Monday, March 30, 2015

Glory In Virginia: Why We Homeschool



From the beginning God, as Creator and Moral Governor of the universe, intended for man to be made in his image, that is, to mirror his moral attributes.   These attributes are related to us by way of his Law, as revealed in Holy Scripture.  The moral perfection of his Law is demonstrated most brilliantly in the morally perfect person of Jesus Christ, the Word fleshed out.  His moral perfection is unchangeable.  It is this unchanging moral perfection which our Lord desires to propagate through our children.  Therefore, it is our mission as parents to instruct our children in righteousness.

Scripture emphatically states: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.   As Christian parents, we are given explicit instructions to bring our children up in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord”.   Likewise, Christ said, “Go therefore and make disciples”.   By God’s grace and design, we as Christian parents inescapably assume the role of full-time mentors, our children disciples of Christ.  We are commissioned by Christ, and forming Christian character in our children is our primary task on earth.  For us, Christ-like character is of greater value than academic achievement and the corresponding expectation of financial gain or prestige: “Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.”   Home education is essential to fulfilling our mandate.

Our Founders recognized the absolute necessity of a morally vibrant citizenry to the success of our national government.  Thus, they sought to provide for the unfettered flourishing of a religious people.  For this very purpose, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was designed to encourage the development of Christian character, in much the same way free markets are designed to promote economic flourishing.   With similar purpose, our current Virginia Constitution states:

“That religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.” 

Our choice to home educate is not a judgement on the capabilities and effectiveness of those in the public school system.  The skill, devotion, and good intentions of those in the public school system is a fact, widely attested to by all, including ourselves.  Rather, we recognize that public schools perform the joint religious functions of moral instruction and character formation; yet they do so apart from an allegiance to God.  The public school effectually posits a moral neutrality, disconnected from Scripture, and we believe moral neutrality in the education of children is not only individually, but socially destructive.  Holy Writ speaks directly to this: “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper…”.   The public school’s commitment to moral neutrality puts it at odds with us as Christian parents, for Christ said, "He who is not with Me is against Me".   And again, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.” 

Thank God, Virginia provides an exemplary alternative.

We came to Virginia for the same reason many of our forefathers did: to experience religious freedom.  As parents of nine children, now ages 8 thru 24, we initially chose to home educate in Florida, starting with our first child back in 1996.  However, it was soon realized that there was a conflict between our Christian values and the values of the State of Florida, as evidenced by the academic expectations and standards of the local school board.  These standards were especially burdensome to larger families such as ours.  That is why we made the choice to relocate to Virginia in 2006.  Virginia is the only state in the nation to offer the option of religious exemption from compulsory education for home school families.  This option has allowed us to custom tailor our curriculum to the size and diversity of our family, without the constant fear of reprisal.  In this sense, Virginia has been an oasis of liberty to us.  Our hope is that all states, including our home state of Florida, eventually follow her lead.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Body Language



The apostle Paul had no intention of instructing married couples in the way of hierarchical authority.  Had he wanted to, he had plenty of contemporary analogies at hand.  He could've used the common master-slave hierarchy.  He could've used the visible Roman military chain of command.  He used neither, choosing instead the analogy of the human body, a living example of reciprocating love and harmony.  The human body is an illustration of the unified and harmonized Father-Son.

John describes Christ as "...the only begotten from the Father", then Paul uses a multi-faceted greek word frequently translated as "head" to describe the Father in relation to Christ.  The translation "head" is also frequently used in describing a husband in relation to his wife.  Scholars say the word can also be accurately translated "source" or "origin", which in the context of these relationships, makes sense.  God the Father is the Source-Origin of Christ.  Adam is the source-origin of Eve.

Malachi tells us God could've made everyone at the same time and instantly populated the whole earth.  He chose instead to propagate and replicate us from one body.  It wasn't because He lacked power.  Eve was the only begotten from Adam.  She was from him, divinely sourced from Adam's rib.  Adam was man, Eve wo-man, "...because she was taken out of Man".  The Lord continues to mystically form couples this way to engender mutual love and affection.  Unity and harmony is in the design.  Body love.  Hierarchical authority is not in the picture.

In marriage, the Lord is not creating modern corporations and CEOs.  Obsession with authority is not in His realm.  Head-first is the order of our Creator, nevertheless the word "head" has been corrupted in our day by its hierarchical authority connotations: head of state, corporate head, head of DoD, etc.  In our day, use of the term "headship" is misleading and destructive for marriages.

