques. I’ve been chagrined to see the implication in otherwise sound teaching that, if parents just apply a particular pedagogy to a “T,” they will produce godly children, like so many cookies on a factory conveyor belt. Sometimes homeschoolers—and I speak as a rabid homeschooling proponent—seem to imagine that, if we can just isolate our little cherubs from the riffraff, they’ll turn out to be holy little plaster saints.
Our children’s worst enemy is not the government education camps, or their nasty little friends. Their worst enemy is within. They were born with it. They got it from Mom and Dad, who got it from Great-grampa Adam.
Most non-homeschooling parents understand this also, and because of it, think of homeschoolers as isolationist, reactionary, and fearful. Many seem to have the attitude that, if we can’t save our kids by giving them a Christian education, then we might as well let the secular schools have at them! Why bother? Jesus has got this one!
Ironically, many of these same parents are the loudest to complain–completely ineffectively, I might add–when schools introduce “educational” material that they don’t like, hold what can only be described as anti-morality propaganda days, and deliberately unteach everything that those parents try to teach their children at home and in church. When public schools do violence to the worldview that Christian parents are trying to inculcate in their children, suddenly it doesn’t seem like such a small thing to concerned parents. Why is that? Don’t they know that they can’t change their children’s sinful nature simply by changing their environment?
Well, of course they know that! They’re complaining because they know that this isn’t the way things are supposed to be in a right-side-up world, and they’re trying to change it. Like those parents, I’m not homeschooling in order to save my children. I’m homeschooling to change the culture.
But how can we change a culture by withdrawing from it? Some might—and often do–ask. And my answer is that I’m not withdrawing from the culture. I’m right here in it! We’re not Amish over here (NTTAWWT). I’m simply making sure that secular culture doesn’t infect my children before they know what to do with it.
We’ve all heard the “missionary” argument for sending Christian kids to public schools. It goes like this: If I don’t send my kids to the schools, the schools won’t have any salt or light in them! Think of all the unsaved children! It sounds great in theory, doesn’t it? But we’ve been sending our little missionaries to secular public schools for enough generations that you’d think we’d see the fruit of all that witnessing by now if there was going to be any, wouldn’t you? Instead, what we see is entire generations of Christians graduating without much of an idea of what they believe, but an astounding ability to articulate their “tolerance” for the views of others!
Sending Christian kids to public schools is, in fact, making them culturally powerless, and the reason why is very simple: It doesn’t matter which children your precious ones hang out with or surreptitiously witness to on the playground. What matters is whose authority all of the children are under.
Are we bringing the world under the authority of Christ by sending our children to public schools as mission-minded parents suggest? Or are we bringing Christian children under the authority of the world? I think there’s ample evidence that the latter, and not the former, is true.
What do you think?