Homeschooling and Economics

For you were called to freedom, brethren… (Gal.5:13).

The gospel has application to all of life, and that most certainly includes education, but also economics.

How do we know that? Two of the Ten Commandments deal directly with economics: the prohibitions on stealing (the Eighth), and covetousness (the Tenth). The confiscation by Ahab of Naboth’s vineyard, and Ahab’s subsequent murder of Naboth through Jezebel, led to Elijah confronting Ahab, and pronouncing God’s curse and judgment on his family (I Kings 21).

It’s logical that ungodly governments always despise Biblical economics. At the crucifixion, government agents even stole Jesus’ clothes.

And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves, by casting lots (Mat.27:35).

The Bible has a lot to teach us about employer/employee relationships, going back to Jacob and Laban in Genesis. God setting His people free from Egypt’s slavery was firstly a religious issue, but also an economic phenomenon. Thus religion and economics are inextricably linked.

The case laws of Exodus (Ex.21-23) refer to employment both directly and indirectly, such as “You shall not follow the masses in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute” (Ex.23:2-3). God even gives specific instructions about the payment of wage-earners, commanding that “You shall not oppress your neighbour, nor rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning” (Lev.19:13).

John the Baptist gave directions about employment (Luke 3:10-14), as did Paul (Eph.6:5-9), while some commentators claim that a third of our Lord’s words were about money.

The issue of the inheritance is a vital Biblical theme, and an important aspect of economics. Proverbs tells us that “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous” (Prov.13:22). The Psalmist testified that God “…chooses our inheritance for us” (Ps.47:4), and that “You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name” (Ps.61:5). The theme of the inheritance continues all the way till Revelation: “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son” (Rev.21:7).

The issue of the inheritance was at the centre of one of Jesus’ last controversies with the Pharisees. At the conclusion of His Parable of the Vineyard, Jesus plainly identified the chief priests and the Pharisees as those who would say of the son of the landowner, “…This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance” (Mat.21:38).

From cover to cover, the Bible is really a radical free-market document, but we don’t have true economic freedom in Australia. Partly out of the Church’s ignorance and laxity, we’ve grown to tolerate a lot of things that have no place in a free society. A large proportion of Australian employees cannot negotiate aspects of their employment with their employers, without either the threat of the forced intervention of a government appointed bureaucracy called Fair Work Australia, or a union that employees may not have wished to join in the first place, but were compelled to, in order to secure employment.

That happened to me in 1990. And you thought this was a free country?

This means that penalty rates, public holidays, weekend work, hours of work, superannuation and other conditions of employment which can be critical issues affecting business profitability, can become untouchable subjects: beyond negotiation. And if an employer is struggling to compete internationally because his labour costs are simply too high, he may have to just close his doors. These have been contributing aspects leading to the recent closure of all of Australia’s motor vehicle plants, along with other manufacturers.

I like going to supermarkets from time to time. Why?

Because of the choices and the prices, and because there’s hardly any government interference there. There is a price-war at the moment between Coles and Woolworths, and the beneficiaries are consumers (and possibly shareholders). These two companies are going toe-to-toe in their respective bids to outdo one another. That’s capitalism at work; one of the outcomes of Biblical influence in our community.

The government agency, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the ACCC), claims on its website that

We monitor fuel prices to prevent any misleading or anti-competitive conduct that may harm consumers.

But it isn’t really an institution that protects the free-market at all. It has intervened to stop Coles and Woolworths using fuel vouchers how they’d like to: to get more business.

Why? Because the ACCC doesn’t want “predatory pricing.” It doesn’t like the fact that big companies can use their advantages of scale to take business from the smaller companies. What’s wrong with that, when the consumer benefits? In taking this action to protect smaller petrol retailers, the ACCC violates what God had commanded in Exodus: “…nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute.”

Capitalism wins hands down every time, over socialism, or any other “ism.” Take items like yoghurt, shampoo, fruit-juice, ice cream or coffee. The variety of these items available in the big supermarket chains is enormous, because the big companies want to give you every opportunity to spend money in their shop.

Why is this important for you? Because it’s an aspect of the Christian world-view you can be diligently explaining to your children.

Is capitalism perfect? No, because people are never perfect; there are sinful, evil capitalists. But as an economic system, capitalism has won by a country mile over all its competitors, historically.

It’s not just the economics of employee/employer relationships that are regularly violated in Australia. Consider what happened in 2011, when the Federal government overnight, shut down the live cattle export market to Indonesia, from northern Australia. This scandalous act to appease the animal welfare/green lobby at the expense of cattle producers, was initiated with the broadcast of one government –funded TV program.

Now (thankfully), that industry is re-building and growing quickly, but the government’s unethical intervention threw their industry into confusion and cost farmers millions, whilst Australia’s international reputation as a reputable supplier was trashed. Under the guise of “animal welfare,” the government’s actions were no less immoral than Ahab’s confiscation of Naboth’s vineyard.

Does the Bible speak of animal welfare?

Yes, in a number of places. Here’s one: “The righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel” (Prov.12:10). But when Biblical morality is despised and short-term political outcomes are the goal, we can be sure the consequences will be evil and fearful. As Chesterton warned, “There is above all, this supreme stamp of the barbarian; the sacrifice of the permanent to the temporary.”

