Homeschooling and homeschoolers

For what it’s worth, for years I traveled to homeschool conferences around the country, and I’ve worked for and with and over hundreds of homeschoolers. It is my judgment that my father is correct.

The homeschooling movement has rejection of all sorts of authorities deep, deep in its psyche. It would never exist if it didn’t. The authorities in education, sociology, psychology, medicine, and especially lawmakers, all had to be rejected in order to even consider starting to homeschool.

Regardless, each reader can decide for himself whether he thinks the generalization is generally accurate. Your own anecdotes no more disprove the claim than mine prove it.

If you’d like some data that attempts to be scientific, I read an interesting summary of a study comparing graduates of Classical Christian Schools to graduates of various other school types, including homeschooling. According to the study, less than 50% of homeschool graduates even somewhat accept the authority of the church and church leaders. Less than 10% of them trust scientists, and over 30% think there are errors in the Bible regarding science or history (ie don’t trust the authority of the Bible). These may be impressive numbers in comparison with the broader culture, but they are telling indeed for the question at hand.


Thanks for your thoughts. The merits and demerits of different types of education is a conversation for another thread.

I don’t mean to hijack this one.

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The comments about homeschoolers merit their own post and explanation separate from discussions about coronavirus.

I plan on homeschooling my children. If I’m doing it because I’m rebellious, that’s news to me and I’d like to shown why it is rebellion and what I should be doing instead.


Dear Koby,

It’s not “don’t homeschool”; it’s “dear homeschooler, avoid this common sin.”



Exactly right, Daniel; thank you dear brother!


If you decide to homeschool, as I have, because you see it as the best option for your family among several acceptable alternatives rather than the only biblical option, you will be in a safer position. Public schooling, secular private schooling, Christian schooling, and homeschooling all have their pros and cons.

One reason I decided to homeschool is that Christian school is costly for larger families. The cheaper options were not good academically and not necessarily good spiritually because they had a lot of kids for whom the parents had left their moral upbringing to the school. The more expensive options price out pastors and middle class families and financially sustain themselves by becoming factories for sending children of wealthy professionals to elite colleges.

One big downside of homeschooling is that it is extremely matriarchal, something I did not realize before I started homeschooling. It seems that more homeschoolers than the general population have unusual views of theology, science, medicine, history, etc., which is not surprising since homeschooling is already out of the mainstream. Many homeschoolers have a high view of the church and submission to authority, but many don’t.


We homeschool our five year old and our four year old often times joins in. It’s a huge advantage to him, and we see him grasping things quicker than his big sister, who didn’t have the benefit of an older sibling learning at home. We chose Classical Conversations (“CC”) because it seemed to offer a good curriculum and social engagement with other kids. But…

I too was surprised to see this. Even though the official line is that mom is the teacher and dad is the Principle, CC has its own hierarchy at state, regional, and local levels, and it’s almost all women. I’ve been rather disappointed by the running amuck that I’ve observed, with little to no oversight. We may not be continuing next year. If our church offered a hybrid school or something of the sort, that would be ideal, but alas it doesn’t, and private school is just too expensive.

The reason we homeschool is from personal experience first. The schools in AZ are pretty horrendous, and not just for lack of actual learning. Learning happens in much the same way as pastoral care, under someone who knows and loves the learner.

So for us, its not rebellion…it’s truly a mercy to my children.

As for qualifications, I personally believe that God equips mothers to be mothers and that is most of what homeschooling is. We’re still learning too, but I am glad to be able to give my kids the blessing of a full time mother who knows them and their learning needs.


In light of Ephesians 6:4 and various other passages, isn’t “homeschooling” (perhaps better stated as parent education) the obedient thing to do? I have heard godly men argue that it’s the duty of the Christian parent to ensure that their children receive a Christian education. But isn’t that only half the equation? I don’t see in Scripture that this education is to be given by someone else other than the parent.

