This post is a continuation of my line of reasoning on Christian families leaving the government schools. To get up to speed, I recommend you first go back and read it here.
Fathers, I specifically want to talk to you at this point. If we follow the logic up stream of God’s command in Ephesian’s 6:4, we have no where to hide. The buck stops with us.
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Notice what is said here. Fathers. Not mothers. Not parents. Not teachers. Fathers, bring up your children in the love and admonition of God. Ultimately Jesus isn’t going to knock first on our door and ask mom or the teacher on how the shaping of our children is going. He is going to ask for the father. It is the responsibility he has given to us as the heads of our families.
This isn’t to say that mothers are not involved or that they contribute nothing. They contribute massively and essentially. A child needs a father and a mother in order to accomplish this command. Paul singles out fathers here because whether we are ready or not, it is our responsibility to own this job. By nature, mothers are ready to be involved in their child’s education. More often then not, they are far more invested and see far more clearly how education shapes the heart and the mind. It is fathers who face the temptation to downplay this aspect of their leadership of their family. We are tempted to outsource it. Outsource it to mom and to the teacher. We consider the, “whatever you think is best” line as leading. Good leaders to don’t say back to those under their leadership, “Just do whatever you think is best.”
Not a Hidden Idea
As I have mentioned previously, the word paideia refers to the shaping of the heart and mind of the student. It is enculturation to a set of beliefs and a worldview. Every student will be shaped. There are no neutral forms of education. The question isn’t whether my child will be shaped, but how.
And it isn’t like our world does not realize this fact. They do. They employ it to the creation of their paideia, their culture. When radical leftism wants to make people more receptive to their worldview, where do they go? The schools.
Just today I read an article about Scotland’s totalitarian move to force the sexual revolution into their schools. There will be no exceptions made to this mandate from heaven. Why? Because paideia matters. The shaping of the next generation is a promulgation of a set of beliefs that is supposed to act as a lens by which we live. Scotland can’t risk some of it’s students growing up with a contrary set of beliefs about the world. In order for their beliefs to stick, they must shape the hearts and minds of children.
Let me offer some more mundane examples. The best football players are the ones who have been shaped to love and know deeply the sport they play. They think football. Breath football. Dream football. The best woodworkers are ones who have been shaped by a master artist who has taught them traditions handed down generation to generation. The best musicians are just technically gifted but have been shaped to love music historically, mathematically, poetically, etc. This principle is everywhere. God designed it so.
So the question is pretty clear. Why don’t we as Christian fathers care as much about this as the world does? Why are we so slow to believe that paideia actually exists and has consequences for our children and their children? Why are we so defensive when it is so clear that God has called fathers to take ownership of the shaping of their children to the paideia of God? This is where the abdication piece comes in. If paideia is so clear that enemy uses it, then we have no excuses.
Frog in the Kettle
I think one of the reasons Christian fathers are so defensive when challenged to remove their children from the government schools, is because we have been shaped to think there is a middle road.
Before the great political schism of the last ten years or so, the left, which has controlled education in our country for a long time, was fine with playing the salesman. They took prayer and Bible out out of the schools, but they reassured us that it was for the best. They removed the ability for Christian teachers to share their faith, because it might be offensive. One by one, over the decades the paideia of God was slowly removed from the government school.
It was genius plan. Keep Christians in by reassuring them with the sweet song of equality and democracy while all along slowly turning the tables. Fast forward to today, and the left isn’t selling anymore. Just like we can observe in Scotland, there are demands being laid out. No more compromise. No more sales pitch.
Yet Christian fathers still buy the line that there is some middle road. A road where our children can go to the government schools and yet we still have complete control on how they are shaped. Something along the lines of “we’ll do devotions at night” and “we will make sure they are involved in youth group.” Why do we still believe that sending our children to have their loves shaped by the state will end up being just fine? Why are we so shocked when our children love more of what the state loves then what God loves?
Fathers, there are no middle roads here. Let me grant the best scenario available. Your son goes K-12 in a government school and some how, all by God’s mercy and grace, they come out the end solid in their faith. They completely see the world and it’s lies for what they are. They won’t go off to college and tailspin into unbelief. They made it through all the attempts of the world to indoctrinate them in worldliness: materialism, secularism, sexual revolution, promiscuity, Marxism, etc. Was that because of their education, or in spite of it? Did you cut with the grain of your child or did you cut against it and God was merciful? Even the best case scenario here does not fulfill the explicit command of Ephesians 6:4. You were careless and God was gracious. That is not a plan.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately fathers are stewards of culture. Through the shaping of our children we create culture which shapes the beliefs of the future. We need to stop looking at education as just a mere piece of the family pie, but come to realize that everything we do with our children is education. It is paideia. We want our boys to be men who honor and protect women, so we teach them to honor their mothers. We want our daughters to be wise and discerning, not falling for the fool, so we model biblical integrity. Everything we do is shaping them.
If we give consideration to another education passage of the Bible, the picture becomes clearer.
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all you heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. And these words which I command to you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
– Deuteronomy 6:4-7
This is a very paideia passage, is it not? Fathers are to structure their children’s lives such that everything shapes them to love God with all they have. There is no room for another paideia to be given air time.
So why do we give air time the government schools? Why do we settle for less, when God has commanded and blessed us for so much more? Why do we compromise with thirteen years of education that has no mention of loving God or loving our neighbor? What if education flowed with the grain of wisdom and truth rather than against it. What if our children went to a school that reinforced and supported the paideia we are teaching at home?
Questions to ponder.