Personal view: Educating children God’s way
Ephesians 6:4 squarely lays responsibility for educating children on fathers – ‘Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord’.
Obviously this doesn’t mean that fathers must do all the training and instructing. But it is fathers whom God has entrusted with overseeing education, and who must give an account for fulfilling that responsibility.
It is difficult to see how Scripture permits fathers to delegate responsibility for most of their children’s schooling to those who don’t know God, and who wouldn’t think of applying God’s Word to their own lives or the lives of those they teach. What impact does their sustained influence have on the young and impressionable?
Moreover, we want truth to be taught to our children. We do so when Sunday school teachers are appointed. We would not expect them to teach our children that the world arose by chance or all religions lead to God. And would we be happy with a Bible class leader whose lifestyle was immoral?
Such concerns at the Sunday school level are surely right, but should we not be equally concerned about what our children are taught for 5 days a week, up to 6 hours a day?
Most day school teachers teach a curriculum which has no place for God. Many teachers’ lifestyles are far from being good models for our children.
Do we really think that, while what is taught at Sunday school must be the truth, what our child receives at day school doesn’t have to be? Today’s mainstream education is based on the assumption that at best God is ‘optional’. Yet God’s Word is the only true context for understanding the world.
Paul’s reminder to Timothy of the value of his training reminds us of the necessity of a God-centred and Bible-oriented education: ‘But as for you, continue in what you have learned and become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work’ (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
The Bible teaches believers to train their children in God’s ways. If we send them to be daily instructed for years in a completely different ideology, are we not giving them the message that the standards and wisdom of the world are valid for everyday life, whereas God’s Word is just for ‘spiritual’, ‘eternal’ things?
Maybe we have become so comfortable with the State’s assumed role in educating our children in an increasingly secular and humanistic way that the alternatives are not seriously contemplated?
Often the costs of providing a truly Christian education seem daunting, and many feel unable to implement such a radical alternative. That must have been how Moses’ parents felt when Pharaoh issued his edict to kill the Hebrews’ baby boys. But by faith they hid Moses and trusted God.
If obedience to God’s Word leads us into uncertain and dangerous areas, are we not entitled to look for and expect his strength and grace to fulfil his will?
It is true that nothing we do can guarantee the salvation of our children, since salvation is all of God’s grace. Nevertheless, the Lord has instructed us to bring up our children in his training and instruction, and he will honour those who obey him.
The gospel warns us about the ‘broad road’. By God’s grace I have turned from the broad road and entered the small gate, through Christ, to follow his ‘narrow way’ (Matthew 7:13-14).
Am I going to provide my children with an education based on the broad road with its underlying philosophy and thinking? Or does the responsibility that God has given me as a parent mean I must be more radical in planning my children’s education?