Christ is called the First-born from the dead.  Likewise, He is the Savior and Source-Origin of his body, the Church.  This is the pattern marriages should trace.  Christ and the Church is the couple we should be imitating.  This is the divine way of peace and harmony in marriage.  The alternative route of hierarchical authority is a dead end road.  The Lord has a specific Image He desires us to reflect.  Reciprocal body love and affection is what others should see.  Our marriages should be speaking God's body language.


"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."—Christ



Monday, October 20, 2014

Saving Private Men


"In creating civilization, women transform male lust into love; channel male wanderlust into jobs, homes, and families; link men to specific children; rear children into citizens; change hunters into fathers; divert male will to power into a drive to create.  Women conceive the future that men tend to flee; they feed the children that men ignore." —George Gilder

In the 1998 war film Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks plays U.S. Army Ranger Captain John Miller, who during the time of the WW II Normandy Invasion, leads a team on a mission to save the last surviving brother of four servicemen—PFC James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon).  It is a mission enveloped in adversity and opposition, sadness and joy.  The mission ends in success.  The Lord sends women on a similar rescue mission to save specific men.  The rescue is intended to play out on the field of marriage, though it happens in a contingent way.  "Women shall be saved through the bearing of children" the apostle tells us.  And it is through these "saved women" that perishing men shall be saved.

In speaking of women being saved, the apostle is referring to a life preserving lifestyle.  He is referring to a specific mental focus and path.  It is the path of first producing, then raising disciples of Christ.  It is an all-consuming team effort.  Man is dependent on woman, and if woman is not saved, neither will man be.  Modern culture, however, seeks to divert woman from this saving path, pushing salvation for woman through a college degree.  For modern culture, salvation for woman is through the power of the Pill and alternative forms of birth control.  For modern culture women will be saved through the avoidance of children.

If private men are to be saved, it will require a new breed of militant women.  It will require women with a call of duty.  It will require a strong sense of mission and commitment to following Christ.  It will require a woman willing to challenge her man.  It will not be an easy task.  Nevertheless, there is no alternative way.  The faithless path of our day is a continued march to destruction.  It is the working out of social suicide.  The modern path will not advance the Kingdom of God on earth. The question is will a few good women answer the call of duty?  Or, while claiming the name of Christ will they follow the compliant and complicit path of Sapphira?

Will women save men...or simply give men sex?


Monday, September 8, 2014

FLAME

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego surviving a hi-temp furnace unscathed is astonishing to us.  Why?  It's astonishing because we operate on associations.  Heat is hot.  Hot heat burns and causes pain.  Very hot heat turns us to toast.  Our associations with heat affects how we live and use heat.  It affects how we interpret heat encounters in Holy Writ.  Associations is what Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz write about in their scholarly article "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women’s Career and Marriage Decisions".

The Oxford dictionary defines a paradigm shift as: "A fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions."  A paradigm shift took place when oral contraceptives hit the market.  Hardest hit was society's view of marriage.  It severely affected the Church as well, and changed our associations with marriage.  Most important, it changed how we read Scripture on marriage.  Before the paradigm shift, marriage could never be imagined apart from children.  Which paradigm are you operating on?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Gospel Sex

A popular thread making its way around social media stresses marriage as a picture of Christ and the Church—gospel marriage.  It takes the imagery to the extreme.  Contained within the gospel marriage evangelism is the concept that sex within marriage is a demonstration of the gospel—gospel sex.  All this is channeled toward young women and men as well-intended advice on marriage.  I think it will lead to much disillusionment with marriage instead, because in many ways it is misleading.  No doubt the gospel is to have its effects on marriage and these effects are to be infused throughout, but sex in its primary function is the making of disciples for Christ.  Sex is an exercise in intimacy, but not intimacy in a vacuum.  Sex is not a parable of the gospel.

Martin Luther taught insightfully on sex, pointing out how in the beginning when God said “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth", God was actively creating an explosive, innate male-female force, not simply issuing an inert command or blessing.  Adam and Eve were literally set on fire, sexually speaking.  The drive was alive.  Luther went on to point out how this sex drive was shared by all the human race and, was generally inescapable barring rare supernatural disengagement as in the case of the apostle Paul — Paul was a freak of nature by God's design.  For all others, the drive could not be suppressed or ignored, not without collateral damage in the form of unavoidable sexual immorality.  Luther witnessed the rampant, clandestine sexual immorality of the celibate priests in his day, and the resultant multiplication of whores, prostitutes, and fatherless children celibacy promotion spawned.  Celibacy is similarly promoted today in the form of delayed or postponed marriage.  Contrast ancient Israel where marriage at 12 and 13 was common.  Needless to say, like Luther we too witness the rampant, clandestine sexual immorality in the Church, only in our day it takes the forms of romantic fantasy for women, and porn for men, not to mention non-marital sex facilitated by the use of contraceptives.  The God-instilled sex drive was intended to stimulate the multiplication of God's image bearers on earth via marriage.  The Lord essentially told Adam and Eve what He tells married male-female Christ followers today: "go and make disciples".  He incentivized Adam and Eve and us, in the form of erotic pleasure.

Marriage in limited ways can be a picture of Christ and the Church.  Husbands for instance, are instructed to love their wives like Christ loved the Church.  They are not instructed however, to be Messiahs like Christ.  Husbands cannot sanctify their wives.  They can't atone for their sins.  They can't turn water into wine or walk on water.  And they can't raise the dead.  Husbands simply are not Christ.  Sacrificial love is in the apostle's view when it comes to marriage imagery.  Husbands love your wives like your own body.  That is how marriage is like Christ and the Church. Sex is not in view.  Sex in itself was never intended by God to become an all engrossing idol as it is in our day.  God does not promote the lust-driven marriage.  One of the viral posts I read made this statement: “Great sex is a parable of the Great Gospel.”  The truth is, quality of sex has nothing to do with the gospel and Christian marriage.  Many married couples will experience trouble or pain having sex.  Many spouses will have emotional scars from events of the past.  All spouses will eventually get old and peter out, yet the marriage in Christ will stand strong because it is based on Christ-like love, not great sex.  Sex has nothing to do with the gospel.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Marriage Monopoly



The Lord has a monopoly on the marriage market.  Only one concept of marriage gets His nod: Kingdom Marriage.  Even so, it is obvious in our day many pseudo-concepts of marriage appear in the market.  They are temporary dot-coms—here today, they will all be gone tomorrow.  Many of the evaporating marriage concepts are easy to spot.  Some however, are not.  One not-so-easy-to-spot concept is popular in mainstream American Christianity today.  It often flies under the banner of "God, Country, and Family".  In this concept, marriage is viewed in isolation from the Body of Christ and Christ's Law.  In this concept the marriage couple raises children for themselves, their family, or their nation, all the while seeking the blessing of God.  They should not expect to find it.

We are reminded in the Psalms:   

"Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain."

The Lord is said to build the house when its builders follow His design.

The Lord created marriage, and He designed it to build up His Kingdom on earth.  He designed it to build up the Body of Christ.  Marriage is a joint operation—a joint operation between The Lord and His diversified, worldwide Church.  Marriage is designed to be an intentional and deliberate Kingdom building act on the part of Christian parents and the Church.  And children have always been destined by The Lord to be propagated and raised as Christ's disciples—"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."

Christ Himself said, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."  "All these things" is the manifestation of The Lord's blessing.  Without "all these things" our marriage is a flower pulled up by the roots.  We may appear at the moment to have bright colors; The fade is just a matter of time.  We live by The Lord's blessing.  We perish by its lack.  Is your concept of marriage Kingdom Marriage?  If not, you can change that today.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

THEM!



Devastation. Destruction. Decimation.  THEM!  A by-product of testing the Atom-bomb, these tractor trailer-sized sugar babies were a force to be reckoned with—nobody touchin' their ant colony.  Unfortunately for THEM, their days were numbered.  They were just a 1954 black and white Hollywood fake.  Really.  No more ants in the pants.  Nevertheless, a real and much more fearsome THEM remains.  A THEM much more devastating, destructive, and decimating.  A Divine force for righteousness.  All in living color.  Just watch how the dark side reacts!

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created THEM."

The real THEM is a by-product of testing the Adam-bomb; infused with grace and power from on high, THEM put no confidence in the flesh.  The real THEM is a mission-minded couple—you and him—that's part of a Holy colony being formed on planet Earth.  The real THEM have a sure future, no temporary phenomena here.  THEM are indestructible and even rise from the dead.  As a holy union between God, woman, and man, THEM have the King's presence, power, and blessing; they have the power to replicate.  In the midst of a dark and shadowy world, a holy couple can confidently say:

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me". 

Discouraged by every creeping thing that creeps on the earth in our day?  Long for a New Earth where righteousness dwells?  Rise above it.  Ditch the him-her mindset and become a THEM.  Get some holy ants in your pants (and skirts) and start wreaking some holy havoc in this present world.  Colonize for the King!  You can be assured of His blessing.

"And God blessed THEM. And God said to THEM, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."