Rushdoony was right:

The humanistic governments seek a short-cut to learning by means of power. The seizure of power has as its goal to speed up history and growth; in reality, it retards or destroys it because it denies the fact of man’s fall. It substitutes the planning of an elite for the predestination of God, and the result is disaster.[1]

Conclusion:                                                                                                                                 The Chinese have a saying: Every journey starts with a few small steps. The economics of the free-market, derived directly from the Bible, apply across the board. This is why Christians must be at the forefront of healthy community reform, pushing back the tide of government interventionism wherever its present.

And this is a long-term issue that won’t be dealt with overnight. Economic interventionism by government has become endemic in communities throughout the world on our watch, as we Christians have tolerated it, to our shame.

Now, it’s time we changed our tune, taking Biblical commands seriously, beginning with the education of the young, yours and mine. Every nation needs smaller government, less taxation, and more freedom. It’s simply an aspect of thinking and living Biblically, where homeschooling parents can contribute so much to their children, teaching them from the scriptures, “…the law of liberty” (James 2:12).

Are you ready for that?


[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “Romans and Galatians,” 1997, p.278-9.

Children Don’t Need School (12)

There is a continuing relationship in the Bible between seed and subduing. Genesis 1:28 commanded mankind to be fruitful and multiply (seed) and to subdue the earth. After the Fall of man, God’s covenantal promise to Eve involved her seed: hers would bruise the head of the serpent (Gen.3:15) and God’s curse on Adam involved the ground and his efforts to subdue it. The importance of genealogies in Hebrew culture was based on this promise to Eve: tracing the covenant line and the lines of those who had become the seed of Satan…

Abraham received two promises, the promise of a land (12:1) which would be given to his seed (12:7). Here would be a land for Abraham’s seed to subdue for the glory of God.[1]

Abraham had two problems when it came to children. Firstly, for he and Sarah, this really seemed impossible. It was, for most of their married life, until God gave them a miracle, and Isaac was born.

Secondly, when Isaac did come along, Abraham had to prepare him for his inheritance, the promises of God. This is no simple matter for any godly parent, for God is certainly faithful, but we manage to find plenty of ways to get ourselves in tangles, and make a mess of things, through sin. Inheritances can be forfeited by poor and evil choices, and Genesis itself is packed full of stories of that, from Cain to Reuben.

Genesis 24:1-8 shows us that Abraham had reservations about Isaac’s capacities to make a wise choice, when it came to a wife. Abraham wanted his servant to go on a journey for him, and bring her back, for he was confident that

…He [God] will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there (Gen.24:7).

That way, Isaac would just need to welcome her and marry her. That made it very simple! That didn’t mean that all would be plain sailing. Isaac nearly did make a mess of it, when he (many years later) wanted to bless his elder son Esau.

Implicitly, this would be in breach of God’s word to Rebekah, for He had said to Rebekah, when Jacob and Esau struggled together in the womb, that “…the older [Esau] would serve the younger” (Gen.25:23). Furthermore Esau, without a care, had sold his birthright to Jacob, for a bowl of stew (Gen.25:29-34). Why would a godly father wish to give his blessing to a son displaying these character qualities?

It took some fancy footwork on the part of Rebekah and Jacob to get around Isaac’s thoughtless plan (see Gen.27), but they did. I believe they were justified in doing so.

North points out that

Rebekah understood the motivation and character weakness of her husband. She had seen him favor Esau with his love from the beginning. Now he was about to defy God, cheat Jacob, and bless the elder son. Like Esau, Isaac was guilty of the sin of honoring his belly more than God’s promises, almost like the belly-worshipping sinners criticized by Paul (Phil.3:18-19). There was no time to lose. Rebekah made an assessment concerning the likelihood that she and Jacob could convince Isaac to reverse his judgment of a lifetime concerning the respective merits of the two sons, and she decided that deception, rather than an appeal to God’s word, was more likely to succeed. After all, the two sons were 84 years old. Isaac had not yet seen the light.[2]

Later, the scripture described Esau as “… a godless person…who sold his own birthright for a single meal” (Heb.12:16).

Godly children (even as adults) need instruction in what it means to be a faithful son or daughter, and a steward of the Lord’s inheritance. This is a subject that the scripture has a lot to say about, and it certainly begins with the child’s attitude towards God and His Word.

Is this what you’ve been training your children in?


[1] Gary North, “The Dominion Covenant,” 1987, p.172.

[2] North, p.189.

Children Don’t Need School (11)

Biblical economics affirms that children are a blessing, since they are a form of social capital. Men are to become effective stewards of God’s resources. They are to invest in their children by constantly training them in the precepts of biblical law (Deut.6:7). They are to encourage them to take up a productive calling before God. But parents are entitled to a return on their investment. Children are supposed to provide for their parents in the latters’ old age. Parents are therefore to be honored (Ex.20:12). Honoring God involves giving one’s financial substance (Prov.3:9). Parents are also deserving of this financial honor.

Jesus strongly criticized the Pharisees of His day for their denial of this law, in the name of tradition. They refused to support their parents by claiming that they were themselves without assets, having “given to God” all that they had (Mark 7:6-13). This “higher spirituality” in defiance of God’s law was repudiated by Christ.

Children must support aged parents. The parents get the financial security they deserve; their investment in their children is returned to them in direct fashion. This increases the likelihood that parents will honor their obligations while their children are young. The family becomes a trans-generational economic unit-one worth investing in.[1]

The Christian person is obligated to hear the word of God and obey it. Logically, there will be occasions when he finds that his structures of belief and action lack integrity, and he needs to change.

