Question and Answer

Is public schooling permissible or not?

Question:

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.

Answer:

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.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

Return to Formatted Page