From Ephesians 5:22 forward, Paul is very specific, giving particular commands to particular persons for particular reasons. It says fathers bring up your children not Christians bring up other Christian children. Are there exceptions here (beyond what is obvious)? If so, how are there not exceptions elsewhere, e.g. wives with husbands, husbands with wives, etc.? Or have I misunderstood?

A few years ago the director of a major missionary organization (which shall remain unnamed) came to the very large and well known church I was attending in Chicago to recruit young adults to train and send out for long term missions. After the main church-wide presentation, he held a few smaller seminars. In one of them he let slip out that the organization purposefully avoids recruiting homeschoolers. He said in their experience, homeschoolers had generally proven unable to adapt well to new cultures and circumstances, and had great difficulty entering into the social fabric of the societies in which they were placed. Take from that what you will.

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As others have already mentioned, the original post wasn’t trying to level a charge against homeschoolers per se. Rather it pointed out the near-necessity that homeschoolers distrust and dismiss conventional authorities “in education, sociology, psychology, medicine, and especially lawmakers, all … in order to even consider starting to homeschool.”

I heartily agree with this observation, and that agreement does not conflict with my endorsement of my childrens’ decision to withhold my grandchildren from the public education establishment. In general, I applaud those with enough perspicacity to discern the rightness of homeschooling, if by that term we are mostly pointing to a determination to abandon government schools. But the psychological/spiritual chops that attend such a determination serve just as well for rebelling against legitimate authorities of all sorts.


I think this is where I disagree, and why I was both miffed and mystified by the conversation to begin with.

  1. It was stated as a matter of course and without any of the nuance presented since I raised my question. I appreciate the levels of qualification that have been provided, but it felt like I was being dropped into the middle of a conversation that had already had its conclusions drawn and agreed upon.
  2. It is not obvious to me that homeschoolers exhibit any of the distrust or dismissal you describe with the exception of a “distrust and dismiss[al]” of educational authorities - and I think it should be acceptable to ask the question as to whether your school board, district Superintendent, and public school teachers and unions are necessarily the same category of authority as government and scientists.

I’m not trying to engage in ‘Whataboutism,’ but it seemed like everyone more or less agreed with Pastor Tim on this point and I’m not sure I agree with even the nuanced version you all have presented.

Engaging in a perfectly legal form of schooling that often (more of than not?) provides our children with a superior education for less money is not the same degree of rebellion as refusing to accept the government’s strong recommendations to shelter-in-place in the face of a pandemic. I’m not sure it’s rebellion at all in the former case, and it was not presented in a qualified way so as to simply be a course of action that “can” be a sign of rebellion.

From @tbbayly:

Reformed homeschoolers despise authority and need to learn to submit. Anywhere. To any authority.

Rather, some of you are up in arms about my saying homeschoolers are rebellious. Of course they are, but that was not my point.

From @jtbayly

It is my judgment that my father is correct.

The homeschooling movement has rejection of all sorts of authorities deep, deep in its psyche. It would never exist if it didn’t. The authorities in education, sociology, psychology, medicine, and especially lawmakers, all had to be rejected in order to even consider starting to homeschool.

The burden of proof is on you both to justify these claims on the grounds of something more substantial than your pastoral experience. These are not assertions that homeschooling can come from a place of rebellion, but rather flat assertions that if you are homeschooling your children, you are in rebellion and therefore need to repent.

  1. What is the form of the rebellion that every homeschooling family is engaged in?
  2. Who are the rebellious homeschoolers rebelling from?
  3. What does repentance look like?
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You misrepresent me. Go back and read what I said and get it right, please. As I said earlier in this discussion, it is NOT the homeschooling itself that is the rebellion.

Meanwhile, for what it’s worth, my pastoral experience is precisely the authority I speak from constantly. It’s not the only authority, but it’s a central one I never apologize for declaring. Scripture does it all the time.

