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Deuteronomy 6:7ff. and the Public School Question

There are some important applications of Deuteronomy 6:7ff. that need to be considered. The first application regards the question of public or state schools.

  • Brian Schwertley,
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There are some important applications of Deuteronomy 6:7ff. that need to be considered. The first application regards the question of public or state schools. Do the commands of God in this portion of Scripture give parents the option of placing their children in a public school? There are a number of Biblical reasons why the answer to this question is an emphatic no. One reason why this portion of Scripture rules out the Christian use of public schools is that it requires the true Christian faith to be integrated into every area of life. Every subject under the sun (e.g., math, geography, economics, art, literature, science, medicine, agriculture, political science, etc.) must be taught from a distinctly Christian perspective. Deuteronomy 6:7 tells fathers that every part of every day and in every place there must be a discussion of Jehovah and His Word. If God requires theological discussion at home, outside in the garden or park, in the supermarket, in the car or even at the ballpark, then certainly He requires a discussion of God and His ways during the many hours of education at school.

No Neutrality
Deuteronomy simply assumes that there are no areas of life that are neutral or purely secular. Yet public schools as a distinct policy leave God, Christ, and the Scriptures outside of the classroom. Schools that separate God and Christ from the classroom are schools that are founded upon anti-Christian, atheistic unbelief. Such schools are not designed to promote obedience to Christ and His law-word but are designed to produce allegiance to the state. The Apostle Paul agrees with the teaching of Deuteronomy when he tells fathers to bring their children "up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). The entire training process of a covenant child is to be "of the Lord." Every bit of training, discipline, education, and knowledge is to converge in total devotion and obedience to Jesus Christ as every beam of light leads to the sun.

According to Deuteronomy 6, the purpose and goal of education is love and obedience to God. Parents are not merely training children to make money but to be faithful to the covenant. The central command of Scripture is to love God with the whole heart (Dt. 6:5). That is the chief reason why theology is to permeate all other subjects. Any educational system that does not have a love of God through Jesus Christ as its chief goal is anti-Christian and implicitly Satanic. Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Mt. 23:37). How can public schools promote the greatest commandment when they purposely keep God away from children's minds?

Implicit Polytheism
Another reason why Christians should not send their children to public schools is that state schools violate the first commandment by adhering to the educational philosophy that no religion should be favored above another religion. In a nation of many diverse religions, the educational establishment believed the best policy was to establish religiously neutral schools. However, because religious neutrality is an impossibility, public schools opted for agnosticism, secular humanism, and naturalism all of which are religious beliefs that are antithetical to Christian theism.1 Indeed, many within the educational establishment waved the flag of neutrality and fairness as a guise to de-Christianize the schools in America. Sadly, most Christians have succumbed to the neutrality ploy.

Public schools refuse to confess Christ before men (Mt. 10:22). They are teaching by precept and example that God, Jesus, and the Bible have nothing to do with education. The Word of God, however, says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Pr. 1:7), that human philosophies are not according to Christ (Col. 2:8). God has given Christ "all authority in heaven and on earth" (Mt. 28:18). There is no area of life that is outside of His control and domain. Public schools are in open rebellion against Jesus Christ for they reject His authority over the classroom. Gordon Clark writes:

How does God judge the school system which says to him "O God, we neither deny nor assert thy existence; and O God, we neither obey nor disobey thy commands; we are strictly neutral." Let no one fail to see the point: The school system that ignores God teaches its pupils to ignore God; and this is not neutrality. It is the worst form of antagonism, for it judges God to be unimportant and irrelevant in human affairs. This is atheism.2

Jesus said, "[H]e that is not with Me is against Me" (Mt. 12:30). Are public schools with Christ? Are they faithfully serving Him? No. They are against Him. When Christian parents send their children to public schools, they are in essence handing their children over to the enemy (anti-Christ statist idolaters) to be indoctrinated in the modern state religion secular humanism. That many such children reject the Faith of their fathers and embrace the world spirit and heartily give themselves over to the lust of the flesh (fornication, adultery, drunkenness, drugs, etc.) should come as no surprise. Would any one be surprised if a child who spent several hours each day for several years at a Hindu school eventually converted to Hinduism as a teenager? No. Of course not! Yet countless Christian fathers have bought into the myth that public schools are neutral and send their children to Hell in the process.

