I’m going to start this by saying that there are several reasons we homeschool. This post is not meant to capture all of those reasons but merely a facet, or small portion, of just one of those many reasons.
A lot of Christian people I know think that home education is somehow doing a disservice to the world because (one of the theories goes) our children are supposed to be missionaries to the public schools.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the childrena of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
Scripture says that children are like arrows in the hand of a warrior and blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them. (Now, this is not a discussion of the “Quiver-full” movement at all, let me assure you!) Notice where the arrows are. They are not whizzing through the air yet…. they are in his quiver and then in his hand. I am not going to suggest that this is the one and only interpretation of this scripture passage. But it is one of the scriptures that I come back to when I ask myself again why we are doing this very hard job! For us it is because we do not wish to send our children out “into the world” essentially as unsharpened arrows. We have charge of them and influence over them for a relatively short, but undeniably formative, amount of time. Some days, it seems really long, don’t get me wrong! But ultimately, in the course of their life 0-18 (or thereabouts) is not that long. How long ago does 18 seem to me now?!
Think about an arrow in the hand of a warrior. Will the world be a better place if weapons are both forged and wielded with great care and then used or sent out only when the time is ripe and the weapons are sturdy for battle? Or do we want stray arrows flying willy-nilly all over the place with no known target and at the wrong time? Just as bad, do we want dull arrows when we really need them to be sharp? Think battle, here, people. Picture Braveheart or something if it helps.
Just in case people worry that I’m contemplating world domination here or planning some sort of physical governmental overthrow in the Pinky and the Brain sort of way, I’ll throw in this verse for your comfort; Eph. 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” We’re talking spiritual battle. If we are to send children out as warriors to the world before they are sharpened and before they are prepared for the realities of the fight, we are not only doing them great harm, for they may very well fall in battle due to lack of training, but we are doing a disservice to the world because arrows that fly before their time might do more harm to the battle than good.
Our battle cry, as Christians, is love, mercy, justice, peace and hope, all which are alone found in Christ Jesus. Do I want my children to be fit tools for the Kingdom, like arrows that sink to the heart of the matter wherever God Himself ordains they land when they are finally taken out of the quiver and sent flying? Yes! But how am I to expect them to be fit for the battle against the “powers of this dark world” if we have essentially set them to flying before they were ready?
It’s interesting to note that just before and just after Eph. 6:12, we are told to put on the full armor of God. ” 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
Not only do we want our children to be effective arrows, cutting people to the heart (Acts 2:37) with the gospel with which they have been entrusted, but as people we also want them to be armed for the battle against the sin in their own hearts, those desires which drag away and entice. How will they be ready for this unless I invest in them the time and energy — physical, spiritual and emotional (and every other “al”) — that it takes to forge such armor in their lives? I can’t just expect that Sunday School alone will ready them for the real world and for the real temptations they will face and for the real inner conflicts and desires that they will necessarily have to do battle with as they go through life as a Christian.
When it comes to making good warriors, any Sergeant will tell you that training — daily, rigorous, perpetual, hands on training — and discipline, are the necessary ingredients. And that is what I believe my calling is. That is why I home school.
We don’t plan to send them out in a tirade of hate for our enemies. We will send these arrows out when they are readied for battle; to love their neighbors and enemies and to pray for their persecutors and those in authority over them, to be all things to all people, to be innocent as doves and cunning as serpents, to be salt and light and to go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to do all that Christ has commanded. As far as it depends on me, I will not send out dull arrows.
So when people wonder why we home school, I always answer honestly that the reasons are many and varied. We do it for academic reasons, we do it for family priority reasons, and we do it for spiritual reasons. Many would wrongly assume that we are merely attempting to shelter them from the world. However, that is not our intent.
We are forging arrows that by God’s grace might be ready when they are set to the bow and launched.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.