There is dangerous trend in several homeschool movements that focus on obedience to man-made rules instead of God’s rules. Legalism is essentially opposed to grace.
Biblical submission teachings are distorted to the point that family life centers around the father of the home rather than on Jesus Christ.
This legalism begins with a false teaching about women’s roles. Dr John Garr explains in God and Women (AMAZING BOOK, MUST READ!!):
“In every generation, civil and religious male bureaucracies have reinforced domination/submission codependencies that have used and abused women….
The tragedy is that these hierarchies have been profoundly harmful to both men and women because they have strengthened and further concretized the male-female domination/submission codependencies that have proven spiritually and psychologically debilitating to both genders….
Godly women have an unwavering commitment to godliness, to adhering to the principles of conduct that they know instinctively must be taught by Holy Scripture. They cannot bring themselves to jettison the Bible as a relic of an antiquated patriarchal male God in order to accommodate the demands of some feminists.
They know intuitively, however, that something is wrong with the historical church’s positions on women that still carry over into the present to one degree or another. Surely these positions do not reflect God’s eternal will for women.”
Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
A legalistic movement may appear spiritual from the outside, but fails to accomplish God’s purposes because it is based on outward performance instead of an inward change. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Examine the fruit.
The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.
The Fruit of Legalism is pride, self-righteousness, judgmental and critical attitudes, superiority, conflict, worry, demanding compliance, aggression, extremes, manipulation, elitism, and plain ol’ nastiness.
I have friends with different beliefs that I know love God. They might not homeschool, or attend a church I would attend, or run their home the way I would. That doesn’t mean I have a right to think myself better. God forbid! What love is that?
Legalistic people look down their noses at those with different beliefs. God’s Words says,
“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters” (Romans 14:1).
“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).
You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:10).
Why do so many well-meaning homeschoolers get caught in legalistic trappings?
Why? I believe it is because we are desperate for order and rules. “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.”
We gravitate toward and esteem most highly those who are the most conservative and moral. However, Jesus told some of the most upstanding citizens that publicans and harlots would enter the kingdom before they would.
Those who consider themselves “godly” may be further from God’s kingdom than the lowest sinner.
Submission, Not Doormat
More from Dr. John Garr
The role of women in family, society, and church has been one of the most hotly debated issues in the history of the Christian church. Across the annals of time, it has remained among the most volatile and emotionally charged subjects of discussion that have engaged the community of believers.
Presently, from the one extreme of chauvinism and even misogyny to the other extreme of militant feminism—and everywhere else between—strident voices continue to clamor for a bully pulpit from which they can pontificate and speak for God, giving everyone the answer to the question of a “woman’s place.”
The very term woman’s place is pejorative as though there is a place where women should be sent and contained so that they can be kept under control.
Unfortunately, like so many other controversial issues in Christian doctrine and polity, this subject has generated far more heat than light.
For all of recorded history, women have been the most consistently and universally abused people group on planet earth. Since time immemorial, men have dominated women in virtually every human culture in systematic, unrelenting, and often violent ways.
Consequently, Christian women have been essentially bound in chains of submission and gagged by demands for silence since the end of the apostolic era.
We need to reexamine the role of women from the Bible, from the Hebrew view, instead of the common teachings that are repackaging the Catholic and Greek Orthodox extreme submission perspectives from Greek philosophy.
The new book God and Women: Woman in God’s Image and Likeness brings serious biblical and historical scholarship to bear on the role of women in home, society, and church in an analysis of God’s original intentions for women—and for men—at the moment when he formed humanity—male and female—from the dust of the earth. I strongly suggest you get this book (the first in a series).
There are homeschool movements teaching that their way is THE way, so before blindly following any movement you need to know the theology behind the movement. You need to ask questions.
10 Important Questions
- Do you see love or an attitude of superiority?
- Does this teaching bring me closer to the Lord or not?
- Does this teaching promote loving one another?
- What is the focus: God’s Word or man’s rules?
- Do you see joy or worry?
- Do you see peace or conflict?
- Do you see longsuffering or demanding compliance?
- Do you see gentleness or contemptible attitudes?
- Do you see meekness or aggression?
- Do you see temperance or extremes?
We need to spend time teaching our children to look for fruit!
What Does the Bible Say?
Much of God’s Word speaks directly to false leadership and deception:
God looks in our hearts: Many sinners, even the demon-possessed, humbled themselves before God, while some in church leadership were so self righteous and puffed up that they completely missed God. Man looks at outward appearances but God examines the condition of the heart.
God looks for loyalty: For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. 2 Chronicles 16:9a
God looks at our motives: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21
God looks at our thoughts: And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? Matthew 9:4
God looks at our response to His Word: But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. Luke 8:15
God looks at our worship. This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. Matthew 15:8
Watch this blog for more excerpts from Dr John Garr’s book on women.