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Can Home schooling and God’s outrageous, extravagent Grace co-exist? I hope so.

December 7, 2013

Yesterday I posted links to two widely disparate articles that I had read in the last several days.  One is an interview with Tullian Tchividjian, pastor, author, seminary prof and grandson of Billy Graham, about the topic of his latest book: One Way Love: Inexhaustible grace for an exhausted world.  The other is an article about students (and parents) leaving behind their fundamentalist homeschooling roots. In some cases, literally needing to escape from their families and communities.

I was a home-schooler for eight years.  I wasn’t a very good one.  I didn’t have ten kids of my own, who were all Rhodes scholars in the making.  I wasn’t cooking a month’s worth of food all in one day to keep in the freezer so that I could devote all of my time to said kids.  My kids weren’t going to kiss dating goodbye,  etc.  I went to the home schooling conferences (where I felt distinctly out-of-place with my jeans and short hair.)  I read Mary Pride and all the other big names.  I had friends who were more like the cover families from the home schooling magazines, and thankfully, some who were, like me, not!

Perhaps another time I’ll blog about the whole paternalistic, misogynistic side of some parts of the home-schooling movement.  It was one of the big issues I ran into with home schooling, but isn’t really what struck me about these two articles together.

One of the things that always struck me in the home schooling community was how much was done to protect the kids from the world.  I admit, my own reasons for home schooling had much more to do with keeping them out of a really broken school system in our city than any personal philosophy that home schooling was somehow better.   But what was being done to actually prepare kids for living in this world?    Much of what was/is emphasized in the literature is about making children think and behave a certain way.  The Bible was always the rule book for behavior and thinking.   Yet, did this really prepare them for successful living in the real world?  It fostered an US versus THEM mentality, where they, “the world,” is a threat; so that what is acceptable, good, “normal” is very narrow.   It fostered a mindset that breeds hatred and intolerance.

The Bible, when used as a rule book becomes the law.  It has the same effect today that it did when Paul wrote about the Law in the book of Romans.  The Law actually stimulates us to sin!   So then we can either recognize God’s immense and wonderful grace and respond by repentance or we can beat the bad behavior out of the child.  Unfortunately, much of what I had read in the homeschooling literature chose the latter.   The literature always seemed to be about behavior modification rather than about teaching the grace of God.

This is where the interview comes in.  Tullian Tchividjian talks about how we are so afraid of really teaching grace.  The very argument that Paul addresses in Romans 6.  Essentially, “If we teach grace then people will sin more.”   Why are we so afraid of sin?  Tullian says  “Eugene Peterson has wisely said that ‘discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention to our own.’ ”  If only I had known this twenty years ago!  If I could say that there is a place where I failed in home schooling, it would be in that I paid more attention to developing well behaved kids than kids who understood grace.

So what’s my point.  It’s not specifically about home schooling.  That was just the catalyst article.  My point is that in all our discipleship, with our little ones (I have a five year old granddaughter now) and our older ones (my job involves adult discipleship) we need to not be afraid to teach grace in all its scary messy wonderfulness.  Total forgiveness, total acceptance.  The idea that we cannot make God not love us.  God is love – he cannot do other than love, because his nature is love.  ALL wrath was already poured out on Jesus (Thanks be to God!!)  There is no wrath left.

I love my friends who are home schoolers.  I respect you!  But please, please, please, remember the Bible is about Jesus wonderful sacrifice and Grace, not a handbook for raising well behaved children!

A bit of a ramble, I know.  I’m out of practice.  Grace and peace!

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