For Our Children

May 7, 2023 Download: Audio

Psalm 78

If you live in the United States, you are hearing opposing voices when it comes to educating children. I’m not talking whether or not we should have books about drag queens, transgenderism, or sex acts in our school libraries. I’m talking about who has responsibility for our children. Is it the school or is it the parent?

In the Virginia governor’s race prior to their last election, former Governor Terry McAuliffe declared during a gubernatorial debate on Sep 29, 2021, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” McAuliffe was favored to win the election, but many said this statement sank his chances and the result, as you know, is that Glenn Youngkin won instead, campaigning as a champion of parental rights in education.

And as more parents took an interest in their local school boards by showing up at their meetings to voice their frustration about the things being taught, the National School Boards Association sent a letter to President Biden that “America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat.” They later apologized for the language in their letter which implied that parents were a threat. It has outraged many parents. I feel that outrage too.

But I can also sympathize with the school boards and the teachers who don’t want the parents interfering in their classrooms. One of the most frustrating things of my years of coaching little league was dealing with the parents, not the kids. My wife is the director of Liberty Classical and knows how hard it is to run an education organization smoothly. Every parent has ideas and opinions.

Why do I bring all of this up? Because the question at the heart of the issue is not, what should be taught in public schools, but who is responsible for our children? If we look to the scriptures the answer is crystal clear. Parents. The sad reality that we face today is that abdication of our children to others to educate has become a normative part of our culture.

I have argued in the past that the Bible doesn’t dictate whether or not you can send your child to public school or private school or home school. But it does tell us, plainly, that parents are to pass on their faith to their children. Parents are to pass on their heritage, their identity, their inheritance, to their children.

Deuteronomy 6:4–9 ESV
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Ephesians 6:4 ESV
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

So if you don’t educate them yourself, either because you don’t have time or the expertise, and you choose to send them somewhere else, you need to know what their goals are and understand their way of seeing the world. Scripture teaches that

Proverbs 1:7 ESV
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

as well as,

Proverbs 9:10 ESV
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Public schools do not begin here. They teach from a faulty foundation. That is not to say that there is no room for overlap. There certainly is. You can’t function in the real world unless you have some hold on reality. But as a whole, the public schools have different goals than the Christian parent has for his children. The public school has no interest in preparing your child to live in the kingdom of God. Can you “pillage the Egyptians,” so to speak, and use the public schools to educate? You can, but don’t be foolish to think that a battle is not waged against your child. It may not be overt from his/her teachers or even his/her school board, but it is very real coming from the spiritual forces of evil operating in this world. Just as Paul explains just a little further in Ephesians 6:10-12

Ephesians 6:10–12 ESV
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

My intent is not to pick on public schools, but simply to illustrate the most common and culturally conditioned way in which Christian parents, perhaps without any conscious intent, have abdicated their responsibility to train up their children in the way they should live.

You might argue that you were trained in the public school system and you’re here as a devoted follower of Christ. I can say that too. And as if to bolster your argument, I can attest to children who were faithfully raised by parents seeking to instill them this faith who have abandoned the faith. Raising kids according to God’s design is not a guarantee as to their future. So why do it?

We are to do it, not because it works, but because God commands it. It is his ordained design. This is one of the major themes that separates a follower of Christ from a secularist. A secularist lets pragmatism be his guide. He asks, does it work? If so, then that’s what I’ll do. A follower of Christ doesn’t first ask, does it work? But rather, what does God say about it?

The world is not neutral. Parents are responsible for their children. In particular, fathers. That is God’s design. This is what we see as the theme of this Psalm.

Parents, teach your children the stories and commands of God.