|by Michael Pearl
This article is part 1 of 5 from No Greater Joy Ministries,
an excellent resource for Christian parents who want to
train-up their children in the Lord.
The homeschool movement has matured to the point that we now have a large pool of graduates from which to survey our successes and failures, and to modify our course accordingly. The first wave, in their late twenties to early thirties, are now married and have children of their own. There are many success stories among them. Success can be measured by tangible or visible achievement, such as the many attorneys, doctors, scientists, teachers, and statesmen who are now making a difference in the world and in the lives of the individuals they touch. But success is best measured by the emotional stability and spiritual perspective that homeschooled young people have carried into their marriages.
Regardless of the prestige of their vocations, we have a new generation of godly parents, not having been tainted by the world. They are now building heavenly marriages and raising a fresh new breed of stable, godly children. While the public school system continues to degenerate into a drug-stupid, sex-oriented, illiterate morass of misfit, Marxist clones, the homeschool movement is producing intelligent, clear-thinking, confident citizens ready to stand in the middle of cascading corruption and declare their allegiance to God and family.
However, not all homeschoolers become success stories. A few fail to measure up fully, while a small percentage fail miserably. Not all homeschool families create themselves equally. Homeschool children are the product of their parents and the culture they provide. There is nothing magical about homechooling itself. It is just a context in which to conduct parenting without interference from humanistic government and the influence of contemporary cultures, which are causing the "devil-lution" of society. When parents choose to homeschool, they are choosing to become the primary example and the prevailing culture for their children. They are "cloning" their worldview—an enormous commitment of responsibility before God.
However, there are two problems. In the first place, some parents are not always good stock for "cloning". The world doesn't need more people "just like them." Secondly, and this will be the main point of our present discussion, there is nothing easy or automatic about culture cloning. You cannot take it for granted that your children are going to adopt your perspective on life. It takes serious commitment and wisdom to duplicate your heart and soul in your children. There was a time, many years ago, when the community life (church, school, the extended family, friends and neighbors) all pointed the children in the right directiona godly direction. Sometimes when parents failed to be good trainers and examples, their deficiency was rectified by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and the local church, around which all social life revolved. But no more. The average church today will send your children to hell as fast as the local video rental store. Community life has gone the way of the old familiar front porch and grandma sitting there shelling beans. Today, you have to be on guard for your uncles and cousins, who may attempt to molest your children. Our present culture is scary enough to send a family packing to the Amazon, taking their chances with drug lords, anacondas, and malaria.
We are receiving far too many letters from parents who tell us that their older children, 15 to 18 years old, are jumping ship, bailing out, changing sides, looking for the meaning of life on the other side of the tracks. Parents are shocked. They tell us, "I kept them from the TV. We homeschooled and homechurched, were careful to only meet with families of like mind. We taught them the Word of God and protected them from evil influences, but the first chance they got to join the world's parade, they did so without hesitation." One woman wrote and told us that she discovered that her two teenage homeschooled boys had been engaging in sodomy since they were young. Another family discovered that every one of their children were engaging in group incest in the first degree. Children everywhere are finding ways to access pornography on the web. One kid was slipping into his neighbor's house when they were gone. A sixteen-year-old girl ran away and shacked up with a druggie. In two years, she was a drunk and a drug addict with a child and a broken jaw where her shiftless man busted her one for sassing him. When one family discovered that their children were engaged in incest, the mother and father stopped going to church and took up drinking themselves. The whole family went to hell with an "I don't care" attitude. One of the girls wrote to us to decry their shameful condition. She told how the family had done devotionals every day and did not watch TV. They did all the "right things", but it just did not take with the kids. She got saved after getting married and having three children, and then became concerned for the rest of her family, especially her lesbian sister.
I know this is depressing to you. It has depressed me to write it, but you need to be forewarned. So the question I seek to answer is, "What can I do to ensure that my children do not jump ship when they get to be 16 or 18 years old?" Let me reframe the question a few times, and then see if you catch a hint of what the answer will be.
What can I do to be sure that my children are actually embracing the values that we teach?
What can I do to prepare my children to resist the temptations of the world?
How can I impart a knowledge of good and evil to my children that will cause them to choose the good?
How can I forewarn and forearm my children without taking away their innocence?
How can I cause them to love righteousness and hate iniquity?
How can I cause them to be patient and wait for the spouse God has prepared for them?
It is hard to communicate with many of you because you have been blinded by the "religion". Even now as you read this, you think I am talking about someone else. You are confident that your family is secure in Bible principles and religious devotion. You have given them a "packaged Christianity" and isolated them from any outside influences, and you are confident that they are safe behind the fence.
