Is Homeschooling a Safeguard Against Rebellion?

Is Homeschooling a Safeguard Against REBELLION? // jessconnell.com

On a list of my favorite quotes about homeschooling, one reader took an issue with this:

“We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans.” ~Dr. Voddie Baucham

She commented:

I do not agree with #11. I homeschool my children, but I was public-schooled. All of my Christian friends I grew up with were also public-schooled. Most of us are all following the Lord. And the few who aren’t, it had to do with familial issues, not public school. I believe children CAN be raised for the Lord even while attending public school. Homeschooling is not a safe-guard against rebellious children, in my opinion.

And I can understand this response.

In truth, I’ve never wanted my site to be a place for feeding on bitterness between the various schooling camps. (Which is why I put the disclaimer at the top of that list of quotes!)

When I write an article encouraging breastfeeding, it could unintentionally wound a mom who’s had to choose formula… or when I write an article talking about the blessing of a big family, it could hurt a wife who would love more children but has submitted to her husband (to stop at two children)… or if I talk about the beauty of marital intimacy, it could deeply hurt a wife who has a husband that continually refuses her in that area. So, please understand that my goal in writing that list was to encourage homeschooling moms, not *bash* a different method, or slam those who choose it.

But any time we choose one thing, it can’t be avoided: we are making some sort of determination about the other choices… and sometimes it IS a negative judgment. There’s no way to avoid this happening. If you attend a church for a few years, and then leave it for a non-necessary reason (i.e., not because you moved 4+ hours away), there’s no way for it to NOT be a judgment (of some kind) against that church.

So with that said, in response to this commonly-spoken idea, that–

  1. good kids can come from public school, too, ya know!
  2. homeschooling isn’t a safeguard against rebellion!

here are my thoughts:

I, too, was educated in public schools.

I am thankful for so many things I received in my small-town Texas school system:

  • a love for and solid foundation in writing and language
  • a love for and rich education in choral and orchestral music
  • opportunities to learn a wide variety of academic subject matter (I had excellent teachers in biology, algebra, physics, and percussion)
  • chances to interact with, and learn from, many Christian teachers who poured themselves out for us, year after year
  • a great liberal arts foundation that prepared me for college and whatever future I desired to pursue

That said, I received other things as well.

I still fight poor training picked up there. I still fight against judging people based on their clothes, hairstyles, and “coolness,” rather than the inner heart and beauty of the inner person. There is still a “pecking order of coolness” residing in my brain (where I always come up short and feel “less than,” no matter who I’m around) that crystalized in those formative years.

I remember the fear of running in my house as fast as I could because two bullies had teased me all day in the halls, followed me home, and were banging on the front door within 60 seconds of me getting inside.

I remember being hit on and leered at by male teachers. I remember being hit on and leered at by male students– in the hallways, in the parking lot, in detention, before school, after school, constantly.

I still fight thinking that more money = more success, even though God’s Word says otherwise.

I still carry scars from the sexual ethos I adopted by continually rubbing shoulders, in that place, with sexually promiscuous peers.

No, I’m not a “Roman” and yet, I bear the marks of one who was educated by Caesar and has to work to erase those patterns, and their effects, in my life.

Yes, God has made good of even the negative things in my life.

And yet, are those things all best? Are those things wisest? Homeschooling does not remove the inner heart of rebellion- so we can not look to it to do that, and yet it does remove the external influence of foolish peers and a sexually indulgent culture of permeating the THINKING and ACTIONS of our children while they are yet young.

Surely, every child must one day grapple with the culture they are in, and yet, must they do so at such a young age, while their thinking and worldview is so very fragile? And who will be the primary influencers of their thinking while they form that worldview? Whose approval will they seek, and to what will they be aspiring?

I can’t speak for you, but for me, my (often-foolish, no matter how “intelligent” they were) peers were the primary influencers of my thinking… not my parents who loved me best of all. No, their influence I spurned and rejected.