If you’re inclined to think studies published in peer-reviewed journals have a better probability of being true, try to use their data to reproduce their conclusions. Or get your grad students to try. Love,


This discussion is very closely tied to the discussion about rebellion on the other thread, and the long message I posted yesterday. I assume this is why posts keep being moved back and forth between the two threads.

Satan rules this world (John 14:30). Yet we are to submit to governmental authorities (Rom 13).
We are to submit to our rulers (Rom 13). Yet we are to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
We are to raise up our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4) but we are to honor teachers, superintendents and school board members as civil magistrates (Rom 13:6).
We are not to add to the Word of God (Revelation 22:18), but we are to obey and submit to the pastors and elders who put together such things as the Today’s NIV (Heb 13:17).

Obedience to God requires, at times, a willingness to stand alone against your authorities, your people and your culture. Obedience to God requires, at other times, a submission to stand with your authorities, your people and your culture, even when they are in sin. I don’t have good answers for any of this. Our fathers, both literal and in the faith, made their decisions about George III and Charles I, for good and for ill.

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@krk88, you misrepresent me as well. It’s a redundancy to repeat the response already provided by Pr. Bayly.

I’ve been near and dear to home schooling parents for almost 50 years. Yes - it wasn’t a “thing” 50 years ago as it is today, but you didn’t have to look too hard to find this or that couple who opted out of government schools. Actually, parents had been doing that for 50 years earlier, but they were confined mostly to the ranks of the wealthy who packed the kiddos off to whatever private school they judged to be superior (for whatever reason).

What we mostly think of as homeschoolers today surfaced among parents who couldn’t afford private education, but who were desperate enough (or, forced by circumstances) to set up schooling inside their own domiciles. I saw a lot of this in an overseas parish populated by many missionary families, some of whom did not wish their children to be acclimatized to the indigenous culture by putting their kids into local government schools.

The point: I didn’t get my estimation of homeschoolers as a group by yanking it off a shelf one day recently. I’ve gotten it by living with, pastoring, and observing within my extended family and flocks many home schooling families. I imagine that Pr. Tim got his ideas the same way.

If our ideas about homeschoolers as a group do not fit you, you’re certainly welcome to eschew them and to let us know you do. But your challenging our credibility for having such ideas is unseemly.


Let me take a stab at your questions, @MACJ. You say:

Ephesians 6:4 instructs fathers to bring up their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” and you seem to believe that means that only fathers should be disciplining and instructing their own children. But even hard-core homeschooling families don’t do that. With almost every homeschooling families I’ve seen, it is the mother who does all or most of the instructing. And when you think about it, if the father has to be at work 8-10 hours per day, it’s not even possible.

So my point is this: if you’re participating in this forum, you probably believe that fathers should work hard to discipline and instruct their children in the Lord. But are you really going to say that other people – such as mothers, teachers, coaches, bosses, etc – shouldn’t participate in that discipline and instruction? To read Ephesians 6:4 that way is to go beyond what it says and to restrict it in an unnatural way.

But I’d go further than that. A good father will work hard to put his children under other men and women who will help discipline and instruct those children in the Lord. This is not laziness or absenteeism. This is just part of the job.


I’ve heard it put somewhere (perhaps even somewhere here in the SanityVerse), that it is the responsibility of every father to give his children a Christian education. The means of doing so can be delegated to others (mothers, Christian schools, and, yes, even public school teachers), but the responsibility for doing so cannot be delegated. And part of that responsibility is to supplement and fill in the gaps left by other instructors. That could mean mathematical instruction (or whatever subject) when Mom is the primary teacher, or moral instruction when public school is the primary teacher.

My oldest is only 19 months, so we’re a few years out from schooling. But my wife and I are planning to homeschool. I was public schooled and my experience was middling to above-average, which was still bad enough that I don’t want my kids anywhere near that system.