Promote Obedience
A third reason why Christian parents should not send their children to public schools is that the purpose of educating covenant children is to promote obedience to Jesus Christ and His law. Christian parents have a responsibility to pass on to their children a distinctly Christian world and life view. A covenant child's education must be permeated with Christian ethics or values. Every subject must be taught in accordance with the Christian worldview and must be "Christocentric." Paul writes: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ..." (2 Cor. 10:4-5). In public schools, every subject and discussion is an anti-Christian stronghold that needs to be pulled down.

Public schools teach that man evolved from pond scum. The Bible teaches that God created all things in six literal days. Is it proper for a Christian father to expose his seven- or eight-year old child to a dogmatic, organized attack against the foundational doctrine of creation? Public schools teach that ethics are evolving, that society or the majority determines what is acceptable behavior. The Bible says that the moral law is based on God's nature and is unchanging, absolute, and non-negotiable. Public schools teach that man is basically good and that many bad behaviors are the result of bad genetics, or environment, or disease (e.g., alcoholism, drug addiction). The Bible teaches that man is born with the guilt and pollution of sin and that every transgression of God's law is evil. Public schools identify many evil activities as permissible and even virtuous (e.g., fornication, homosexuality, witchcraft, idolatry, rebellion against parents, etc.). They also strongly condemn many fundamental doctrines of Christianity such as Christ's exclusive claim to be the way to God, the Biblical view of the family, and so on. Public schools have no real foundational basis for teaching ethics. Only the Bible gives real, logical reasons why cheating, theft, rape, sexual immorality, and murder are wrong. Public schools espouse a secular humanistic, neutralistic, pluralistic, relativistic anti-Christian philosophy that contradicts Scripture at every fundamental point. Parents simply cannot be faithful to the Biblical commands to instill in their children a Christian world and life view if they send their children into the Satanic lion's den of public education. Every thought is to brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, not to the obedience of the heathen state.

Bad Company
A fourth reason why Christian parents should not send their children to public school is that "bad company corrupts good morals" (1 Cor. 15:33, NASB). The word translated as communications (KJV) or company "means a bringing together, companionship. It is contact, association with evil, that is declared to be corrupting."3 It is totally irresponsible to send covenant children into a society of evil teachers and evildoers. "Spiritual life is quenched in the atmosphere of carnal society, and a sort of intoxication quickly comes over him who frequents it."4 Children are often very gullible and susceptible to peer pressure and people in positions of authority (i.e., teachers). A covenant child in a public school is assaulted from every side by demonic doctrine, profane disputations, coarse jesting, Satanic music, an exaltation of fornication and rebellion, a hatred of lawful authority, and all sorts of deadly temptations. How many covenant children have had their minds polluted and their morals corrupted at the public school? Sad to say multitudes!

Biblical Discipline
A fifth reason why a covenant child should not attend public school is that a Christian child's education must always be accompanied by Biblical discipline. Biblical education is never purely an intellectual affair. It is always to be accompanied with verbal reproof, correction and admonition, and physical chastisement or spanking when necessary. The fact that children need admonition presupposes that children have violated some ethical standard and, therefore, need to be confronted verbally regarding "bad" behavior or speech. It also presupposes that the goal of such admonition or correction is an acknowledgment of wrongdoing and a change of behavior in a right direction. That is, there is to be repentance leading to a personality and behavioral change. This point raises a few questions regarding public schools. First, are public schools mixing discipline with a child's education? Second, if public schools are using discipline, what is their standard? It is common knowledge that discipline in public schools is very lax, if not virtually non-existent. This fact should come as no surprise, for four reasons. First, the spanking of children is now regarded as child abuse. Second, rebellious behavior (especially in teenagers) is considered a normal and even a beneficial aspect of growing up. Third, state schools are not really interested in instilling "old-fashioned values," but are primarily interested in producing young adults who are in love with statism. One must keep in mind that state schools are an establishment of religion (secular humanism) and their main job is not education but the promotion of that religion. Fourth, many modern public school teachers do not regard misbehavior as an ethical problem but as a problem of environment. Rambunctious children are medicated with Ritalin®, and when children and young adults commit murder we are often told that such persons were themselves victims of society.

