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Last week I implored Dr. James Dobson to “take a risk” for greatness by encouraging his listeners to remove their children from “Satan’s churches,” the public schools. He has the Bible and even his own previously stated conviction as obedience benchmarks. Eighty-five percent of those who responded to the article agreed with me, but there was resistance from some of the “salt and light” folks and from two public school teachers. Here’s one of the emails:
“I disagree that parents should remove their children from public schools. Whatever happened to Christians being salt and light in this world? All of my kids survived public schools in addition to being witnesses for Christ while enrolled. Christians in society are becoming more and more isolationist and it’s not the answer. Homeschool parents are too much on the ‘high road,’ and don’t want their kids rubbing shoulders with ungodly kids. They’ll pay for this when their kids develop intolerant attitudes. Instead of asking Christian parents to remove their kids, why not encourage them to roll up their sleeves and prepare their kids for battle in a real world? Escapism is not the answer.”
Thanks for writing. For the sake of efficiency I’ll use bullet points to answer your objections:
- Would you please call American Vision and order the 2-DVD set, “The Children of Caesar?” Dr. Voddie Baucham is featured. Also, Homeschooling from a Biblical Worldview by Israel Wayne. You’ll be inspired by and benefit from both of them. Or, at the AV web site go to “Shop Categories” and “All Products.” Type in each title. And please re-read my articles from January 9 and 16, 2008. “Leave a Lasting Legacy” and “Germ Warfare.”
- Your email made me think that you personally may not know more than one or two homeschool families. If so, they are aberrant examples. Countrywide, homeschooling families are particularly famous for not being in escape mode; not squirreling their kids away from the community at large and not shielding them from the moral squalor “laboratory” found in every community. In fact a key reason to homeschool is to enable kids, once they’re well-trained, to reverse societal decay as Christian adult-leaders.
- Here are two great homeschooling analogies: Just as you start your tomato plants inside in January and don’t transplant them outdoors until May, the same is true in preparing kids. And you wouldn’t train combat troops by exposing them to the front lines of battle on day one. It’s at home and at combat boot camp where valuable lessons are learned and where mistakes made will be reversible. Once children are 18 (it comes soon enough!), they’ll be living the rest of their lives on the front lines of this “real world” you’re concerned about. (And you’re right; the RW is a very nasty place.) The secret is to get them ready with controlled exposure in an overseeing environment. As adults they’ll be far better prepared than the so-called “street smart,” public school humanists whose lives you don’t want your kids to emulate. By controlling the environment you will have molded them to be happy citizens and, hopefully, respected leaders as is the rule for 90% of homeschooled young adults. As for socialization and “street smarts,” if you pour mud on a white cloth it’s soon brown. Put the same clean cloth into a dish of mud and there’s no whitening effect on the mud. Since school is a place of social (and academic) sludge and mud, your kids need to learn about the sludge factor from mom- and dad-guided learning at home via conversations, books, videos as well as neighborhood contacts and, yes, even at church. And in any case, life’s way too short to think you can learn all the lessons you need via one-on-one, in-your-face, personal experiences. But this is a notion the public schools love to perpetuate for obvious reasons.
- Many adults, on behalf of innocent and often poorly behaved little kids, tell them they need to go to school to be “salt and light.” Last week I wrote that Southern Seminary’s Rev. Albert Mohler is advocating an “exit strategy” from the schools. Apparently he sees no measurable evidence to validate well-intentioned “salt and light theories.” Nor does the Bible tell kids to evangelize other kids or teachers. They have other skills to hone while young. After 18 they can take up that challenge and evangelize for the next 60 years to all the little kids all they want. A truly nice pastor who kept his now-grown sons in the public schools claims they had had a “positive influence” on their peers. That might well be true in his case, but Barna pollsters say that 85% of Christian kids graduating from public schools fall away from the faith, many permanently, after leaving home. So how does this pastor justify using one family’s lone story to ask all Christians to copy what he did? He can’t and he shouldn’t. Even if it’s 100% true that their time in school was “positive,” he was still disobedient. His kids belonged at home to get them ready psychologically, academically, “shrewd-ness-ly,” logically, rhetorically, mentally, epistemologically and apologetically. That’s what home’s for.
- Bill, you say your kids “survived” public schools. I’m sorry, but there’s no way in the world anyone can ever make that claim about a recent public school or college graduate. There are simply too many proof-of-the-pudding developments still lurking in the future. In truth, you won’t know for sure if your children “survived” until your not-yet-born grandchildren are, at a minimum, teenagers.
- Too many parents try to wiggle out of the public school “obedience predicament” with the yarn that “The Holy Spirit led me to keep my kids there.” But the Holy Spirit card is something too readily and erroneously played by both seasoned and rookie Christians. Only Scripture, not feelings or fuzzy shivers, can be used to validate so-called Holy Spirit influenced moments. Justification for public school attendance isn’t in the Bible. God, per Deuteronomy 6:1–9 and many other passages, wants His kids trained up at home. If someone believes the Holy Spirit is telling him to (disobey Scripture and) send his kids away, it’s a spirit at work alright, but it’s a different one than the Holy Spirit.