Homeschooling is NOT the Gospel

Homeschooling is good, but it's not the gospel

My wife and I decided a few years ago to homeschool our kids.  Since they are very young, we were able to start teaching our first child in kindergarten.  We were very excited (and continue to be) to be able to teach our children according to the curriculum, values, and schedule that reflect our family.  Well, the first year had its share of triumphs, challenges, and setbacks.  As any homeschooling family will tell you, this is par for the course.  So this summer we thought it would be encouraging to attend our first homeschooling conference and convention.  We hoped to get refreshed, reenergized, network, and research our next year’s curriculum.

One of the things we encountered first-hand during our rookie year is the homeschool culture.  My wife had been homeschooled for 2 years as a child, so she already knew about it.  My only exposure to homeschool culture growing up was a couple of families in our church, and making some friends in college that had been homeschooled.  Nevertheless, these experiences didn’t really expose me to the unique homeschool culture in America.  But recently we got a major dose of the radical wing of the movement through one of the keynote addresses at the conference we attended last weekend.  The speaker’s name is not important, but his 45-minute message was a glimpse into the worldview of (I fear) many Christian homeschooling families.  Here is what I observed:

  1. The Perceived Problem.  Everyone acknowledges that the public school system in American needs reforming.  It is producing graduates that are less and less prepared for the workforce, college, and the global marketplace.  But the message went far beyond that.  The speaker asserted that the public school system is working perfectly–just as it was designed to do.  In other words, it’s not broken; it’s evil!  In a perfect world it wouldn’t even exist.  Public schooling was portrayed as useless, enslaving, stupifying, and monopolizing.  The funny thing is that EVERYONE in the room (including the speaker) was educated in the public school system!  (It didn’t seem to terribly fail us.)  We were addressed as refugees and escapees of the system, as the only ones who are enlightened to the nature and purpose of REAL education.  It occurs to me that the perceived problem framed in these terms amounts to a harmartiology (doctrine of sin).  You’ll see why this is the case.
  2. The Only Solution.  So what is the best alternative to educating our children?  According to the speaker, it is home-educating your kids.  This is apparently obvious, given his examples of historical geniuses who lived during eras without public education (Thomas Jefferson, medieval scholars, etc).  He didn’t spend too much time on this subject since he probably assumed that he didn’t need to convert any in the audience since we were all homeschoolers already.  But he did say that homeschooling alone would not save our country and Western culture from the dumbing down of public school graduates.  He urged us to have lots of babies, to homeschool them all, and to teach our children to have lots of babies and continue the homeschooling tradition.  Why?  Because we have to outnumber the enemy (those enslaved by the public school system) and take back (redeem?) the culture.  Furthermore, we need to be telling our fellow Christians in other churches to homeschool their kids, for this is the only way to achieve our goal.  What did he call this homeschool sales pitch to Christians in other churches?  Tellingly, “evangelism”!  The solution proposed framed in these terms amounts to a soteriology (a doctrine of salvation).  The picture should be becoming a little clearer now.
  3. The Utopian Goal.  Admittedly, the speaker’s hope for the future was not clearly addressed.  Instead he used veiled language to indicate that someday the homeschool movement would be able to produce statesmen, public servants, and a new intelligensia with the ability to think, possess wisdom, skill, and character (unlike those educated in the factory-like, rubber-stamping public schools).  Only this will usher in a new golden age for America.  Ironically, the speaker never made clear what the future homeschool-educated powerful elite would DO with this hard won influence.  In other words, when homeschool graduates take over the power structures of our culture, what do they intend to accomplish with this power?  Clearly, the utopian goal framed in these terms amounts to an eschatology (a doctrine of last things or end times).

Just a few thoughts.

First, the disclaimer: the speaker and his worldview do not characterize our family’s values and worldview.  My wife and I decided to educate our children ourselves not because we believe the public school system is evil and hopelessly beyond repair.  Homeschooling works for us right now because we can teach our children more efficiently and with more individual attention than they could ever get in a classroom full of 30 other kids.  Yes, there are things in the public schools that we want to shelter our young children from in the years when their minds are very impressionable, but we don’t think it is impossible to deprogram a child from any undesirable instruction acquired at school.  It’s not impossible, just a waste of valuable time if you don’t have to.  I suspect that many, many homeschool families are not of the militant variety as well.  If we were all likeminded, we wouldn’t need a pep talk at the annual homeschool rally.

Second, the worldview of the speaker is not really true to the Bible.  Nowhere does Scripture say that having someone else tutor your children in basic education is wrong.  I’m inclined to believe that the institution of public schooling is a common grace in our society (and many other societies as well).  Really, can anyone believe after serious reflection that society would be best served if public schooling disappeared next fall?  Would every child hence receive a better quality education in expensive private schools, or fledgeling homeschools?  Would every family forced to homeschool without the option of public education give as systematic an education to their children as purposeful homeschool families do today?  I doubt it.  Furthermore, the problem is not bad education, it is bad character (sin).  The solution is not homeschooling, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ and participating in the growing kingdom of God.  The utopian society is not homeschool grads in power, but the consummation of the kingdom of God which will only occur at the second coming of the Lord in glory.  I fear that many in the Christian homeschooling movement have a false understanding of the problem, the solution, and the ultimate goal.  And smooth-talking, eloquent, yet misguided speakers that give vision and encouragement to homeschooling parents are not helping build the kingdom of God.