God doesn’t need to change what He thinks and does. We do, for we are His servants, and as we grow in the faith, we learn. Christian maturity presupposes we’ll need to change in order to conform to His perfect will, and this will inevitably involve our attitudes to money, assets and giving. It also involves our family, and our children.

“Constantly training them in the precepts of biblical law,” means they will come to know that the scriptures are extremely practical, relevant documents, designed to be understood and applied. This commences with the Ten Commandments[2], with all their applications to life, then should continue to studying the case laws (Ex.21-23).[3]

These help us to see how God has structured His Word to be extremely practical. We are not to be like blind men, intellectually groping around for some kind of truth, but to seek out  scriptural instruction. That was the intention of us having His word, from the beginning.

The Psalmist wrote,

Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart (Ps.119:34).

Biblical law will show us just how much we in the church have walked away from His Word. Every part of the nonsense that most of the world is enduring today over Corona-19, has to do with God’s people neglecting to be instructed from Leviticus 13 and 14, which deals with laws relating to contagious diseases. In summary, only those infected were to undergo restrictions. Taking note of these, we could have instructed governments of the folly of “Lockdowns,” of enforced wearing of masks, closing state borders and other awful intrusions into our liberties, so that the community could go on in its normal state. And this would be just the beginning.

Public schools have taught us there is another way: the humanistic way. When Christian parents send their children to the public school, they are subjecting them to 14,000 hours of humanistic indoctrination, spread over 12 years. Is it any wonder that so frequently, they abandon the faith?

But, the Bible says that

Adversity pursues sinners, but the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity (Prov.13:21).

Conclusion:

Educating our children at home requires parents to seriously consider what they believe and why. It means we have to go and seek out what the Bible says about a host of important subjects (like economics, taxation and defence) that may be new areas of study to us. And that means investigating godly authors who have gone and done their work, leaving it to posterity.

This will be good for us, our families, the church, and the community. And social health will be the consequence, because “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…” (Ps.33:12).

And children don’t need school.


[1]Gary North, “The Dominion Covenant,” 1987, p.170-71.

[2]Rousas Rushdoony, “The Institutes of Biblical Law,” 1973.

[3]Gary North, “Tools of Dominion: the Case Laws of Exodus,” 1999.

Children Don’t Need School (10)

Take Your Children with You

By Andrew McColl, 2/2/2021

When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him (Mat.8:23).

Even though my father died in 1970 when I was fifteen, and I was away at boarding school for about 75% of his last four years, I have retained a lot of positive recollections of him. Now that I’m a father and a grandfather, these recollections are important to me.

This shows us that we need to give our children plenty of positive recollections of childhood. This is not hard to do, and these will be important to them, later on. Furthermore, we want to ensure we are not Absentee Parents, preferring to make excuses to avoid being with our children. It would be difficult to think of something more short-sighted, selfish or stupid, for a parent to engage in.

Growing up on a farm, work was never far away. The prospect of working on a farm doesn’t seem to be strange for me, and there was so much to do on the farm, as a child. In my case, farm went with family. We had a house-cow that needed milking daily, dogs and chickens to be fed, and horses that could be ridden, when moving cows or sheep. Sometimes we’d have pet lambs or calves to feed, that had lost their mother. And we had lots on machinery to use, too.

When we were shearing, someone needed to be on task in the shearing shed, to fill the shearers’ pens, so they didn’t run out of sheep to shear. All of these tasks could be dealt with by a child around 12 years old. Some would say, much younger.

We butchered our own sheep on the farm, and I watched my Dad do this, from start to finish. It was pretty earthy, but that’s how many farm people get their meat. Many years later, when I spent 7 years working in a sheep abattoir, it was neither new nor ugly to me.

Dad and Mum went on a trip to England in 1963, to visit Mum’s family. Dad had met her in England, late in 1944, marrying her the following year, immediately after the war. I stayed with my Aunt and Uncle for 6-8 weeks. When they got back, there was discussion about the new planes they’d travelled in, and all they’d done. Jet aeroplanes were now available, and I listened to family discussions of the merits of the Douglas DC-8, verses the Boeing 707. (The Boeing was supposed to be better).

All this was interesting to me, firstly, because Dad had been a World War II pilot. He’d been  shot down and ditched in a Norwegian fjord in February 1945, but survived. Secondly, it was a whole new world of masculine discussion to engage in, though I was only 8. I understood some of it.

We were not big cattle farmers, but our cows were part of what we did for a living on what’s  called a “mixed farm,” where we bred our own cows. When I was about 10, my Dad stopped in at the end of the school day to pick me up in our truck, with what was called a “cattle-float” on the back. This was a strong, steel structure, to enclose cows safely for travel. He took me to buy a new bull, from the Freudenstein brothers, who bred Short-Horn cattle,  maybe 30 minutes from home.

We looked at a number of young bulls in their cattle yards, and Dad settled on one, then they negotiated the price. It was to be “three and a half,” which was a kind of code for 350 guineas. (This was before Australia changed to decimal currency in 1966). The new bull (“Freudy”) went on the back of the truck, and we went home.

On the one hand, there was nothing novel or unusual about this, but on the other hand, it was quite special. I observed Dad’s judgment, his negotiations, and got to have a ride with my Dad in the truck with the new bull, home after school. That was unusual!