(EDIT TO ADD: Obviously, there are certain things that can’t or shouldn’t be delegated, which the father must do himself. But that doesn’t mean nothing can be delegated)

Thanks @ldweeks. Just to be clear I wasn’t taking issue with Pastor Tim’s comments about homeschoolers’ rebellion. My interest was what (if any) relation does Ephesians 6:4 have to education of children and the discussion of homeschooling.

Reading Ephesians 6:4 following Ephesians 5:22ff, I see a pattern of particularity. Wives to husbands, husbands to wives, children to parents, parent (father) to child, slaves to masters, masters to slaves. I have trouble dismissing that as trivial, yes, even with the father. But I am not suggesting that others can’t participate. Obviously they can and should (2 Timothy 1:5, Proverbs 1:8). Even Paul was a father, spiritually speaking, to Titus and Timothy. Nevertheless, isn’t it important to note that the Holy Spirit uses father here for a reason? Why even write fathers if it really doesn’t matter that much?

I guess my question is how do we not kill Ephesians 6:4 with qualifications and exceptions while at the same time maintaining those very things? Maybe to state it another way, before we get to the obvious exceptions, what does this actually mean for the father with regard to education? I have a 16 month son and another on the way. I don’t want to shirk my duties here. I also don’t want to be legalistic. But I recognize father Adam’s passivity is always at the door, as are his excuses. Hope this makes sense.


As a grad student, I had to chuckle at this ending sentence. It’s excruciatingly accurate.


Ouch. I can well see how this would be the case; more generally, home-schooling is a great ‘bubble’ against the outside world, but that outside world cannot be avoided for ever.

Something to consider…I don’t deny that there are rebellious tendencies among many parents within the homeschooling community, and perhaps it is even centralized around the matriarchal structure previously observed. But…looking at fruit, most public school teachers complain that the kids are out of control, don’t respect authority, they are powerless to do anything about it and the parents who aren’t powerless, won’t do anything about it.

Public school teacher often think there is some sort of distinct line between discipline and instruction, which of course is nonsense, and further that their realm is the latter, not the former.

Now if we consider the role and duties of the magistrate, it is almost exclusively the inverse of what many teachers and school boards conceive of their roles. The fruit of public school seems to be social chaos, with minimal learning.

I was never homeschooled, though I had many learning challenges due to rebellion and chaos at home by my parents. Consequently, I never finished high school, and was prevented by my father from pursuing my general education diploma (GED). As to why I was prevented, well it’s complicated, and did I mention there was rebellion by my parents.

It took me four years to get out from under my parents and obtain my GED, and get accepted into the University. My experience in learning was suddenly very different. I went from a poorly performing, but seemingly intelligent kid in public school, to getting all A’s and B’s, devouring every class I could challenge myself with. Classes, like college algebra and Statistics suddenly were understandable. In high school I was actually referred to a special ed program by my Algebra I teacher. In high school I could barely focus enough to read simple social studies text books or simple novels in English class. In college I read Plato’s Republic majoring in Political Science with an emphasis in Political Thought, after college I read Moby Dick, I also went on to obtain a Masters in Public Administration.

The difference is, I had to discipline myself, absent a responsible loving authority over me. Something I think most kids don’t have these day. My grandfather once chastened my dad, when I was still very young, he said “Ken needs a father not a friend”. My dad never figured that out.

Truth is, you can’t separate discipline from learning, and no one can serve two masters. As Bannerman points out, a magistrate will never be indifferent to the church, but will be either a friendly ally or a torturous enemy. I had some decent teachers in school, but they couldn’t do anything about my home life, and now that I am a Christian I am convinced that this mixed bag of public school chaos will be of little benefit to my desire to raise my children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. My purpose for homeschooling is to stay in my lane as a parent. We teach our children to honor the police and always have them go talk to them when we see them in restaurants or donut shops :grin:.

So, are homeschoolers more or less rebellious than public school parents? I don’t know. But, like me, many are themselves products of public school chaos, which tends to teach people how to avoid authority and responsibility. Hopefully, many are choosing homeschooling in repentance rather than rebellion.