Politics According to the Bible–The Family

Posted: December 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

Wayne Grudem opens chapter 8 of his new book Politics According to the Bible (Zondervan: 2010) by asking the question, “should parents or the government have the primary responsibility for training children?” 

Grudem begins answering the question by emphasizing the Bible’s positive view of having and raising children (see Ps. 127:3; Mal. 2:15; 1 Tim. 5:14, etc.). 

Okay, it is a blessing to have and raise children but who should train the children for their future vocations? Grudem cites Deuteronomy 6:14-17, which reads:

 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Grudem also points to numerous passages in Proverbs, such as 1:8, 4:1, 6:20, 13:1, 23:22 and 31:1, which point to parents, and especially fathers, as those who are to instruct children.  Grudem goes on to state, “What is striking about these passages is the complete absence of any indication that government has the responsibility for training children or for deciding what children should be taught” (248).

Grudem is correct, of course, but it begs the question as to how the stark cultural differences between then and now play out in applying thes Scriptures he cites as authoritative.  Children no longer learn their vocation from their parents and the desire of most families for both parents to work outside the home limits the amount of time and attention parents may give to their children’s education.  I am not arguing that Grudem is wrong that parents should and do have the primary responsibility to train their children but I think he should have spent some time to confronting the reality of the modern situation.

Grudem is ultimately arguing for more freedom and local control over the education of children. He makes his strongest case when turning to the realities of the failure of many public school systems and the Orwellian attempt by secular liberal groups such as the NEA and the ACLU to hijack the training of children.

For example, several cases have popped up in places like New Hampshire and California in which liberal groups have argued that home schooling should be illegal.  Many secular progressives want to write the curriculum for public schools, which consist of revisionist history and “tolerance” for alternative lifestyles and then force all children into the system.  Groups like the ACLU cite European case-law,  which, in some nations, have indeed outlawed homeschooling and forced children into public schools where liberals have had a lone hand in drafting the curriculum.

Grudem argues for local control of public school curriculum, the freedom to home school and the freedom to choose a public or private school thanks to vouchers.  School vouchers are the latest line of attack by the ACLU because the programs give poorer children the opportunity to attend private schools even if the schools are religious institutions. 

Grudem rightfully points out that vouchers have had great success in most areas.  They give motivated children the opportunity to learn in a safe environment.  Inner-city public schools, on the other hand, are often war zones that fail to help even gifted kids despite dizzing increases in funding. 

Yet, Grudem acknowledges that one of the reasons public schools have failed is not just because of groups like the ACLU or the attempts by government to fix the problem by just throwing money at it but the lack of discipline.  The Bible clearly teaches that corporal punishment benefits children but liberals have successfully rallied against it, which robs the teachers of any way to keep order in their classrooms.

In the end, however, most children will succeed or fail based upon the degree of support they receive from their parents.

Tomorrow night, we will begin to tackle the tricky issues related to economics.  Stay tuned.

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