Thursday, February 18, 2010

This Little Light of Mine (Part 1)

                                                                        photo by Alesa Dam

A friend of mine on Facebook asked yesterday,

"Do you think everyone should homeschool? I mean to say, do you think all public education is damning to a child? I'm just curious--not being judgemental.--sorry if it sounded like that!"

My response was rather lengthy, and I told her many of the reasons that yes, I do think that all Christians, ideally, should homeschool their children. If that can't be done, a Christian school should be chosen. I cited several arguments that I made in this article.

Now, she and I have been good friends since our days at Moody Bible Institute, so I knew two things with reasonable certainty:

  1. She would not agree with me, and,
  2. She would still love me anyway.
Her response to my explanation proved my two assumptions correct:

"Thanks! I don't agree with your point of view, but I do really appreciate your being willing to share it with me. I guess my opinion in a nutshell (not that you asked for it--hee!) is, if we withdraw the light and salt from the public schools, we can't have a witness among people who need it the most. Again, just my thoughts on the matter.

I'm glad we can have differing opinions and still be friends and sisters in Christ."

If only all such exchanges of ideas were so civil!

This conversation got me thinking, and I decided to share some of those thoughts here today. If there is one argument I hear over and over again from Christians in favor of public schools, it is the "salt and light" argument. 

(It is almost as common as the "socialization" argument that I hear, mostly from non-Christians).

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out, and trampled under foot by men.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;
not does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16 (NASB)

I have heard these verses quoted ever since I was a young Christian, but I can't say as I have heard them quoted much in context. While I am not an expository preacher, I'd like to point out a couple of things I see in the context of this passage:
  1. The first 12 verses of Matthew 5 are The Beatitudes. The people Jesus is calling "salt and light" are people who "hunger and thirst for righteousness" (vs. 6), are "pure in heart" (vs. 8) and are "persecuted for the sake of righteousness" (vs. 10). Therefore, it is safe to assume that they are believers.
  2. Jesus spends the rest of Matthew 5 (and a great deal of Matthew 6) calling people to a higher level of obedience and righteousness than they had ever been called. (For more on this, check out Dr. Voddie Baucham, Jr.'s Sermon on the Mount series at
Now, based on the context of this passage, I see several glaring problems with the "salt and light" argument for Christians sending their children to public schools.
  • We say we want our children to be "salt and light" in their public schools, but the fact is, most of the children Christians are sending to public schools are not yet born again. It is impossible for a child to be a witness to the light (1 John 1:1-3) if they have not yet seen the light.
  • In the same vein, most of the children we are sending to public schools do not have a biblical world view. So, not only are they not prepared to "give a reason for the hope that is within them" (1 Peter 3:15), but they are also having their worldview actively shaped into secular humanism by the 40-50 hours they spend per week in school.
All the evidence points to the world "evangelizing" our kids...not the other way around.

Moreover, Jesus did not expand upon his "salt and light" statements by telling his followers that they needed to  start sending their children to the Roman schools, even though that was an available option that some Jewish people were taking advantage of in Jesus's day. 

No! He expanded upon those statements by calling them to obedience to God's Law.

And yes, one of those mandates is for parents to educate and disciple their own children--to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Ephesians 6:1-4)

How does the salt of the earth lose it's saltiness? When it doesn't taste any different from the culture around it.

How does the light of the world become hidden under a bushel? When it attempts to blend into the culture around it!

We seem to think that the best way to influence the world is to become as much like the world as possible while still maintaining a "flavor" of Christianity. Yet, we are losing the cultural war, and we are losing it rapidly, one generation at a time.

On the other hand, we have seen throughout history that people who are committed to obeying God, no matter what the social implication or personal sacrifice, have had profound impact on their culture!

Contrary to popular misconception, biblical homeschooling isn't about raising little hermits in an over-protective bubble.

It is about raising young people who have a solid foundation in their knowledge of God and are passionate about using the gifts God has given them to fulfill the Great Commission.

To Be Continued...


Amy said...

Great post Tiana! I wholeheartedly agree. I remember myself in public school and while I was born-again and was growing in the faith I know that my light wasn't shining very bright. There may have been differences but I don't think I was grounded enough to give testimony of the hope I have.
This is one of the reasons we homeschool.


Kevin Miller said...

I've heard that arguement plenty, for public school and many other areas. "Hey, folks need to be ministered to in strip clubs, such dark places." Ummm...I don't think anyone would support me going there with my salt and light. Public school is just a cultural reality that is hard for folks to deny. Like credit cards, fast food and TV. Folks justify most everything that is the cultural norm. Cause it's hard to deny. Just depends on your priorities. I have 7 kids. My wife does not enjoy home schooling. And me being the sole money earner has been hard at times. We do it anyways. Fast food, credit cards, TV...all very attractive. Don't do them either. Folks just don't understand the payoff is so grand. Keep at it Tiana!

Anonymous said...


SmallWorld at Home said...

Very well said!

Robin said...

Thank you so much, Tiana! I totally agree. Very well said, Sister

Amy W. said...

Hi! I don't think I have ever commented here before, but I thought I would just jump in :)
First of all, AWESOME post!
Secondly, another thing about this line of reasoning that doesn't really make much sense is the "we won't have a witness around the people who need it most". People act as if just because our kids don't go to the public school then there isn't any way for the children who do go there to learn about Christ, but obviously there are plenty of other ways to have contact with children and families that attend public school, such as: having contact with your neighbors, sports teams, other groups, etc. Just because you don't go to school with them doesn't mean that you are *never* around them. Of course we all agree that every person should be witnessed but you don't have to go to school with them for that to happen. So that "reasoning" doesn't really hold much water.

I also agree with Kevin Miller, public school is just something that is so ingrained in our society that it is hard for people to see that there may be something wrong with it or that it is wise for Christians to not use that public service.

I'll be looking forward to the next part!


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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

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Our Curriculum 2010-2011

Bible--Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, Apologia Biblical World View Book 1, "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?"
Catechism-- "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade
Phonics--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
(Kindergarten), Year 1 Booklist (1st Grade)
Handwriting--Bible Copywork, made using Educational Fontware
Spelling-- All About Spelling Level 1 (1st grade)
Math--Math-U-See Primer (Kindergarten) , Math-U-See Alpha (1st grade)
World History--Simply Charlotte Mason's Genesis Through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt
American History--The Light and The Glory For Children Series
Art--Interest-led projects and handicrafts
Geography and Missions-- "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson, as well as various other missionary biographies, incorporating globe and map study
*We will be studying music and phy-ed., participating in a writing club and nature club, as well as attending various field trips, with our church's homeschool group.*

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