In the 1980s, Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox parroted the long-standing leftist line that parents shouldn’t be trusted to raise their kids, let alone educate them at home. The Texas judiciary eventually laughed those arguments out of court, but that school of thought – if you will pardon the pun – drives education policy around the nation. And it does so at the peril of the republic.
If reading the Bible does nothing else, it should drive home the importance of parenthood. If we take nothing else from the Bible’s unflinching narratives about families and nations, it should be that no responsibility is more serious than educating the next generation.
Consider the story of Abimelech, one of Gideon’s seventy sons. Yes, seventy. While Gideon was a hero early in his life, his final days saw a man who poorly handled fame and fortune. He led his countrymen astray, and as we see in the life of Abimelech, he did an even worse job with his own kids. Gideon’s post-war life set a horrible example.
While Gideon famously refused to become a king, Abimelech had other designs. He killed all of his brothers, except one, and went about the task of subduing the country. Eventually, his dreams were dashed when he was struck on the head by a rock thrown by a woman. As a he lay dying, Abimelech ordered his armor-bearer to run him through, so no one would say a woman killed him.
(But all you ladies know the score.)
Gideon made a mess of his kids and his country, and his kid made the country worse. So maybe Mattox had a point—about Gideon at least.
But the bad example of Gideon simply serves to illustrate the fundamental truth of the Bible: that it is the responsibility of parents to direct their children in the path of godliness. As Proverbs 22:6 so famously puts it, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Education is too often reduced into little more than a unionized widget factory. Children are shoved in one end with the expectation that they will be stamped anonymously into a shape approved by those running the factory, and emerge as good little serfs.
That’s not how it is supposed to be.
Here’s how the Texas Constitution describes the purpose of education: “A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”
In a rather short period of time, we went from a system devoted to the preservation of liberties and rights to one that pushes porn in libraries and teaches children the color of their skin is more important than the content of their character. All that while rejecting basic truth and failing miserably to teach basic reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Education has gone from “training up” a child to tearing down the moral and religious upbringing of their families.
We all know Jim Mattox was dead wrong. The state might do a decent job stamping out serfs, but it does a miserable job training the heart of a child in the ways of liberty and self-governance.
As parents, our most awesome responsibility isn’t building wealth for ourselves or providing material trinkets to our kids, but is found in securing the future of our children – and of their republic – by training them to love God and serve their neighbors.