What Does it Mean, to ‘Train up a Child?’(3)

Christian Education and Biblical Law

The subject of Christian education has generated significant interest in the conservative and Reformed church over the last 50 years. Because of the increasing secularization of life, the wholesale acceptance of the naturalistic theory of evolution, and the removal of prayer and Bible reading in the public schools, Christian scholars, pastors, and parents were forced (particularly in the 1960s and ’70s) to take a close look at how Christian children were being educated in public schools.

What they found was alarming: the philosophy, methods, and content of public education were humanistic and hostile to Biblical truth at nearly every point. Some of the leading voices in calling the church to recognize the disaster of secular education and the danger that it posed to the Christian faith were men like Gordon Clark, Frank Gaebelein, Cornelius Van Til, and Rousas J. Rushdoony.1 But these men not only sounded the alarm, they also articulated the Biblical foundations for an explicitly Christian approach to education.

As a result of their work, many Christians began to think differently about education. Christians began to realize that true Christian education is based on the Word of God: the presuppositions, methods, and content of Christian education must be derived from the revelation of God in Holy Scripture. The power of such a revolutionary view of education (though in many cases only imperfectly understood) led to the Christian school movement of the 1970s, the homeschool movement of the 1980s, and the classical Christian education movement of the 1990s. All three of these expressions of Christian education, with varying degrees of success, have sought to apply Biblical principles to the theory and practice of educating children.

Those of us committed to the concept of Christian education need to take stock of where we are today. Have we been faithful to the Biblical foundations of Christian education that were articulated with such cogency and power by the men mentioned above (and others who have built on their work)?2 Are we really directed by the Word of God in our educational endeavors? Are our efforts to train the next generation for service in God’s Kingdom properly focused to yield the maximum results? Are we providing our students with the foundation they will need to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ?

We have excelled in our attempts to produce a Biblically based epistemology. We have done significant work to develop a distinctly Christian curriculum and have made good strides in setting forth a Christian approach to history, science, mathematics, language, economics, civics, and the arts. But is our work done? Is the development of the Christian curriculum complete, except for fine-tuning?

To help answer this question, we can use the four commonly recognized areas of human thought: the true (epistemology), the beautiful (aesthetics), the good (ethics), and the eternal (religion). In three of these areas, the true, the beautiful, and the eternal, Christian education is well on its way; but what about the area we call the good, i.e., the sphere of ethics?

Where do we stand today on the subject of ethics? What part does ethics play in the average curriculum in a Christian school, Christian homeschool, or a classical Christian school? Is this important area of life even part of the curriculum? And if it is, does it receive the attention that the other areas of the curriculum receive? Do we teach our students, year by year, history, science, math, and language employing a progressive and comprehensive approach, but neglect to teach ethics in the same way? If we teach the subject of ethics, is it limited to a single course taught in the later years of the educational process?

Honest answers may reveal a startling lack of attention to Christian ethics as a distinct area of study in most Christian schools and homeschools. Why is this? Perhaps it is because we do not think that the subject of ethics is that difficult. Isn’t it enough that we tell our students to obey the Ten Commandments, to follow their conscience, and to let the Holy Spirit lead them? Perhaps it is because we do not think that the subject of ethics is really important for the success of our students in life. Perhaps we never considered ethics to be a definite area of thought and a part of the Christian curriculum. Perhaps we think that the subject of ethics will be covered adequately in our Bible courses.

In this article, we argue for the necessity of making ethics a distinct part of the Christian curriculum. Without a firm grounding in Biblical ethics there can be no true Christian education. If we have not taught our students a Biblical approach to ethics, and given them the knowledge and skill to make wise moral decisions in every area of life, we have failed to give them a thorough Christian education.

EDUCATION AND ETHICS

It is always good to define your terms. Ethics comes from the Greek word for morals. Morals are principles or standards of conduct that define the difference between good and evil, and right and wrong, in the sphere of human action. Ethics seeks to determine the “ought” dimension of life, i.e., what we ought to do when faced with moral decisions and dilemmas. Therefore, the study of ethics is learning how to make proper moral judgments and live righteously before God and man.

The sphere in which ethics operates is the whole of life. The very nature of ethics requires systematized moral thinking, i.e., ethics requires critical thinking that not only defines what we ought to do in each situation, but places our moral decisions in the context of a coherent ethical philosophy that self-consciously acts on the basis of a recognized standard. This is why the word ethics is commonly joined with a descriptive term to designate an ethical system, e.g., Platonic ethics, natural law ethics, transcendental ethics, utilitarian ethics, Islamic ethics, and Christian ethics.

