What if God was not only real, but had lovingly provided us with the information and understanding by which we might tackle every important subject and challenge that could come our way?
What if He, in His infinite wisdom and matchless grace, had given us such detail as to the nature of every realm of human experience, culture, and civilization that we were equipped not only to survive those challenges, but conquer them and thrive?
Wouldn’t that be amazing?!
Well, I have some good news and some bad news…
First, the good: God has done just that very thing for His people. He has revealed His nature in His Word in such a manner that we actually, really, and truly have access to everything that we need to thrive in every realm of creation – politics, economics, art, education, and everything else – all in accordance with the Gospel-fueled Great Commission that he has given us (see: Matthew 28).
Now, the bad news: Most professing Christians in America will have none of it.
They will not submit to the loving, life-gloving, and civilization-building commands of Christ the King. They will not have Him to rule over them in practice.
This tragic truth defines our culture, but it is no more apparent in modern America than in the area of children’s education.
It is in this context and with the hope of productively shining some (at times painful) biblical light on the subject that I would like to share a portion of a presentation that I was recently blessed to make at a church in Middle Tennessee earlier this year. Lord willing, I will share the rest of that sermon in future posts.
One worthy point of clarification to touch on before diving in is to explain what I mean by the term “children” in the context of “children’s education”.
First off, the concept of adolescence is a man-made fiction. It is a lie. (See: Adolescence is a Big Fat Lie.)
So when we are talking about children here, we are not talking about 17-, 18-, or 19-year olds who often ct – and are largely expected and encouraged to act – like self-absorbed, self-destructive morons well through their teen years, and well into (and usually through) their twenties. While that sort of socially, culturally, and spiritually retarded adult is what this sad shell of a culture has conditioned to believe is a “child”, it is, in fact, merely a socially, culturally, and spiritually retarded adult.
When we talk about children’s education here, we are using the biblical and historical norms of dividing humanity into two basic stages or categories of chronological development: Children and adults, with the transition from one category into the other coming at around 13 years of age.
The biblical understanding of children centers on such an understanding of chronology and human development. The biblical approach to children’s education is designed perfectly by the Lord to raise children in such a manner as to result in adults – people about 13 and up in age – who are then able to stand firmly on a foundation of biblical truth and understanding, effectively dealing with the enemies of Christ the King while productively, practically advancing His Kingdom in every realm of His creation.
With that clarification made, on to the following bit as originally presented in the first part of the sermon entitled The Beginning of Learning: Christ as the Essential Core of Children’s Education:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-6
While many modern American evangelicals operating mostly in auto-pilot mode would heartily nod and “amen!” in response to the general concepts and principles conveyed in verses four and five of the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, the specificity and precision of the verses immediately following are frequently deflected, dismissed, or ignored entirely for a variety of “reasons”, often conveyed in the form of protests like:
- “But that’s the Old Testament.”
- “But that was written to Israel.”
- “But that’s not relevant to us today (and therefore to me specifically).”
These common displays of Deuteronomy Aversion Syndrome are but three examples of countless variations on the “but the details don’t apply to me” theme that permeates fallen man’s rebellious reaction to the clear pronouncements of God. When it comes to the subject of children’s education in particular, the detail presented in Deuteronomy 6:7 and onward triggers just that sort of reaction from most professing American evangelicals today. Verse seven itself seems to warrant special treatment, and as such serves as a “trigger verse” for open displays of Deuteronomy Aversion Syndrome. Everything up until verse seven has little trouble inspiring nods of affirmation and hearty hallelujahs, but at verse seven, the specificity of God’s command to His people flips a switch that tends to inspire an “evade at any cost” approach from there on out.
This sort of response from many should be anything but surprising if we keep in mind the nature of fallen men as described in Scripture. Here are a handful of helpful reminders as to the nature of man apart from saving grace of God according to His Word:
- They are “slaves to sin” (Romans 6:17)
- They are “haters of God” (Romans 1:30)
- They are “haters of Christ” (John 15:18-20)
- They are “haters of Christians” (Matthew 10:22)
- They are “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3)
- They are “children of the devil” (1 John 3:10)
Additionally, – and this one is very important for us to remember – we must always keep in mind that those of us who have been supernaturally saved by the grace of God are also prone to forget, prone to wander, and prone to struggle as we are perfectly brought along the path of sanctification that has been specifically charted for each of us individually by our loving Lord and Savior. Everything that we have been given – including any clarity on the subject of children’s education that we might have – is a gift given us by the grace of God (1 Corinthians 4:7). Since we are likely (meaning: virtually assured) to encounter true Brothers and Sisters in Christ who are struggling against that which has been made plain in Deuteronomy 6, we must hold these truths close lest we become prideful, arrogant, and boastful in our flesh. With that understood, let’s have a look at the DAS-triggering verse in question:
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” ~ Deuteronomy 6:7
The text itself contains a significant imposition on the self-serving desires of men, that being the specific requirement to personally strive to see to it that one’s children are being trained in an explicitly God-centered manner throughout each and every hour of each and every day. The comprehensive, all encompassing nature of this command, specifically where the amount of time covered is concerned (as in: all of it), could not be more plain – or more offensive to the selfish sensibilities of men and women who are either:
- Unconverted slaves to sin and selfishness, or
- Supernaturally saved saints who are, at this point in time, struggling by God’s grace through the process of sanctification where the specific points and challenges of this portion of His Word are concerned.
