Working with Social Institutions (2)

Most Christians in the West today think the government wants to help us. They think their Education Department’s goal is to help children be well educated. But is this true?

Departments are dominated by bureaucrats, with a job to do. Forms need to be filled out, properly. Procedures need to be followed, on time. The quality of education is really not high on their list of priorities. To their mind, there are more important things to consider: their career.

Every bureaucracy sees itself as the answer to all possible problems. Instead of the free workings of the people, of the market-place, of the churches, families, and institutions of a society, a bureaucracy sees all solutions in terms of bureaucratic action and control. In terms of this, nothing is more dangerous to a bureaucracy than freedom, and the ideas of a bureaucracy and a free people are mutually contradictory.[1]

The rules are structured to suit the bureaucrats, not families. Why? That’s how the bureaucrats like it.

Parents must understand that Departments of Education have a government enforced monopoly of control. The department may give lip-service to the notion of family influence within the curriculum or school, but that’s all. That is merely the maintenance of a good façade. What counts to them, is the maintenance of departmental power. The care and love of children and families? Never comes into it.

Most Ministers of Education are heavily influenced by their Departments. Why would a Minister initiate change? Change will not come without social resistance to bureaucrats, when the Department is shown to be utterly self-serving, and the Minister has a stark choice: stick with the Department and look weak and incompetent, or hear the voice of a frustrated, disgruntled populace and initiate legislative and Departmental change.

There is a second reason why education departments are keen to maintain a monopoly. Like the silversmiths of Acts 19:23-27, they want to protect their business monopoly, and their future. If a large proportion of the community was able to successfully educate their children without any reference to an educational bureaucracy, that bureaucracy would clearly be irrelevant. That could mean the loss of hundreds, and ultimately many thousands of tax-payer funded jobs, the total collapse and elimination of seven state or federal departments in Australia, and a saving to taxpayers running into many billions.

Departments cannot afford to let this happen, so they will fight tooth and nail, and coerce families by various means (including the threat of prosecution), to try and ensure children are enrolled in a departmentally registered institution, or else registered to homeschool. Any other scenario would be absolutely unthinkable for them, for it means a loss of control.[2]

There is exactly one authentically radical social movement of any real significance in the United States, and it is not Occupy, the Tea Party, or the Ron Paul faction. It is homeschoolers, who, by the simple act of instructing their children at home, pose an intellectual, moral, and political challenge to the government-monopoly schools, which are one of our most fundamental institutions and one of our most dysfunctional. Like all radical movements, homeschoolers drive the establishment bats.[3]

I want to obey the government. I want to show appropriate submission and respect to a Police Officer or parliamentarian. But if he moves out of the realm of what God has called government to do, I will have to consider carefully how to resolve this matter, and act accordingly. Peter explained that “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Christians must realise that we need to utilise shrewdness in dealing with educational bureaucrats. Some folks who read Romans 13 narrowly or exclusively may claim that “we should always obey the law of the land.” But they need to understand this theological principle:                                                           

 the Biblical doctrine of a subject is ALL that the Bible says on a subject.

Paul, aware of the Old Testament concept of the multiplicity of rulers, summarizes the concept of decentralisation when he speaks of “governing authorities” (Romans 13:1), “rulers” (v.3), “servants” (v.6). Also, he commands us to “render to all what is due to them” (v.7). The emphasis is on the plurality of powers. The New Testament concept of civil government is consistent with the Old Testament concept of a decentralised state.[4]

Any Christian today who believes that Christians should be unconditionally obedient to authorities need to read their Bibles a bit more, and see that God’s people (with God’s leading and help) have often had to utilise some imaginative means to work around evil, unjust rulers. Abraham (Gen.12:10-20; 20:1-18) and Isaac (Gen.26:1-11) had to do this, while Jacob had to deal with his brother Esau who wanted to kill him (Gen.27:41), and Laban (his father-in-law) who sought to abuse him. In both cases God helped him escape (Gen.27-28; 31:3).

David had to use his imagination when he knew his king and father-in-law Saul wanted to kill him (I Sam.19-24). He knew that if he wasn’t careful he’d be dead. God used his wife Michal, who gave him some blunt, life-saving advice (I Sam.19:11),[5] and God also protected him providentially. In a remarkable display of divine care for a godly, innocent family, God showed Joseph and Mary what to do when Herod wanted to kill Jesus (Mat.2:13-23).

Rahab is to my mind, the classic. When she met the two spies, she knew that the game was up for Jericho.  She engaged in what could only be called “godly treachery.” She changed sides religiously, becoming a woman of godly faith, saying, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us…” (Joshua 2:9). She sheltered two men of God at the risk of her life, because their God was now her God, and she became an ancestor of our Lord (Mat.1:5).  The New Testament later endorsed her actions (Heb.11:31; James 2:25).

Should Christians in Nazi-occupied Europe in 1944 have obeyed a law requiring them to hand Jews over to the Gestapo, knowing those Jews would be killed? You won’t find a verse in the Bible for that, but you’ll find plenty to endorse protecting the innocent from harm. That’s what Jehoshabeath did with Joash, when the child’s evil grandmother Athaliah sought to kill all her grandchildren (II Chron.22:10-12). Joash later became king (II Chron. 24:1).

I understand that some believers would be reluctant to consider the Department of Education in this context, but let’s not hide from this fact. Every year in Australia, 80,000-100,000 babies are aborted in public hospitals, with State and Federal Department of Health sanction and funding. Frankly, we are no better off morally than Egypt did under Pharoah: government sanctioned murder of babies. That’s how much we have degenerated.

Conclusion:                                                                                                                           

Christians don’t seek to be classified as rebels. But the notion of unconditional obedience isn’t found in the Bible. Our obedience and faithfulness to Jesus Christ means that we have divine requirements upon us. Obedience to God means that we must (like Rahab) deal shrewdly with what others try to require of us. Sometimes we must learn to live like Les and Lucy Lay-low.

Why? Because “the prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it” (Prov.22:3).


[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “Roots of Reconstruction,” 1991, p.355.

[2] Andrew McColl, “The Significance of the Godly Family,” 2009, ch.5, “The Family and Education.”

[3] Kevin Williamson, “The Last Radicals,” The National Review, October 2012.

[4] Gary Demar, “God and Government,” 2001, Vol.1, p.47.

[5] Andrew McColl, “They Shall Become One,” 2009, ch.19.