“Christian ethics” refers (or at least it should) to the ethical system presented in Scripture, and another name for Christian ethics could be “Biblical ethics.” Christian ethics is a distinct discipline that seeks to answer the question of good and evil in human conduct in every sphere of government (personal, family, church, and state) and in every aspect of life (work, business, the arts, education, war, economics, entertainment, science, medicine, and law) on the basis of God’s Bible-revealed law.

The word education is based on a Latin term that means to lead forth, bring up, or train. Noah Webster defines education as: “The bringing up, as of a child; instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations.”3 The central idea of education is not the accumulation of knowledge and facts, or of mere technical skills. Though education includes these things, education aims to train the student in all facets of his being so that he will be prepared to live life successfully. Central to a proper education is training, as Webster puts it, in “manners.” What does he mean by manners? Manners, according to Webster, refers to “behavior; conduct; course of life; in a moral sense.”4 In other words, education involves training in ethics.

Much that passes for Christian education has not taken this aspect of education seriously enough. We want our students to have a distinctly Christian approach to science, the arts, language, history, and math, but do we also seek to give them a Biblical approach to ethics? Do we have a place in our curriculum to teach our students an explicitly Christian system of ethics? If we do not, and if we claim to be Christian educators, then we must provide a place for instruction in Biblical ethics.

This is an absolute necessity in the world we live in. The moral sphere is in near total chaos in the wider culture, and the church is not far behind. If Christians are going to live lives to the glory of God, walk a path of righteousness, and be a light to the world, they need to know how to determine good and evil and how to answer moral questions from the Bible.

Furthermore, since all of life involves moral judgments, we cannot dispense with the questions of ethics in anything we do. You cannot have a Christian approach to science, economics, or the arts without grounding the pursuit and application of these disciplines in Biblical ethics. Mere knowledge and technology may determine what we can do, but in themselves they cannot answer the question of what we ought to do; for this we must have Christian ethics, i.e., a Biblical system of ethics that can determine on the authority of God’s Word what we ought to do with our scientific knowledge and technical skills.

EDUCATION AND WISDOM

We have defined Christian education as a process of training students to live productive and successful lives for the glory of God. This training involves the mind (knowledge) and the body (skills); but it also includes training in ethics. Ethics gives the student the moral knowledge and skills necessary to discern between good and evil and is the foundation for all that he does with his mind and body. Education aims at successful living (as God defines success), and this idea brings it into connection with the Biblical concept of wisdom. 

Among the Greeks, “wisdom” primarily was speculative, while among the Hebrews, “wisdom” primarily was practical. Through “wisdom” (the power of human reason) the Greeks sought to answer fundamental questions about the world and man: what is the nature of reality? How did the world come into being? What is the nature of man’s being? What is true and good?

But the Hebrews already had these questions answered for them in the written Word of God. With these fundamental issues settled by divine authority, the main focus of the Hebrew was fulfilling his calling and living his life to the glory of God. Instead of speculation on the nature of reality, the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob set their minds on how to apply the revealed truth and law of God to life.

The Hebrew word wisdom (hokma), means, essentially, skillfulness in any art. It can be used in terms of skill in technical work, but its more common Old Testament meaning is skillfulness in the art of living. It designates a man who knows how to live successfully, who knows how to meet each challenge he faces with sagacity and prudence. This wisdom is not of man’s own doing, but is based in the fear of God. Wisdom is something that God gives to man when he seeks it with his whole heart (Prov. 2:1–9).

To understand the Biblical concept of wisdom, it must be seen in relation to the fear of God. The fear of God is one of the leading designations for true faith in the Old Testament. To fear God is to believe in Him as He has revealed Himself; it is to believe in God as He is, not as a man might conceive Him to be in his own imagination. Those who fear God have seen Him, with the eyes of faith, as the almighty God and sovereign Lord of all creation. Hence, they hold Him in the highest honor and reverence, and humbly submit to His authority.