Every year we would holiday at Manly (a sea-side suburb of Sydney) for 3 weeks in January. This was the highlight of the year, and our family would meet up on the beach with cousins, aunts/uncles, and lots of locals from where we lived. Being in Sydney was a different world from the farm. Lots of people, traffic, swimming in salt water, fish and chips and ice-creams!

While we were at Manly, Dad arranged over the years for each of us to have swimming lessons in a big, deep saltwater pool, with a male coach he knew. He’d be there, too. I remember having a little cylindrical steel tank strapped to my back, to keep me afloat. That was tough, but good for each of us.

My Dad was a keen shooter, and around 1965, he went half shares with a cousin in a new 303-25: quite a classy gun in those times. I witnessed him hit a fox with it one night, at perhaps 250 metres, resting the rifle on the bonnet of the utility, while one of my brothers held the spot-light.

Great shooting! And I still have an interest in aeroplanes and firearms. I wonder why?

Then in 1969, in the winter, he heard that a neighbor had arranged for the veterinarian to conduct a Caesarian section operation on a cow, as the calf had died inside her. One morning, he took me over to watch this take place.

That was earthy, and very informative! That cow lived, but if you were downwind, the smell of that rotting calf which had been inside her was… But, this was an essential process. If there’d been no operation, that cow would have died painfully.

Dad was a keen sportsman: cricket, table tennis and tennis. We all learned to play fairly competently, and competitively, and we had a table tennis table and a tennis court at home, which certainly helped, and he participated. He was making a statement.

At about 8-9, he taught me to drive a car, because he needed me to drive for him, feeding oats to sheep from the back of the utility, one dry winter. It was pretty easy, after a couple of mistakes!

When I was around 9-10, I had the task of driving our Ferguson 35 tractor home, alone. Part way down a hill, there was a gate to open, first. I hadn’t quite mastered how to use the parking brake on that tractor, and I wasn’t really strong enough to do so. That led to a drama!

I couldn’t get the handbrake to operate, so got off the tractor to close the gate, then turned around to see the tractor, rolling away! It went into a fence, and it was this that finally stopped it, when fencing wire was finally wound around one of the rear tyres a few times.

This looked worse than what it was, and it really scared me. I ran all the way back to where I’d left me Dad, got back to him all out of breath, and blurted out what had happened to him. He just smiled and was very gracious about it.

I was very relieved. I learned about a loving Father who has compassion on His sometimes erring children.

The Beatles were becoming a huge phenomena by 1964, when they came to Australia. They (and others) were mesmerizing teenagers, and some parents were plainly unimpressed. But what could they do about it? Born in 1918, at the end of the First World War, Dad was living in a radically different era. They flew in biplanes then.

Only fairly recently, I discovered that Dad struggled for some years to relate comfortably with my 3 older brothers, and my older sister. In 1970, aged 16-17, she had a boyfriend, and what were parents supposed to do about that? It seems that Dad and Mum felt way out of their depth, on that one.

There was tension there, and some inter-generational friction, but I was away from home at boarding school, so I knew nothing about this, at the time. Culture was rapidly changing, and this was a bit much for the older generation, knowing quite how to handle it.

A whole new world of challenge for parents to understand, along with the associated rebellion against authority in general, and the whole drug thing was just kicking into gear. The Viet Nam War (which Australia was involved in) was both divisive and controversial, and people were marching in the streets and throwing things, and you could witness things on TV of incidents around the world, that were bizarre, deeply disturbing and hard to fathom.

My eldest brother was conscripted, went to Viet Nam, and had only been there briefly when Dad suddenly died.

Conclusion:

But what had taken place?

I felt my Dad was interested in me, and my development. In his own imperfect way, he hadn’t neglected me. And at the time, I thought he loved me. For him, loving me meant spending time with me; there would have to be a close association.

I think he was right, because today, I appreciate all he did with and for me, deeply. I also want to replicate him, with our sons and our grandchildren. If you really want to disciple your children, take them with you, just like our Master did. They’ll observe and hear, a lot.

Why would any godly father or grandfather, want to do anything else?

Children Don’t Need School (9)

One of the monumental and as yet unsolved problems of modern society is that women teach boys: either mothers or female school teachers. The context of teaching today is the classroom or home, not the work place. This means that education for males has moved away from the father-son apprenticeship model, which was clearly the Mosaic norm, to the classroom, where education is bureaucratic, impersonal, and abstract—separated from a father’s discipline and his occupation. This is also generally true of home schooling. Education in the modern world is almost completely feminized until the high school level.[1]

Partially as a result of the modern obsession with equality between the sexes, it’s become commonplace to think that when it comes to education, gender doesn’t matter. But gender does matter, because men and women, along with boys and girls, are radically different.

I’m not merely referring to their sex organs. Ask a boy between 13 and 17: would he prefer a male, or female teacher? I submit to you that over 80% would prefer a male. They are going to become men, thus they want to be led by one. And if they find themselves with a viable male role, that percentage of boys preferring a male teacher will jump.

Why? They want to be led by someone they can emulate, and that won’t be a lady.

Men do things differently to ladies; it’s a fact of life. Disputing this won’t change it. We may as well go with the flow, and accept the natural order of things.

After the Exodus, when Jethro visited Moses, he saw something that clearly disturbed him. The way he was going, Moses was going to wear himself out at this task, and he clearly needed to change things, and delegate responsibility to others. He encouraged Moses to

…select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. Let them judge the people at all times… (Ex.18:21-22).

