Heapin’ Helping Dose of Educational Legalism

New post up at WORLD Mag today.


I walked out of a homeschool conference last month. I didn’t intend to, but I did.

I went to the conference with a friend of mine who, in addition to homeschooling two of her kids, sends another to a nearby public charter school. When the speaker at the conference made the comment that she couldn’t understand why anyone would even consider sending his or her kids to a pagan institution run by a pagan government, my friend got angry.

When the message later turned into one in which the speaker couldn’t believe any caring parent would send his or her kids off to even a Christian school as they are no better than the pagan government ones, I got angry. We left, having been there a total of one hour.

As we were leaving, I called my husband to tell him I was on my way home. Somewhat surprised (we had, after all, driven five hours to get there the day before), he said, “You need to go back and get time with the speaker. You have to talk to her.” Umm, what?

I can tell you this: Talking to her was about the last thing I wanted to do that day. But I did. And as much as I’d like to tell you I was able to make her see where I was coming from—namely that God can and does use all means of education to bring about His own purposes and that we believe in His restoration and redemption of all things—I never got the chance. The speaker had no desire to answer the questions I asked, instead turning our time into an inquisition in which all burden was on me to supply the reasons for my position. When we left for the second time that day, it was with more of a sense of retreat than resolve.

It could very well be that in light of some of my past experiences I have a more keenly developed legalism sensor than your average homeschooling mom. But regardless of how (or how often) the sensor goes off, it burdens my heart every time it does.

Homeschooling gets a bad enough rap as it is, and those of us in the trenches certainly don’t need to dig the hole any deeper. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The goal in Christian parenting isn’t just to raise smart kids; it’s to raise a godly generation of people who love the Lord and desire to serve Him all the days of their lives.

I have friends who are homeschooling to achieve this end, and I have friends who have chosen Christian schools to help meet this goal. I have friends who are called and comfortable with their kids in the public school system and who are doing all they can to ensure that their kids are learning to love Jesus just like mine are.

When it’s all said and done, yes, education is as much about the means as the ends. I may choose homeschooling and you may choose a different educational track. But if we both cross the same finish line–that of raising kids into adults who love and serve the Lord–then it would seem God will be well-pleased.