Last week I began to address the legitimate questions of a skeptic. She didn’t think the overall theme in my list of Bible verses.1 proved that education at home is always the best or only method for discipling children. Nor that these verses necessarily prohibited the Private Christian School (PCS) option. My broad defense was that no matter what the debate, whether about location, vocation or education, the Bible does not provide detailed inventories and solutions for every life challenge. (Though it ultimately has the power to deal with all of them.) God knew that sincere seekers for discernment could and would find correct, logical inferences from His implications within the vast number of lessons and principles in all 66 books. When tackled logically, God enables honest searchers (made in His image) to “find His exact mind” in nearly all of life’s testings.
But, it’s true throughout history that certain self-serving men have dishonestly “searched the Scriptures” for passages they wish were there in order to support some theological hobbyhorse. And, in this process, they’ve often invented legalistic excesses and even heresy. They claim that using inference allows them to find “proof” even though what would have been a detailed prohibition against their idea (or, conversely, the awkward, unwanted presence of an objective truth) “can’t be found” exactly. But, as in medicine, just because the incompetent or dishonest might abuse a surgical technique for material gain, it doesn’t mean that legitimate surgical techniques still shouldn’t be routinely used. The best answer is that a fusion of integrity, knowledge of respected theology, prayer and above all, an obedient heart, will almost always result in answers pleasing to God.
To see that I’ve not succumbed to faulty inferring, please take note of the list of Bible verses in question and then read all of them (only 27) when you can. But, be certain when you do that you’ll not find any crystal-clear, no-brainer, “thus saith the Lord” statements such as; “All early education (ages 5–15) both academic and spiritual must be carried out at home by parents only.” “Do not pay to have your child educated in a professional classroom setting.” “Do not allow others to train up your child.” “It’s a sin if you don’t disciple your children at home.” The absence of such as these obviously requires honest inferences from within the 27 verses in order to find the right solution.
Please ask yourself now whether the 27 might leave one with even the tiniest impression that God places His primary, daily, youth training emphasis on, say, the academics of geography, math, science, etc. Isn’t the relentless emphasis overwhelmingly on the spiritual along with repeated mention of parents and/or fathers being expected to be His spiritual-guide stand-ins? Of course this primary spiritual focus doesn’t let us infer that God doesn’t care about academics because He does. He wouldn’t have given us the complex Covenant/Dominion Mandate to carry out (Gen. 1:26–28 and Matt. 28:19–20) were He not aware of the critical nature of academics. But, what is not seen is any encouragement for choosing a “professional outside classroom option.” In fact, if we didn’t live in the modern “age of education classrooms,” we would never remotely imagine that such options for the ages of 5 to 15–16 even existed, much less that they might be preferable to the home for joint spiritual and academic discipling. (After 16, in any age or era, specialty subjects often demand the use of classrooms. But by then youth should have their biblical worldview and protective Bible values in good operating order.)
What we do not need to infer is whether God personally knows every child from conception on since He does per Psalm 139. And, as every parent also knows, each of God’s “pre-known” children presents a unique challenge. Only parents possess anything close to sufficient awareness of the child’s nuances of personality to be able to adjust to and to take advantage of them to His glory (1 Cor 10:31.) Even if “capable” professional “handlers” could be financially afforded, no such teacher-substitute has the interest, let alone the spiritual-DNA linkage such as God gives to parents. In fact, your “little Billy,” because of the multiple inefficiencies inherent in typical, often chaotic classrooms, would be just as severely short-changed even if his own mother or father were the teacher in that classroom. Specialty classrooms or group instruction can and do have a place in education once the well-discipled child nears adulthood, but not before.
Some pro-PCS parents have tried to take advantage of a supposed “new age of Christian liberty” that they “infer to find” in the New Testament. They claim they have a green light for this decision because “outdated education-oriented commands to the Israelites no longer apply today.” They feel free to send their kids away because “there’s nothing anywhere saying specifically that we can’t.” Even though there is no such exact prohibitory text, please let me ask this: Wouldn’t loving parents naturally prefer to keep their own young kids at home? A recent WSJ article stated: “More 20-year olds are returning home to live and many parents are happy about it.” Why? “Many parents who were ‘pressed for time’ when the children were growing up aren’t ready to be ‘finished with them yet.’” A little guilty conscience showing up there, perhaps? These parents also see the 20’s as a time of “self discovery” for their, by now, young adults. But, the book of Proverbs teaches that youth is the time when parent-discipled kids are to discover who and what they are in Christ; not wait until they’re old enough to be parents themselves!
Next: The origin of the rage for the “classroom” option and how Bible verses may sometimes be misused to allow for it.
1. Deut. 6:1-9; Ps. 1; Ps 34:11, Pvbs. 1:7; 13:20; 22:6; Isa. 54:13; Jer. 10:2a; Matt. 18:6; 28:20a, Luke 6:39–40 and Eph. 6:4.