Jethro’s advice was good, and Moses accepted it. Leadership, when it comes to the family and the church, should be with men. People are trying to contest it, but nothing can change God’s order.

In the New Testament, Jesus clearly was a man, and He chose 12 disciples, who were also male. Is there a pattern here? Of course.

Paul’s epistles continue with this pattern. When he came to explaining the life of the overseer, Paul identifies that he was to be

…above reproach, the husband of one wife…

He also explains that

He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his own children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?) (I Tim.3:2, 4, 5).

Fathers should teach their children, accepting the overrall responsibility for their education. They may delegate some or even much of this to their wife, but the overall task or responsibility still should lie with them. They are primarily responsible, as Adam was in the garden.

This is what discipleship is all about. Adam, in relation to the garden, was to “…cultivate and keep it” (Gen.2:15). He was to guard Eve and the garden, looking out for any intruders, which he failed to do. Should the hearts and minds of our children, be any different?

Paul’s reminder to the Corinthians of this, plainly has an educational component:

For I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ (II Cor.11:3).

Men rebel against God, but women get deceived. That’s what happened in the Garden, and Paul warns about this propensity in the scriptures, in the prohibition of women teaching in the church (I Tim.2:11-15). They do have a teaching role, but this is in relation to the instruction and encouragement of young women (see Titus 2:3-5).

Conclusion:

Fathers, if you want the education of your children to be successful and God-honouring, take responsibility for it, but delegate the day to day tasks to your wife, while daily checking on progress, backing her up and encouraging her, and the children. She’ll need this, and the children will know you are vitally interested in their success and progress. Don’t let any absenteeism on your part to creep in, but ensure that the buck stops with you.

It’s your responsibility!…a father tells his sons about Your faithfulness (Isa.38:19).


[1] Gary North, “Inheritance and Dominion,” 1999, Vol 1, p.153.

Children Don’t Need School (8)

All day long, the law of God applies to the affairs of men. Fathers were to spend time with their sons, either in the fields or in the family business. Sons were to receive knowledge of the law in the context of profitable labor. The familiar phrase, “learning by doing,” was applicable. It was a system of instruction we might call “learning while doing.” The law was not some abstract legal code. It was an integrated system of rules that was supposed to be taught in the context of daily living. God’s Bible-revealed law was not to become peripheral in the lives of God’s covenant people. It was to be central. It was to govern men’s activities throughout the day. It was to be memorized, discussed, and acted upon by young and old.

Fathers were not to tell their sons, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Their lives were to become consistent with their words. The sons would hear God’s law and see their fathers carrying it out. This law mandated a mastery of the details of biblical law to all those who were covenanted to Him. All of this has been lost to modern man. Today, formal education is not Bible-based, family-based, occupation-based, or personal. It is humanism-based, state-based, abstract, and bureaucratic. It is also intensely feminine in the early years.[1]

The church and the family are both important social institutions. Whilst they are different, they have a lot in common. One thing they are both required to do is to train people for the future. We call that discipleship. Fathers are to raise children

…in the discipline and admonition of the Lord (Eph.6:4).

Jesus was a teacher, too:

And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him, and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons (Mk.1:13-15).

Paul also tells us that the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in the church are there for the

…equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ… (Eph.4:11-12).

The training of children is required to be commenced by fathers, in particular. The successful teaching and discipleship of children in the family, is an important prerequisite for church leadership, too.

Jesus summoned the disciples, they came to Him, and they were with Him. This mirrors the task of parents with their children, who have children, then are responsible to train them.

And the school?

It’s not in the Bible. The family is the first and possibly most important place of instruction.

Paul made reference to this. Speaking to Timothy, he wrote that

…I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well (II Tim.1:5).

Conclusion:

When it comes to education, fathers are not to neglect their roles, or delegate their teaching responsibility totally to their wife, and go off to work. Adam neglected his care of Eve in the garden, leaving her to deal with a demonic attack, defenceless. That was negligence and slothful, and he hadn’t cared for her. It’s sad when fathers do the same thing today in relation to their children’s education.

This suggests to children that their education is for mothers to accomplish, not their father, which is simply unbiblical. It opens the door to all manner of unnecessary problems.

But the active and vigilant father, involved in his children’s education, gives the whole process credibility in the eyes of his boys and girls. By implication, this must be an important issue, because Dad’s involved with Mum in this! Thus the likelihood of success and ultimate fulfilment is far higher.

Isn’t that what you want, too?


[1] Gary North, “Inheritance and Dominion,” 1999, p.145-46.

Children Don’t Need School (7)

Leave Your Children with Good Memories

My Aunt Maisie (1916-2000) was the last of her generation to die. Some years before her passing, she told me of an experience with her Dad, my Grandfather Hugh (1875-1948).

As a young, single man, he’d gone from South Australia to Western Australia, looking for gold, with indifferent results. He’d found enough to get by, but that was all.

He married Grandma in 1911, and when the Depression came, he took his youngest daughter Maisie on a train journey from his farm which he’d bought around 1910, where they lived near Cowra, NSW, right across through western NSW, into South Australia. Why?

He’d passed through there in his gold mining years, some thirty years earlier, and had staked some sort of mining claim on a piece of land there, in a little town on the railway line. Now, with times being tough on the farm, he chose to return there with her, to see what could be done about his “claim.”

Well, nothing eventuated from the trip. Whatever he thought he had in terms of a “claim,” it was either no longer valid, or was of no value, and they returned to the farm and family, with no results.

