Fear drives me to swim in pools and away from sharks. Fear keeps me from dancing in public. Fear drives me to change the batteries in my smoke detectors every six months. Fear is why I require anyone in the car with me to buckle their seat belt. Fear also keeps me from actually trying to write a book or truly confronting some of the problems in my life. Fear can keep one from doing the wrong thing, but it can also keep one from doing the right thing.
Evaluating Our Fear
Ultimately, fear alone is no reason to do or not do something. Before fear drives our action or inaction, take a look at the source of that fear. For now, we will take apart the various fears that relate to homeschooling. Why? Because a frequent claim is that we only homeschool because of fear. If that observation is true, then we should examine if fear is the right motivation.
First, let us examine a few fears that are worthy to be dismissed, not acted upon. After all, some snakes are harmless and not worthy of our fear. Further, snakes should not keep us from ever going into the woods. Instead, we should let fear drive us to right caution. We should learn to watch for snakes, not hide from them forever.
For decisions about education, let us dismiss a few fears outright. One is the fear that sending our children to a government (or private) school will bring them in contact with other races and cultures. That is not something to be feared, but something that, if you educate at home, you must intentionally encourage! Another fear to dismiss is the fear that your child will never learn in a classroom environment. While some schools do struggle, remember that your child still comes home to you, and you can set the expectation for learning and growth.
Other fears are not so easy to dismiss, but they can be managed. These fall under the wisdom shared by Solomon in Proverbs 27:12. “The prudent see danger and take refuge…but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” (NIV) For example, there are legitimate safety fears about sending children to school. However, recent years have shown that there are legitimate safety fears about going to church, the movies, and the mall. This is a fear to be addressed by wisdom rather than one that should drive us to cower anywhere.
Another fear that must be managed is the fear of an inadequate education. This one comes back to parental responsibility. If you choose a school as the partner for your child’s education, you are still the parent and need to be involved. If you educate them at home, you are still the parent and need to be involved. If you send them off to be raised by wolves, you are still the parent and need to reconsider how you are parenting.
One Worthy Fear
I could go on. Instead, let us look at the only fear that is actually worthy of our decision-making. When we look, again, to Solomon and holy Scripture for our guidance, we see this:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10 (NASB)
The right fear for the Christian is a fear of God, not of people. King David words it well in Psalm 27:1: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (ESV)
We should not make education decisions, or any other life-altering decisions, based on the fear of man. Choosing to educate at home should not be done in fear of a liberal agenda or in fear of evolution or in fear of the godlessness of the classroom. These fears are grounded in a fear of man and man’s philosophy.
Instead, come back to the fear of the LORD. Make your choices based on what God commands. From there, all the other fears will shrink in comparison. Then, remember this: we serve a God who is not only worthy of fear, but who is grace-filled and loving. Let fear give way to the perfect love of God (see 1 John 4:18), and walk in His love as you educate your children and live your life.