Third, encouraging someone to consider the benefits of homeschooling their children is not “evangelism”.  I supposed that if the homeschooling alternative is described as “good news”, then it could VERY loosely be described as a gospel of sorts, but certainly not in any religious sense.  I suspect that the speaker was using the term “evangelism” with this loose definition, but without clarification and qualification, talk like this is not very helpful.  Dangitbill!  Homeschooling is NOT the gospel!

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61 Responses to Homeschooling is NOT the Gospel

  1. Joe Racek says:

    i like your thoughts on homeschooling here in this article. It is definitely important to make sure we have a correct view of the problems and solutions in our culture, and is easy to over react which I fear may separate us out from the culture that Jesus sends us to be ambassadors to. My hope and prayer is that homeschooling can be used early on to establish a strong foundation in both faith and education, but with the goal that it will help them do well in secular education in the later years as well as in those later years to understand how they are “set apart” in the way that God wants us to be set apart but also a light that is not hidden.

  2. Hey Joe! Good to hear from you. I thoroughly agree with your comments. We’re not parenting to avoid the culture, but to engage it. It’s just that IMHO young children are not ready for that (sometimes hostile) engagement yet. Hope everything at Kairos LA is going well. Say hi to the gang for me. I still browse Kairos website occasionally. For the record, you set the record for the quickest comment to post at Dangitbill!

  3. Joe Racek says:

    Good to hear from you too! We are doing pretty well out here in LA. JR is at the 1st church plant in Hollywood and I am helping start another neighborhood church in LA, this time in West LA. It’s always challenging to plant churches in this city, but God has carried us through the years. We’ve been out here for 6 years now! I enjoy reading your blog from time to time. God bless you and your family!

  4. Dana says:

    Hey, I just wanted to say I really enjoyed your entry and I wholeheartedly agree. I think some of what you observed stems from the modern history of homeschooling. Who pulls their children out of the public school when in all probability they will face fines and possible imprisonment? People who are VERY committed. And who has been around the homeschooling movement long enough to be getting speaking engagements at statewide events? People who were either homeschooling or were homeschooled during this time.

    I think the views of the “mainstream” homeschooler are far different than they were even ten years ago, but perhaps the conventions are yet to catch up with the trend.

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  6. As one of the people who faced imprisonment, loss of husband’s job (law enforcement) and no online charter schools when I first pulled my kids, I can answer Dana in saying that yes, the face of homeschooling has changed. I have been an advocate of the conferences changing their tone and their message for over 10 years.

    And no, our first year of homeschooling we were not committed. We just knew that we needed to help our child who was having difficulty in school. Homeschool grew as each parent felt they had to do something to help their child when public school was not helping and possibly hurting their children. Not all the pioneers were overly committed, just knew they had their backs to the wall with public school and were willing to risk this new experiment. Most of us figured we’d do it for a year or two, and now 20 years later are finishing with our youngest children.

    Yes, the conferences need to be more message friendly to the new face of homeschooling. But believe me, when you have been doing this for many years, are in the middle of the middle school years with all it’s ups and downs, sometimes having a conference speaker talk about the vision, seeing your child as an adult friend who is wholly able to function in society and raise their own family, can be helpful to keep you going through another year of home education.

    Since I leave the building of dominions to God, I see why the conference speaker got on your nerve. But let’s face it, public schools are hostile to the Christian message. Even teachers are not allowed to discuss the creator or sin or redemption, or even guidelines of behavior which children so desperately need. With over 40 years of case law against anything Christian in the schools, private Christian school or home school is the only way to educate Christian children.
    Blessings,
    Jube

  7. Thank you all for your comments. This post seems to have really struck a nerve with many, seeing that it’s generated so many hits in just a couple of days. One thing I want to make clear is that I appreciate the sacrifices made by the homeschooling pioneers of the previous generation. Having the option to homeschool and (probably) not having to face legal persecution is a benefit that I didn’t earn. So to all those who struggled to win the right–thank you.

    Another thing, I question whether the public schools as a whole are “hostile” to the Christian message. To be sure, there are many, many instances when a public school administration acted with hostility to the gospel and its messengers. But there is a wide range between friendly to the gospel and hostile to the gospel. I’m not sure anyone knows where the system falls on that spectrum, but I know it could be a lot more “hostile” if it wanted to. Maybe it’s headed in that direction. God only knows. I suggest a better way to describe the public school stance on the gospel is “secularism”, which can create climates of indifference, neutrality, curiosity, or hostility. Note that we live in a secular society with all kinds of people who hold many different positions on the gospel. Secularism tends to render the gospel irrelevant, but God always keeps a remnant of his people.

    I hope we can all agree that the public school “ground” is generally like the hard soil of Jesus’ parable. When the seed is cast, the birds often come and quickly take it away. I’m just not convinced that the birds are always the public school powers-that-be. The birds that steal away the conviction of sin and faith in Christ fly everywhere, including in private Christian schools and yes, even in your homeschool. All this musing leads me to thank God that he also does his work in barren lands where the gospel is underground or non-existent.

  8. deldobuss says:

    I agree with your comment that homeschooling is not the gospel, and that is is sin and not education that has deteriorated this nation. I also agree that homeschooling is not for everyone. I would like to add that homeschooling should be seriously considered if you are serious about your child’s spiritual upbringing, regardless of how you feel about their intellectual growth.