The comprehensive, all-day/everyday encompassing nature of the given command could not be more plain: We are to diligently see to it that the “love of the LORD our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might” is the centerpiece concept and motivation for each and every pursuit undertaken throughout each and every moment of each and every day. We are told by God that we shall see to it that this is done:
- “when you sit in your house” (When we are in our homes.)
- “when you walk by the way” (When we are outside of our homes.)
- “when you lie down” (When we bring our day to a close; our desire to love the Lord should define our thoughts even as we drift off to sleep.)
- “when you rise” (When we begin the day; we should strive to see to it that the first thoughts that we have are inspired by a desire to love the Lord.)
From the beginning of the day to the end of the day, wherever our children may be, we shall strive to see to it that all of their intellectual pursuits – including both the planned and the unintended, the “at home” and the “away from home” – are purposefully built upon the explicit, open embrace of the loving command to “love of the LORD our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might”.
One great motivation for dismissal, aversion, and denial where this passage is concerned is the desire to avoid labeling cherished contemporary approaches to education as what this passage reveals them to be: Sin.
With sin rightly understood as “failing to do what God has commanded, or doing what God has forbidden”, and God has clearly commanded a certain, particular, and well defined approach to the instruction of the children of His obedient people, then not only could openly rejecting this command be characterized as sin, but it must be characterized as such. These realities – the proper definition of sin and the clear teaching of Deuteronomy 6 – combine in the minds of men to commonly inspire several discomforting thoughts, including:
- Recognition of the inherent and extreme personal unpopularity that comes with identifying cherished contemporary approaches to children’s education as sin.
- Recognition of the inherent and extreme personal discomfort that comes with even considering whether or not one’s own past or present approaches to their own children’s education has been or is, in practice, sinful.
- Recognition that the mere presence of anyone actually striving to obediently apply the clear proclamations of this passage where the education of their children is concerned presents a clear and present danger to the credibility of anyone aiming to dismiss or avoid the legitimacy or viability of such pursuits.
Unless the Lord graces one with repentance and a quick dose of personal reformation when these ideas begin to take root, the discomforting thoughts listed above tend to go on to inspire a series of defensive, destructive actions, including:
- The out-of-hand dismissal of whole swaths of Scripture. This is often done by way of ridiculously vague, watery, and weak “justifications”, the likes of which naturally sound much more pagan than Christian. (Think of the “But that’s in the Old Testament” and “But that was written for Israel” examples cited earlier.)
- The active suppression of group or congregational Bible study on the subject. Scripture study aimed at addressing the specific issue of children’s education is something that must be suppressed in order to avoid even the possibility of exposing certain cherished beliefs and approaches as sinful. With that rational in place, avoidance of serious corporate study of the subject in light of the Word is suppressed and avoided at all costs…often, ironically, in the name of “Christian unity” and ” Christian peace”.
- The persecution of obedient believers. Since their mere presence is convicting and their active pursuit of obedience in the realm of children’s education exposes all variants of the “it just can’t be done” line to be nothing better than lame excuses and lies, then these obedient believers must, at the very least, be silenced (suppressed to the point that their views on sin and obedience in this area are not aired openly). If they cannot be pressured into silence, then they must be more openly persecuted until they are driven out of the local body…often, both ironically and disturbingly, in the name of “preserving Christian unity”.Believers who strive for obedience to the Word in this area will also, and as a part of the rationalization of their persecution, be painted as “unloving” when they dare to openly apply their views, because the open, public display or presentation of their obedience is inherently convicting and, as such, cannot be tolerated. So it is that, in response to the convicting clarity of Deuteronomy 6 on the subject of Children’s education, and the convicting witness of obedient Christians who, by the grace of God, seek to actively apply the truth of that passage in their families’ lives, many professing Christians and churches will openly:
- Suppress corporate study of the Word on the subject in the name of peace.
- Persecute obedient believers in the name of love.
- Drive out obedient believers in the name of unity.
This “turning on its head” of peace, love, and unity is just the sort of thing that we need to brace and prepare for as we strive to deal truthfully and graciously with hostile forces from within the church – some of whom are true Brothers and Sisters in Christ. The idol of State-controlled children’s is deeply entrenched and adored in many of even the most self-described “conservative” and “Bible believing” churches, and they will defend their idol accordingly…until and unless the Lord opens their eyes, inspires repentance, and sets them free.
This is the end of the first portion of a presentation on children’s education that I made earlier this year. I hope that it has been helpful and I look forward to sharing the rest here soon, Lord willing.
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© 2014 Scott Alan Buss – All Rights Reserved.