Friday, June 18, 2010

Canaan Cultural Education

I was able to hear someone talk about homeschooling a bit ago, and while it's a subject I *do* read about and think about frequently, I had a new idea.

It's these doggone cultural assumptions we operate under.  We don't even know we're under them, but we are.

The speaker was (I think, if I recall correctly) addressing the "send your little kids as missionaries" plan that some Christian parents have when choosing public education.  He was quoting scripture in reference to the subject, and the "new" idea (which probably isn't new at all, but it was new to me!) that struck me was to assign our modern reasons for public school to Old Testament Israel.  There are some parallels; they were entering a land that was entirely populated with very UNgodly practices (have you been on a school bus lately?).  Babies sacrificed (abortion tolerated, promoted), all kinds of wickedness (Washington DC?), giant mutant offspring of who-knows-what (okay, maybe not a similarity :) ).  Yet God wanted them to keep HIS ways, and maintain HIS system of family and government and life.  I just wonder what we would think today, were we to open up the bible and read something like this:

"And the wives said unto their husbands that each was not sure she had the patience to put up with their children every day, that if they were going to live in Canaan, the children should be exposed to the ways and workings of Canaanite culture.  After all, they had to learn to deal with it sometime.  And there was not a wife that was sure she had the skills to equip the children for adulthood on her own.  To this end the husbands, safely trusting in their wives, inquired about options for their children's education, and found  nearby locations where Canaanite children were instructed in the ways of their culture for several hours each day.  Each man saw this would certainly relieve his wife of her struggles and also expose their children to the system they'd have to operate in.  Because the instructors seemed very nice, and were probably experts at turning out good Canaanites, the fathers of most of the children in the nation of Israel enrolled their children."

Now, I understand that it's not exactly the same.  We truly are to make disciples, where Israel was not commanded such (though it was obviously an option, e.g. Rahab).  But while these situations are more than common today, what do you suppose the rest of the Bible would look like had the Israelites done this?  They were easily persuaded to other gods and religions as it was, imagine if their children endured such a daily "education!"  From this vantage point, it's easy for me to say, "um yeah!  There's no way the nation would've stood long doing that to upcoming generations."  Yet we rarely look ahead like that in our own families.  We are concerned about today, even this year, and maybe our kids as adults, but that's about the extent of it.  I know, I know, Jesus could return any minute and that could kindof changes the game (maybe), but what if He doesn't?  What if it's another few generations before that happens?  WHO do we want to have in that generation?  And... What can we do about it, today?  The answers to these questions are some of the reasons we home educate.

I admit to being completely biased for home schooling.  I don't think it's a black-and-white sin if you don't, but I sure wish more Christians questioned the cultural assumptions of this world, of their churches, of their families.  I wish every public or private school parent looked at it this hard, and came to their decision by answering these kinds of questions, and not just by default, or through fear, convenience, or cultural pressure.  [By the way, I also don't want home school parents to come to their choice through fear, convenience, or pressure either. :) ]

Israel's future would have been drastically affected had they, as a people, gone with the influences of the ungodly cultures around them.  The bible is full of accounts where they DID do that, in certain instances, and it wasn't without serious consequence.  It certainly can't go much better for us, if we also immerse our children in the same.

Whatever we do, we should do it with informed conviction.  And NOT "go with the flow" just because it's easier.  If you're not raising children of your own right now, take opportunities to encourage parents to question and pray through their educational choices.  Encourage them to make a choice they can be wholly committed to.  A choice their great-grandchildren can call blessed. :)

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