homeschool codes and legalism

I’m not much different to a biker! No, not really.  My husband was a biker, not just rode a bike but was a biker, in every true sense of the word. He lived by a code. I wasn’t not a biker by any stretch of the imagination. But I still lived by a code- a different code to that of my husband but a code nevertheless. We can all tend to live by a code if we’re not careful. Just because we stick a Jesus or fish sticker on the code, doesn’t make it right.

Thankfully God revealed Himself to us and He poured His grace upon us. Ah, the freedom, the liberty, the absolute peace that living under grace was all about was astounding. The Holy Spirit moved through us as we ministered to others and He also ministered to us directly. I was young in the faith but my love for God and His word, my passion and zeal was strong. I knew I had things to learn but I also knew where I’d come from and how much God had taught me in a relatively short time. I knew He would continue to teach me- and then I would know it was truly His work in me- not a work of the flesh.

Early on in our marriage, John and I were in ministry and had learned something of the ‘cows that Christians hold sacred’. What a Christian is supposed to do and not supposed to do- according to Scripture…supposedly. Our sacred cows are often nothing more than filthy rags…an outworking of the flesh.  We have always fought against sacred cows both in Church life and personal Christian life.

When our children came along we wanted the best for them. We wanted to train them in the ways of the Lord and build solid relationships with them- encouraging them always toward God. We wanted to help them to discover their God-given gifts and talents. We wanted to encourage them to serve the Lord with their whole heart. To serve man, as serving the Lord.

With great enthusiasm we entered the wide world of home education. It was exciting and everything we wanted for our family. I started to see better ways of homeschooling. Better ways of training our children. More godly ways of teaching our children. More godly forms of dress, of eating, of playing, of work.

Sacred Cows.

I have lived through the ‘Thief in the Night’ era, the scare of the New Age movement, the Christian Rock era, the laughing spirit, the gold dust, gold teeth, spiritual barking in the aisles, spiritual dancing era and much more. Fads fall in and out of fashion, even within Christianity, sadly. These  teachings all have a place but we can tend to take them to extremes and become unbalanced.

I see danger.

We live on the super information highway. We have so much information available to us that it’s just plain scary. It’s confusing. Daunting. Overwhelming. Constantly, we are told by the media what to think, what to wear, what to eat, how to spend money, etc. As believers who are slaves of Christ and not the world, let us not conform to man made traditions…we shouldn’t check our brains at the church door just because it is church. Or just because a book/teacher/lovely woman said so.

As a Christian who sees the danger in this modern world it is easy to embrace the sacred cows of homeschooling. And one thing I have learned is that homeschooling is often extreme. Sure it’s extreme in many ways and I actually love and appreciate that. But the extreme baggage that comes with it is something I do not appreciate.  Maybe you didn’t know it beforehand, but the homeschooling lifestyle often has its own CODE. Just like bikers have their code, so did I.

After all, I desired to serve God with my whole heart. I want nothing more than to dedicate my life to serving Him. I want my children to know Him as I know Him. I desire that they love Him as I love Him. But in this day, how can I be sure that will happen? By living according to the code. I’ve often seen it applied and lived out as a formula, but another term is ‘a code’. Regardless, it’s a trap, it’s wrong. It’s an idol.The code takes biblical principles and makes a law out of them. The code replaces grace. The code is cleverly disguised. The code is upheld as being better, more godly, more spiritual, etc but it is simply another system. Another law. Another set of standards in which to live by. There is no grace involved in the practical sense, only in the words.

What is this code?

What exactly is in this code that so many start to innocently and genuinely embrace? The homeschool code may have started with God’s commands but it has added to it. It has complete doctrines built around it. It is putting words into the mouth of Scripture that simply are not there. But there is a feeling of safety in the code. It’s easier to look toward a code for how to live than to trust in God for every step.

I believe that much of the homeschool code is a knee-jerk reaction. We don’t want to be worldly so the opposite of that must be …The Code! Matters of preference and liberty are made into Law. We replace God’s actual Law and principles with our own interpretation of what we believe God’s principles OUGHT to be. Replacing God’s word (and grace, freedom, liberty, relationship) with a code robs us of our freedom and our joy in Christ. What? Does our freedom in Christ mean we can wear pants, buy store-bought bread and not head cover? True Christian freedom comes from having the freedom not to sin. That’s it. Anything more and it becomes the code.


The Law

Okay so what does this Homeschool Code look like?

Homeschool, homebirth, anti-vaccination, home-made cooking, home made bread, grinding own wheat, dresses only, plain dresses only, no pants, head-covering, training girls to only be SAHM, no university for girls, home business, homesteading, country life, father-centred homes, quiverfull, courtship, no tv…oh boy, the list just goes on and on. It’s all preference, not mandated. Now these are not bad or wrong. In themselves they’re good issues to seriously and prayerfully consider. But they are not law. They are not a formula for success. Adhering to them will not achieve salvation or be pleasing to God. Salvation is made possible because of the fullness of Christ and the work on the Cross. These issues are not wrong in and of themselves but they can become idolatrous. Idolatry begins in our heart- anything that takes the place of God.
Funny thing I’ve noticed is that despite all the teaching to the contrary it is often the homeschool mums who are striving for for this type of life…often it is she who read, studies and decides ( or puts the matter convincingly before her husband) upon this lifestyle. There’s an ideal lifestyle. That ideal looks pretty much perfect. And many strive for it. The result? Burnout, frustration, feeling of failure, feeling of guilt or sin…

I know. I was guilty of it. I read the books. I developed the vision. I strove toward it. My husband’s view of most issues hasn’t changed since the day we met. My ideals changed as I read books that purported the Christian Homeschool Code.

I believe God wants more from us than that. He wants more than His people living out a code. He wants relationship. He wants to lead us- daily. He wants us to go to Him, not man. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the shows we watch, the books we read. He will give us His direction for our family. In fact, He did give my husband direction…but it wasn’t the same as what the Homeschool Code suggested and I tried to change our direction.


I don’t know if I have made any sense here. These are unprocessed thoughts I’ve had tumbling through my mind. I wrestled with the thought of not even publishing this post as I don’t wish to discourage anyone but after leaving it as a draft for some time I do believe need to speak it. I don’t know if anyone else but me needs to hear it, but I need to speak it. if none of this makes any sense to you, just put it out of your mind. If it bugs you, then feel free to ask me to clarify or feel free to comment and disagree. But most of all, pray about it and seek the Scriptures. Not a writer or a book but God’s word.

What sacred cows do you hold? Who or what do you serve? Really?