This would have been some trip for her, as a girl of 14-15. Around 3 days each way in a very plain steam train, with very ordinary comforts. I have no idea what they slept in, or on, but after my train experiences going to and from boarding school in Sydney from 1967-1972, it would not have been luxurious!

And as for the food, she didn’t go into the details, and it didn’t occur to me to ask her. But she remembered the journey with him, with fondness.

Why is this important?

You want your children to have good childhood memories. You don’t have to be either a brilliant or a perfect parent for this to take place. Nor should you have to spend a lot of money to achieve this. But you can be an enjoyable person, for your children to be around.

In February 1969, my parents came to Sydney for a few days, where I was at boarding school. I met Dad at Central Station, and he took me to the Test cricket, where Australia was playing Test cricket against the West Indies. The famous West Indian bowlers Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith were bowling, and the two Australian batsmen Bill Lawrie and Doug Walters each made a century and a double century, respectively.

All that changed in 1970. In November of that year, my Dad suddenly died after a heart attack, aged 52. No more going to the cricket with him. Forty years later, when Bill Lawry was still doing TV cricket commentating, it would remind me.

The lesson?

Some may have castles on the banks of the Rhine

Or go to the orchestra each evening at nine.

But richer than them will I always be,

‘Cause I had a Dad who spent time with me.

Make sure you’re one of those dads.

Children Don’t Need School (6)

The roots of every cultural crisis rest in personal crises. The failure of a culture is the failure of the men in it. A society cannot be vital and possessed of an on-going vigour if the men therein are marked by a loss of faith, a retreat from responsibility, and an unwillingness to cope with personal problems. A culture loses its will to live and to conquer if its members manifest a spirit of retreat and surrender… Not surprisingly, our world-wide cultural crisis is rooted in the failure of men.1

Human responsibility is something which was pre-supposed in Genesis 1 and 2. God’s command to our first parents to“rule and have dominion,”necessitated responsibility on their part. Responsibility is something we either accept, or reject.

We may not like it, or want it, but it will not go away. Responsibility as a husband and father, requires time, work, inconvenience, and sometimes suffering. We always have to ask ourselves the old questions:

“If not you, who?” and “if not now, when?”

The correlative promises however, are that “power flows to those that take responsibility”(Gary North), and that “where responsibility rests, authority lies.”The best example of these two statements in history, is Jesus Christ. He took ultimate responsibility for the sins of others, and gave up His life, but now He’s called “…the heir of all things”(Heb.1:2).

A friend of mine once told me about a family incident, over fifty years ago. His parents were believers, but they had been having some serious marital problems. One day, his Mum had been cooking scrambled eggs in the kitchen, and she was very upset with her husband about something. Her husband came into the room, at which point she picked up the frying-pan of scrambled eggs, and, inverting the frying-pan (and its contents), threw the whole thing on the floor at his feet.

Now for many men (perhaps most men), this would be an act that they could not endure, without losing their temper. What did he do? He bent down, turned over the frying-pan, calmly put everything back into it, and gave it back to her. I admire his self-control, but more than that, his sense of responsibility in the situation. He did save his marriage.

Many Biblical leaders came on the scene after a disaster, when other people had made a mess of things. Nehemiah was one. He said to his friends,

You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the gates of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach. I told them how the hand of my God had been favourable to me, and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work (Neh.2:17-18).

Because of his calling, and his profound sense of responsibility Nehemiah was ready to rebuild, after a disaster others had precipitated.

It’s not much fun having to rebuild after someone else’s mistakes, but at least it can only get better from now on. There will be nobody else to blame for what happens in the future.

Sometimes, the wrecker has been ourselves. It was us, who “messed up.”I’ve done that.

The good thing about this, is that“failure is not final,” and that if you or I are prepared to humble our hearts, get our hands dirty and sort out the affairs, as messy and painful as this may be, there should be a good outcome. Every man has the challenge of being either part of the problem, or part of the solution.

Having authority (which is always God’s plan for His people), requires the taking of responsibility now. In the home, it begins in loving and serving our wife and children, and forgetting our pride, which God said He hates anyway. If we will do this as godly husbands and fathers, we will get blessed and rewarded. It starts with me, and you.

Will you be part of this?


1 Rousas Rushdoony, “Roots of Reconstruction,” 1991, p.168-9.

Children Don’t Need School (5)

Adam and Eve made a religious decision. For Adam, who was standing with Eve throughout the discussion, as Genesis 3:6 makes clear, it involved the decision not to exercise marital leadership, not to step in and interrupt the proceedings; his wife made the initial decision, and he followed her lead.[1]

We cannot simply blame women for the feminism of our modern era. It has been a logical response to male irresponsibility, but it has not helped women, as it has led them further and further away from their original calling. Furthermore, it has led to the emasculation of men as well. As much as we are able we have to ignore this kind of evil pressure, knowing where it is from, and obey God’s Word as husbands.

In I Timothy 3:4-5 Paul discusses the qualifications for a man who wants to be a leader in the church. The most important area, writes Paul, is the condition of the man’s home. He must be one who “manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity.” He is expected to exercise authority and to have his children respectful, obedient and under his control.

