Christian education is not optional. It is not a luxury item that upper-middle class believers put on their covenant tabs and too bad for those poor indigent Christians barely scraping by on the deacons’ fund.
Christian education is what every obedient father and mother is committed to from conception on. The moment you become a father or a mother, you have specific commands from the Lord of heaven concerning your duties. Those duties, among other things, include the requirement that you teach your children to fear, love, and obey the triune God, in short, to embrace life in the covenant in Jesus Christ. And this is not optional because there is no life outside of life in Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and we cannot underestimate the importance of this command and calling, all the nice pagans down at the charter school notwithstanding.
There are a number of lawful, godly ways to heed this command in faith. Christian day schools, homeschooling, coops, tutors, and online tutorials are all possible options. But none of them can provide obedience for parents automatically, as though obedient faith were something you could order on eBay or with 1-click on Amazon. There are natural strengths and weaknesses for every form of Christian education, and there will be specific strengths and weaknesses for every family and every individual child. Raising children in the fear of the Lord and refusing to provoke our children to wrath means that fathers in particular must study their children, study their wives, and study their options diligently and then make their decisions joyfully and confidently, not second guessing God’s goodness.
At the same time, the duty of raising children in the fear of the Lord is not an isolated, individualistic duty. Life in the covenant is not like life in a box of prepackaged fruit snacks. It’s not like we all jostle around in the box of the covenant, protected from one another in our own sealed packages. The Body of Christ means that we are connected organically. We swear allegiance to one another in membership and in baptism, and in particular we swear to uphold one another particularly in the raising of our children. We are family; that’s what the Lord’s Supper means. This means that we promised to help one another in prayer, in informal encouragement and exhortation, in hospitality, in sharing curriculum and educational ideas, in babysitting, in teaching Sunday School, in teaching coop classes, in teaching at the local Christian day school, and in supporting these needs practically and financially through private gifts, carpooling, fundraisers, education funds, etc.
There are always exceptions. Disabled children may need special attention and educational assistance from other sources. Financial circumstances sometimes do lead us to consider other options, and sometimes God pushes us through doors that we have otherwise thought not options. If God opens doors and it’s clearly not sin, then praise God and be obedient. Faith doesn’t look sideways; it looks to Jesus. But the game plan, the big picture is always scheming to obey: how can we raise our children to be faithful to Jesus? How can we raise our children to charge the gates of Hell when they are grown? And when we say “we” — we should be thinking of the Body of Christ broadly: How can we, together, raise our children up faithfully? How can we have high standards and high expectations and how can we pull it all off together?
Nicole Hale says
Thank you for this. As much as we are firmly committed to Christian education for our children, I’d be lying if I said I was never tempted with other options (online public school seems to be a biggie in our circles). My husband does a wonderful job of keeping me focused on the goal (and recommends great articles like this :)) , and has been a great encouragement to me these past years of homeschooling. This post is a great reminder not to “second guess God’s goodness” and that there are “natural strengths and weaknesses with every form of Christian education”. Again, thank you!