Embassy of Heaven

Education Under Heaven

 

PayPal Donate

Previous Page Home Page Next Page

Educating children at home

Should we obey state laws?

Nearly every family who is educating their children at home is confronted with the question: Should we disobey the state law? While in most states, it is not illegal to school at home, the state does impose certain requirements upon parents who home school. State law may require that parents register with the school district. They may require that a particular home school program be approved. Children who are home schooled might be required to be tested regularly. Parents who do not comply with these regulations may find themselves being visited by truant officers threatening to take away their children if they continue home schooling. Or fathers may face child neglect or other criminal charges if they refuse to comply with the demands of a school superintendent.

Even though we are engaged in the Biblically-ordained activity of educating our children in the way they should go, the state may view us as lawbreakers. At what point do we submit ourselves to the state's demands? If the state wants to be notified that we are educating our children at home, do we notify them? If the state wants our children tested each year, do we have our children tested? If the school district demands that we show them the textbooks we are using, do we show them? If the superintendent wants us to come to his office for a visit, do we go? When do we "give to those who ask" and when do we "obey God rather than men?"

Some advocate a position of "total obedience" to the state. After all Peter does say, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake" (I Peter 2:13).

At the other extreme of this issue are those who advocate "total disobedience" based on the principle that "we ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).

The answer to this dilemma lies in knowing our residency. If we are residents of the state, then it is a privilege granted by the state to home school. And that privilege can be regulated or even taken away. But if we are residents of Heaven, then the state is a foreign entity to us. The state school system is not our school system and our children are not eligible to attend public schools unless we pay nonresident rates. We do not educate our children under a state-granted privilege. We educate our children under the authority of Jesus Christ.

Can residents of Heaven ask for "approval"?

At the cornerstone of all the regulations imposed upon those who educate their children at home are the "approval laws." An "approval law," in effect, grants permission to a state resident to home school if the local superintendent approves. Once you've submitted to the approval laws, you've obligated yourself to submitting to other state requirements such as mandatory testing of children or state approval of your curriculum. Many states have approval laws. Should residents of Heaven seek approval from the state to educate their children? No, and neither did Daniel when he was faced with a similar situation.

The incident is recorded in Daniel, Chapter 1. Daniel purposed in his heart to obey God, regardless of what men might say.

Daniel was a captive in Babylon being trained in government service. His training was in what could be called the Babylonian Public School system. This system had compulsory attendance and compulsory eating laws. Daniel was commanded to eat the king's meat and drink the king's wine. To do so would have violated the instructions Daniel had received from God's law.

On the surface it may seem Daniel sought and obtained approval from the Babylonian school system to engage in his alternative eating program. But the crucial fact is recorded in the eighth verse, "Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank."

Daniel proposed an alternative vegetarian diet. But it didn't matter how the officials answered because Daniel had already purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself. If Daniel would have asked the Babylonian officials for "approval" of his eating program, he would have been submitting himself to the decision of the officials. If they would have disapproved, he would have been forced to defile himself with the king's meat.

Similarly, when those who educate at home ask for "approval," they are really saying, "We will abide by your decision. If you approve of our home education program, then we will continue. But if you say no, we will quit educating our children at home." When parents submit to "approval laws," they obligate themselves to abide by the decision of the officials.

If Daniel had sought "approval," even though he had purposed in his heart not to defile himself, he would have been deceitful. In the same way, parents who purpose in their heart to educate their children at home, are being deceitful if they seek approval from the state. If God has instructed them to educate at home, they have all the authority they need. They should not seek approval from men.

Daniel wisely avoided submitting himself to the official's decision or even appearing as though he planned to do so. Instead, he gave the official notice that he was opting out of the King's eating program.

If we believe that God forbids us to seek state approval for the education of our children, we need to stand on that conviction. When we are questioned about our children's education, we can give notice to the officials that our children are being educated under the authority of Jesus Christ through His Church. Now we have informed the officials of our intent, which is far different from asking for their permission. In a kind way, we have told the state officials that our children's education is none of their business - it is the Lord's business.

Daniel is one of God's prime examples of a man who maintained a proper separation from ungodly government. Daniel had no problem giving the officials notice of his intent to obey God. When we are questioned by school officials, we can do the same. Daniel was a man of conviction who was prepared to go to the lion's den if need be. Let us pray that we also stand until the end when our convictions are tested.

Reprinted from Embassy of Heaven NEWSLETTER, Issue No. 924, Fall 1992.

Previous Page Home Page Next Page