January 19, 2021

Worldview worries: Justification by Homeschooling?

The whole homeschooling debate at Internet Monk and the BHT started with a post over here, so I guess I can revisit that topic. (I’ve learned that this is serious business with a lot of people, so I hope we can all act like civilized people. Pistols at dawn sounds good to me.)

Guy at the IM forum thread on PS/HS writes this:

I’ve seen my own children through public school while holding to the view that they were in the world but not of it. Our faith or testimony didn’t fade when we stopped saying the Lord’s Prayer in school. I don’t want the school teachers to be my children’s spiritual leaders. I, as a parent will always have that reserved for myself and my children realize that nothing can change that.

Along comes a “guest” who responds with this:

OK, so you raised them up in two faiths. One for their private devotional lives, where Jesus is guru. Another for the “real” world, where Caesar is Lord. As long as they keep the two worlds carefully barricaded against each other, you’ll need never worry about them doing anything embarassing and public for Jesus in the “real” world.

Is it just me, or have a number of Christian just blasted through any walls of restraint when it comes to announcing that those who differ from them are not believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and saved by the Gospel?

Why do I get the feeling that if I send my kids to public school, Jesus is my “guru” and not my God? Why does it seem that fundamentalists have ways to connect almost any social or political issue to the heart of Christian belief?

It’s mindboggling to think that people who read the New Testament could make withdrawal from the public schools a test of faith. But I think the list is longer than just homeschooling. Voting Republican. Agreeing with Jim Dobson’s version of pro-life. Agreeing with Jim Dobson’s version of opposition to homosexual rights. Agreeing with somebody’s version of contraception. Just how long is this list anyway?

I have never quarrelled with the word “worldview,” but I am starting to get a bit concerned about the idea that everything is Christianity is an inter-related whole that produces a cookie cutter conformity on every issue. I like “worldview analysis” that uses a minimum of criteria for the Christian worldview. It’s not the case that everything imaginable is in the footnotes and fine print, making any departure from the “Christian worldview” on politics or social issues apostasy from the essential core of the faith.

Salvation by faith places us in God’s Kingdom. We are judged by God in that kingdom alone. That means that, unfortunately for the fundamentalists, Christians will be a diverse group on any issue pertaining to the Kingdoms of this world. We are justified by Christ alone. That justification is evidenced by faith in Christ, and that faith can exist with all sorts of wrong or unclear notions.

When the fundamentalists start marshalling scripture to defend why I must withdraw from the public schools to be truly saved, I realize I have no hope. I can’t accumulate a hundred verses. Just the plain, obvious, non-obscure truth that Democrats with pro-life, pro-gay, public school liberal leanings can and will be saved.

Sorry to say it, but that’s just the way it is.


  1. Welcome to the world of “holiness” salvation.

    And hats off to Charles Finney:::)

    (said tongue-in-cheek of course)

  2. Amen Michael. I’ll tell you why Christian fumdamentalists love to ‘equate’ any social or political issue to the heart of Christian belief.

    Because it fuels their mistaught low self-esteem higher.

    I really believe that they have very low self-esteem because they see the concept of self-esteem as ‘secular humanistic’. By equating social and/or political issues to the heart and core values of your Christian belief, disagreement is the vehicle where these people feel superior and vindicated in a world of paranoia and conspiracy theory that they believe has it out to get them and specifically them.

    To belittle other Christians and other people who disagree provides them with the fuel to live and also places within them the concept that

    ‘I am a better person than they are’

    This in turn lifts up their low self-esteem. It’s cyclic in nature and these people will look for anything to equate another social action to your core Christianity because they are on the downward spiral from the last thing that boosted self esteem and need the boost of a new social cause and political bandwagon to jump on to keep their self-esteem high.

  3. Maybe you guys know more than I do, but I have known several people who were homeschooled or homeschooled their kids, and only one of them did so for any reason other than not wanting their child to be around ‘bad influences’…’bad influences’ being anyone who is not exactly like them or does not have their exact same world view. And only one family of children came out not hating/disliking/fearing people who were different from them simply *because* they were different. This really bothers and scares me, because the world is not a homogeneous place and I feel that a child who is kept at home like this so much is going to be rather ill-prepared to deal with people who are different from them. It seems that it comes from fear.

    My ex was homeschooled for a while and he has some ideas about other religions and places that are flat-out ignorant and not true, and this is a direct result of him being taught that everyone else (Catholics, Muslims) are evil and bad and not to be trusted. Or that they are somehow not as ‘good’ as he is. That is the impression I get from other people in my old churches too, or that they somehow think their children will be ‘corrupted’ by being around someone who is not of the same faith (read: most of the time, same church or denomination, so the Episcopal kid down the road is going to hell too). Is this normal, or was I just around some sick people? Do you guys know of anyone who homeschools for another reason that is not related to religion and what do you think about this?

    I personally don’t see how a faith that is never tested can grow, but that is just me…

  4. Temple, do you ever go on Beliefnet.com? I monitor one of their debate boards on Christianity and we realllllllly need people like you over there!!! I feel like I am the only person who sees it that way; putting others down only to lift oneself up. Of course, I also see non-Christians doing that to Christians too…many think that all Christians are like the ones referenced in the article and therefore it is PC to make fun of us all and talk about all of us as though we were evil incarnate, when the truth is most of us are not like this at all. We just don’t go around being obnoxious and shooting our mouths off about it.

