This topic concerns the frequently broached problem of home schooling, that of socialization. In this article, I will address a few of the key things that are seen as problems, what we have experienced, and how we deal with ‘socialization’ as a means of accomplishing God’s will for our lives and that of our children.
Lets’ face it: Home schooling can really be challenging when it comes to hanging out with people. Scripture is clear that there is a type of isolation that isn’t good for anyone:
“He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom.” – Proverbs 18:1, NAS
That being said, the reasons we privately school our children at home include what we perceive as a need to separate ourselves from some types of people. But, the people we desire to separate ourselves from are not ‘people in general’, but rather those who will at best undermine our attempt (imperfect though it is at times) to train our children toward fearing God, and at worst directly oppose it. The verse above (Proverbs 18:1) seems to be more consistent with those who are not gaining Godly counsel and wisdom, and may be in fact acting in opposition to it. Let’s be clear… God desires Godly Offspring who worship Him in sincerity according to His commands:
“But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.” Malachi 2:15 (Emphasis Mine)
“”For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”
Isaiah 66:2 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth”
John 4:24 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46
And, there are some types of people that God directs us to stay away from (this is a short list):
Proverbs 1:10 – Sinful men (the morally reprobate)
Proverbs 2:12 – Men whose speech are perverse
Proverbs 6:24 – Your neighbor’s adulterous wife
Proverbs 7 – The adulterous woman
Proverbs 23:20 – Drunks and those who don’t control their appetites when eating
Proverbs 24:21 – Those who are given to political change via overthrowing the existing governmental order
1 Corinthians 5:11 – Alleged Christians who are sexually immoral, not controlled in his appetites and always wanting more, one who values anything more than valuing God, one who usually is insulting others, one who gets drunk, and one who cheats others of money
The issue then becomes, do you value God’s word more than you value the supposed friendship you have with the person mentioned in the list above? And the converse:
1 Corinthians 5:10 – “not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.” (Note – verse 9 is repeated in verse 11 mentioned above, and further fleshed out in verse 11)
So, you have to interact with people in the world who are immoral, greedy, swindlers, and idolaters. You have to avoid people who call themselves Christians and practice those things. This interaction with the world and those of the world system requires wisdom, because our goal is to win the world to Jesus Christ.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
Our goal is also the growth and sanctification of ourselves, our children, and those actual Christians among us. The reason it is so dangerous to be hanging around people who call themselves Christians but practice the sins mentioned above is the nature of the corrupting influence of bad company on good morals, especially toward children who are so easily influenced. Hanging around these people make it easier to sin, and we are responsible for our own sins. The thing that destroys our lives and reputations the most is our own sinfulness, but our sinfulness can be exacerbated (made worse) by being around people who should be practicing Godliness but continue in doing evil.
When interacting with people in ‘the world’, what you have to keep in mind are at least four things:
- Because they are spiritually dead, but made in God’s image, they at times are going to behave in a way that reflects both truths… they will do evil things and they will do kind things. God’s law is written on the heart of every human being, and each person is without excuse for rejecting God’s salvation as seen in Jesus Christ.
- We all interact in the same world that God created, therefore they are capable of making observations about the world and nature that can have a measure of accuracy. To the level that a person’s world view affects their observations, they cannot be trusted… namely – the sky is blue is pretty easy for everyone to see. It is also easy for a person who is trained in the sciences to describe various conditions: e.g., your aorta is plugged. Here is how to get it unplugged. When it comes to describing the spiritual or what some call the nouthetic aspects of people (also called psychological by the world), unless they do so through soundly interpreted scripture, it is literally impossible for them to make accurate descriptions of why people do the things they do, vitamin deficiencies and the like not withstanding. It is impossible to have a sound understanding of scripture without being actually born again.
- You are not to embrace them or entrust yourself to them in a way that forgets that apart from God’s Grace, their final end is destruction in the lake of fire. You are not allied with them in spiritual ventures, especially the training and raising of your children in a manner that fears God. They aren’t interested in that.
- Because they do not have a conscience guided by God’s revealed word – the scripture – they cannot be trusted on a human level to do the right thing. That being said, acting in good faith toward them can produce the effects of their doing the right thing. They can do this because of God’s common grace shown to them.
