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.

No comments: