Thursday, March 06, 2008

Whoever Controls the Schools

...rules the world. It is an old saying I once heard. One of the benifits of Presbyterianism is our belief in the covenant community, and the idea that children should be raised and educated in the covenant community. However, for California parents, this may be a right not guaranteed for much longer. Apparently, there were charges of abuse in one Christian household because they spanked their children, and, upon further investigation, they found that they were homeschooled, and they challanged whether or not homeschooling was consistent with the laws of the state of California. Apparently, children ages 6 to 18 to be enrolled in school, and so, the homeschooling parents started a private school which allowed parents to teach at home. Hence, the parents became the teachers for the school. Thus, it was fully complying with the laws of the state. However, for how long this will be true is unsure.

First of all, I am absolutely tired of hearing how spanking is child abuse. Now, we do need to clarify. Some forms of spanking are child abuse. For instance, spanking out of anger, or spanking every time there is a small little dispute. Such is not God-honoring correction at all. However, there is a legitimate usage of what is called the "rod of discipline:

Proverbs 13:24 He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13-14 Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod And rescue his soul from Sheol.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.

Notice that, in these passages, the Bible speaks of the "rod [jb,ve] of discipline," which all lexical sources agree is a form of remedial discipline [see Wilhelm VanGemeren New International dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, and Kohler Baumgartner Hebrew Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament]. The standard lexicon of Brown-Driver-Briggs says that it is a "common article for smiting" [p.987]. While we need to be careful of the root fallacy, the Hebrew Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament states that the root may have came from the Samaritan jmX meaning "to strike." In other words, what is being said here, is not that a striking rod is "abuse," but just the opposite, that it is remedial. Striking a child is something that will "rescue his soul from Sheol," "take away his foolishness," and "give him wisdom." In fact, one could say that refusing to spank your child, from a Biblical perspective, is a form of child abuse. As remember pastor Bill Shishko saying that the rod was a way of breaking the child's will so that he does not live for himself. So, actually, it is the people who are arguing against these parents that should be brought up for child abuse from a Biblical perspective.

However, even worse than that is the forced secularization of home-schooling children. Do you notice that the secularists and the humanists are the ones who are trying to remove this remedial discipline from children? Is it any suprise that the same groups that would want to indoctrinate our children with humanist ideology are the same groups that do not want our children to have the rod of correction? No, it is no coincidence. The humanists are people who do live for themselves, refusing to aknowledge God, and live in obedience to his law. If the will is broken, then there is no chance for indoctrination of humanistic ideology. Do you notice how this all gets down to foundational issues such as the sinfulness of the human will, and the lordship of Christ over one's life? You see, this is why education is not a small matter. However, you educate your children will determine what they value most in their life. This is why the rod needs to be used to train up children to be obedient to God's law, and not to follow their own desires.

In fact, there is a verse in Proverbs that speaks specifically to this point:

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child with in accordance with his [own] way, and even when he grows older, he will not turn from it.

Now, you might be asking, "But that is different than every translation!" Yes, because I reject every translation at this point. I have very good reason for so doing. To start off, I must point out that I am not alone in this. Consider the following works which also reject the common translation:

Clifford, Richard. Proverbs, a Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, Kentucky. 1999 p.197

Stuart, Douglass. Old Testament Exegesis, a Handbook for Students and Pastors. Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, Kentucky. 2001 pgs. 42-43

Waltke, Bruce The Book of Proverbs Chapters 15-31. Eerdmans Publications. Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005 p.205

The reason why so many scholars reject the common interpretation is because there is simply no Hebrew equivalent of the English word "should." It simply reads, "Train up [%nOx]] a child [r[;N:l;] according to [yPi-l[;] his way [AKr>d:]." While Hugenberger rightly notes that the phrase AKr>d: could, in theory, mean "the way he should go," [Pratico, Gary. Van Pelt, Miles. The Basics of Biblical Hebrew Zondervan Publishing House. Grand Rapids, Michigan. 2001. pgs.284-285], he is very quick to point out that there are no Biblical examples to support this interpretation, and it is expecially not used in this way in the book of Proverbs. The normal usage of the construct of %r,D, in Proverbs is to describe the way in which a person is currently going, or actually does go. For instance, we are all familiar with the phrase "the way of the fool," and "the way of the wicked." They are not saying that this is the way the wicked should go, or the way the fool should go. Quite the opposite. It is telling us the way they actually are going. In other words, this proverb is ironic in character, and, as Hugenberger rightly notes, is a "solemn warning." That is, if you train up a child in his own foolish way, then even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

That is why I believe that we should see this legal challange out in California as an attack upon our children. If we don't stand up and fight it, we will not be heeding the warning of Proverbs 22:6, because the atheists and the humanists will be more than happy to train up our children in their own way. We need to see this as an opportunity as parents to train up our children to think God's thoughts after him, and to think in such a way so as to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Christ.