To submit to God’s authority is to obey His commandments, and His commandments are revealed in His law. This is why the fear of God and the law of God are inseparable in the Old Testament. The fear of God is one of the leading themes in the teaching of Moses in Deuteronomy (Deut. 6:13, 24; 8:6; 10:20; 13:4). According to Moses, the fear of the Lord is the starting point for wholehearted obedience to God’s law (Deut. 10:12–13). In the wisdom literature of the Old Testament (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and selected Psalms), the fear of the Lord is also the beginning of wisdom. The connection is clear: wisdom is based on the knowledge of God’s law, and it is the skill of applying the righteousness of God’s law to every aspect of life. Wisdom is not human sagacity and shrewdness, but the expertise of using the law of God to direct all decisions, to answer all moral questions, and to faithfully serve God and man.

The Biblical concept of wisdom needs to be applied to Christian education. Education is training designed to make a man successful in life. Wisdom is skillfulness in the art of living. The skill of godly wisdom is the ability to understand and apply the law of God to life. True education, in the Biblical sense, is far more than the acquisition of knowledge or technical skills. True education is training students how to live in the fear of God and use His law as the foundation for their callings in family, church, and state; it is training on how to employ their knowledge and skills within the ethical framework of God’s revealed law. Without knowledge of God’s law, students cannot be wise; and if they are not wise, they are not educated in the Biblical sense of the term. So the Hebrew concept of wisdom demonstrates that a formal and rigorous training in Christian ethics is an indispensable aspect of authentic Christian education.

EDUCATION AND BIBLICAL LAW

We have argued that ethics is a fundamental aspect of Christian education. Furthermore, we have pointed out that ethics needs to be taught as a system of truth and moral principles, and not simply as a footnote in other courses of instruction. The next question we have to face as Christian educators is the very important question of what system of ethics we will teach.

As it is imperative that we set forth a Christian perspective on the subjects that we teach, so it is imperative that we teach a true Christian perspective on ethics. Therefore, not any textbook or approach will do!

So what ethical system will we teach? It may be helpful in determining the answer to look at the ethical systems that have appealed to Christian teachers in the past. Some have used the ethical system of the classical writers (Greeks and Romans), i.e., natural law, to instruct their students in ethics. Others have used the ethical system of Thomas Aquinas, i.e., a fusion of Aristotelian philosophy and natural law ethics with Roman Catholic theology and the Bible. Others have used evangelical systems that blend natural law (whether classical or Thomistic versions or both) with Protestant theology and its respect for the authority of Scripture. Others have used an explicitly Biblical and Reformed approach to ethics; this approach is known in our day as “theonomy” (the rule of God’s law).

It seems incongruous that Protestant Christians, who supposedly believe in sola Scriptura, should find it necessary to go to Athens or Rome for the essence of their ethical theory. In Scripture there is not a single verse that instructs God’s covenant people to look to anywhere beyond God’s perfect revelation in the Bible for the knowledge of good and evil. Never once are believers in the Old or New Testaments exhorted to seek moral wisdom at the feet of the priests of false religion or from the books of the pagan philosophers of Greece or Rome. The law of God is the only standard of ethics in the Bible.

In the Word of God, men are commanded to go “to the law and to the testimony” to find moral light (Isa. 8:20); never are they commanded to go to “natural law” or any other source for moral direction and wisdom (Prov. 3:5–6). This is because God’s law is entirely sufficient as the basis of Christian ethics (Ps. 19:7–11; 2 Tim. 3:15–17). Therefore, the ethical system that we teach in our Christian schools must be based on Scripture alone. Scripture ought to supply the theological presuppositions and the epistemology for our system of Christian ethics, and Biblical law ought to supply its content.

In support of the proposition that the subject of ethics is central in Christian education and that Christian ethics is based on God’s law, it is instructive to note that the great passages on education in the book of Deuteronomy (Deut. 4:9; 6:5–9; 11:18–21) are centered in commands to parents to teach their children the law of God. It is impossible to use these Deuteronomy texts to support the notion that instruction in God’s law (Biblical ethics) is something unnecessary or something tacked on to the core curriculum of a Christian liberal arts education. According to these magisterial texts on education, the law of God is the core curriculum around which everything else must find its place.

But today it is the law of God that has trouble finding a place in our Christian education curriculum. Our Lord Jesus Christ endorsed the law-centered educational curriculum and methodology of the book of Deuteronomy in His Sermon on the Mount. He emphatically denied that He had come to loose the authority of God’s law over His disciples (Matt. 5:17–18). In fact, He said that true greatness in His Kingdom was tied to the work of doing and teaching the law of God (Matt. 5:19). Thus, true greatness in Christian education is to teach the law of God (Biblical ethics) to your students so that they will learn to follow the moral imperatives of the law in every academic discipline, in every technical skill, in every vocation, and in every sphere of life. Biblical law is the foundation of Christian education.