Our firm conviction is that God’s word is sufficient for all matters pertaining to life and Godliness. We don’t need the ‘latest and greatest’ psychological studies when we have the mind of God guiding us with His Spirit by His word. Therefore, we don’t have to be afraid of those who would hold us to a standard that is not God’s standard as it concerns ‘socialization’. To be sure, there is a type of ‘street smarts’ that comes with interacting with the world; but our goal is to help our children develop the skills of interaction based on an understanding of what God’s word shows us proper interaction in relationships is and should be… so that they will have the context for interacting rightly and appropriately with others. My speculation is that the need for ‘socialization’ as it is referred to is a secular means of trying to control parents who are seeking some valid reason to oppose the downward spiral that the culture has manifested as it rages against God in the public arena. The ‘rage’ can be vehement at times, or subtly communicated, but it is against the things that God values, nonetheless. Most of the problems we have experienced have been from fellow believers, and the thing they mention the most is socialization. So, let’s go ahead and address the problems with private schooling at home that people cite:
- The mother and children are not around others outside of the family for most of the day, resulting in a gradual slide in terms of a free-flowing interaction with those who are not a part of the family. This isolation can be numbing for people who feel that they need interacting with others on a regular basis.
- Dads are uninvolved due to their being at work throughout the day. When they try to get involved, there may be no venue, or there may be unwise venues for interacting with other adults and children.
- When around others, the children, due to being warned so much about others, behave in a socially awkward way.
How then do we deal with other families and the public at large when we are at a variety of venues?
The overall strategy is this: If the children are too young to protect themselves from those who would hurt them by way of direct or indirect opposition, it is our job to protect them. We are to train them so that they can recognize and defend themselves against such attacks and then perform a ‘judo’ maneuver in order to be ‘salt and light’ in a crooked and perverse generation. This training requires separation for a time, and then ongoing coaching as they encounter situations in the world as we go about our business in day to day life and while they are still under our roof.
The immediate tactics are these:
- Be involved in the things that are helpful for your family to whatever degree you can, outside of the home, in order to have the types of experiences helpful for the growth and development of your children.
- Be involved in a variety of aspects of life so that your children can see experientially the big picture of interacting with others in this life informed by God’s word, teaching and training them as you go about living life.
- This interaction obviously doesn’t mean that you let your values slide or embrace those that aren’t in alignment with God’s word (soundly interpreted)
- Don’t be dishonest or insincere – trying to make yourself out to be something that you aren’t.
- Do your best to present yourself in the best way possible so that you make the word of God attractive… let your walk first be evident before you talk… but at the same time don’t neglect to talk when the occasion arises, trusting God for guidance through His word and His Spirit during the various aspects of interacting with the world that you encounter. This process is just like fishing… waiting for the fish to show an interest.
- Don’t get stressed out about ‘being in the world’ – you aren’t of it and God has you in the palm of His loving hand. However, if it will bother someone else’s conscience, and the someone else is a Christian, then you refrain from doing the course of action because of the Christian’s conscience. Let God be the one to help the person grow to whatever other convictions may be necessary for that person.
- Rejoice that you are going to heaven! Going to a shopping mall with the variety of music and images around can be completely discouraging. Avoid the discouraging places if at all possible. But, when you must be around that trash, keep perspective that you are going to heaven.
- Finally, remember that you were a part of the same world system, and that apart from God’s Grace in your life, you still would be. And you would like it, even as you pursued a course of life that would destroy you in this world and reap further destruction in the next. Have pity on these people. Don’t be like them, though.
And remember, God sees what is happening. If you become isolated as a result of living according to a Godly standard, don’t let that trouble you. Instead, be happy – according to what Jesus said in Matthew 5, GREAT is your reward in heaven when people persecute you and treat you badly because of His kingdom… even if these people are Christians who have been misled or unbelievers who say they are Christians. God is protecting you in the various circumstances you are in. Isn’t what we see rather clearly shown in this verse?:
“Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at His word: “Your brothers who hate you, who exclude you for My name’s sake, Have said, ‘Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy.’ But they will be put to shame.” Isaiah 66:5