Even in situations where my parents’ spoke up with sensible counsel and pleas that would have protected me from harm, I willfully turned away from the people who loved me best and ran after the world. My heart had been knitted to seek the approval of people who rejected me, and to turn away from even loving wisdom offered by my family.

Praise God, He is the Shepherd who seeks the wayward sheep.

For my part, though, I am not aiming for a lack of rebellion– that is a matter of the heart… and I’ve written about that before– we can not remove the flesh from our children’s hearts… and YET, we CAN be purposeful about the input they are receiving while they are under our roof. We can allow, or disallow, movies. We can allow, or disallow, foolish/wayward friends. We can allow/disallow certain activities that would become a controlling influence in their lives, etc.

I am not contending that homeschooling removes the capacity for sin and rebellion– nor would Dr. Baucham say that, I believe. In fact, he said the opposite last year.

Rather, I’m contending that homeschooling allows us to influence our children’s thinking and moderate the influences in their lives while their thinking patterns and approach to life are still being formed, so that they bear fewer scars, and might prayerfully be positioned to honor God with their lives if He calls them to be His children. (And I pray that for all of my children!)

There are no guarantees, and certainly a public schooled child can be greatly used by God. I am thankful for the way He calls out His children from every walk of life. And yet we do not commend every way of life that He calls people out from as the best possible preparation for a godward life.

As the parent, I consider: who am I giving influence in my child’s life… and for my part, primary influence will not be given away to a wicked and wayward government, its educational entities, or a herd of foolish peers who do not have their best interest at heart.

Thus, I choose homeschooling.

Thanks for your comment & interaction.

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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5 Responses

  1. Diana says:

    Good thoughts – I agree! :)

  2. Allison says:

    Jess, I have always appreciated how in your writing you don’t write in such a way as to foster bitterness between different camps. I’ve been reading your blog for years, and while I must admit that we don’t always draw the same conclusions on secondary issues such as family planning, infant scheduling, staying home full-time, and homeschooling, I know that at the core, we are kindred spirits as we both cherish children as a gift from the Lord, seek to train them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, pour the gospel and our very lives into them, and share a common goal of sending them out into the world fully equipped to stand for the Lord against the tide of a culture that ridicules everything we cherish as believers. I appreciate that your blog is a place where sisters in Christ can have these discussions about difficult issues and be challenged in very good ways to think through our conclusions about things like this and how our convictions line up with the wisdom of scripture.

    Now…if I’m honest, I do draw different conclusions on this issue. I was homeschooled for the vast majority of my growing up years, and in my case, homeschooling had it’s own problems. For example, I was influenced by several sources that entangled me in ideas of works-righteousness. I was the “good kid,” and I knew it. I lived in a Christian bubble, and aside from a few family members, I often had no meaningful contact with non-believers. In some ways, I despised and looked down on the rest of the world. I vividly recall, at the age of 10 or 11, my cousin showing me a picture of a country music singer, and when he asked me what I thought of her, I said, “wicked, wicked, people.” I embraced a system of laws about what I should not watch, wear, and do, how much scripture I should read, and whom I should/should not associate with. Now of course, as believers we should have standards on such things, but for me, it was more than just standards, it was truly an embracing of extra-biblical requirements in effort to validate my salvation before God. And yet…even though I looked good on the outside, what I had failed to do is see my sin for what it was, abandon my pride, agree with God about what a desperate condition I was in spiritually, and receive his mercy and grace for me, a sinner. In the story of the poor beggar and the pharisee in prayer, I was the pharisee. In the story of the prodigal son, I was the prideful older brother. Thankfully, the Lord set his mercy upon me and was not content to leave me in my shameful pride. Like you, I shudder to think of what I might have become if it were not for his saving mercy.

    Homeschooling no doubt avoided me the heartbreak of other sins that, in my naturally sinful heart, I would have found myself entangled in, but it came with traps of its own. Of course, not every homeschooled student finds themselves dealing with such self-righteousness! I would imagine that the way you are pouring the gospel into your children, it is easier for them to develop right theology and avoid these traps. Yet what I am saying is that everyone’s story is different, and as I’ve grown closer to the Lord, I’ve grown in my understanding of what it means for me to live out, “What God has made clean, do not call common (Acts 10:15b).”

