Sunday, October 5, 2014

Samuel’s Sons

They brought the boy to Eli, and [Hannah] said to him, “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord.  I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.  So now I give him to the Lord.  For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord…. When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel….But his sons did not walk in his ways.  They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.”   (I Samuel 1:25-28, 8:1,3)

We live in a short-sighted generation.  Just look at the signs—“Buy now, pay later!”—to see that modern Americans are experts at mortgaging the future to pay for the present.  Unfortunately, this attitude often spills over into the education of our children.

I have had many conversations with people about homeschooling versus institutional schooling.  A statement I often hear is, “Well, Jimmy has been in Christian school all his life and he was a straight-A student.  He just graduated from high school and he’s doing great!”  I do not doubt the fact that a person can be institutionally educated and still turn out to be a well-functioning, not to mention godly, individual.  But we must be careful to look not only at the short-term results, but the long-term effects of institutionalization as well.

Not Much Difference
Many studies show that rates of cultural problems such as divorce and immorality are virtually the same for the Christian community as they are for the rest of society.  If Christian schools have been doing such a wonderful job of turning out godly people, why the same rate of moral breakdown in the Christian community?  I submit to you that it is part of the long-term fruit of institutionalizing children.  When children are taken out of the home for significant periods of their childhood, they grow up with limited ideas of how a godly home operates.

The prophet Samuel gives us an illustration of this long-term cycle.  Samuel was without a doubt personally one of the most godly men in the Old Testament.  He remained a faithful prophet of God to the end of his life.  But we find that he evidently was a failure as a father.  His sons were wicked, accepting bribes and perverting justice.  Why was he a poor father?  What more godly atmosphere could you grow up in than the temple, among the priests? 

No Examples
In the pages of I Samuel we find our answer.  Samuel had no long-term example of a godly father.  Eli, though personally a good man, did an extremely poor job of raising his sons.  They were so wicked that the Bible says God put them to death.  So Samuel, growing up at the temple, had no opportunity as a child to see how a godly father operates.  Small wonder that he had trouble raising his own children.

I do not wish to say that a parent is a “victim” of how he was raised and cannot be more godly that his own parents were.  Samuel and Eli were both responsible to God for how they raised their sons.  But why purposely bring up our future fathers and mothers with a “handicap?”  All actions have consequences and we would be blind indeed if we failed to see the consequences to the family of 100 years of institutional schools.

So consider this: the local Christian school might provide good academics.  It might provide good extra-curricular activities.  It probably provides godly teachers.  It might even provide socialization with Christian children.  But does the institutional environment of a school give your children a daily, nitty-gritty, first-hand demonstration of how a godly family operates? 

God provided the family as the model educational system.  We only have to look at our Christian culture to see the fruits of tampering with His plan.

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