This neglect of the law of God (Biblical ethics) in Christian education has had and will continue to have long-term dire consequences for the church and society unless we begin to rectify it today. We will rectify it if we begin now to incorporate studies in Biblical law into the core of our curriculum. This means that teachers will have to become knowledgeable in Biblical ethics, and that we will need to produce textbooks and courses of instruction in Biblical ethics that will train Christian students in this vital area from their earliest years right through to the end of their formal schooling. Thankfully, we already have some outstanding works in Biblical ethics.5 Although these works are advanced studies, they can be used by teachers for training and lesson preparation for teaching their younger students, and as textbooks for their older students.

In Biblical history, reformation always began when God’s people returned to God’s law (cf. 2 Kings 22:8–23:25; Neh. 8:1–9:38). May we who labor in Christian education, whether it be in a Christian school, Christian homeschool, or a classical Christian school, help ignite a new reformation by establishing the study of Biblical ethics at the core of our curriculum.

First published in Faith for All of Life Magazine (July/August 2007), a publication of the Chalcedon Foundation, www.chalcdon.edu. Republished by permission of the author.

  • 1.Gordon H. Clark, A Christian Philosophy of Education (Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1988; reprint of 1946 edition); Frank E. Gaebelein, The Pattern of God’s Truth (New York: Oxford University Press, 1954); Cornelius Van Til, Essays on Christian Education (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1971); Rousas J. Rushdoony, Intellectual Schizophrenia (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1961); Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American Education (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1963); Rushdoony, The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1981).
  • 2.For example, Stephen C. Perks, The Christian Philosophy of Education Explained (Whitby, England: Avant Books, 1992).
  • 3.Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language (1828).
  • 4.Ibid.
  • 5.Rousas J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, 3 vols. (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books); Greg Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, 3rd ed. (Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Foundation, 2002); Greg Bahnsen, By This Standard (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1985); Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward Old Testament Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983).

What Does it Mean, to ‘Train up a Child?’(2) – Children and Education

By Gary North (www.garynorth.com), from “Unconditional Surrender,” 1994, p.181-184.

Children are a tool of dominion. They are to be sacrificed for in their youth. They are to be instructed carefully and continually in the law of God.

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deut.6:6-7). 

The time spent in training children in God’s law is time well spent, for it is a capital investment. It does produce the next generation of godly, dominion-minded families. The Bible says, “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

This leads us to an extremely significant conclusion: education is the moral responsibility of parents.  They are the ones who must determine whether or not their children are being taught the truth. They are responsible before God for the rearing of their children. They are held responsible even for the content of their children’s education. This is why it is a great responsibility to bring children into the world.

The modern State has asserted its responsibility to educate children. This is the means by which the modern State has arrogated to itself the position of the established god on earth. The government schools have become the established religion of every nation on earth. Humanism, which is the worship of man and his works, rests on this crucial institutional foundation:  the tax-supported, State-regulated, hypothetically neutral, deeply  religious  humanist school system.

There can be no neutrality, yet the government schools have almost completely stamped out Christianity and the law of God by means of the neutrality myth. The State forces Christians to finance schools that teach a rival religion, the religion of humanism. The State has also attempted to regulate Christian and independently financed schools. At every point, the State has substituted tenured bureaucrats who are virtually impossible for parents to remove from authority, while it has removed parents from the seats of power in setting curricula or any other standards.

The modern State, which is a messianic, supposedly man-saving institution, has used the tax-supported, compulsory schools as the primary means of stealing children from God, by removing them from parental control. Christians complain about taxation, but they have tithed their children to the State. They have abdicated their financial responsibilities – “Let the State finance my children’s educations”– and in our day, they have abandoned almost all other aspects of their instructional responsibilities.

They have turned the production of citizens over to tax-financed, State-directed schools. The priests of the religion of humanism have been able to enlist the support of many generations of Christian parents, who have decided that it is easier to transfer the responsibility for educating their children to bureaucrats hired by the State. Naturally, parents have to delegate responsibility to someone. Few parents have the time or skills to educate their children at

home. But the fundamental principle of education is the tutor or the apprentice director.

