Christian community · Marriage and Family

Are Educational Decisions Dividing the Church?

Note from Elihu: I had originally planned to share this post on Monday, but in the aftermath of Sunday’s tragedy, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Vegas weighed heavy on my heart.

I wrote this article for The Courage last week and watched the comments pile up on Kirk Cameron’s Facebook post—many of which confirmed the problematic attitudes I speak about in the article below. Some people went so far as to say that the Bible mandated homeschooling and anyone who said otherwise (i.e. me) was only spouting erroneous opinions. I agree that the Bible mandates training your children, but the “how” of that training is left to the discretion of the parent. There are training opportunities in every situation if we are intentional about taking them.

To be clear, I LOVE homeschooling, but for a whole host of personal reasons (and after months of prayer), we are trying a year of public-schooling with our children. I’ve had a variety of responses to our choice and it has opened my eyes ever-wider to the impact of our words and actions as brothers and sisters in Christ. We should definitely be discerning when it comes to raising our children, but that discernment ought to be coupled with immense humility.

As I always try to express in my posts, I’m just a human and my words are not gospel. Always always always do your own search of the scripture. You may disagree with my take on this issue (and apparently many people did!), but I urge you that as we make judgments we take great care to communicate them with love and humility. Many people have left the church because of arrogant opinions and cliques.

It is my prayer that this post will encourage greater humility and compassion among my brothers and sisters in Christ. May the Lord guide you in your walk.

~ Elihu


picture of woman listening

I didn’t start out as a homeschooler. In fact, home-educating wasn’t even on my radar. After my spouse went into Law Enforcement, we were sent to a small desert town with a failing school district. Although we had three years before school started, we decided we would take the homeschool plunge.

With three children close in age, one of whom has a disorder, homeschooling has been one of the most challenging undertakings in my life. Each year, as I planned our curriculum, I would sit down and write out my goals for the year and then settle down to the tedious task of laying out our daily schedule. Implementation was a greater challenge than planning! Each day demanded the discipline to hunker down and tackle the work.

That being said, this is not a clarion call to homeschool. I’ve seen plenty of failure in homeschooling, just as there is plenty of failure in the public school system. Sometimes parents and kids clash to the detriment of their relationship. Some parents don’t want to teach academics. Some kids resist doing the work altogether.

Not everyone should homeschool. Not everyone should put their kids in public or private school.

So what is the best education?

There isn’t a single educational model consistently producing a certain type of adult. Results are mixed. I’ve seen good kids come from bad homes and bad kids come from good homes. Your educational decision – whatever it is – should be made with heaps of humility and mountains of prayer.

The most insidious problem is the growing clique-ishness among Christian parents. Often, I read (or hear) homeschoolers or private-schoolers make a veiled reference to “those parents” who blindly send their children to “institutions of liberal indoctrination.” Public-schoolers make offhand comments about “those overly-protective” homeschool or private school parents.

This should give us pause.

Division—even on a superficial level—damages the church

Click here to read the rest of this article at The Courage

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17 thoughts on “Are Educational Decisions Dividing the Church?

  1. Oh my… I didn’t even realize there’s an issue with homeschooling or even scriptural, spiritual or religious basis for it. I thought people choose it because they believe it’s better, more cost effective and for other personal reasons pertaining to the child or adult. This is the first I’m hearing of Christians shunning public or secular education because they believe it’s contrary to their faith. There really is a stronghold of “do not, touch not” righteousness in Christianity.

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    1. Great comment, Ufuoma! I hope you are doing well.

      Yes, most people do homeschool for those reasons you first listed. Until I published this article, I didn’t realize how many people vehemently insisted on some biblical mandate to homeschool. When I first started scrolling through comments, I had to chuckle because it was as though they read the title and not the article. They confirmed the very problem of which I had spoken! My laughter quickly turned into sadness as I read the bitter exchanges.

      I am a firm believer in the importance of humility. For instance, I used to be the perfect parent… until the Lord gave me children. The Lord has been a good Father, gently disciplining and teaching me to get off my high horse on a lot of things.

      I guess what I’m trying to say in this rambling comment is the splintering factions over school choice should stop. Parents ought to be involved in their children’s education in whatever way possible and God ought to be taught to them every single day.

      God bless you, sister.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. No rules. No formulas. We need to quit searching for nice, tidy, one-size-fits-all solutions and listen to the Holy Spirit and his guidance and counsel for our lives. It’s harder, it’s messier, and it’s one of the things Jesus came to give us. Take advantage!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen! It is messy. I didn’t realize how much so until I realized I was dealing with a complicated behavioral disorder. Decisions are tricky and demand constant prayer. Thanks for your comment, Brandon! God be with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is all so complicated and individual. Of my five children, three went to public school, two of these graduated quite successfully. The third also graduated well, but the learning style of sitting in a classroom waiting for others to get it, destroyed his love of learning. It took years of college before something caught his interest enough to be willing to try again. I also homeschooled two of my children, because it killed me to see the lights dim on the eyes of my so very brilliant son, and I was also very tired of holiday projects and too much homework. Anyway, one of my homeschooled children thrived in the home learning environment, whereas the other did very well and successfully went on to college, but with reflection after the fact, she might have thrived, not just succeeded, in a competitive classroom of others.

    This is all hindsight and it is often impossible to be able to discern the best course of action when you are in the thick of it, but you are absolutely correct, kindness is never the wrong approach, and one is never out of line to expect it.

