The Duty of Parents


by John Preus

In recent years, the practice of homeschooling has steadily increased. This is a natural response to what has become an increasingly demanding claim public schools have had on the lives of families.

Although we often see this shift as a religious reaction, it is actually a natural one inasmuch as much of the following is discernible to the conscience through the natural knowledge of God.

God does not give children to the state. He does not entrust the rearing of children to the government or to any public system of education.

The authority that God gives to rulers is an authority that must uphold and support the divine duties of fathers and mothers to raise their own children in the home.”

It is the parents’ job to make them honorable members of society, not the government’s. Civil rulers are vested with authority by God so that they may serve the home, not undermine it.

When the government forces public schools to teach the doctrine of evolution as science, for instance, it is the divine obligation of parents to refute what their children’s teachers have taught them and to correct the error.

When public schools try to pervert the distinctions between male and female or promote other sorts of immoral behavior, it is the sacred duty of father and mother at home to teach otherwise.

The government may tax our income, confiscate our land, and deny our right to vote — and God will likely let them. We must not resist beyond what is lawful.

But they may not require us to sin. Fathers and mothers must therefore make sure that their children are not being taught to dishonor their own authority or, much less, be taught to believe false doctrine.

Both of these overreaches undermine the basis for the state’s authority to begin with by usurping rather than upholding the parental office.

Many parents fail in this regard. They assume that the schools are there to teach the kids and that they are there just to give them a place to eat and sleep, take them on vacation and pay for their college. But this is not true.

The duty to teach children is the primary duty of fathers and mothers.”

God gave children to parents. Through them God desires to bring them to the waters of Holy Baptism and raise them in the faith. It is to parents that God gives the charge to instruct their children in the way they should go.

And yet in the same way that many parents surrender their duty to the state, similarly many Christian parents think that they have done their duty to raise Christian children if they only bring them to church and send them to catechism class.  But this is also not true.

God did not give our children to the church or to our pastor. He gave them to us.”

It is the parents who are duty-bound to bring their children to the font.  God gives them to us, and we give them back to God like Hannah did with Samuel.

We do this not by relinquishing our duty as Christian parents to volunteers at VBS or even to our pastor every Wednesday afternoon, but by taking our duty seriously.

It is parents who must teach them Bible stories and how to pray. Our pastors and Sunday School teachers may help us in this.

But just as the state can merely serve us in teaching our children useful skills, we must remember who it is to whom God gave them and who it is to whom they are to be subject.

When children know who it is to whom God gave them, and parents recall who it is to whom they gave them back, then children are all the better equipped to learn their lessons well, remembering both who their true Teacher is and to whom they truly belong.

The Rev. John Preus is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Clinton, Iowa. 

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14 Responses to The Duty of Parents

  1. October 4, 2016 at 10:06 am #

    Very well said and sharing this with my daughter to give her and our son-in-law stength to teach our 2 grandsons with Gods help.

  2. October 4, 2016 at 11:19 am #

    Home Schooling is fine if you can do it.
    But as a Lutheran School Director in a denomination with the largest number of non-Roman Catholic Christian schools in America, I know that plenty of Lutherans and non-Lutheran families trust us to help them in the education of their children in an environment that is not hostile to the Christian faith.

    I would have loved to see this article bring the Lutheran School System up as a viable choice as well.

    • Matt Salger October 4, 2016 at 9:10 pm #

      Brandt – I do not believe that Pastor Preus was discounting Lutheran Schools – it was more of an admonishment of the parents and the duties of parents in the perfect order directed by God

    • Rita October 5, 2016 at 12:26 am #

      I think the option of the Lutheran School System is wonderful. However I think the point of the article is that it is the parents responsibility no matter where the children are taught. If they are in public school then the parents need to correct the wrong teachings and not just leave it to the school system, pastors, etc. They just mentioned that homeschooling is increasing because of the public school issues. Even if children go to a Lutheran school it is still the parents responsibility to teach their children. They shouldn’t just leave it to any school system.