The Greek word translated “manage” means literally “to stand in front of.” It contains various related ideas, including “to rule,” “to protect” and “to control.” Essentially the word means that the father stands at the head of his home. He puts himself between his family and all the pressures and dangers of life. He also goes in front of them and sets an example of godly living. [2]

Jesus Christ never permitted Himself to be pressured into an orientation around the needs of people. That wasn’t Father’s plan. Rather, He was oriented around the commands of His Heavenly Father. We see this when He went to the pool at Bethesda (Jn.5:1-15). Though there were a multitude of people there “…who were sick, blind, lame and withered” (v.3), Jesus healed just one of them (v.9), and immediately left (v.13).

Some would ask, “Didn’t Jesus care about all those needy people who were there?”

Jesus cared most about completing the tasks which His Father had given Him, as an obedient Son. He wasn’t need oriented, He was command oriented. Despite what some people will claim, the needs of people were not paramount in His mind, because Jesus wasn’t a religious social worker.

Jesus said, “The Father Himself who sent Me has given me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me”(Jn.12:49-50). He also said, “I do exactly as the Father commanded Me” (Jn.14:31).

This should teach us something about the nature of godly leadership, and the commands of the kingdom of God. God expects fathers as His faithful representatives, to utilise commands in their family structure. He said concerning Abraham, “I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord, by doing righteousness and justice…”(Gen.18:19). This is a father’s responsibility before God, and is something we will give an account for.

Does this authorise a father to behave like a parade-ground sergeant-major? No. He must exhibit understanding, tenderness and care. But certainly the word command is a strong one; almost military. But whoever heard of a kingdom, without authority, order and rules?

Abraham’s “household”numbered hundreds, perhaps thousands of people (see Gen.14:14). His must have been a household of order, obedience and discipline, if he could at short notice, go off with 318 of his men, divide them into groups at night, and rescue Lot. Shouldn’t my household be characterised by these things, too?

Abraham’s leadership can be compared with that of Lot. Lot was a godly man, but where he led his family with its appeal of financial gain but moral corruption, ended up destroying his family. As North points out,

Those whose company he was to keep, however limited his contacts with them, always constituted a threat to his integrity and even his safety. He surrounded himself with evil men, and in the final days of his residence among them, they surrounded him (Gen.19:4).When God’s judgment finally came upon his former neighbours, Lot found that members of his own household had been polluted by the perverse environment.[3]

What can we learn from this? Family leadership must be moral. There must be moral and ethical justification for the choices a father makes.

Some wives and mothers may say, “Are you talking about the man being a dictator?” No. There are some situations, however, in which the man is responsible to say, “in order to please God and have His blessing, this is the way we’re going to do things in our home. We are not going to do this, but we are going to do that.[4]

 The New Testament father must ensure he is not a tyrant, abusing those under him. The only valid place for the godly family is in a church, in submission to the leadership of that church. The Bible commands us in the context of the Church to “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph.5:21). To refuse to do this is not only folly; it is also blasphemous. It is refusing to submit to the institution God has ordained to be the most authoritative in the world, regardless of its present failings.

No man is fit to be in authority, unless he is under authority as well. To refuse to come under the authority of others is to be a despot.  A man who is under the authority of his church leadership provides his wife and children with an appeals mechanism, so that his decisions can be referred to others. Jesus Christ was and is eternally submissive to His Heavenly Father, and the remarkable paradox of the kingdom of God which we must all observe, is that He now has “all authority…in heaven and on earth” (Mat.28:18). Thus every man should always be willing to submit to godly church leadership who care for him and his family.

Fathers lead by what they do and say: by example. This is a tremendously important issue in the scriptures. Paul was bold enough to say to the Philippians, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil.4:9).

He could also say to the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (I Cor.11:1).

I grew up on a farm in NSW, and my father died when I was fifteen. I have a great deal of respect for the sort of man he was. We had two small orchards on our farm, and every year the fruit-trees were pruned during the winter. One day a few years before he died, I was working with him in the orchard, where we were picking up the many prunings and loading them onto the back of a tractor. It had been raining, and the orchard ground was muddy.

 Two strangers pulled up next to the orchard, got out, and proceeded to trudge across the orchard to speak to us. They were both wearing blue suits and dress shoes, which didn’t seem to me to be the most suitable attire for that place, but I guess that didn’t matter too much. One of them was carrying a blue folder.

When they got to us, my father said to them,

 Are you fellows from an insurance company? 

I can’t remember whether they shook their heads, or said “No,” but their response was certainly in the negative. My father then, gently reached across and took the folder out of the hands of the rather sheepish man holding it, turned it around (so that it faced my Dad), and opened it up. At the top of the facing page, was a heading:

New Zealand Insurance Company.

My father “suffered fools badly.”He angrily commanded them, “Get off my place,” and pointed to their vehicle. They turned on their muddy heels and trudged away.

I learned from that:

a) Don’t mess with Dad, and

b), Don’t give liars the time of day.

Conclusion:

No father can expect to see the blessing of God in his family, if he won’t effectively lead that family, as Abraham did. May God give us grace to change, and obey.


[1] Gary North, “The Dominion Covenant,” 1987, p.102.

[2] Derek Prince, “Husbands & Fathers,” 2000, p.86.

[3] North, p.158.

[4] Prince, p.89.

Children Don’t Need School (4)

Part of Job’s testing was the loss of all his children (Job 1:18-19), as well as the loss of his material wealth (1:14-17). His blessings consisted of the restoration of his wealth beyond what he had possessed before (42:12), as well as the birth of 10 children (42:13). As a final gift, he was granted long life (42:16-17). In short, he was given the capital he needed to begin once again to exercise dominion over the earth as a godly family man: tools, children, and time.[1]

The godly person values and loves his children, but he doesn’t idolize them, or deny them the necessary pains of life. They are like him: subject to the many temptations of life, and needing the grace of God. They are to be disciplined, as unto the Lord, and this is initially a father’s responsibility.