  9. Spunky says:

    Welcome to homeschooling and the world of homeschoolers. Your post was very thought provoking. My comment turned into a blog post of my own.

    thanks for taking the time to write out your perspective.

  10. reneegrace says:

    from a home schooler… christian… loved your post… thank you for your perspective and for sharing it.

  11. AmyDe says:

    WOW – that’s really scary. We are Christians who try hard to maintain a secular homeschool curriculum (it’s getting harder). Even here in GA – one of the leading homeschool states – I am reluctant to tell others “we homeschool” for the very reasons you stated above. We are NOT “THOSE people” and so many truly are. Our conference is this week and while we’re not going to any lectures or classes – the bombardment of the atmosphere is going to be enough to make me leary.

    As far as public schools goes – we’re in a state that races to be 49th out of 50 every year, but we’re in one of the best counties (even on a national scale) – still we choose to homeschool b/c it works for us. And Christians teachings have NO place in public schools – Repeat NO PLACE. That’s the point of the whole church/state thing – to keep it from being a legal platform for religious views (quite possibly not your own). I mean how would we feel about a Hindu or Muslim teacher allowed or even encouraged to teach their faith as FACT to our children. I’m all for studying other religions, but I’m NOT all for my state government TEACHING those religions.

  12. Coralie says:

    As a teacher in a quality Christian School, I am most saddened by the fact that these conferences fail to acknowledge that there are options other than “evil public school” and “sanctified homeschooling.”

    So often I’m scared to tell people where I teach because both public school advocates and home schoolers consider me the enemy. If we were more concerned about forwarding the gospel, rather than our personal “educational soap boxes,” I think we’d find our culture actually moving toward the goal of His will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

  13. You hit the nail on the head for our family. Thank you for your thoughts and the kind, yet frank, way in which you expressed yourself.

  14. julie says:

    Bill, you have written a very insightful piece. I homeschooled my son for 9 years. It was very helpful to him – we found that though he was to enter the 4th grade he could not read, but by the time we finished (using a phonics program) he loved to read and reads well. However, within the homeshool community, I did encounter just the mentality which you are describing here. It was often implied that sin was “out there” when biblically we are told that sin is both “out there” and “in here” – meaning our own hearts and our children’s hearts – as well. And the sad part is that while parents ought to be thinking biblically and pointing their children towards Christ and discipling those who have believed in Christ, in many cases they are trusting homeschooling to do what only Christ and His gospel can do. As a result the children (including my son) walk away from everything by the time that they leave home. Why? Homeschooling cannot change a heart. As you said, it isn’t the gospel – not the true gospel. It can certainly benefit a child academically (in most cases) and provide some quality instructive time and emotional closeness with parents. But it simply cannot “make” disciples of Christ. Furthermore, if you don’t teach your children that they are dead in sin and that their biggest problem is alienation from God, then they don’t think they need the Lord. Also sometimes it seems as though children and family have become replacements for Christ and His church. The scriptures do address children and family, and they are blessings and a ministry from the Lord, but they are not the be all/end all. Parents must wake up to this! Thank you for writing this. I urge you to continue to write about it and point others to Jesus Christ and to His gospel.

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  16. Claire says:

    I agree and disagree. While home education cannot scripturally be compared with the Gospel, much less be deemed ‘evangelism’, the Bible DOES say neither Christian adults nor our children are to be influenced by or taught by the ‘heathen’ or ‘ungodly’ – in Jeremiah 10, Psalm 1, and numerous other places.

    If we as Christian parents seek to obey the Lord, then it is our responsibility to ensure our children learn Biblical truth in their formative years – and they can’t hear the truth about God in public schools. It’s just that simple. Though there may be Christian teachers and/or Christian administrators in public schools (in my experience both were few and far between), they canNOT legally teach our children Biblical truth about God, how He created the world and all that is in it, Biblical truth regarding finances, relationships, morality, or anything else – God cannot receive the credit He deserves.

    When students are older and hopefully so grounded that they are able and ready to ‘engage the culture’, that’s the time to put them out there as evangelists with THE Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    As for an accurate history of public education which is not biased toward or against any religion, I recommend John Taylor Gatto’s books and website. He was voted Teacher of the Year for several years running in New York State before he finally resigned in frustration because he wasn’t allowed to accomplish what he was supposedly hired to do.

    Link to his website is below my name.

  17. Claire says:

    Oops – the website URL didn’t show up. Here ’tis: http://www.johntaylorgatto.com

  18. benstevenson says:

    The biggest problem in the world is human sin and rebellion against God, and the only solution to this is the true gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, for example).

    I wasn’t at the conference so cannot tell if the speaker was replacing the gospel with homeschooling. But, isn’t it also possible to talk about a perceived problem, a solution to that problem, and a beneficial results of taking a certain action, without this replacing the gospel as the ultimate answer to our ultimate problem?

    I think “evangelism” is a poor choice of words for promoting something like homeschooling. But in our culture, evangelism is often used to mean promoting something, rather than proclaiming the gospel. Perhaps the speaker chose his words poorly, rather than thinks homeschooling is the gospel.

  19. benstevenson says:

    Brian, Post 7
    “I suggest a better way to describe the public school stance on the gospel is “secularism”, which can create climates of indifference, neutrality, curiosity, or hostility.”

    While I think there is a difference between open hostility, and indifference, at the end of the day, both are rejection of God.

