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Question and Answer

Is public schooling permissible or not?


I would like some biblical guidance regarding the debate over public schooling vs. homeschooling vs. private schooling. We have three kids; all three have either been homeschooled or in private school in the past, and currently our older two are in a public charter school and our youngest is in a private Christian school. In both of the OPC churches that we’ve attended for the last 20 years, the vast majority of families have homeschooled their children, and we (especially my wife) have definitely felt the attitude of all our Christian friends is “homeschooling is best, public schooling is just not an option if you’re a good Christian parent.”

This is very frustrating for my wife especially, since the majority of the burden falls on her whenever we’ve homeschooled. Are we sinning by having our kids in public school? Our boys in public school are professing believers who show good fruit spiritually (mostly), but they definitely see the difference in other kids around them. Biblical guidance is needed! We’ve always been taught that it’s a wisdom call, but so many people do the homeschooling route that the passive (and not-so-passive) peer pressure to go this way is significant. Is it just peer pressure, or are we not doing what’s best for our kids? Our boys are older, and the level of schooling they are doing now (especially math and science) often exceeds that which we are comfortable teaching. Is that a good enough reason to “send them into the world,” as we feel some of our Christian friends think we are doing?

Sorry for the rambling question—many years of questions and frustrations coming out. We want to be faithful. We need guidance. Thank you.


I can hear the pain in your words here! We are in an extraordinary day in our nation as Christians. There are various forces and opinions at work in the pressure you are feeling. And it leads to self-doubt. So it is easy to wonder, with enough pressure, just what is the right thing to do. You made the choice to place your youngest in a private Christian school, but you have chosen to put the other two into a public charter school. So you hear voices of, no doubt, well intentioned fruit-bearing brethren in Christ, telling you that you are making a mistake. What to do?

I am not repeating your words to be tedious, but to point out that you are feeling pressure from well-meaning voices and so are doubting your choice. But you have been taught in the past that it is a wisdom call. And so it is. But who is the author of wisdom? James 1:5 tells us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask of God who will give it generously. I assume you made your decision after much prayer and searching of Scripture. But if you did search Scripture, I think you found no reference to how to school your children, other than that you are responsible as their parents for teaching them. Now you are not kept by Scripture from delegating that responsibility to a professional teacher. You are responsible, though, for keeping track of what they are learning from the teachers in that private Christian school, and I am confident that you approved of their curriculum and are sure that they are not being taught anything that violates your own biblical values, that you regularly ask your children what they are learning. That being the case, because you have prayed and are seeking wisdom from Scripture, you should thank your friends for their concern but continue to stay your course.

Bottom line: if you are raising them in the Lord and believe God has given you the wisdom you asked him for, then do not let dissenting voices disturb you. If they continue to criticize you, express gratitude for their concern and ask them to pray for God to honor your decision for your children. In short, trust that the Lord is guiding you and continue to ask him to do so and to protect your children. Keep the Lord before your eyes and do not look back unless you yourselves see a problem on your own.

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

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