There are two problem areas that you must consider. The first one is your own example. You must be all that you want your children to be. You can't drive teenagers; you must lead them. That will be the first point of our discussion. Second, you must not assume that innocence is a hedge. The enemy is not always on the "outside" of your home. There is a big enough and bad enough enemy within the flesh of your own children to scare an angel to death. A child who never even heard of sex of any kind, never saw an example, never has been tempted by any outside source, can discover it on his own and then engage in incest. Genuinely good families who provide righteous examples, can have their children go to hell right in the middle of their carefully constructed and properly maintained sanctuary. While a father and mother are standing guard at the gate that leads out into the world, children of Adam's descent can build their own Sodom from scratch, right under the best example that loving, careful, attentive parents can provide.
For starters, you must sell your children on your worldview. It must be an active and aggressive sell. They cannot be fooled with pretense. By the time a kid is sixteen years old, he will know you better than you know yourself. Teenagers are forming their values based on what they see as valuable. No one can give another person his values. Generally, everyone values what promises to fulfill his deepest desires. If the thing you offer your children does not appeal to them, they will reject it, as they should. Why would anyone choose a path that appears to lead to misery, boredom, or loneliness? How can someone value what is of no value? Teenagers want romance and passion. Girls want tenderness and security with their passion. Boys want a challenge. They must be engaged in conquest. Everyone needs a vision and the means to fulfill it. The quest for goodness and productivity is not enough to contain a sixteen-year-old. Duty and respectability will likely not be their controlling drives.
Many families have a tradition of being "good Christian people." They are hard- working, honest, and respectable. They choose to live a "good life" and avoid the consequences of sin, and so they expect their children to see the wisdom of this lifestyle and choose it for themselves. They attribute their good lifestyle to their religious convictions. They could never even imagine that their children would choose a low-class life of shameful sin.
Parents make the mistake of thinking that their "good life" is a recommendation for the Christian life, but a "good life" can be lived by anyone of any religion, or by an atheist, for that matter, as observation so easily attests. There are Sodomites in the public schools who are happier than some Christians. There are fornicators and adulterers who love each other more than some Christian parents. The movies represent evil people as full of life and fun. Video games, bursting with big-busted women and powerful young men slaying their adversaries, provide the boys with the conquest they need. A trip to the mall reveals to the young person that there is a lot of "loving fun" over on the other side. What have you got that is better? How do they know it to be so? You'd better believe it right now that they won't for a moment buy an "old fogy's" argument.
There are actually only two kinds of lives lived on this planet. The "natural life" whether in doing evil or doing good, or somewhere in between, and the "Jesus life," which is much more than a life of doing or being good. Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). The Jesus life is an abundant life of joy and love. It is a life of honesty, judgment, and sacrificial service. There is no hypocrisy in the Jesus life. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…" (Galatians 5:22-23). Peter says, "ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory…" (1 Peter 1:8). Do your children know you as a person who rejoices with "joy unspeakable", and do they see your life as being "full of glory"? Then, what have you got to offer your kids that will hold them to your worldview? How is the life you have chosen better than any other? Prove it to them without joy, and you will have done the preposterous.
A "good" life without any passion is not worth repeating. Love is always passionate. So is joy and peace. Longsuffering is passionate in its quiet reserve, taking into consideration the needs and feelings of others. Gentleness and goodness are virtues that point to God like a big red arrow. Faith is as lovely as a cherub's wings. Meekness never allows others to feel inferior, and temperance is the ultimate demonstration of the power of God in one's life. The fruit of the Spirit is attractive indeed. Teenagers are attracted to attractive people. If their parents are unattractive, they will fix their admiring gaze on someone who is attractive. A light-hearted spirit of joy and praise is attractive to everyone. Religious convictions worn only on the shirtsleeves are about as attractive as a man sneezing in your face.
The problem is that teenagers are not wise in discerning the difference between true joy and cheap laughter. But, they can easily discern when their parents don't have any joy at all. And then, they come across a person of the world who is light-hearted and full of fun. What do you expect them to do? They don't see the cynicism and rebellion behind the feigned joy. They just know that, for the first time in their lives, they have found a context for their passion. When they are with those kinds of people, they feel alive. They suddenly have hope that life is not always going to be dull and boring.
They find unconditional acceptance with the people of darkness, and since they have never really experienced God's love, they think this is the love they have always missed. They will walk away from their miserable parents and right into the Devil's den without any doubt that they have finally found true meaning in life. They are indeed fools, but their parents were foolishly naïve enough to believe that their teenagers would be content to accept the middle-of-the-road, principled but passionateless religion that never brought a shred of joy.
Parents' ability to communicate their worldview to their children is mostly bound up in their personal relationship to each other. If Mother and Father have a romance that is visible, a joy that is uncontained, and a passion that is enviable, their children will want to travel the same road in hopes of reaping the same fruit in their own lives.
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