Secular Humanism
However, the main reason why covenant children should never attend a public school is that the discipline that occurs in a state school is not based on Scripture or Biblical ethics but on secular humanism. Therefore, covenant children who are in a public school will receive Satanic admonition. For example, they will receive rebuke, correction, and chastisement for godly behavior (e.g., starting prayer
groups, speaking up for Christ in class, witnessing to others, telling the truth regarding premarital sex and homosexuality, warning others of false religions, etc.) and they will receive praise for ungodly speech (e.g., speech that accepts and promotes human autonomy, relativism, cross-dressing and homosexuality, evolution, polytheism, racism [e.g., affirmative action], multiculturalism, feminism, statism, etc.). The Satanic admonition that children receive in public schools is designed to promote a personality and behavioral change in an explicitly anti-Christian direction. Furthermore, even if and when a public school teacher or administrator disciplines a child for something that is truly unethical (e.g., lying, stealing, name-calling, fighting, etc.) he (as a set policy) cannot give Biblical reasons for discipline but must rely on pragmatism, or some concept of loyalty to humanity or the state. To say to a child, "Do not lie because you need to be a good citizen" or, "Do not steal because it violates the brotherhood of man" tells a child something far different than, "Do not lie or steal because such behavior is a violation of God's moral law and displeases Him," or "John, do you know that the Bible says that liars will not enter the kingdom of heaven?" Public school discipline is given in terms of utility to the state rather than in Biblical terms of service and glorification to God.

State Theft
A sixth reason why covenant children should not attend public school is that God has not given the civil government the authority or Biblical right to establish a tax-financed public school system. The Bible gives the civil magistrate a limited authority under God. The civil government has been given the task of protecting society by bringing negative sanctions against public evil. The civil magistrate is a minister of God "to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Rom. 13:4). The civil government has every right to collect taxes in order to fulfill its negative role of protection. It, however, does not have Biblical warrant to intrude upon the God-ordained covenantal institutions of the church or the family unless a crime (Biblically defined) has been committed. Few professing Christians would argue that the civil magistrate has the right to administer the sacraments or exercise church discipline. Most professing Christians, however, do not have a problem with the state collecting taxes by means of coercion in order to do something that Scripture explicitly says belongs to fathers (Dt. 6:4-9; Eph. 6:4). The state has no more Biblical right to collect taxes for public education than it does to set up Buddhist temples or Hindu shrines. The only people that God has given authority to set up schools for children are parents. "The Christian school, properly seen, is an extension of the Christian home. The school exists for no other purpose than to supplement and not replace a parent's instruction at home. The school and home work closely together in educating the child."5 When the civil government sets up public schools, it sets itself up as the father of all children. Such a civil government views all the children as property of the state. "This view is basic to the philosophies of statist education. It is especially pronounced in all forms of Marxism, national and international socialism alike. The child is a state resource, to be developed and used for the welfare of the state."6 When parents put their children in a state school they, in essence, are supporting the state's messianic claim of total jurisdiction over the family. Such parents are contributing to the Molech-state's power religion. They also are guilty of stealing from their neighbor, for taxation without divine authorization is theft. Their children are going to school at the taxpayer's expense. Many of these taxpayers are elderly people who do not have any children and are on fixed incomes. Benefiting from the civil government's unlawful collection of property taxes for state schools is sinful. If all professing Christians pulled their children out of the public schools, the public school system would collapse. Then the greatest institution of statist control and the spread of anti-religion, socialism, atheism, and nihilism would be put out of business. Why don't professing Christians take the leading role in shutting down the public school system? The answer probably is a love of mammon. How many professing Christians have sent their children straight to Hell to save money?


1. R. J. Rushdoony writes: "If education is in any sense a preparation for life, then its concern is religious. If education is at all concerned with truth, it is again religious. If education is vocational, then it deals with calling, a basically religious concept. It would be absurd to reduce preparation for life, truth and calling to an exclusively religious meaning in any parochial sense, but it is obvious that these and other aspects of education are inescapably religious. As Whitehead observed, 'The essence of education is that it be religious.' The public or state schools have thus been inescapably religious. Their 'common faith' has been described as 'made up of elements provided by Rousseau, Jefferson, August Comte, and John Dewey. "Civil religion" is an apt designation for this faith.' As one educator observed, 'America's faith in education has been called by a European visitor the "national religion of America."'" (R. J. Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American Education [Nutley, NJ, 1963], 315-316).

2. Gordon H. Clark, A Christian Philosophy of Education (Jefferson, MD [1946], 1988), 73.

3. Charles Hodge, 1 and 2 Corinthians (Carlisle, PA [1857, 59], 1974), 240.

4. Frederic Louise Godet, Commentary on First Corinthians (Grand Rapids [1889], 1977), 824.

5. John M. Otis, "The Necessity for the Christian School" in the Journal of Christian Reconstruction: Symposium on the Education of the Core Group (Vallecito, CA, 1987), Vol. II, no. 2, 29.

6. Rousas John Rushdoony, The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum (Vallecito, CA, 1985), 141-142.