by Peter Ditzel
The first part of Deuteronomy 18:10 says, “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire.” In Old Testament times, the heathen nations would sacrifice their children to their gods by making them pass through a fire (see also Leviticus 18:21). God forbade His people from doing this. This is a type and a lesson for us under the New Covenant. We are not to follow the ways of the unbelievers who were willing to sacrifice their children to their false gods. When we send our children to be educated by the people of this world, we are sacrificing their minds to the values that these worldly people esteem and teach. We are, in essence, making our sons and daughters “to pass through the fire.” As Christians, we can sacrifice our children’s minds and spirits to this world’s educational god by making them go to public school.
The answer to the socialization question is that parents are to have control over their children’s socialization and not pass that responsibility onto godless teachers and children. Proverbs 22:15 tells us that “foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” If foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, the child is foolish. In fact, although it may seem awful to say it in so many words, children are fools. Anyone who has ever spanked a child knows that chastening may drive the foolishness far from the child, but only temporarily. Chastisement may, over the years, work a cumulative improvement, but children are by nature foolish. That’s why they need us to instruct, guide, and protect them.
Now add this information to Proverbs 13:20: “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” The “wisdom” of this world’s education establishment says that children should be socialized by other children. But the Bible says that children are fools and that the companion of fools will be destroyed. Obviously, God’s teaching on socialization does not agree with the opinions of the education experts.
And this matter of not socializing with fools applies to more than just one’s classmates. Two Scriptures expose another category of fools in our educational institutions. Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” And in Romans 1:21–22, we read, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Not only should we not allow teachers who deny God to teach our children, we should not even let our children associate with them, for they also, according to God’s Word, are fools.
Who should socialize children? Their parents. Referring back to Deuteronomy 6:7–9, the everyday settings depicted imply that parental instruction is to be continual. This cannot happen if children are away from their parents. This does not mean that children can socialize with no one else. But they should be with their parents more than they are with others. And their parents should guide and supervise their children’s other social contacts. The Scriptures that support this include, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not…. My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path” (Proverbs 1:10, 15); “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding…. Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men” (4:1, 14); “Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. Remove thy way far from her [a morally loose woman], and come not nigh the door of her house” (5:7–8); “Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father” (28:7). If you protest that these seem to be addressing only older teens or even young adults, my answer is that if parents are to socially guide even that age group, how much more younger children?
What About Christian Schools?
But what about Christian schools? Certainly there may be extreme circumstances—such as when a single parent must work outside the home to earn the family’s daily bread—when a child might need to be placed into a good Christian school. But, frankly, good Christian schools are rare. Many schools that call themselves Christian are merely near-clones of public schools. They are run by churches, but may use secular textbooks. Even those that use curricula from Christian publishers can fail to make biblical Christianity central to their teaching, and some even hire teachers from outside their church.
And, frankly, even Christian children in a school setting can make for a poor social environment. Although they may be receiving Christian instruction, they are still foolish children. All school settings have the twin dangers of teachers not teaching their subjects from a God-honoring point of view (even Christian teachers may have an erroneous view of God, and as the parent, you are responsible for what goes into your child’s ear), and of poor socialization.
Personally, I would prefer that churches encourage and support home schooling for as many families for which it is possible. For those for whom it is impossible at the moment, the church should help to place those children into small groups of home schoolers where they can receive an education as close to home schooling as possible. But the church should make every effort to help a single parent or a family in some unusual circumstance into a position where the parent or family can home school. Helping to pay for the startup of a home business, and whatever training may be needed, might be one way this could be done.
No Substitute for Direct Parental Instruction
Nothing can really take the place of a child receiving instruction and socialization from his or her parents. Ephesians 6:4 tells fathers to “provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” God also speaks to the children, telling them to whom they should listen: “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (Proverbs 1:8). You might want to read Proverbs and find the many places where children are told to listen to their fathers and mothers. In Ephesians 6:1, Paul exhorts, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” God does not want us to place our children into a situation where they must choose between believing their parents or their teachers.
Sadly, it was God-fearing people who had not learned this lesson who started public school laws. The first such law in either Europe or the American colonies was passed in Massachusetts in 1647. It ordered every town having 50 or more householders to hire a teacher of reading and writing and every town of 100 or more householders to establish a grammar school good enough to prepare youths for the university. The law was dubbed the “Old Deluder Law.” The motive behind it was to prevent “that old deluder, Satan” from holding people in ignorance of the Word of God by keeping the Scriptures in an unknown tongue. This was a reference to the state of the church before the Reformation when the Latin used by the Roman Catholic Church was not understood by most of the common people. The Reformation resulted in the Bible being printed in the common languages of the people. The Massachusetts law was written to help ensure that false teaching would never again deceive the people. The writers tried to make certain that the colonists would learn to read the Bible in their own language.
Good motive, wrong approach. Unfortunately, this law overlooked the fact that the Bible puts the education of children into the hands of their parents, not the government. Home schooling cultivates a decentralized, diversified education, so that the defection of a few families away from the truth of God will have little impact on all society. But the centralized approach to education necessary for public education, even if begun by Christians, is dangerous because nothing guarantees that the government will remain in the hands of Christians. And, as we know, it did not.
There Can Be No Neutrality in Religion or Education
To try to protect religious freedom, the framers of the Constitution attempted to make it religiously neutral. They did not really succeed because religious neutrality is not truly possible. Contrary to the official stance of neutrality or the myth that some Christians would like to promote that the United States is a Christian nation, the United States is really a humanistic nation. The Constitution recognizes no power higher than the people.
Our official stance of neutrality helps to preserve our religious freedom. But we must not think that there can be such a thing as true religious neutrality. To ignore God is to be against Him (Luke 11:23). It is inherent in man to always worship something, and if we are not worshipping the true God, we are worshipping a false god, even if that is man or his achievements, such as science. Hence, there can be no such thing as religious neutrality in education. This is why the government should never have become involved in education.
Education is inherently religious. For example, teaching children the Bible, or teaching them the Koran, or teaching them that life evolved from a primordial ooze are all religious teachings. Likewise, it is impossible to teach history from a stand that is neutral toward religion. What happens, for instance, when you get to the 30s AD? Do you ignore Jesus Christ? Do you present Him as a mere man. Do you mention that some people think He is God? All of these will present a religious point of view to the children listening. How can you present the rise of the Catholic church, the crusades, the Reformation, or the Puritans from a position that is neutral toward religion? It is impossible!
Similarly, to teach children “values education” is to teach them the tenets of a religion. Public schools teach children the religion called secular humanism. This religion so pervades the public education system that even Christian public school teachers who try to inject some Christianity into their teaching are still largely teaching secular humanism. It is the theme that pervades all public school textbooks and is the worldview promoted by the entire public school system. Because of the public educational system, secular humanism has so saturated our society that most people have become so used to it that they can no longer recognize it. This is why some Christians, especially in small towns, will still insist that they can send their children to their public school because their school, they say, “is still good.” This is a fatal mistake. The secular humanist worldview is inescapable in public education.
God gives no government—local, state, or national—the responsibility to educate our children. Government has taken that responsibility upon itself. The dangers inherent in government education escalate into a formula for national disaster when that government is humanist.
The real danger of sending our children to public school is not that they might be shot. Statistically, there is little danger of this. The real danger lies in their eating the fruits of an educational system that denies the true God and biblical authority and therefore produces children who shoot their classmates, deal in drugs, and consider sex outside of marriage perfectly acceptable behavior as long as one uses a condom. Our civilization turns its children over to people whom God defines as fools who teach them there is no God, that (contrary to Jesus Christ’s prayer to His Father that “thy word is truth”—John 17:17) the Bible is not truth but is merely myth that only the superstitious believe, that truth comes from science, that the schools know better than their parents, that all we see around us is not the creation of an omnipotent God but the result of blind evolution, that humans are mere animals, that the aborting of human lives is perfectly acceptable, that man is really “good” and that “bad” people are only the result of a poor environment, and that there are no moral absolutes. And while these causes stare the public in the face, they blindly ask why all the violence, why the drugs, why the rising teen suicides, why the increasing incidence of children being admitted to emergency rooms for crisis psychological counseling?
God’s curse is upon our public educational system. As Christian parents, we have a duty to remove our children from the public schools, not simply because the schools are failing academically or because our children are in some physical danger from violence or drugs, but because of the unquestionable danger that the humanist educational system poses to their minds. We must teach our children at home as God directs.
Copyright © 2000-2009 Peter Ditzel