A HYMN OF GLORY LET US SING (TWENTY-SECOND IN A SERIES)
Contrary to the oft-repeated cant1 of collectivists, it does not “take a village” to raise a child; it takes parents. God entrusts parents—not society in general, not educational or governmental institutions, and not villages—with the responsibility of the proper upbringing of children. This responsibility is frequently enjoined upon parents throughout both Old and New Testaments. For example, “You shall teach them [God’s Words] to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 11:19) and “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
1 Cant: “tedious or hackneyed language, especially when used sanctimoniously” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)
Ye Parents, Hear What Jesus Taught
Translator: William M. Czmanske (1939) Author: Ludwig Helmbold (1596, cento) Publication Date: 1941 Scripture: Mark 10:14
Topic: The Christian Home: Christian Education
Do these Bible passages sound like “helpful hints” or “friendly suggestions?” Are they something that Christian parents can safely ignore? Clearly, they are forceful expressions of God’s will that parents take responsibility for the education of their own children. Hymn #630 in The Lutheran Hymnal echoes this parental duty:
“Ye parents, hear what Jesus taught/ When little ones to Him were brought:/Forbid them not, but heed My plea/ And suffer [allow] them to come to Me.” (Verse 1)
Obedience to this explicit injunction from God requires not only teaching our children about Jesus at home, but also seeing to it that they learn of Him in both church and, if possible, at school as well. “Obey your Lord and let His truth/ Be taught your children in their youth/ That they in church and school may dwell/ And learn their Savior’s praise to tell.” (Verse 2)
It is at this point that we encounter a major difficulty, don’t we? Obviously, children will not learn about Jesus (or about Biblical morality, or the role of God in the history of man, or man’s sinful nature, or God’s Law and Gospel) in the public schools. This creates a challenge for Christian parents, and the more they know about the nature of public education in America today, the more they will realize the magnitude of that challenge. Of course, there may be cases where public school is the only available option—a single parent, for example, or a family that has no Christian day school available and is unable to homeschool. Many Christian parents, past and present, have succeeded in raising Godly children despite the influence of public schools. However, for believers, public school should not simply be the default choice.
A Christ-dismissing, humanistic, “secularized” education tends, at best, to instill an incomplete and distorted understanding of reality. At worst, and in the absence of supplementary spiritual education, it can lead children to depart from the one saving faith. The public schools’ inclusion of an error such as evolution may seem relatively easy for parents to correct, but compensating for the omission of all critical, spiritual truths presents a much greater challenge. The fact that some parents, with the help of Godly pastors and Sunday school teachers, have succeeded in overcoming that challenge does not make it any less acute.
Christian education, whether at your church’s Christian day school or by means of homeschooling, involves significant sacrifice for most parents. However, the “payoff,” in the long run, is of infinite importance and eternal consequence. “For if you love them as you ought,/ To Christ your children will be brought./ If thus you place them in His care,/ You and your household well shall fare.” (verse 3)
Craig Owings is a retired teacher and serves as assistant editor of the Lutheran Spokesman. He lives in Cape Coral, Florida.
Professor Paul Naumann contributed to this article.