Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who Owns Your Kids?

Who owns your children? Who has the right to make decisions regarding the welfare of your children? Who really has the best interest of your children in mind (emotionally, physically and spiritually)? I ponder these issues because, well, I have several children who I believe God granted to me and my husband in order to raise a godly offspring for His glory. I also ponder these matters because of a recent court opinion handed down at the end of February stating that home education is not a viable option in my home state of CA, as it does not uphold the state's constitution which declares that a person has a right to, "A general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, the Legislature shall encourage by all suitable means the promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral, and agricultural improvement." Don't even get me started... too late.

The first, and I believe fundamental issue that is never going to be adequately dealt with in a secular court of law is the right of ownership. Exactly to whom do children belong? If they belong to themselves then they should have full authority to make decisions regarding their own well-being. Their judgement should be fully accepted for their welfare. But children don't belong to themselves, as is evidenced by the need of management for the most basic of needs. Children can not be trusted to make the best decisions for their welfare when left wholly to their own authority. But what if children belong to the government? If this is the case then the government, both local and national, holds a huge responsibility to train, guide, direct, nurture, and let's not forget love these mini-citizens. But the government can't tuck a small child into bed when he is running a fever. The government doesn't take the time to learn the nuances of each tiny person, and whether they prefer to be rocked or bounced when suffering from indigestion. No, I think the only answer left is that children belong to their parents. But even this is not accurate, and hence my opinion for why we will never get to the bottom of this in a court of law, because children don't even belong to their parents, really. They ultimately belong to God.

My children were given to me by an awesome, all-powerful, sovereign God. The truth of this should strike some good old fashioned fear into the hearts of parents. For example, if you had a boss that trusted you with one of his most prized possessions how would you treat that possession? Chances are you would guard it with your life, making sure to take every measure possible to protect and sustain it. Bingo. Children are that prized possession, and God will take an accounting of my parenting. Parents should not make decisions solely based on what they think is best - they ought to make decisions based on what the Word of God says is true, and the Word of God is not silent on moral, physical, or even intellectual training not to mention spiritual maturation. Humor me while I share a few...

James 1:21 tells us to get rid of all moral filth within us. Parents will be held responsible for training their children in ridding themselves of moral filth, teaching them to be decent, honest, good, and above reproach in all their life's dealings.

Then we read in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 that it is good for men to earn their own living! If they don't work, then perhaps they shouldn't eat. Hmm, interesting notion, especially in light of some of our more controversial welfare policies...

When establishing His tabernacle, God gave particular talent to craftsmen in order to accomplish the work (Exodus 31:2-5). Scripture teaches through the workmanship required of the Israelites that God was pleased with specialized talent. While it is the Spirit who gives gifts and talents in all areas, it is usually the work of discerning parents who bring those talents to light. It is certainly their responsibility to begin the process of unearthing the natural bents and dispositions of their children, so that through training and guidance those smallish people might become contributing adults.

Finally in Romans 12:2 the apostle Paul tells us that we must learn to discern God's will, through mental acuity, by testing what we learn with the Word of God. This requires intelligence, and a regular use of your BRAIN! In order to understand more than "Jesus loves me" you must begin to study language, history, geography, math, science, as well as training yourself in the actual art of study itself. Paul often quoted poets and philosophers from within the cultural context of the day, and we do well to understand the moors of our times by studying the prevailing thinkers. God is not afraid of knowledge.

Of course I have grossly oversimplified the parental role, but if I were to list all the items, big and small, that truly go into raising a child this post would never end! Suffice it to say, I find it HIGHLY ironic that our government assumes it can assert a right which it doesn't actually have (abdicating parents have given it to them) in order to force moral, intellectual and physical growth in children with whom it doesn't have a personal relationship. The truth is that in order to sustain, and support our state’s constitution private family sanctity must be upheld. God designed families to particularly equip young men and women for adulthood. Within a family a child learns affection, responsibility, loyalty, diligence, grace, honesty, and integrity by participating in the activities which contribute to the overall well-being of his home. Does this work 100% of the time? Of course not! It would be foolish to use such a standard to measure its success. But that is what happens often times. When regarding institutionalized care, government officials are often lackadaisical about the statistics for 100% success, sighting the curve towards progress rather than real progress itself. But those same officials are often eager to point out one abomination within an individual family as support for aborting familial rights altogether. Even so, you simply cannot deny that individuals raised with caring, conscientious parents in a grounded home grow up to be successful contributing members of society as opposed to their counterparts raised within government run institutions. Most people don’t argue this point. It is one of the reasons we have such a vast network of foster families working to place children into permanent homes. So, if we can recognize that a family is by far the better place for the development of the child in emotional, spiritual, and moral matters, why is it such a shock that intellectual training be superior as well? If you still question this logic call Harvard, and ask them their take on accepting home educated children... their answer might surprise you.

All of this is to say that God gave children to parents, for better or worse, to train them diligently in all aspects of growth so that through that training those children might become strong citizens in their culture, lighting the way for future generations to come to salvation in Jesus Christ.

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