Monday, March 17, 2008

The American Christian Homeschooler and a Sense of Entitlement

Recently I blogged about how all cultures have their good and bad aspects. It was hardly an excellent piece; it was only a set of observations, rather rambly. I was thinking them up as I was writing; they hadn't consumed me and caused me to ponder long and research anything. So I was surprised when that article, of the many that I have written, became linked to a homeschooling website. My article only very briefly stated that one of the things that I don't like about other cultures is the control some exercise over parenting, that homeschooling for example is illegal in many places, but legal in every state here.
The determining factor that caused someone to link my blog entry to their website seems to be that very statement about the legality of homeschooling here. So I explored various links on their blog. The latest buzz on their blog is about the California issue where homeschooling is now under threat by their state judicial system. I had read a little about it, and at first thought it would blow over quickly. Now I am wondering whether it will be more of a lasting impact not only in California, but possibly throughout the whole country.
With the elections coming into swing, and the candidates from which we have to choose, my doubts about the future of homeschooling have been increasing. I am thankful for the many years that we have been allowed to do so; it has been a privilege, a wonderful window of opportunity for our family and a saving grace for many children across the country. Not only that, but I believe that it has been a boost for the less-than-ideal national resource of the intellect of our youth as a whole, and for the foundation of faith in Christian families across the country. For all I know, freedom to homeschool could still continue for many years, but I would be surprised if it won't be under strong attack.
The issue that struck me most vividly at the website that linked me was the abundant passionate commentary following an article they linked, these comments mostly by homeschoolers and also by a few who opposed them. My thought in reading them wasn't primarily about homeschooling at all, but about the sense of entitlement we develop by living in a country that provides far more than the average amount of freedoms. We seem to think that we are entitled to these freedoms--and a person could argue that we are entitled to them, by virtue of living in a country based on freedom, but the freedom to homeschool has been a recent arrival following the establishment of government schools. This entitlement, though, or any true freedom on earth, ought to be viewed as a temporary and unnatural blessing from our benevolent God, rather than from government. The Jews at the time of Christ were under oppression by the Romans, and the history of humanity has hardly been characterized by entitlement and freedom. I view freedom far more as a blessing that God chooses to bestow on a people for whatever sovereign purpose He might deem fit for that time; nevertheless, it is generally rare and fleeting that He might choose to provide such freedoms as we have had in the United States for these hundreds of years. What country on earth has enjoyed such freedom for such a long time as ours has, and such abundance and blessing? God has been good to us, but He is not required to continue in the same way.
What I found stunning were the indignant attitudes that were exhibited in these comments, many by people who professed faith, following the article I read! It troubled me to read the comments of those who would passionately defend the right to homeschool as an entitlement. A person could assume that many homeschoolers would be some of the most passionate people of faith, but many, though they refer to their faith, fail to exhibit Christ in their comments. So many instead exhibited their own wants, demands and fears driving them, with a combative and critical spirit, bragging about their own accomplishments. They ignored the fact that not too many years ago, homeschooling was illegal in every state. I realize our country was established for the sake of freedom, but it also is a country where even the freedom it stands for has in many ways been imperfectly realized; consider slavery and how long that lasted! We live in a country that was established in the name of freedom, but such a country is established on a very delicate principle. President John Adams stated such:
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the governing of any other."
October 11, 1798 in President John Adams' address to the military, from America's God and Country, Encyclopedia of Quotations, by William J. Federer, pp. 10-11.

We have reached a point in our culture where we have to question the reality of whether the Constitution is truly adequate to govern our present society. Is it? Or will our freedoms disintegrate and by necessity be replaced by stronger cords of government, where freedom is hardly the aim, in order to govern a people who for the most part will not govern themselves? The removal of faith from public education, from the media, from government, from the public square removed the underpinnings that secure our freedoms. It is really more awesome that we have had the freedom to homeschool than it is shocking that this freedom should be under attack.
I look back to Daniel, and how in Babylon they did all they could to adapt him to their culture, to intimidate him from exercising faith...and still he was faithful. We need to pray that our children can and will be found faithful even if they should be forced into a Babylon-type culture. No biblical account promises and guarantees that we will have earthly freedoms, or that the culture will accommodate our faith, or that the government will allow us to parent as we see fit. The same Bible we read has applied to families under every type of government and every flag in the world. The only thing that no government can really force us to relinquish is our faith, our ability to petition the God of heaven to help us in our time of need. Maybe it is His will that our children be tested as Daniel was! Perhaps we should be glad of it, that our children be tested, that they would have to decide where they stand. Maybe staying comfortable at home in a sheltered environment will make them complacent. God is sovereign and ultimately wise, and we must entrust our children entirely to His care. He knows what is best for our good and for His glory. Don't get me wrong. I hope that we will retain the freedom to homeschool, but if not, we need to trust the God of heaven who controls governing authorities, and in any case, we need to pray for our children and those authorities.

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