    Now for the controversial aspect. All my children’s Christian worldviews, core values and good morals, came through their school years intact, home schooled and public schooled alike. With the possible exception that my public school children started their college years with a much firmer grip on where they stood, what was worth going to the mattresses over, and perhaps at an earlier age they learned compassion for those not as fortunate as themselves. However this firmness came at a cost to them younger than as a parent I would have preferred. Still, in the end, they have told me that it was their safe-space home life, and their parents own public stance on these same believes, that gave them the strength to stand firm themselves, not where they were educated.

    And now I am going to go and read the attached article and most likely realize I am way off base as usual, but I so do understand the unpleasantness that can come your way from both sides of this issue, and sadly, I don’t see it going away anytime soon.

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    1. You are not off-base at all. In fact, I appreciate your comment immensely! You have seen both sides and you recognize the challenges inherent in both types of educating. One of the reasons we are trying public school is that I was concerned that they weren’t getting the necessary life challenges. What I mean by that is they didn’t understand the necessity of working under time constraints, communicating with people who disagreed with them, or standing up to peer pressure. Part of parenting is testing your child’s strengths. I have been watching my kids closely, volunteering at the school and listening carefully. So far, they’ve all been doing about how I expected they would. The things they struggle with haven’t surprised me much and the challenges have done them a world of good. Personally, I’d like to have them come back to homeschool next school year, but my spouse thinks this is best at the moment. We will have a better perspective near the end of the school year and won’t decide anything until then. 😊

      Thank you so much for sharing your insight! I love hearing about other people’s experiences. God be with you!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I used to be one of those men who declared, “Christians should only homeschool.” I am in my fourth year teaching and I have witnessed firsthand the ungodly indoctrination of many children who would otherwise not even be introduced to such rhetoric. However, I have learned that the education system exist because of God’s mercy and there are many services that public schools offer that parents cannot provide to their children especially if they cannot even afford to homeschool. When I have children, I will homeschool them, Lord willing, but there must be home training that takes place if you do not home school to combat the false teachings of the State. Many parents become dependent upon the state to train their children and then they wonder why their kids leave the church come college. There is no one size fits all, but I definitely encourage homeschool if you can provide solid teaching and afford to do it because Jesus says, “Whoever does not gather with me scatters.” In public schools, they are definitely scattering our young children.

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    1. Great comment! Yes, Parents need to be involved with their kids training regardless and with kids in public school it has to be intensified. Thank you, brother, and God be with you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed that article, Elihu. I have to vastly different perspectives here. My first family was not a believing family. In fact, I though homeschooling families were fundamentalist nut jobs. Of course then, I thought most Christians, particularly Baptists were fundamentalist nut cases. Ironic that I am now both, but that is another story LOL. My second family is a Christian family, and both of the children have attended public school. The young lady is very grounded in her faith and survived the experience just fine. The young man did also, and is actually now the pastor of our of our work’s churches. Although, if I were doing it again, I certainly might consider homeschooling if my spouse was inclined that way. Last note…I now know you are my sister and not my brother. So sorry for the incorrect references for these few years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Wally! Yes, many Christians emerge from public school with the ability to articulate their beliefs well. One of the things I do not like about public school is that teaching at home is such a challenge because there is so little quality time before and after school between getting out later, homework, activities, etc.. If we pull our kids out, it will more likely be because we feel that their time is too consumed with the secular and they aren’t getting the spiritual nourishment they need. I keep praying for wisdom!

      As to your other comment, I’ve never once been offended, my friend. 😊 I’ve been intentionally ambiguous for two reasons. When I started writing, my spouse was still a cop. We were strongly advised against social media and other online activities that would make us easy targets for those who might have a grudge. I tried to stay below the radar as much as possible. I also worry about letting pride get the better of me; I want the blog to keep pointing people to God and not to myself. Of course, the days are long past when writers can remain anonymous (like Ben Franklin’s nom de plume Mrs. Silence Dogood.) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Elihu. Yes, the decision on how anonymous and/or visible is a very personal one, and each person has to arrive at their own comfort level. I can sure why police officers and families would not want to be just out all over the place! I prayed and decided early on to be basically completely visible. Anybody with ill will could literally be on my front porch as quick as they could get here.

        Great point about how secular school and all of the associated things can really cut down on good time with our families. I see it myself, but never really thought of it as a counterpoint to home schooling. Something to think about for sure. Although in just a few months the whole school issue will no longer be an issue for me, as my fourth and final will be done(except for whatever she does after LOL)

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      2. Well, I’ve been considering revamping the blog and basically allowing myself to be more visible, but that ship has yet to sail. I need to pray about it more before I take action. I appreciate your openness and admire people like you who can do it with out pretentiousness.

        Congrats on the fourth being so close to graduation! How exciting! Blessings, brother!

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  6. Great post. I am a educator. I have taught in a public school for all of my career. I have a number of friends that homeschool. I can understand the argument on both sides. As a teacher you see a lot in public school that concern me. In regard to homeschooling, I hear of parents who struggle, as you wrote in your article. However, as you said, prayer is needed to make a decision, and after you have made it. Our children need prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed they do! 🙂 Thank you for being a teacher. It’s not an easy job, especially in our highly secular society. Thank you for your excellent insights and my the Lord be with you.

      Liked by 1 person

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