Reflections on Life & Liberty
Train Up Your Child…

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 could 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 had refused to become a king, which was a good thing, but Abimelech had other designs. He killed all 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 dropped on him by an unknown woman. As 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. The lives of Gideon and Abimelech provide a cautionary tale of what happens when parents do not do their job.

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.”

In the modern era, education has been reduced to 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. The schools are to produce good little serfs.

That’s not how it is supposed to be. 

The Texas Constitution describes the purpose of education as a “general diffusion of knowledge” that is “essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people”.

In a rather short period of time, we went from a system devoted to ensuring the preservation of God-given liberties to one pushing pornography in libraries. In the upside-down world of modern government education, children are taught that the color of their skin is more important than the content of their character. Meanwhile, the academic evidence indicates that our schools are failing to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Education has gone from “training up” a child to tearing down the moral and religious upbringing students receive from their families. The consequences for our communities and families have been severe.

We all know Jim Mattox was dead wrong. The state might do a decent job creating serfs, but it does a miserable job building up citizens in the godly pursuit of liberty and self-governance.

As parents, our most awesome responsibility isn’t building wealth for ourselves or providing material trinkets to our kids. Rather, we must secure the future for our children and their republic by training them to love God and serve their neighbors.