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.