Parents hire specialists to teach their children along lines established by parents. The private school is simply an extension of this principle, with several parents hiring a tutor, thereby sharing the costs. But the parents, not the tutors, are institutionally sovereign.  Since someone must bear the costs, education should be parent-funded.  Anything else is a transfer of authority over education to an imitation family.

Children are to honour their parents (Ex. 20:12). It is the first promise which is attached to a commandment: “… that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Ex.20:12b). So the parents owe their children education, food, shelter, and care, but the children owe their parents honour. This means financial support. There are mutual obligations based on personal bonds. No one in the transaction is to become an endless giver, and no one is to become a perpetual recipient.

The modern messianic State has intervened here, too. The State promises to uphold men

from womb to tomb. The State promises to become the new father. The impersonal, bureaucratic State has substituted its rule for the father’s rule, and its children– perpetual children– are to remain obedient to it all the days of their lives. The Bible tells us that children grow up and begin new families. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen.1:24). There should be no perpetual one-way obligations. Parents are to train their children to be obedient, but also independent. They are to foster maturity in their children. The State wants perpetual children, complete obedience. The State is a sad imitation of a family. It is a pseudo-family which threatens human freedom.

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 (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 (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.

A $1 Trillion Spending Cut

Gary North – December 05, 2020

From 2010.

This will not be done. It will not be done because Americans do not really want major spending cuts.

To demonstrate my point, let us consider America’s sacred cow, tax-funded education.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s Factbookthe United States spends about 5.3% of gross domestic product each year on education. If that estimate is accurate, this means about $750 billion a year.

The United Nations estimate places the figure of 5.7% of GDP.

That would mean expenditures in the range of $800 billion a year. If we assume that about 80% of these expenditures are funded by governments at various levels, we are talking something in the range of $600-$650 billion a year.

There is no economic reason why 100% of the expenditures on education should not be paid for by the parents of students or by the students themselves, when they reach college or graduate school level. There is also nothing that says that a government has the moral authority to coerce parents who hold to one view of education, or one view of how the world works, to subsidize the educations of other families, whose children attend schools that teach a view of the world closer to that approved by the subsidized parents.

To say this is to announce one of the most hated heresies of the modern world. I mean “heresy” in the good old-fashioned way that it was meant in the Middle Ages and in virtually any society prior to the Enlightenment. This heresy involves calling into question the legitimacy of a priesthood, self-appointed and self-policed, which gains its money from the civil government.

The establishment of churches funded by tax money has been common in most societies throughout history. I contend that it is basic to the modern world, too. The modern priesthood is the educational establishment in each nation. Tax funding goes to those institutions that have been certified as reputable by the priesthood.

An educational institution that claims to be legitimate in the modern world is pressured strongly to become accredited by institutions that are run by the priests whose standards are enforced by the state. An institution that sets up a college that is not approved by one of these accrediting associations cannot issue certain kinds of degrees without breaking the law. This system of accreditation extends all the way down to infant care.

The state regulates educational establishments, even including home schools, in order to preserve control over the content and methodology of education. In earlier centuries, a similar oligopoly was run in conjunction with state funding and also state coercion. Churches policed the society, including the morals of society, by means of a monopoly granted to them by the civil government.

The state in seventeenth-century New England could legally compel church attendance by every member of the society. What is not understood is that this law was rarely enforced in Boston. In his book, Winthrop’s Boston (1965), Darrett Rutman concluded that the churches of Boston three centuries earlier could contain only about 25% of the residents of Boston at one time.

The modern educational system is far more compulsory than churches were in New England in 1665. The school bus system is indicative of just how compulsory it is. On this point, read my story of the two buses.

Local governments, state governments, and even the Federal government use tax money and the threat of violence against any parent who does not agree that the state has the right to shape the content of his children’s education. This has been going on for so long that most Americans accept this regime as somehow established by natural law. The irony here is that the schools teach Darwinism, and Darwinism has no concept of natural law. Darwinism destroyed the concept of natural law. If the universe is evolving in autonomous, unpredictable ways, in terms of such random phenomena as genetic mutation, there can be no such thing as natural law. No social order is permanent; no legal order is permanent. The laws change as society changes.

In the modern world, anyone who suggests that all tax money should be withdrawn from the funding of educational programs is regarded as a crackpot. I am such a crackpot. I believe that the state does not have a moral right to compel parents to support other people’s educations.

