Passionate advocates of Christian home education often talk about the wonderful blessings homeschooling is bringing to families all over the world. Closer family relationships, better education, the ability for parents to pass on their faith and convictions—all of these are among the advantages we discuss.
Sometimes, however, it seems our enthusiasm isn't as well received as we would prefer.
Some time ago, as I was browsing through homeschool websites, I came across a blog entry written by a homeschooling father. As a relatively new homeschooling dad, he was still adjusting to our unique culture and environment. He didn't like everything he was seeing.
He had attended a homeschool convention and was concerned that the keynote speaker was representing homeschooling as something almost like another gospel. The speaker wasn't named, but apparently he was expounding on the problems found in our public education system, how homeschooling addresses those problems, and how we can reclaim our culture through homeschooling.
The point this homeschooling father was making was this: public schools aren't the problem—sin is. And homeschooling isn't the answer—Jesus is. This dad felt that calling public schools the problem, and homeschooling the solution, was putting home education in the place of Jesus. Thus, an alternative gospel—one that displaces Christ and inserts homeschooling—was being preached.
Is this a valid point? Are those of us who are passionate advocates of homeschooling in danger of preaching a new gospel, one that removes Jesus from His rightful place? It's a question worth asking ourselves.
Looking around, we see problems beyond number. A glance at the headlines on any given day reveals more cases of conflict, corruption, and depravity than we care to know about—and these are just the stories important enough to make the headlines. We don't read about all the domestic fights, the messy divorces, the rebellious teens, and the many other tragedies acted out around us each day.
It's easy to look around and lay the blame in any number of places. If only our elected leaders had more integrity, if only corporate America wasn't so greedy, if only the culture wasn't so immoral, if only our celebrities weren't such poor role models—the list could go on and on.
Ultimately, all of these things are only the external outworkings of the real problem—sin. By nature and by individual choice, each one of us is a sinner. When Adam and Eve violated God's command in the Garden of Eden, they plunged the entire human race into the darkness of sin and separation from God. The problems surrounding us in the millennia since then are nothing more than the natural outcomes of our sinful condition.
As homeschoolers, it's easy to look at our public education system and point our fingers and shake our heads at the sad condition of our nation's schools. And truly their condition, by and large, is sad. But are we justified in laying blame at the doors of our schools?
Yes and no.
Ultimately, sin is the problem—not our schools. In this sense, our schools aren't to blame since they didn't make anyone a sinner. Yet even as we say this, we are compelled to realize that, in many cases, the environment in our schools has become increasingly toxic to anything like Christian values. A letter recently appeared on Townhall.com, written by the mother of a 2010 public school graduate, lamenting the fact that despite having attended one of the nation's top schools, her son didn't know what country Napoleon was from, even while he was learning about homosexual men in Samoa during his social studies class.1
Every child is born a sinner in need of a Savior. Each one of us, left to himself, is capable of committing any sin known to mankind. Yet it is possible to be hastened on our way by those who have followed the path of depravity further than we. Jesus did not hesitate to lay blame at the feet of those who offended children who believed in Him. His judgment was startling in its directness: it would be better for them to have a millstone hung about their necks and be drowned in the depths of the sea. A sobering denunciation indeed.