    For example, in Malachi 1:6-8, offering defective sacrifices is equated with treating God with contempt. And in Matthew 12:30, Jesus says “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”
    I don’t think we can be neutral towards God – we either obey or disobey. Because of who God is, it is sinful, and evil, to treat him with indifference.

    I think churches should encourage and pray for Christians in public schools (both staff and pupils) who are seeking to apply their faith to their lives there. But I think a system that tries to be neutral towards God is at the end of the day a bad idea.

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  21. Hope says:

    Thank you for this.
    I wish I had read it many years ago.
    Most likely I wouldn’t have had ears to hear it though because my need to be right was too great.
    I homeschooled my kids from 1991 to 2006.
    I did it partly out of fear of that big bad world ‘out there’.
    I regret that homeschooling became my identity. That it became another way to divide up good and bad, us and them, in and out.
    I was rigid in my belief and it’s been a painful path to a saner place.
    There were many good things about our homeschooling journey and there came a time when sending them to school would have been the more loving option. My pride was so great that I couldn’t do it. I told myself that homeschooling was the only good option. It wasn’t.

    If people are homeschooling because they think it’s some kind of guarantee that their children will grow into a predictable kind of adult they are mistaken. There is no perfect curriculum, perfect schedule, perfect famiy, perfect children. I can type that because I thought homeschooling would deliver what it can never deliver…perfection.

    I wish there could be an amicable relationship between parents simply because parenting is a marathon and we need all the suport we can get. To add the need to defend schooling choices on top of it all creates barriers with people we could be learning from, journeying with.

    There is so much more I could write.

    Thank God his mercies are new every morning.

  22. Catherine says:

    As parents with an evil secular education, we have raised 3 children in the evil secular education system. My husband and I are born again Christians, and each of our children have been called out and are born again Christians as well. Our last child will be going into high school this year. I go to church with a whole group of homeschoolers and we seem to get on quite well.

    One point that I would like to make here is that if you choose to raise your children in secular education, it will cost you. You will receive strange stares and whispered comments behind your back that your kids are weird. It may cost you some friendships, as you step out in faith and raise your children to be evangelists and faithful to the Gospel in all circumstances.

    You will spend many hours of time at the school and the principal and teachers will know you well. You may hand choose teachers that are Christians as they go through this system of education. Sometimes you don’t choose the Christian teacher at all, because they are an awful teacher.

    But then there are the precious moments in your children’s lives. Your child may have the opportunity to witness to a teacher or two as they go through. It will most likely happen as they are held out of science classes that want to educate them on AIDS. A teacher only has to ask them and they are ready with a response as to why they are sitting in the library learning about dermis on their own, instead of learning the worldview on sex education.

    We are happy that our children have learned early on how to witness to those around them first with their lives, then with their lips. I won’t say it has been an easy task, and there were times when our children felt left out and different. We praised God for those times because we knew they got it. They understand what it means to be separate even when you have to live in the world.

    Am I against homeschooling? Not at all. Not all school districts are run the same and I know we live in a district which is very conservative. I know of many children that have flourished under a homeschool system. I just don’t think that there should be so much fear involved in the whole matter. I think the author of this article has the right idea and right alignment with scripture. Thanks for the perspective!

    May we as Christians continue to teach our children to be Salt and Light in the world that we live in! May we always be the example that they need to follow.

  23. Spunky says:

    Brian, you’ve definitely sparked a little blog attention with your post. It definitely needed to be addressed.

    Regarding the use of the word “evangelism” with regard to homeschooling. There are some people who have made in their mission to convert some people to homeschooling. I’m a strong proponent of homeschooling, but not an “evangelist” for it.

    This was actaully a blog topic of conversation a couple of years ago, before you started homeschooling.

    I wrote about it here.

    http://spunkyhomeschool.blogspot.com/2005/10/homeschool-evangelism.html

    As new people keep entering the homeschooling subculture it’s obvious that it will come up again and again.

  24. Jenny in Ca says:

    Brian,

    we stopped attending our big state christian homeschool convention about 8 years ago. We were bothered by the ‘homeschooling is the answer to everything flavor’- and by the over-strong group- think position that using a puplic charter school program meant you are evil/a thief/not really homeschooling/a public school employee… I guess homeschooling was the answer- but only in the ‘pure’ form.

    Homeschooling is becoming attractive to so many more people, it’s a shame that we are stereotyped- homeschool families are as different as families are different.

    I enjoyed your post, it was a different spin on things that had bothered me.

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  26. Dan Lowe says:

