Who is responsible for the education of my children?

In Deuteronomy, Chapter 6, we find God giving to Israel the greatest commandment. The first three verses give the primary responsibility of man toward his God, the duty to love the Lord with his entire being. This is followed by the commandment to teach this to the next generation. The Jews call this passage the “Shema” and have made a covenant to hear or read this passage twice a day. It is that important to devout Jews.

This passage teaches that the parents are to teach their children the doctrines of their faith and the reasons for believing them. They are to be taught diligently to the children, by the parents. “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:7-9)

Notice two things about this passage. It is not a suggestion given for man’s consideration. It is a command from the God of the universe. Second, the command is not given to a government or village of people. It is given to the parents of the children. A responsibility given to parents may not be passed on to anyone else without God’s permission. A study of the Bible does not release the parents from this responsibility. It will be the parents who will give account to God for what they have done with the children committed to their trust by a Holy God! God will hold the parents responsible for their receiving an education that leaves God out.

For many years, the parents in the home taught the children. Long before the term “homeschooling” was first used, the education of children was done in the home. Later, parents felt that someone with more education should do the teaching, so they paid tuition for private schools or educated their children in schools sponsored and run by churches. Private or parochial schools provided God-centered education that was watched over by the parents of the students.

The Pilgrims left England to get away from religious persecution and made their home in Holland. They soon found that they had to leave Holland, where they had been given religious freedom but not the right to educate their children themselves. They knew that their children would lose their faith if they were educated in the schools of Holland. They sailed to America, endured the hardships of life in a new country, and suffered greatly to guarantee a Christian education for their children.

Many of the institutions of learning in America began as God-centered educational institutions. The first 100 institutions of higher learning in America were founded as Christian schools; some to train missionaries and pastors.

Soon, however, a need became evident for schools to train the children of those who did not have enough money to afford the private or parochial schools. “pauper schools” were founded to provide schooling for these children. These were funded either by townships, or counties, or by churches. Before long, Christians resented paying for the education of their own children while having to pay for the education of children in the “pauper schools.” They insisted that their children should receive a “free education” like the others. “Pauper schools” became “public schools,” and the curriculum was determined so that no particular religion would be presented. Today, we see the end result of that program.

The question for the Christian parent is, “How do we carry out God’s command regarding the education of our children?” For some, the answer is clearly homeschooling. Several educational institutions have provided all the tools necessary for a parent to provide a good education right in the home. For others, the answer may be seeking the help of a Christian school. Many fine learning institutions provide a Christ-centered education with good academics.

There may be some that will need to have their children in public schools. Perhaps these parents have the toughest job of educating their children according to God’s order. They must know what is being taught and counter false teaching that would rob their children of their faith. Since they are going to have to do a lot of teaching over again, they might be wise to consider one of the other two alternatives.

Remember, children are not born in institutions and are not given to governments. They are the blessing of the Lord to parents, the fruit of the love relationship in marriage that is the symbol of the love Christ has for the church. God gives children to parents, so that the children will be taught the love of God and a love for God. God never gave a command to maintain a certain lifestyle or to achieve a level of wealth. He did say, “These words I teach you this day… teach them diligently to your children.” (Deuteronomy 6)

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