If it were my decision, I would shut off the funding by the state for every school in the United States, including the military academies. This would add something in the range of $600 billion to the private sector. Governments would not be able to persuade parents and others to hand over their money at the point of a gun from one person in order to subsidize the education of another person.

One of the oddities about life is that a statement regarding a widely believed moral imperative in one area is regarded as morally unsustainable when virtually the same statement is applied to another area. What virtually everybody accepts as self-evident truth in one area is regarded as self-evident error in another area.

In order to discuss tax-funded education, I want to change the topic from tax support of educational institutions to tax support of churches. The logic that I am about present applies equally well to both forms of institutional arrangements. But the public is unwilling to accept the logic of the disestablishment of churches when it is applied to disestablishment of education.

DISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM

In 1818, the state of Connecticut ceased funding the Congregational churches of the state. In 1833, Massachusetts followed Connecticut’s lead. Massachusetts at that time was the last remaining state in the United States that used tax money to support churches.

Critics of the tax funding of churches had a number of arguments. I present here a brief summary of some of the more famous of these arguments, as a way of explaining the justification for the disestablishing of education. As you read these arguments, substitute the word “schools” for “churches.”

THE MORAL ARGUMENT. The issues of life that are dealt with in churches are of fundamental importance. These issues are life-and-death issues. Some churches believe that there are eternal life and death issues.

There was a time when virtually all Western churches believed this. To compel someone to spread the message of a rival religion is an intolerable form of state coercion.

THE PRACTICAL ARGUMENT. Politicians rarely give much thought to the fundamental issues of life. They are too busy getting elected and reelected. They cannot devote the time necessary to sort out fundamental truths from fundamental errors. To imagine that they can select the churches that are deserving of financial support at the expense of others that do not share the same views, is to impute a degree of wisdom not possessed by government officials. Politicians can barely be trusted to run the government, let alone run the churches.

THE POLITICAL ARGUMENT. To allow this year’s majority in the state legislature to set standards for what should be taught in the churches is to grant them too much power to shape the thinking of the voters. The politicians will use this power as a way to subsidize those churches and those ministers who preach a message that is congenial to the majority in the legislature.

When a majority of votes in the legislature can determine the content of what is going to be taught in the churches, a society has transferred enormous authority to politicians to shape the thinking of the next generation. This is a way for politicians to preserve their majority, despite the fact that, had they not funded those churches that are favorable to their viewpoint, they would have been voted out of office at some future election.

The politicians will use the power of civil government to extend the public’s acceptance of those political views and political conclusions that are favored by the present majority in the legislature. This will turn politics into a battle zone between rival churches.

THE INTELLECTUAL ARGUMENT. Competition is basic to progress in every area of life. Churches should therefore compete apart from tax money that favors one procedure or one set of principles over another.

If tax money is used to fund churches, the quality of the preaching will decline. If preachers know that they are going to receive guaranteed income from the state, they have less incentive to preach according to the beliefs of the members of their congregations. If their income can be maintained apart from the donations from their members, then incentive to slack off increases.

There is an incentive to trim the content of the preaching in order to meet the standards of the latest political majority. Preachers who don’t hold to such views have a harder time starting rival congregations, because the older congregations are the recipients of tax money.

This subsidizes the status quo. The public is kept from hearing new ideas, better ideas, and more effectively preached ideas precisely because congregations are not in control of the purse strings. A minister who has been granted certification by the hierarchy in a tax supported denomination is granted immunity for poor performance in the pulpit when counseling. There will be a dumbing down of preaching precisely because more effective preaching does not receive its economic reward.

THE CHARITY ARGUMENT. Throughout Western history, churches have been a major source of charitable giving. Members of local congregations contribute money to the churches, and the churches pass some of that money back into the community by supporting the poor. Christianity has repeatedly preached but the support of the poor is morally obligatory, and furthermore, the success of the church will always be related to its success in charitable giving.

When the state provides the funding for the churches, the charitable impulse is weakened. Members assume that the money coming in from other taxpayers will go to the support of the poor. They more readily accept the concept of the welfare state, but they accept it as flowing through their local congregations. The impulse to sacrificially give to the poor is cut short, because the state provides the funds to support the poor.