    Reading Mr. Sandifer’s post, I found it resonating with many of my own experiences and concerns. I am a homeschooling father. My wife and I made the choice to begin homeschooling our three daughters after our two oldest daughters had attended public school for a couple of years. We made the choice to remove our children from public education, not because we were dissatisfied with their education (for the most part they had wonderful teachers… a couple were even Christians!), but because we were concerned about the influence of the world upon them (both from the secular curriculum and their peers.)
    From those who are opposed to homeschooling (and there are many!), I have often heard the argument that taking our children out of public school is no guarantee that my children will have a vital relationship with the Lord. I absolutely agree. I have also heard the argument that sin is something which comes naturally to all children and is not something they learn in public school. Again, I wholeheartedly agree. I have no problem admitting that my children are depraved, little sinners. I know that wickedness dwells within their hearts and this constantly spills over into sinful behavior (as Jesus says in Matt 15:19.) I affirm with absolute assurance that apart from the grace of God in Christ Jesus, there is no hope for my children (Eph 2:8-9.) But, in response to these arguments, I am also acutely aware that the world (under the leadership of devil – i.e. Eph 2:1-3, etc…) is intentionally and continuously trying to conform all of us to its image and the only way to offset this is through the constant renewing of the mind (Rom 12:2.) Our children, particularly when they are young, are unable to renew their own minds. In fact, I would tend to say that Deuteronomy 6:4-9 tells us that it is the father’s responsibility to do this for his children. Therefore, with this in mind, my wife and I made the choice to homeschool our children.
    With this said, after we made the choice to homeschool, we immediately became exposed to the “homeschool subculture” through others in our church who agreed with our educational choice. I must admit, I am not particularly enamored with what I have found there. At its best, the homeschool subculture can be encouraging to those who are striving to be faithful in educating their children in the way they deem best. At its worst, it can be sectarian, divisive and legalistic. This has always concerned me.
    My greatest concern for those involved in the homeschooling subculture (and I must include myself here at this time) is that there is a tendency at times to confuse this issue (as important as it might be) with the central tenets of the Christian faith. Many homeschool parents I know spend more time discussing the values of homeschooling than they do the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many homeschooling parents I know can better articulate from Scripture why it is necessary to homeschool than they can the doctrine of the deity of Christ or the depravity of mankind. The gospel must be “of first importance” to us as Christians (I Cor 15:1-4.) To elevate a secondary issue like homeschooling to the status of first importance could very well be akin to idolatry. If we make an idol out of homeschooling our children… then are we not assisting the world in its efforts to conform our children to its image?
    I know that many homeschooling parents would disagree with me, but Scripture does not expressly state that it is necessary to homeschool in order to be a Christian. Many Christians have varying views on this issue and I believe that this would fall under the category of Christian liberty described for us by the Apostle Paul in Romans 14. I would tend to say with Paul, “…Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom 14:5b) for “we will all stand before the judgment seat of God” (Rom 14:10b.) I will stand before God and give an account for how I have raised my children. I am fully convinced in my own mind that homeschooling is the right choice for my family. But more importantly, I am absolutely… completely… totally convinced that I will answer for how I have trained up my children in the truth of the gospel. I pray that my children will not confuse anything with the gospel. I pray that the gospel will be of first importance to them. Agree or disagree with me… that is why I homeschool.

  27. Bec Thomas says:

    This has been a long standing problem, there are various factions in home ed politics and some sadly yell very loudly and use fear as a way to further their own agenda.

  28. normalmiddle says:

    A couple of years ago when we were in the middle of righteous homeschooling, I would have quickly told you that any parent worth his or her salt would move heaven and earth to homeschool their kids, no matter the cost.

    Flash forward to now—-after three years of homeschooling and 7 years as a SAHM, I am heading back to teaching in a (gasp!) public school classroom because my husband has lost his job and we’d like to keep our house and eat.

    Sometimes life happens, and you either move with it, or it rolls right over you.

    I have been humbled and learned so much about myself in this time period. I still believe that homeschooling is a WONDERFUL thing, and I really, really am going to miss it beyond words. I will ALWAYS be a homeschool advocate.

    But is homeschooling on the checklist for entry to heaven? I think not.

    There are so many “flavors” of homeschooling, and within Christian homeschooling there are more flavors. I’ve found that even though the ultra-conservatives tend to have the market cornered at conferences and in materials, there are far more “average joe” homeschoolers who do not believe that it is a Christian mandate to home educate.

  29. andrealudwig says:

    A very well-thought-out post! We have tried homeschooling as well and have felt the pressure to rescue our children from the evils fo the public school system. There were some evils we did rescue them from, but not many of them were taught by the teachers. Rather, we rescued our kids from boring teachers, perverted teenage boys who pulled girls’ pants down and groped them and got very little punishment, razor-sharp weapons brought to school, bullies, and an insensitive teacher who told our daughter who is very allergic to mold to sit back down at her desk which was on top of the wet paper towel covering the moldy wet spot and causing her an asthma attack. We rescued them from daily migraines and lunch lines so long that they often ended up eating nothing until they got home. {Of course we could have packed them a lunch.} We rescued them from a proliferation of kids who thought they were bisexual and swore up a storm. We rescued them witnessing frequent fights, including a mentally challenged boy, unprovoked, stabbing another boy in the neck with a sharp pencil. My heart just couldn’t take it anymore.

    Elementary school was great. Beyond that, beware. Your kids should not have to be exposed to all mine were. No kids should.

  30. barefootelegance says:

    “Furthermore, the problem is not bad education, it is bad character (sin). The solution is not homeschooling, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ and participating in the growing kingdom of God. The utopian society is not homeschool grads in power, but the consummation of the kingdom of God which will only occur at the second coming of the Lord in glory.”

    I definitely agree with this statement especially. Good thoughts here, I’m not one for conspiracy theories about the public school system, especially since I know some great people who have come out of it. As a homeschool grad, though, I have met with the same mentality you describe over and over again.

  31. ladydeborah says:

    I was on my way to my blog and saw your post was featured on the home page. I stopped to read it because I am learning about home schooling.

    I am a classroom teacher. I am also currently learning about homeschooling. I recently joined a group of parents who homeschool to learn more on this subject.