  5. I posted a long, long response yesterday and it vanished into thin air. This thread grieves me deeply.

    I homeschool my 4 kids. They aren’t weird. They aren’t geeks. They practice their faith all the time because they are deeply involved in our community. We don’t stay home. We don’t try to protect them. In fact, protecting them from evil is NOT one of the reasons we homeschool. We believe that the worst evil influence kids can encounter is the wickedness in their own hearts. No amount of sheltering or protecting can remove them from THAT influence!

    We homeschool because it works for us. We don’t think everybody else should homeschool. IN fact, we know a lot of folks who should NOT be homeschooling! But it works for us. My kids function in a very large world. They interact with a varied, diverse bunch of people day in and day out. We travel. We invent. We dissect. We talk. We talk some more. We read. We listen to music. We watch movies. We do all the necessary traditional school subjects. We compete in sports. We spend hours in museums. We like our lives but we don’t think anyone else needs to live like we do.

    My kids happen to kick ass academically, but they would no matter how they were schooled. They’re bright kids. They have great social skills. They would have great social skills no matter how they were schooled.

    It grieves me to hear believers talk in vast, sweeping, faceless generalities about homeschoolers. Or public schoolers. Or Christian schoolers. In each group, you can find individuals who are WEIRD and dysfunctional. You can find poster families that portray every reason why THAT educational choice is a bad one. But you can also find individuals in each group that are doing exactly what they should be doing.

    It’s really not a lot different to write pejorative things about homeschoolers as a large group than for homeschoolers to speak in generalities about parents who choose NOT to homeschool. Neither one should be happening.

    It grieves me that fellow believers don’t trust me to follow the path that God has for me and my kids. It grieves me that I have to defend myself against hurtful words and stereotypes. I know that it hurts going the other direction, for parents to have their very faith questioned by rigid homeschooling parents.

    Do we all really need to look exactly alike? be exactly alike? raise our children exactly alike?

    Name-calling, stereotypes, generalizations do NOT help move any of us forward. No matter which side it comes from, it’s wrong.

    So I’m here to say, I homeschool because it works for OUR FAMILY. You do not have to homeschool. You don’t even have to like the idea, but please respect my choice as MY choice. Until you’ve met me and my family, you shouldn’t say that all homeschooling families are misfits. (And we are probably misfits in some ways that have nothing whatsoever to do with education!)


    PS: You’d probably even really like my kids!

  6. Barb, I agree completely. I think that all sides have some tiretracks on their backs, and we can alldo better. My advocacy of PSs isn’t a criticism of HSers. All have their special strengths and liabilities. I hear and value what you have to say.

  7. Thanks, Michael. I’ve been on all sides of the school issue. I attended Christian schools my entire life, thru my sophomore year in college. I taught in both public and Christian schools before I had kids. My oldest two kids attended public school thru 3rd grade and Kindergarten, respectively. My youngest two have never set foot in school. I’ve seen it from all angles and I still think that each parent is best equipped to figure out what’s best for his own kid. I don’t think there’s a formula or a rule. I HATE to see anyone establishing rules on this!

    Every year we re-evaluate what will work best for our sons. So far, the answer has continued to be homeschooling, but I wouldn’t hesitate to pack someone off to school if it was clear that THAT was the best option.

    I really wish this wasn’t such a hot topic for so many people. It gets folks meddling where they don’t need to. For me, homeschooling is a thing of grace, not law. It feels so awkward to demand grace from others! I’m not sure that it CAN be demanded. I hope I can extend it…that’s the little bit I can do.

    thanks for hearing me.

  8. Barb, I don’t mean to say that homeschooling is all bad and public schools are all good…and maybe I have simply been in the wrong environments but most of the time in one of my old churches if someone homeschooled their kids, it was either for the reason I mentioned before or because the church/someone else told them they weren’t a real Christian/didn’t love their kids/whatever if they didn’t.

    If it does work for your family, great. I don’t have an issue at all with people doing what works best for their situations because that is their business. If it is the best for the child’s education or development, then great. What I did have issue with was the idea that I presented above and that I heard in some of my old churches and in some of my old circles-people stating that homeschooling or Christian schooling was the *only* correct, Christian way.

    It is a blessing that you are able to provide this sort of advantage to your children, but as you yourself said, there are some people who should not be homeschooling and some situations where it might not be the best option. And not everyone has the means to give their children the options you have and public school just might be their only option. This does not make the parent any less of a Christian or doom the child to eternal damnation, but to hear some of my old environments speak you would think it does. I just don’t think a church should be telling people that they *have* to homeschool their children. It should be the parent’s choice based on what is best for the child, and not because the church thinks that everything and everyone who does not agree with it is somehow terrible and to be avoided.

    Perhaps I am still somewhat disallusioned a bit…I am sorry to offend, though. I don’t like it when people stereotype me and I should have been more careful.