By Brian Ray, Ph.D.
It is disturbing to see a respected Christian financial counselor use his supposedly financial advice to take an opportunity to give anti-scriptural guidance about the teaching, training and indoctrination of children ("Use Savings for Kids' Christian School?"). Dave Ramsey writes, "The truth is, you'll find great things and bad things in any school, private or public, Christian or not." He is giving bad advice here, and the bad part has little to do with savings or debt.
Ramsey misses the elephant in the room in his advice and tosses out a red herring. In that vein, he ignores God's Word. God never condones or commands the State (civil government) to teach, train and indoctrinate children. In fact, for Christians, State-run indoctrination – which by definition lifts up the State or the will of the people as god – is prohibited. (Solid Christians could debate that this might not hold in some exigent situation, e.g., the State will kill the parents for not placing their children in anti-God statist schooling.) From Genesis through the entire Bible God commands parents to be the main educators of their children, with the voluntary help of the church, His people. Non-Christians and Christians will search the Bible and never find anything other than this normative directive.
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Second, Ramsey is actively promoting to parents the idea that the State should be teaching, training and indoctrinating their children. However, all education/schooling is value-laden and moral and philosophical. The education choices parents make for their children are fundamentally moral. Is Ramsey actually promoting indoctrination by the civil government? Yes. Diametrically opposed to this, however, the God of the Bible prohibits parents from knowingly exposing their children to anti-scriptural and anti-Christian teaching and influence until they are born again and walking strong in the Christian faith. Jesus said that it would better for a parent to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck than to put a stumbling block in front of his son or daughter that causes him or her to sin. This is serious. There are multiple scriptures on this topic in both the old and new testaments.
Even once converted to Christ and strong in the faith, God's Word teaches that parents should not send their children alone amongst what the scripture calls wolves in sheep's clothing, devouring lions and fools. Most Christians know that even if they are 30 and 40 years old, they do not fare well when they are alone and surrounded by anti-biblical ideas and behaviors all day long. Ramsey should not be teaching parents to subject either their unsaved 7-year-old or regenerate 16-year-old to false teaching, anti-biblical principles, foolishness and all manner of immorality, with the hope that they "might come out OK."
Fourth, those who hold themselves up as biblical teachers on any topic are held to a higher standard, the Bible says. Did Ramsey compromise with typical societal thinking and place his children in State-run schools that operate on the forced redistribution of wealth (i.e., socialism, legal plunder) and one group of power-holders indoctrinating others' children, both which run against scriptural truth? From a biblical worldview, one should not fall for his red herring statement. Reader beware: Ramsey's children are not "strong Christians" (if they are) because he placed them in statist schools, but despite the false teachings and bad influences that are inherent to statist public schools. His children are "strong Christians," if true, in spite of being placed in anti-scriptural schooling and only by God's mercy and saving grace. If you accept his logic, you would claim that you exposed your daughter to the bites of 15 different ticks and she never got Lyme disease, so don't worry, be happy, and let those arachnids crawl all over her for a few days after your camping trip without pulling them off.
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Further, and a far second in importance to principles in the Word of God for a Christian, Ramsey fails to point out that research shows that large portions of children whose Christian parents put them in statist public schools do poorly as adults in terms of being saved or following Christ. See Barna's research and another recent study.
Take heed parents: Parent-led home-based education has been the norm for thousands of years, including in the U.S. until about 1900. State-controlled teaching, training and indoctrination for the masses is relatively new. The biblical norm is home-based education with the help of the church. Statist public schooling runs off the forced re-distribution of wealth, which free-market conservatives and biblical thinkers fundamentally oppose. Almost any Christian parents (or non-Christian parents) in any free nation can homeschool or place their children in low-cost biblical Christian schools if they lean on their sovereign God to provide for them and ask their fellow Christians for help. There is a lot of help and many resources available for homeschooling these days (see beginninghomeschooling.com).
Brian D. Ray, Ph.D., is president of the National Home Education Research Institute (www.nheri.org), an internationally known education scholar (especially homeschooling), and a former public and private school teacher and university professor of science, education, research methods, and philosophy. Dr. Ray understands that every person has a philosophical worldview and religion. Contact him at [email protected].