The church then becomes a paid agency of the state, operating in terms of the latest rulebook governing state welfare expenditures. The church becomes an agency of the modern welfare state, while individuals within the churches feel less pressure to fund private programs of charity. The ability of charitable giving to become more effective is cut short, because the state’s money will continue to fund the church’s charitable ministries, just so long as the church conforms to the rulebook governing the distribution of tax funded welfare.

When compassionate conservatism funds church- run welfare programs, conservatism will become less compassionate. So will church members. “See this badge? See this gun? You’re going to be compassionate, or else.” This was not what Jesus had in mind.

THE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR ARGUMENT. Whenever state funds are used to subsidize any program, the outlook of lowest common political denominator takes over the funding. The reason for this is that voters can exercise authority over politicians by putting them into offices or tossing them out of office. The politicians want to be elected or reelected. They cater to the opinions of those groups of voters that have the greatest clout at the polls.

Those voters who are most easily swayed by emotional arguments rather than by scientific or factual arguments become the swing voters who will determine the outcome of close elections. Under such circumstances, the opinions of the broad mass of voters will prevail in every area of government. To the extent that the broad mass of voters are not well informed on theological matters, to this extent with the funding of churches by the state debase the quality of the preaching as well as the intellectual content of the preaching. Churches will look to the state as their source of funding, which places them at the mercy of the lowest common denominator voter. The opinions shared by these people will determine which denominations win or lose in the arena of public opinion. This arena is not the arena of competitive preaching; it is the arena of political vote-getting.

SUBSIDIES AND INTELLECTUAL BLINDNESS

If these arguments make sense to you when applied to churches, you should consider their validity when applied to all forms of education. As far as I can see, the same problems of tax funding that are involved in the establishment of churches also apply to the establishment of educational institutions. The same conflicts, the same temptation to the misuse of power, the same lowest common denominator principle, the same tyranny apply to the tax funding education as applies to the tax funding of churches.

As surely as Congregationalists in Massachusetts could not understand the logic of these arguments in 1825, or 1725, so the members of the established church of political salvation do not understand the logic of privately funded education. It took decades of criticism from Baptists and Quakers to persuade the members of tax-funded churches to give up their claim to other people’s money.

It is worth noting that within five years of the decision of the Massachusetts government to cease funding the Congregational churches of the state, the government began funding local schools. A Unitarian lawyer, Horace Mann, became the first major official in the new state educational system. He made tax-funded education respectable throughout New England. That heritage now is widely accepted throughout the country.

One of the best books on how tax-funded churches took advantage of their power to box out independently funded churches in The Churching of America, by Finke and Stark. Tax funding weakened the established churches so much that they could no longer compete when the subsidies ended.

Back in the 1950’s, theologian and historian R. J. Rushdoony identified the underlying commitment of tax-funded education. He wrote a book on the background of the public school systems, with extensive citation from primary sources regarding the faith of the original educational bureaucrats in the ability of state education to make mankind better. Rushdoony called his book The Messianic Character of American Education (1963). He called the public school system America’s only established church. He called the employees of this church “priests.”

The interesting thing is that a liberal theologian and historian, Sydney E. Mead, wrote a book in the same year that also identified the public schools as priestly. Rushdoony opposed the educational priesthood. Mead favored it. He called his book The Lively Experiment. That experiment has been deadly for competitive education, just as it was for New England’s Calvinist churches.

The transfer of tax money from the churches to the schools replaced the older system of established religion. The underlying principles of tax funding have not changed. The underlying presuppositions of the benefits of this funding have not changed. The difference is this: there were a lot of Baptists in the early 1800’s, and there were a lot more of them by 1890. They had the votes. They opposed tax-funded churches. They had been on the receiving end of that tyranny for too long. Unfortunately, they adopted the religion of public education with the same fervor that other denominations did in the nineteenth century.

CONCLUSION

I am of the opinion that we will continue to see $600 billion or more per year of tax money pour into America’s only established churches. It would be nice, as citizens, to get that money sent back to us in the form of tax rebates, and then to see the tax codes revised in future years, so that the money would never be sent to the politicians in the first place.

I wonder if most Tea Party members would agree with me. I wonder how many of them would agree with me. Probably about as many as would agree that Social Security and Medicare should be abolished.

The deficits will rise. The defaults will come. Home schools will flourish.

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This was published on June 12, 2010. The original is here.

The available budget cut then was $600 billion.

Here is good news. The percentage is down to just under 5%.

Here is bad news: total government spending on education is over $1 trillion.