Denying them the discipline of the Lord is actually neglectful, and a form of abuse. It seems that David was guilty of this, in the case of Adonijah. The scripture says of him, that

His father had never crossed him at any time by asking, ‘Why have you done so?’ (I Kings 1:6)

It seems that he’d gotten to adulthood and never had his will crossed, his bottom smacked for disobedience. When David was old, this lack of discipline in Adonijah became evident: he wanted to be king!

The first chapter of I Kings puts all this on the table. The second chapter tells us the unfortunate consequences for that young man, when his half-brother Solomon (now the king), had him executed for what he considered was a conspiracy against him.

Adonijah, when at the feet of his parents as a child, had never learned when to stop, so he found out as an adult, the hard way.

                        Adonijah wasn’t submissive,

                        Adonijah was ambitious,

                        Adonijah couldn’t wait, and

                        Adonijah died violently (I Kings 2:19-25).

All of this was tragic and could have been avoided, if David had disciplined him as a child. This shows us that:

                        Life is not about what a child wants.

                        Life is not about what a parent wants.

                        Life wasn’t about what a disciple wanted (Mat.16:21-28).

                        Life wasn’t even about what Jesus wanted (Mat.26:39).

                        Life is about doing what God wants (Ps.40:8).

The Bible does command us:

Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you discipline him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol (Prov.23:13-14).

How do we do this?

Understand what the Bible says about rebellion and disobedience (I Sam.15:22-23). That is the critical issue. The Christian parent in obedience to God, wants something more than outwardly nice children. What they seem to perform like is irrelevant. What’s in their heart will be reflected in what they say and do.

Rebellion has been in every man since Adam. Don’t ignore it, or deal with it half-heartedly.

                        The goal of discipline?

                  The child learns to listen (Ps.81:11-14).

                  The child learns to obey.

                  The child learns self-discipline.

If a child learns to listen, honour and obey your voice, he’ll probably do the same to Jesus Christ’s Word. That’s the goal of the exercise. You will have served him (and the Lord) well. In the course of my work, my wife and I have visited hundreds of homes, and we could tell within 10 minutes whether the children were disciplined or not!

Parents shouldn’t have to repeat themselves, when instructions are given. Also, avoid raising a voice with a child. Otherwise, you are training a child to only respond to you when you shout.

If a little child cries or complains after given an instruction, he is making a rebellious statement: “I don’t like this, and I’m telling you, and everybody.”  That is rebellion, even if he outwardly does as he is told.

If a child shows the least displeasure in response to a command or duty, it should be addressed as disobedience. If a child sticks out his lip, you should focus your training on his bad attitude.[2]  

The goal is that a child learns to “…do all things without grumbling or complaining” (Phil.2:14). A person’s mouth tends to reveal what’s in his heart. If he grumbles and complains at your instructions, he will grumble and complain at God’s.

                          When Administering Corporal Punishment

a) Make sure it’s private.

b) Make sure you’re calm.

c) Make sure the child understands why he is being punished.

Children, when they know they are about to be punished, may put on a tantrum, or suddenly shed lots of tears (ostensibly of remorse), or scream, or say, “It’s not fair!” or I hate you!” These and many others are manipulative tools, which a naive parent can be shocked, tricked or intimidated by. Tears may seem to be ones of penitence; they are probably ones of regret that he’s been caught, and to supposedly imply that he’s sorry.

Why is he“sorry?” Because he’s getting a smack, and is hoping to come up with a good religious formula that might get him out of trouble, right now.                                                                                          

He knows he’s done wrong. He knows you are planning to punish him. He thinks,

I’ll put on a theatrical scene, to try and bluff my way out of this.

Any rebellious behaviour, initiated to avoid punishment, should receive a quiet warning: “If you don’t obey, I’ll give you an extra smack.”  

A spanking is made effective, not by its severity, but by its certainty…your calm dignity will set the stage to make it more effective.[3]

d) Instruct the child calmy,  to bend over and hold onto his ankles.

e) Administer the punishment: as they get older, make it more strokes, or harder, or both. “Select your instrument according to the child’s size.”[4]

f) Give him some time (perhaps 30 seconds), to stop crying. Don’t let rebellion or anger come into any part of this.

g) Instruct him to hug you (this is a command, not an option), and say “Thanks Dad, I needed that,”and then to confess his sin to God, and ask for His forgiveness.

h) Instruct him to ask you to forgive him. He has offended God, but he has also offended you.

i) Hug him and pray for him, and tell him you love him.

Discipline is the forerunner of discipleship. Ultimately, he should be self-disciplined.

Conclusion:

Children need the discipline of the Lord from their parents, firstly from their father. It’s his task to lead in this. A parent is unloving to deny them this, and disciplining them is a matter of faithfulness to God, Who calls them to His service, not merely to the service of men.

We actually prepare them to serve God as we discipline them, for their rebellion needs to be confronted, head on.

And His promise is,

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him (Prov.22:15).


[1]Gary North, “The Dominion Covenant,” 1987, p.164.

[2] Michael and Debi Pearl, “Train up a Child,” 1996, p.83.

[3] ibid., p.46.

[4] ibid., p.47.