The Biblical Foundation For Education
by Chris Klicka
With a majority of the school-aged children attending public schools, education in America has primarily become a function of the state. The state, meanwhile, not content to control only public schools, constantly encroaches on the freedoms of private schools and home schools through various case precedents, regulations, and statutes. As a result, many public school authorities have come to believe that they are the guardians of all of the children. It is apparent that superintendents sincerely believe they know what is best for “their” children and feel obligated to “approve” home schools.
Is this assumption by the superintendents correct? How can we determine who has the true authority and responsibility in the education of our children? Let us consult the best source of truth, the Word of God, which is the standard by which all things are measured.
THE RAISING OF CHILDREN IS DELEGATED TO PARENTS BY GOD
According to the Bible, children belong to God, but the responsibility and authority to raise and educate them is delegated to their parents.
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they shall not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. Psalms 127:3 - 5
In Genesis 33:5, Jacob introduces his children to his brother Esau as “the children whom God has graciously given me,” and similarly in Isaiah 18, the prophet explains, “I and the children whom the Lord has given me…” (also see Hebrews 2:13 and Genesis 48:8 - 9)
Nowhere in scripture can a reference be found where God delegates the authority to raise and educate children to the state. God has clearly delegated the responsibility and authority to teach and raise children to the parents first. Parents can delegate their authority to raise and teach their children to someone else (i.e. tutor, or church, private or public school) but they can never delegate their responsibility to teach their children to anyone else. In other words, God will always hold parents responsible for what education their children receive. For this reason, parents need to beware of who is teaching their child, what is being taught verbally in class by both the teacher and the peers, and what is being taught in all textbooks and supplemental books and projects.
CHILDREN STILL BELONG TO GOD
Although God has “given” children to parents, God gives the parents certain “conditions” that must be met, because He still considers the children His. God refers to Jacob’s children as “the work of My hands” in Isaiah 29:23, and David gave thanks to God for being “fearfully and wonderfully made” in Psalms 139:13 - 14. (also see God's claim to unborn children whom He has made and called while they are in their mother’s womb in Jeremiah 1:5, Psalms 139:13 - 16, Job 10:8 - 12, Isaiah 49:1,5, and Luke 1:41,44).
In Ezekiel 16:20 - 21, the Lord emphasizes again that the children are His.
Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had born to Me, and you sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter? You slaughtered My children and offered them up to idols causing them to pass through fire.
God judged these parents severely because they did not meet God’s conditions for raising His children. They gave their children up to an idolatrous system which hated God. Many other conditions for educating our children are elaborated upon throughout scripture.
GOD - MANDATED CONDITIONS FOR RAISING CHILDREN
For example, concerning children’s education, fathers are commanded to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4).
Furthermore, in Deuteronomy 6:6 - 9, the Lord, after restating His moral law, declares,
And these words which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and your gate.
(Also see parallel passages in Deuteronomy 4:9, 11:18 - 21, Psalms 78:1 - 11). In other words, God’s commands and truth must be taught to the children by the parents and they must be taught diligently. Children are to be brought up in the “instruction” of the Lord. How can this be achieved if a child spends six to seven hours a day receiving an education empty of all references to God’s truths?
It is clearly the parents’ primary responsibility to teach their children “so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied” (Deuteronomy 11:21). These commands to educate our children, of course, cannot be accomplished once a week at Sunday School. It involves a comprehensive approach to education on a daily basis. The commands of God should be taught to our children when we sit in our home, when we rise up, lie down, and when we travel. In other words, all the time.
This comprehensive educational program is to be based on God’s Word. Two of the goals of godly education, therefore, are that children will put their confidence in the Lord and that they will keep His commandments.
For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments. Psalms 78:5 - 7.
The children, likewise, are told to obey these commandments that are given to them from God through their parents:
My son, observe the commandments of your father, and do not forsake the teaching of your mother; bind them continually on your heart. Tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you and when you awake, they will talk to you. For the commandment is a lamp and, the teaching is light; and reproofs for discipline are the way of life Proverbs 6:20 - 23.
Again, the comprehensiveness of godly education is emphasized. David explains that we need to “meditate” on God’s law day and night. (Psalms 1:1 - 2, 119). In fact, we are to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:5). This responsibility is immense. We must train our children to think God’s thoughts after Him. A godly education, therefore, is learning not only to believe as a Christian, but also to think as a Christian. Unfortunately, public schools and some private schools are teaching children, who believe as Christians, to think as non-Christians. Since Christian parents in the past have neglected their duty to follow this comprehensive approach to education, generations of adult Christians now apply ungodly principles in their lives and workplaces while simultaneously believing like Christians.
CONTENT OF TRUE EDUCATION
It is clear from the passages above that God delegates the authority and responsibility to teach children to the parents. God requires us to make certain that His Word and principles are applied in a daily, comprehensive manner to the education and upbringing of our children.
Furthermore, He will hold us responsible as to how we direct the education of our children. We must be careful not to “cause one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble” by subjecting them to an ungodly education, because, Christ explains, “it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6, and also see the consequences of disobedience outlined in Deuteronomy 28). Paul further reminds us that if we do wrong, we will “receive the consequences of that wrong…and that without partiality.” (Colossians 3:25).
Therefore, let us be careful to provide our children with an education whose content reflects God and is based on His Word. Paul promises,
All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. II Timothy 3:16 - 17.
Scripture speaks to every area of life. We all know that education is inescapably religious. Every subject, as a result, needs to be studied through the lens of God’s Word. If we do this, our children will be equipped for every good work and able to apply God’s principles to every area of life. Their beliefs will not be separate from their thoughts and actions.
The argument for home schooling has much support from the Word. It provides the most successful way parents can fulfill their immense obligations in providing their children with a comprehensive, biblical education. The goal of home schooling is to raise our children so that each of them will
be diligent to present [himself] approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of truth. II Timothy 2:15.
In the next issue I plan to further explore God’s mandates for Christian education.