Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why we homeschool

When my wife and I started this homeschooling journey 11-12 years ago, we started out with many "good" reasons for homeschooling our children, and I am thankful for them.  When considering homeschooling, I remember a pastor at the church we attended giving us some wisdom out of the Bible.  He said,  "If you want your children to become fools, let them spend most of their time with fools.  If you want your children to be wise, let them spend most of their time with wise people".  That made good sense to me, and it still does.  Also, since most of the people in this church were homeschooling, it made it easier for us to decide to homeschool.   Furthermore, since the public schools are a haven for foolishness, bad behavior, bullying, etc. we wanted to protect our children, shelter them, and provide a Christian worldview for them to follow.  We wanted to be able to influence them more than their peers and protect them from the public school agendas of evolutionism, gay rights, sex ed, etc. 

A few years later, our family joined a very traditional, “family-integrated” church group. Our reasons for homeschooling stayed the same in some ways, but we became more legalistic and behavior-focused.  We wanted our children to grow up to be "good" people, who attend a "good" church, find a "good" spouse, get a "good" job(only if they are men :) ), be good citizens, have many children, dress nice, and do all the things we thought were best for them. We wanted our children to stay true to the faith so we would look like great parents, and our children would turn out to be model Christians who dress, talk, and act like a Christian. We figured that by sheltering them and keeping out all evil influences, we could achieve this goal. Our goal was to only allow them to associate with others who were "like-minded".  We have since left that church and many of the ideals they represented.

What we have been considering lately is this:  Are these reasons for homeschooling enough?  What are the main reasons why we homeschool?

After looking at the first three websites that popped up on Google search, I am convinced that most people are excluding God and any spiritual reasons from their decision-making process. Although practical reasons are good, they are not enough.
Reasons to homeschool web site 1
Reasons to homeschool web site 2
Reasons to homeschool web site 3

My wife was looking at a facebook post the other day that asked for a vote on reasons for homeschooling. She was amazed that out of 120 responses, only two of them said that God had led them to homeschool.  Most of the responses involve some sort of a criticism of the public school system, and the need to protect their children from it.  Other responses involved the superior education their children were able to receive at home.

Even though I happen to agree with many of these good reasons for homeschooling, they aren't the primary goal any more for us.  If our goal is to shelter, protect, and produce good behaving people who are well-educated, we haven't really gained much.  Yes, good character and being different from the world is good, but why?  If that's all we have, we are only going to produce Pharisees who look down their noses at those who are different or don't measure up to their standards. 

Philippians 3:4-9
4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

So, what is our goal now?  My wife wrote this last week, and I think it sums it up very well.

The world is and has been changing, the tide has/is turning….. It is time to rethink “Christianity” in our country. Who are we called to be? Why are we doing what we do as far as homeschooling/raising our children/discipling others?  Why has God called us to raise our children this way? Live this way?  Is it to protect? Shelter? NO! God is asking us to be and raise up a people that KNOW and LOVE Him in such a way that they will be able and willing to stand ALONE with Him in adverse circumstances. Yes, as Christians, we are a blessing to one another but the world needs Christians that won’t back down individually or in small groups, a people that don’t need or rely on a mediator and 100’s or even 1000’s of other likeminded people standing with them.  There is a time coming and has come in some countries, when there will no longer be the possibility of crowd following and still walking with God.  Our children and families may not have “beautiful” lives and futures by our homeschooling, “Christian” standards…they will need to have an intimate relationship with God to walk through adverse circumstances with Him. Our goal in homeschooling is not and cannot be to “protect, instill, groom, etc”. It is to raise up godly men and women that are willing to walk with God in a Holy Army that will require everything of them.

To summarize, we homeschool because we believe God has called us to raise our children up as disciples of Jesus:
1. We believe God has called us to this task of homeschooling(discipleship).
2. We want our children to know Jesus relationally, and love him with all their heart.
3. We want our children to love others and be a light to them, not judge them harshly.
4. We desire our children to have the ability to think for themselves so they won't follow the crowd.
5. We desire our children to be strong in the face of adversity, willing to follow God no matter what the cost.
6. We desire our children to be among those who do not love their lives even unto death.  Rev. 12

To wrap this up, let me share with you something I learned from watching the new Hobbit movie: The Desolation of Smaug.  In the movie, the wood elves are hearing reports about the evil rising in middle-earth.  They argue amongst themselves about whether they should just continue hiding in their safe place, ignore the suffering of others around them, and try to wait for the evil to pass.  Here is a quote.

Tauriel (female elf): When did we allow evil to become stronger than us?
Legolas (male elf): It is not our fight.
Tauriel (female elf): It is our fight.

Tauriel ends up defying the wishes of the leader of the elves(Thranduil), leaves the safety of their home, and helps those who need help.  First, by healing a dwarf, and second, by giving her assistance in the fight against evil.

I ask you this same question - When did we Christians allow evil to become stronger than us?