I received a call the other day from a homeschooling mom who is raising her "second" family. After her natural-born children were almost grown, she adopted four children from overseas and has been rearing and homeschooling them for the past four years. They are flourishing and are grateful for the new family the Lord has provided for them. Naturally, this woman gravitates toward other families who have adopted children. One in particular was the reason for her call to me.
One of the children of this family is having difficulty in public school. That's no surprise. Bruce Shortt in The Harsh Truth about Public Schools does a thorough job of outlining the kinds of "difficulties" one might have in such an environment. My friend has been ever-so-gently trying to persuade this woman that homeschooling would be a good choice for her. The problem seems to be that the mother just wants particular disturbing behaviors to go away, rather than confront the underlying causes of the behavior. What makes the situation difficult for my friend is that the people she's trying to help are professing Christians who don't understand that the setting and circumstances of their children's education are vital components to their faith.
The counsel I gave my friend is informed by years and years of experience. Rather than try to solve the problem of this one particular child, the more important issue is to "evangelize" the parents to the point that they realize there is a much more deep-rooted issue than bad behavior. Evangelize, you might ask? Didn't you say they were Christians? This is where we need to move away from the smoke and mirrors definition of what it means to be a Christian. Rather than define a believer in Jesus Christ as one who says he is one, we need to embrace Jesus’s definition: "He who loves me will keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
Instead of trying to figure out how persons with the Holy Spirit living inside of them can continue to think, live and act as though there were areas of neutrality where God's Word doesn't reign supreme, we need to identify them as folks who are not yet converted. They may be on the road to conversion, but it denigrates the power and work of the Holy Spirit to say that one is born again but acts carnally in thought, word and deed. People who live in ways that habitually manifest a humanistic mindset are carnally minded (Romans 8:6). An unpopular and unloving view? That is like saying it is unloving to tell someone who has cancer that he is quite ill. Is it loving to let him continue to think he is healthy when he is not?
As our age becomes more epistemologically self-conscious, we need to be bold and loving in our interactions with those who identify themselves as our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Being honest and open with them is not unloving. Quite the contrary. As my Mom used to say, "It is the person who will tell you that you have a bugger hanging out of your nose who truly cares about you. The person who doesn't tell you because she is reluctant to offend you is more concerned about herself than she is about you.”
It's time we showed those skipping toward destruction that we love them by helping them discover God's way to family-based education.
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected].