Educating Our Children
Dudley Ross Spears
Bowling Green, Kentucky
The education of children is the chief concern of pareri". The first consideration in that education is teaching, our young what the will of God is. That is more importai4 than all of the diplomas or educational honors in all the World. Instructing our children in the teaching of the Bible 1$ not optional. Its importance cannot be underestimated. The divine instruction, "bring them (our children, DRS) up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4) is as binding on us as is any other command of God.
Secular education, though not as important as biblical learning, is becoming more and more an important ingredient in the lives of our children. Jobs are hard enough to come by in these times with a good education. The individual with neither education nor experience is faced with an almost impossible situation. There was a time when a person served some time as an apprentice and then settled down to a job for life. Later, a high school diploma was required and now a college education is necessary for most jobs. Many of us who did not have the opportunity to get a good college education want better than that for our children. We want to provide them with, at least the opportunity to get, a good education.
Secular education is certainly a deep concern of parents. What kind of education can a Christian provide for his or her son or daughter? Where will they find that type of education? Will they be able to afford the financial burden? These and many more questions come before parents who are faced with sending a son or daughter away to some college or university for formal education.
A few years ago, I felt that the education of my children was a problem I would have to worry about someday but not at the time then. I would wait till they were about ready to graduate from high school - then I would plan. As is always the case, that time came long before I thought it would. Now that time is here. Plans have to become concrete acts now.
What kind of education do I want to provide for my children? Their spiritual life is far more important than anything else. They must have the education that is best suited to the instruction they have already had in the word of the Lord. They need an education in an environment most like what they have learned from the Bible. They need to be in the company of those of "like precious faith."
Where can parents who are Christians find a college or university where their children can have this kind of atmosphere? State universities and colleges are available and the tuition and fees are usually more reasonable than privately endowed schools. State universities and colleges have, however, many undesirable features. The university in the town I live in is considered a lot more conservative than most such institutions, but the moral problems have greatly increased. Formerly men could not visit women in the dormitories in the private rooms with the door shut but this year that rule went by the boards. The use of narcotics is also a problem in state schools. A poll taken last year revealed that well over 50% of enrolling freshman across the country blatantly admitted to the smoking of marijuana and taking of "hard" drugs. Sixty per cent of the coeds said they saw nothing wrong with pre-marital sex if the partners really loved each other. If Christians can find an option where their children can receive a quality education and avoid such influences and forces while having the Bible taught and being with other young Christians, it is far better to take that option and thank God for it.
If I have the choice of sending my children to a school, operated by faithful Christians, where the Bible is taught and where a good moral climate is encouraged, that is the choice I must make. If it costs me more money, I will just have to make a special effort and drive an old bucket of bolts a little longer. No value can be placed on good character, strong convictions and a faith deeply rooted in the word of God. Thank God that some brethren are willing to provide a school like this, even at personal sacrifice to themselves.
For a century the right of brethren to build and operate such a school has been questioned. The objection is not to building and operating a school, but to the addition of a Bible department, or requiring each student to study the Bible or having a special "student preacher" department. It has been contended that when a school incorporates the teaching of the Bible into its curriculum they are "doing the work God gave exclusively to His church." It is not a question of churches contributing to such colleges, but their right even to exist if they teach the Bible as a course of study. As an adjunct to the home, is it scriptural for brethren to operate a school that will endeavor to continue what parents have begun - bringing up children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord?
The local church is the only organization authorized by the Lord to do the work He wants the church to do. Any other organized effort exists without scriptural authority, when it does the work God gave the church to do. That work is to cause the gospel to be preached (1 Tim. 3:15), relieve the needy for whom it is responsible (1 Tim. 5:16) and edify itself in love (Eph. 4:15). The discipline and instruction of our children is our duty as parents, not the duty of the church.
Because God has restricted and limited the church in the realm of organization through which work of the church may be accomplished does not argue that God has so restricted parents. The church and the home are both self-perpetuating but there is a difference. Local churches are completely independent and autonomous in their work and worship (1 Pet. 5:1-4). Is this true of families? When a son marries and has his own family, are his parents to simply recognize his existence as a separate family and no more? It is obvious that we cannot apply the rules of God's word to families that are applied to local churches. Therefore, when a school operates only as an adjunct to the home and not a church school or institution, there is no breach of scriptural precedent.
As long as schools stay schools and exist to provide Christians the opportunity to educate their children in the right kind of environment they deserve our support and encouragement. May God bless parents in doing all they can, "bringing up their children in the instruction of the Lord," and may God also bless those who operate good schools that do what we as parents cannot do.
Guardian of Truth XXV: 11, pp. 162, 172