Perhaps no single line was ever written outside the Holy Scriptures which better describes the motivating power behind the Christian homeschooling movement. Many of the things that Christian parents do seem strange to people who don't understand the feelings conveyed in these words from the song "Children Are a Treasure from the Lord."
What comes to mind is a story told by well-known Christian author Dr. James Dobson. Dr. Dobson suffered a heart attack and was in the hospital for almost two weeks. This gave him a long time to reflect on the things in life that were important to him. Not long after he was released from the hospital, he sat down and had a talk with his college-aged son Ryan. His words went something like this:
Ryan. I had a heart attack. I didn't die, but I sure could have. You didn't have to bury me this time. But, unless the Lord returns soon or you suffer an untimely death, there will come a day when you will have to bury me. Chances are you will see me die. But this I know. When I die, I will be called up to be with my Lord on the other side. And Ryan, I will be waiting for you. I will be looking for you. Ryan, BE THERE!!! Nothing else matters. I hope you live a life of fulfillment as I have. I hope you find a wonderful wife and have beautiful children. I hope your life is filled with many blessings as mine has been. But all of this doesn't matter in comparison to being there on the other side. What ever it takes, what ever happens, BE THERE! Ryan, that's all that really matters. Please, BE THERE!!!This is probably the same message that just about any Christian father would say to his child. This is the true heart-felt desire of every Christian mother I know. Unless one understands the depth in which a Christian parent feels a burden to see their children on the other side, then a lot of what Christian parents do seems somewhat bizarre.
But this desire goes way beyond simply seeing the child's name in the Book of Life. Christians who are totally committed to their faith receive an indescribable joy and meaning for life from this faith. It is, in a very real sense, the very reason for their existence. Many of them have tried to live a life apart from God; but, when they found God, they couldn't possibly imagine a fulfilled life without a walk with Christ. Indeed, to the Christian parents, their all encompassing passion and their greatest reward is knowing that their children find a fulfilling life walking with Christ and then having them there on the other side to enjoy eternity with them. If this happens, then life is a success. If this does not happen, there can be no greater tragedy or feeling of sadness in a Christian parent's life.
Put quite simply, this is the single overwhelming impetus behind the great number of Christians rushing into homeschooling. Overlook it and you can never understand why so many Christians homeschool.
Throughout most of public education in America, Christians felt that the environment of the school reinforced their efforts to raise up Christian children. However, starting in the 1960's, public life in America began to dramatically change and many of those changes carried over into the schools. In the 1950's, public schools were leading their children in prayers and the recitation of Bible verses. By the mid 1960's such practices were declared unconstitutional. And other changes occurred. Curriculum evolved taking on more of a "secular humanist" philosophy. Discipline in the schools changed. Sex education entered the schools. The very intellectual, spiritual, and moral teachings that were so important to Christian parents were no longer being reinforced in the schools; to the contrary, many parents felt that the public schools were actually undermining what they were teaching with such great passion at home. In a period of about twenty years, the public schools had moved from being a place where parents could feel comfortable about sending their children to have the values they were teaching at home reinforced to being a place where the values they were teaching at home were being sabotaged.
This disillusionment with public education gave rise to two major educational movements within the Christian community. One has been called the "Christian Schools Movement" and the other has been called the "Christian Homeschooling Movement." The number of Christian schools dramatically increased as did the number of Christian families who chose to educate their children at home. A certain synergy developed as publishers such as Bob Jones University and Pensacola Christian Academy began to offer curriculum with the religious orientation these Christian schools and homeschoolers desired; as laws were changed to make states more homeschool and private school friendly; and as more and more people saw the product of these homeschools (that is the children) and decided to give it a try.
As the Christian homeschool movement has grown, there has become less of an emphasis on the negative aspects of the public schools and more of an emphasis on the positive aspects of homeschooling. Rather than seeing the home as a place to shelter children from the negative effects of public education, homeschooling is seen as an environment where Christian values can be taught, modeled, and reinforced. These are opposite sides of the same coin but the latter is a more positive way to view what Christian homeschoolers are doing. In addition, close family ties seem to be something that many Christians are drawn to. Homeschooling provides a way to maintain those close family ties. Christians are also enjoying the other benefits of homeschooling such as the individualized teaching, the flexibility in scheduling, the teaching through life experiences, the broader social interaction, etc., etc., etc.
Some Christian homeschoolers see the decline in American Education as God's providential way of moving us on to something better. Just as God used the tyranny of the Egyptians to get the Israelites moving on to a promised land much better than the land of Egypt, God has used the secularization of the public schools to move many of our children away from a system of education that is significantly limited by its very nature on to a system of education that we view as being vastly superior. If it had not been for the dramatic events of the last thirty-five years, we might still be back in Egypt making bricks. But instead, we are combining our passion for spiritual training with academic possibilities the public schools can only dream about. And more than anything else, our reward will be knowing that our children really love the Lord.
Copyright © 1994 James A. Muncy. All rights reserved.
Used by permission.
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