    You raise some great points about home schooling as well as public schools.

    Not every parent can home school their child/children. I find that the parents who select this particular option learn just as much as their children about this type of education.

    I am glad that I took time to read this post. I am just interested in this aspect of education. I appreciate you sharing your viewpoint.

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  33. Brian,

    Hey – you’ve caused quite the stir with this post – I personally really appreciate your perspective, it seems balanced to me and that often seems to be what’s missing when discussing this topic. I also enjoyed your post about baptism although haven’t had time to read any of the linked articles yet… Miss you all & hope everything is going well. Please say hello to the fam for me – we can’t wait to see you guys in September!

    Kristen :)

  34. Laura says:

    Brian, I can see exactly what you mean!
    Christians, are acting in sincerity when home schooling their children. Then the scheme and brainwashing starts.
    Home schooling parents are slowly, step by step being led into error. and exchanging truth for a lie. Yikes.
    Most thinking parents know that there are wolves in our churches already who are replacing the Gospel with lies.
    Why not in our home school circles?

    In my city, every church has been given over to some aspect of apostasy. Every single church has bowed the knee to one or more of the following: ecumenical mindset, become a part of the Willow Creek association, promotes the errors of Rick Warren’s Purpose, promotes the Alpha Course, uses brainwashing tactics in small groups to stream line the youth into the future socialistic one world apostate church, or partners with those who are Open Theists, or pushes the agenda of the Dominion crowd.
    Now, my last refuge of Christian fellowship is being subverted by those who replace the Gospel with the lie that we need to ‘change’ and ‘save’ society by our activism (home schooling)

    It’s true. Preaching the Gospel, not home schooling, is what the Lord commanded His disciples to do.
    Society may or may not benefit from it. Souls are not saved by home schooling. Only by the true Gospel.

    And the Lord is only glorified when we obey Him and preach the true Gospel, not any other gospel, and certainly not the apostate gospel of socialism.
    thank you for your article.

  35. Laura says:

    I would like to add this thought.
    I know of people in cults who home school.

    With that in mind how can we think that if most people simply have a home schooling lifestyle and mindset that this will save our society?

    What if mostly Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormon’s and Catholic’s and Muslim’s were the dominant crowd in home schooling?

    Our society would still be corrupt and lost. Because each of these preach a false gospel.

    So what would our society gain from these groups home schooling?
    Nothing of eternal value.

  36. Scott Wenger says:

    i went 2 publick skool; if i kud reed yor blogg i bet i wud lik it.

  37. Marcy Muser says:

    Brian,

    Thanks so much for the thoughtful post. I have linked to you on my own blog:

    http://marcys-musings.blogspot.com/2008/07/more-on-stridency-of-some-homeschool.html

  38. Brenda Scott says:

    This post is so great! I have written on a similar topic recently and these things are on my mind. My husband and I went to our local homeschool conference not long ago, and I have been feeling discouraged by the culture that we realy don’t fit in with (and don’t want to fit in with!). I wish that there were homeschool groups and co-ops that we could join that didn’t involve the separatist “we’re better than the rest” attitude that so many homeschoolers have. Thank you for writing about this. We all need to keep writing about this & make people more aware!

  39. Marta says:

    WOW!!!! Thank you so, so much for writing this post….You don’t even know how exciting this is to read what so many of you are writing. I’m planning on homeschooling my 7th grade daughter she has always attended a public school awell as her 3 sisters (she’s the baby). I have been looking at homeschool curriculum for weeks now and I have to tell you I”m so conflicted as what to do? The funny thing is that just last night my husband came home found me very upset about this whole thing re-thinking should I home school? keep her in public school? until now was feeling like a bad christian for wanting a secular curriculum for my daughter. So, before going to bed I just prayed for God to please help me with this struggle….And not sure what I typed in but here you all are saying alot of what I have been feeling all I can say is …..Than You GOD!!
    The bottom line is….. I may have to send her back to public schools in a few yrs.that being said, can anyone help me decide on what curriculum to use. I want to keep in path with what they are teaching in public schools and not get all caught up with all the other. Please someone HELP!!!! IF you have any advice for me on the subject on curriculum please e-mail me: nanamaw@gmail.com

    Thank you again Brian for posting this topic it is truely a ~Blessing~

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  45. polymathis says:

    Greetings,

    I ran across this while googling homeschooling critiques. (Not that I’m against it…I’ll be doing it soon!). However, I have run across the same presentation you have–in person and in writing. Your short picture of what you witnessed is only half the level of importance that some of the leaders themselves have promoted (called a “revival” or “reformation”). I am greatly interested in this dangerous attitude in some of the leadership (well, self-appointed, I never voted for them).

    I do not wish to dwell on the negative, but as your blog pointed out there are some great dangers. I have already discovered some glaring statistical and historical errors that are not being addressed (and used to hype up the movement). I would like to combat these errors (while defending proper homeschooling). If you have any useful insights of this (or expansion on this post), please email me pastormathis at gmail dot com.

    Or if you wish to read about some of the errors go to my blog:
    polymathis.blogspot.com

    For God’s glory and the spread of the Reformed faith among the homeschoolers,

    pastor mathis

  46. Pingback: Principled Discovery » The politics of home education

  47. Hello! I’d like permission to use the image at the top (of the children whispering about homeschooling) for an online homeschool class I’m writing for prospective homeschool parents. I don’t see any other place to contact you, so I’ll try here! Thank you for any information you can provide.