Now, a few responses are in order to the arguments used in this article:

Specifically, the appeals court affirmed, the trial court had found that "keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the children's lives, and (3) they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents' 'cloistered' setting."

Of course, the way in which we answer that question is to point out that our children are part of the covenant community, and that provides them with interaction with people outside the family, and, given the discipline of the covenant community, would also provide them with help if something is amiss in the children's lives. They will also develop relationships with other christians, and thus, will be able to develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents' 'cloistered' setting.

Further, the appeals ruling said, California law requires "persons between the ages of six and 18" to be in school, "the public full-time day school," with exemptions allowed only for those in a "private full-time day school" or those "instructed by a tutor who holds a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught."

Of course, the whole point is that these children are enrolled in a private school. It is just that the teachers are the parents of the children. That is the whole point of setting up the organization.

As WND has reported, the Longs had their children enrolled in Sunland Christian School, a private homeschooling program.

But Croskey, without hearing arguments from the school, opined that the situation was one of a "ruse of enrolling [children] in a private school and then letting them stay home and be taught by a non-credentialed parent."

I want to know who is more credentialed than the children's own parents to teach their children? Why is it that the people who have been with the children their entire lives and know every intimate detail about them are not credentialed to teach them? The response might come back that they are not well trained in various fields. The simple answer to that is that anyone who has graduated from High School knows how to do research in a given area. What is to stop a parent from teaching their children after they have done complete research on the topic? And, what if materials such as books or video tapes could be given to the children from Christian organizations that are experts in the areas that parents are not? Would that not provide the credentials necessary to teach the children? Such seems obvious.

Again, there is no reason why Christian parents should not be able to raise their children, both remedially and educationally, in a Christian home. The atheists and the humanists simply have no leg to stand on in this case. We need to be praying for those that are fighting this attack in order to keep home schooling legal, and pray that our children would not be raised in their own ways, but in the training and admonition of the Lord. It is also a call for parents to exercise that right while they can. With the apostasy of the west, it is not to difficult to conceive of a time in which parents will be forced to send their children to these secular seminaries to have them indoctrinated with humanism.


RedKnight said...

I find it ironicly hypocritical when christian fundementalists condemn muslims for striking there wives, yet do the same thing to there children. And also what about muslims whom home school there children, and teach them to be militantly hostile to the American government? I feel that the state has the legitiment power to regulate parental authority, in order to prevent possible danger to children,and/or society.

PuritanCalvinist said...


In actuality, Islam does not beat their wives for discipline, but rather, for submission. Obviously, to strike a wife for discipline is rather foolish, seeing as how they are already grown up.

As far as the government getting involved, I would wonder what you mean by "danger." What is dangerious given an unbelieving worldview? Not only that, but would you want the government stepping in and saying that all abortion is illegal, unrepentant homosexuals are to be executed, and children who do not use the rod of correction are to be taken into court for child abuse? In other words, it is just fine when the government wants to regulate parental authority from your worldview, but if they tried to do it from the Christian perspective, that would be a problem.

Again, for the Christian it comes down to what the Bible says. If you want to challange it, you are going to have to come up with another worldview that can make sense out of the idea of ethics.

God Bless,

Ted Slater said...

I agree with Adam here. Scripture is clear that parents bear primary responsibility for their children's upbringing. They may delegate that to the state, but the state may not usurp parental authority.

RedKnight said...

I believe that the state has a vested interest in keeping people from violating other's indivisual rights. Like if there were some cult that sacrifies children, the state would need to protect those children's inalienable right to life from being negated by there religious parents. As long as a person does not harm another person, they should be allowed to live there lives as they deem fit, according to there free will. I believe that I rightfuly belong to myself. Not to anyone else, including parents, clergy, or even the state. I'm a free man, with a free spirit. If any one were to try to forcibly dominate me, I would respond accordingly, with an equal amount of force.