    The Lord has brought me into situations totally different from what I thought my life would look like growing up, and it’s been hard for me over the years to overcome certain sub-cultural baggage that had me convinced that if I so much as worked a little bit, I was a bad mother, or that I HAD to homeschool, or feed my kids organic food, or that we should NEVER own a video-game system. Most recently, we sent our oldest child to the public school in our neighborhood. So far, my worst fears have not been realized. It’s been a learning experience for him, but also for the whole family as we’ve learned to love our own lost neighbors, many of whom are refugees from other nations. We’ve been able to live out our faith as a family before teachers and staff at his school, and while we don’t expect our 7 year old to be a missionary to his classmates at this point, my husband and I do see ourselves on a mission to take the love of Christ and the gospel to our community, and at this stage of our lives, that involves our local public school. While it isn’t perfect, this school has been a gift from the Lord to our family. This whole topic reminds me of Romans 14:6, “The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.” The reason I enjoy these topics on your blog is because I feel that the spirit of your posts are such that I think we could both acknowledge that while we, just like the Roman believers, may be on different sides of sensitive issues, we are both doing what we do “in honor of the Lord,” and both, “give thanks to God,” in those decisions. You are homeschooling to honor the Lord, and I am sending my kids to public school in honor of the Lord. While we might disagree, we can certainly sharpen each other toward being “fully convinced in his own mind (Romans 14:5),” and toward greater love for one another as we both strive toward a common goal.

    • Jess Connell says:

      I agree. Thanks for sharing from your perspective.

      I do think the “bent” of homeschooling in the 80s/90s, of complete isolation, and protesting everything “secular” rubbed off in negative ways on the homeschooled children in that environment.

      I’m sitting here listening to the Strokes, Lumineers, Mumford, and other secular bands while my oldest sons are next to me. I do think it’s possible for homeschoolers to thoughtfully connect our children to the surrounding world without the indoctrination that happens in schools. My concerns continue to amplify as the increasingly-federally-mandated curriculum becomes downright wicked.

      But I do think schooling is a matter of liberty and not a mandate from the Lord. It’s something we must all prayerfully examine before the Lord, and make the wisest, most doable decision we can.

      Thanks for taking my words in the best possible way– reminds me of the 1 Corinthians 13 characteristic of “believes all things.” Makes me feel Christian love from you as a reader who… like you say… doesn’t agree on all things, and yet I appreciate that you’re choosing not to vilify me for having different views. Thanks! :)

  3. Allison says:

    Oh, absolutely, this is an area that is soooo not worth strife between believers. I can totally appreciate your reasons behind your convictions, and I applaud you for walking in obedience to what God has led you and your husband to. Anyway, I do share many of your concerns, and we might very well homeschool again at some point. I do believe that my husband and I are walking in obedience where were are right now, in the school and situation in which God has placed us, but who is to say that won’t change in a year or two, and God may lead us to make different decisions for our children’s education, we are open to that possibility too.

  4. Susannah says:

    I don’t expect my children will never struggle with sin. I still do.

    The only thing homeschooling guarantees is that the implicit philosophies prevalent in the current system will not influence their education. I’ve been pretty open with the kids about that. Oh, and it most likely also guarantees that someday they will comment on (or at least contemplate) all my failures and inconsistencies. :) Hopefully I’ve been pretty open with them about those, too. :) One thing that really spoke to my heart in Practicum training yesterday was that to homeschool from a place of rest, I need to trust that the Spirit will do His work in my children and not see this as my own effort. It’s about resting His ability, glorying in my weakness so His strength will be perfected. After all, no education without Him as the Source and Goal is really a true education. For “all things were created through him and for him” and “from him and through him and to him are all things.” He’s more than able!

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