    Beverly Schulz
    Teacherbir@aol.com

  48. Beverly,

    You’ll have to contact HSLDA for permission to use their graphic. I don’t have the right to grant permission.

  49. Kathleen says:

    I just found this site through polymathis’ site (which has a good article on the future of homeschooling, too). Though you didn’t mention the speaker’s name who gave those teachings (having lots of babies, homeschooling, public school=evil, going into government to reform, etc.) it sounds a lot like what Gregg Harris preaches, literally, at times from his church pulpit, as well as his homeschool conferences.

    I know he has been a keynote speaker at HEAV, so if it was him, then look forward to more of that kind of teaching trying to take over the homeschool world. His teens, the Rebelution twins, Alex and Brett, and now his younger teen son involved in film making with Doug Phillips (Vision Forum) at SAICF, mean that their exclusionist and warped twistings of Scripture for church and family reform/homeschooling will be more prominent in the Homeschool world.

    I know them personally, because I used to attend their church. They don’t take criticism of their extrapolated teachings well, either.

  50. Mrs. RBC says:

    Hello.
    Thanks for your post.
    I appreciate your opinion.
    I agree that homeschooling is not the gospel!
    My goodness.
    But I do believe it is the fruit of such. (or Christian schools, as long as they are godly!)
    If we truly love the Lord our God with all our hearts then we want to obey His commands.
    He commands us in Deut 6 to teach our children as we get up walk along the way and lie down.
    This is impossible if they are gone from us all day. Smile.
    I have enjoyed having my five children home with me for most of their ‘youth’ years. Yes, there have been classes and tutors here and there for an hour here or an hour there .
    But I would not trade AT ALL all the wonderful teaching moments we have had over the years as we got up, walked along, and lived our lives together.
    We are an evangelistic family.
    We are constantly looking for opportunities to share the good news of Christ’s forgiveness with anyone we can! smile.
    I realize your children are young and you might have thought all the way through the implications of what you are trying to say.
    Blogs can sometimes allow for us to think outloud as we are formulating our thoughts.
    I certainly think your reaction to the home school speaker is right on!
    Keep up the good discernment on that front.
    But you might want to pray and study a little more about the history of public education. The Greek model (the gymnasium) as well as the meaning of the word ‘educate’….’to lead out’.
    And think on this: Do you really believe that God the Father would want you to send your children to a humanist to have him/her lead them out? Teaching is leading. We must be careful not to downplay this in talking about the American Public School System. You would probably not send your child to a Buddhist to be taught about the world. Humanism is the new generally accepted religion of our time.
    Beware of encouraging anyone to send their children to humanists to be ‘led out’.
    That is , in my opinion, why the ‘visible’ church is so impotent in America. We have corporately been sending our impressionable children to be ‘led out’ by the humanist thinking/worldview of the public school system.
    I would recommend a book by Rushdoony
    THE MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF AMERICAN EDUCATION

    God bless you on the path……
    Sincerely,
    Mrs. RBC

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  52. busymama7 says:

    Very interesting post. I have been homeschooling for 6 and a 1/2 years now, and have been to a few of those conventions. I know what you are saying. My husband (being a public school teacher), felt a tad osterascized at the first one that he went to. The tone towards anyone working in the public school, was less than friendly.
    I agree that there is a tendency to make homeschooling an idol…and I also agree that Christianity does not hinge on whether or not your children are educated at home. But..I also believe that it is best for Christians to homeschool their children if at all possible and I think there is strong biblical basis to back that up in the day that we live in. I do believe also that God has called us up in an Exodus type manner. The place where we would part ways a tad with your thoughts is that we would contend that the public school is in fact more evil than many want to admit. There are definitely some good godly teachers (like my husband), and some godly administraters. They try their best to sneak Christ back into the schools without losing their jobs. But…the “powers that be” in public education are insidious and they are literally out to corrupt our children. I am speaking of the NEA! If you follow at all what the NEA wants to do, and what they are all about, it is pretty dispicable. The reason they hate homeschooling is twofold, money, and then the fact that they see it as a threat to producing more “state controlled” citizens. It’s pretty scary stuff! In my mind the good teachers that exist in many public schools are overshadowed by the curriculum, and the “powers” that control what comes in and out of those schools! Those are just my 2 cents on why I consider the public school system as a whole to be insidious (perhaps evil is rather strong). You are either for God or against Him, and the public school (as an overall instititution) is against him from what I know of it.
    This is why, although I don’t think anyone will go to Hell for not homeschooling their children, and I know many very Godly people whom I respect who have chosen not to homeschool, I do really think that it is what God would prefer for His children.
    I also don’t take the time to “evangelize” though. If someone asks me about it, I am happy to share why we homeschool, and I will encourage someone who is thinking about it, but I am much more concerned with “evangelizing” the true Gospel, than causing division amongst my brothers and sisters in Christ. On the other hand…I have been known to pray for people that they will at least consider it…if it’s His will of course ;-)