  3. Jim October 4, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

    This article is spot on, now depending on who is President they may make home schooling unlawful. Lets pray the right people are in charge.

  4. October 4, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    This is an excellent article! More of us (parents and Grandparents) need to read it! Many people think it is the church’s responsibility, not family’s, to teach Jesus and salvation. It is, indeed, parents and grandparents and sponsors.

  5. Michael October 4, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

    Too often, in my experience, Lutheran Schools are simply public schools with “Jesus Time” tacked on somewhere.

    • Laura October 5, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

      As a teacher and parent of a child in Lutheran schools, I agree. As a teacher, I was dismayed and disappointed at the attitudes and behaviors of the teachers and principal at my school.
      I would love to homeschool, but my husband is not in agreement, yet.

  6. Jennifer October 4, 2016 at 9:17 pm #

    Homeschooling is a wonderful way to teach your child about the love of Christ and to educate them in general. Our experience was truly a blessing.
    My husband and I tried sending our daughter to the local Lutheran school (she attended for 4 years), but we still felt only as spectators in her life, not parents.

  7. October 5, 2016 at 6:46 am #

    All to often parents act as though the church, pastor or Lutheran/Christian school will satisfy their duty to instruct their children in spiritual matters. As the post correctly points out, those great institutions are there to support, not replace, the parent’s responsibility to God and country to ensure their children have a personal knowledge of and faith in God.

  8. Marie Haas October 6, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

    That sounds well and good, but on the other hand, parents, grandparents and all Christians don’t let the children hear you say when it comes to immorality of any kind that “the world is going to hell in a handbasket.” It won’t if you don’t let it, but you have to be willing to fight for it, lead by example. “Onward Christian Soldiers”, ” A Mighty Fortress” and “Hark The Voice of Jesus Crying” aren’t songs for wimps; these songs are our battle cries!

  9. Laurie October 25, 2016 at 4:47 pm #

    We need to esteem what matters and is worthy for whom we do depend on as a leading source of good Government and the House of His Divine Authority for all our days. A greater influence for all the youth to see and hear their parents upholding such Authority in our lifetime and theirs concerning their education and the future of education. GOD is prevailing no matter what anyway and the children belong to Jesus Christ for all their days. He is their eternal witness and so we only need to bow.

    • Timothy Carter October 29, 2016 at 7:14 am #

      I assume that the article is intended to address the responsibility of parents for the proper education/upbringing of children and not a command to home school.
      Can you please give the citations for the quotes you placed inside the “quotation marks”?
      Excellent article: Parents have primary responsibility and we cannot depend upon the government.

      • October 31, 2016 at 9:56 am #

        Timothy, thanks for the questions. The quotation marks were only added by the editor to identify particular quotations from my essay. They are my own words. Thank you for the compliment.

        I began the essay with the little tidbit on the rise of homeschooling only to indicate that its increased popularity is the result of the increasing hostility to Christ in our culture, particularly encountered in public schools. While parochial schools are often a wonderful Godsend, they are neither always available options nor always sufficiently better in certain respects. I believe homeschooling is the clearest way to teach our children (and ourselves) whose duty it is to rear the children God has given us. It is by no means the only way or necessarily the best. I was not homeschooled. I went to Lutheran and public schools. But my parents made it clear in other ways than by homeschooling that we were to look to them as our chief instructors. This is perfectly possible even today for parents who make use of the public school system. Today, however, this takes more concerted effort than in years past.

        The point I wanted to make was simply that which you correctly gathered, that it is the primary responsibility of parents to teach their children. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were not homeschooled. They were educated in the “public school system” of Babylon, which, though admittedly academically superior to our own, was also more hostile to Christianity. But God preserved them. Whether parents decide to take on the huge commitment of homeschooling or not, what I hoped to encourage in this little essay was for them to remain vigilant in taking the greater commitment of countering the culture of death in their homes. They do this by never being satisfied with their children solely being taught by others – whether by pious Lutheran school teachers or by Babylonian satraps. There is, by God’s design, extra work no matter what!

        I hope this clarifies.

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