My twin boys started kindergarten this year, which has been an adjustment for our entire family. But in the months leading up to their first day, I spent a lot of time reading and researching educational options in my city (as well as the options from a biblical/theological perspective). I was helped by thoughts from all sides in the discussion about how we educate our children. But in nearly every article I read, or message/interview I listened to, one thing was absent (or at least not talked about much).
A mention of the brokenness of this world, and as a result, the brokenness of every choice we have before us.
Over the last six months, I have been exploring a theology of the fall and how it relates to a variety of things we experience in this world—from rodents invading our house to how we birth our children. I truly believe that a failure to acknowledge this reality (that this is not Eden and that all around us is broken and in need of redemption) leads to a host of disappointment in life. I know it has in my own.
Often when we talk about education, we talk about it in ideological terms (how we want/believe it should be) and not in practical/realistic terms (how it really is). Don’t get me wrong, ideology is important. We didn’t choose to put our kids in public school devoid of ideological reasons (and we will share them if people ask!). But we also made the decision from a realistic perspective. We put both our ideology and our real life circumstances on the table and public school is what we came up with.
But while scripture is clear on many things, it actually doesn’t speak clearly on any of the educational choices before us. Life is more nuanced than simply choosing one option over a lifetime. People are far too complex for one choice to work for all people for all time. Cultures and societies change. Family structures change. Educational options change. We are all just trying to make the best decision for our families with what God has given us. But while scripture might not be clear on what choice is best, it is clear about two things.
Parents are responsible for their children (Deut. 6:7).
This world is not our home and because of that, everything in it will fail us repeatedly (Heb. 13:14).
These two things are what drive our decision. We will give an account to God for how we raise our children, and we are raising them in a broken world, in a broken system, and in broken bodies. From homeschool to public school, everything is crying out for redemption (Rom. 8:22). The sooner we get that, the easier it is to process why it all feels so hard sometimes. And why it is so hard for us all to talk openly about our choices.
Of course it would be easier if we could fit our educational options into a tidy box, but we can’t. There are seasons, circumstances, financial constraints, convictions, and a whole host of other things that contribute to the choices parents make. And at the end of the day, no matter what we choose, it won’t be perfect because this world is not perfect.
Once I came to terms with that, it made the choice before me much easier to make. Every educational choice will come up short. It won’t fully satisfy all of our longings in this life. And why should we expect it to? We live in a broken world, not Eden. If we hold too tightly to whatever choice we have made for our family, believing that is the best thing for all families for all time, we may be making an idol of our choice. The world is far too complex for such statements. Taking your family to church, teaching your children the word of God, showing them that Jesus is better even when life is hard, and working faithfully in the tasks God has for you is clear in scripture. But even that looks messy this side of Eden.
So when I feel angst about the choices before us for our children, I have to remind myself again and again that I’m simply doing what countless parents have done since Adam and Eve ate the fruit and plunged us all into rebellion—I’m trying to live faithfully in a broken world. I pray that gives me freedom to choose what’s best for us as we live in this broken world, and freedom to love those who choose differently.