  53. Mrk says:

    My wife and I chose to public school our kids, or as we like to say, “homeschool, supplemented by public education.” We spend much of the evenings and weekends on fun and educational activiities as a family, and keep the teaching alive all the time. We constantly use events that occur in the schoolday as teachable moments.
    I don’t care for the criticism of public schools by Christians, knowing my children attend. My children can tell me what many of their friends believe, and the discussions they’ve had with muslims, hindus, etc. There have been many opportunities to share our faith as a result These experiences are difficult for a homeschool student to have and they may not face until after college. I know homeschool families who don’t know who their neighbors are.
    I think homeschooling has its place, especially where there are inadquate schools. But pulling christians out of public school is not going to improve society. We can’t be salt and light if we’re hidden, and if we believe God is sovereign, it doesn’t matter how much shelter I give my kids.
    I am a minority in my church and it is very evident. Children’s ministries are tailored for homeschoolers, becoming less convenient for public schoo families. Homeschool families are less available to serve in ministries, a task that falls on the rest of us. The hardest part my kids deal with is the elitism coming from the homeschool kids. My kids are treated as second class, so we’re searching for other christian children’s ministries outside of our church. It’s sad it’s come to this. But I feel strong in my convictions, and I’ve not seen any biblical condemnation of what I’ve done. I hope it gets better, but i’m not optimistic

  54. TKG says:

    I’ve homeschooled all four of my children until highschool and middleschool and I’m still homeschooling my fourth. I have come to the conclusion that what matters most is that we teach our children to love God and to love others. After that, I think we have a lot of freedom to raise our children as we choose. Those who think the Gospel is spreading a “righteous” culture have missed the heart of Christ’s ministry. We must be careful that we don’t become like the Pharisees, who thought only of their own “righteousness”. They were too “good” to go out in the crowd of sinners, get their hands dirty and be in relationship with the lost. I came to a point in my homeschool world when I realized that I was focused only on me and my little family. I was consumed with doing everything “just right” and always having a well thought out explanation why my way was most “righteous” and wondering why others would choose such different paths, like putting their children in the public schools. I asked God to forgive me for my self-centeredness and to bring people into my life to love. Well, He did bring people, and I have seen many internationals come to Christ and fellowship weekly in my home. Ministry to the lost is what our family talks and prays about. As I have put three of my kids in school, I’ve found that the challenge of the outside world has strengthened their faith. I’ve watched them mature and the two oldest are consumed with seeing their friend come to Christ. God has provided them with christian friends and a church to encourage them, as well. Our family has gained a lot from the years we homeschooled, but we have gained even more from learning that our lives are not our own. Christ is drawing the nations to himself and we can either consume ourselves with our own musings, or we can follow Christ’s example and be a part of what He is doing.

  55. Shawn Mathis says:

    Hello Mr. Sandifer,

    I have written a paper you and others may find interesting if not helpful, What is a Family Integrated Church?
    http://www.weswhite.net/2011/04/family-integrated-mathis/

    Thank you for your time and consideration,

  56. Kathleen says:

    Shawn,
    Refer to my comment I posted above. Your link is very professional-looking, but I and my family lived in the family-integrated church environment for years and attended the church of the professional homeschool speaker I mentioned. What my family and I encountered was a stifled environment, where men were elevated to a god-like status, and women were not valued if they didn’t have a husband that owned his own business, if they weren’t full-quiver, etc. There was printed teaching (which I still have in my possession) that taught that 12 or 13-year-old boys had more authority than their own mothers or women in general when it came to the “open microphone” on Sunday mornings. Men, as the “head” of the household (a total perversion of the Ephesians teaching), administered the communion to their families, as if they stood in the place of Christ to them.

    The church elders and original families that started that church with the Harris’ in the 1990’s split away from Gregg’s church to start their own church called The Gathering. Sad to say, but that new church began in the same footsteps of Gregg’s church in some respects. So, if they branding of “Family-Integrated” is supposed to mean a church is better than others that aren’t “Family-Integrated”, then I disagree. It’s just more arrogance and pride to deal with in the Body of Christ.

    • Shawn Mathis says:

      Hello Kathleen,

      I did encounter your website and story a while back. It is quite sad.
      Unfortunately, I do not have access to facts in these particular cases so it becomes hard to prove that the NCFIC, etc. approve of these problems. I am glad you are no longer in bondage to the legalism you describe.

      for the peace and purity of the Church,

  57. Kathleen says:

    And another link to someone else’s perspective on the Family Integrated Church environment is here:

    http://familyintegratedcritique.wordpress.com/

    This was not written by me, but by a woman who has dealt with the family-integrated church for years herself, and who also has dealt with homeschool leaders (who strongly advocate for FIC’s). At least one of them has threatened lawsuits because of her exposure of their lies, and at the least she has been dismissed and ridiculed publicly by them. Her name is Cindy.

    • Shawn Mathis says:

      Kathleen,

      I have encountered that website too, but it looks defunct. I have posted my article but have not heard back.

      I am also aware of other lawsuit issue from first-hand accounts. But, again, if I write about it without concrete facts it is hearsay. God will judge those who do not understand Christian liberty and charity.

      yours in Christ,

  58. erinfoerch says:

    I agree. I love home schooling my kids, but this is the very thing, the division it can cause, that makes me question myself. The problem is that no matter what we do with our kids, we will try to use our choices to make ourselves feel better, to build our own moral platform and judge ourselves and others based on those standards. I found myself caught in some of it the other day, I wrote about it on my blog,
    http://www.excuseourmess.com/there-is-something-wrong-with-home-schooling/.
    It feels good when people tell us we are doing something right, but we should be cautious to listen, it’s better for our hearts to be rebuked.

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