IBL05: Fifth Commandment (Craig Press)

Education and the Family

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:02 Deuteronomy 4, verses 5-10, education and the family: “Behold I have taught you statutes and judgements, even as the Lord my God commanded me that ye should do so in the land wither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore unto them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statues and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great who have God so nigh unto them as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for. And what nation is there so great that has statutes and judgements so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day.

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:06 Only take heed to thyself and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, unless they depart from thine heart all the days of thy life. But teach them thy sons and thy son’s sons, especially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together and I will make them hear my words that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:49 When The Ten Commandments was given, both before and after the giving of the commandments we have statements similar to these just read, whereby the people of God were commanded, not only to take heed of God’s word, but to teach them to their children, and even to their sons’ sons, their grandchildren. Thus when the law was given, the law was given, not only to be heard but to be taught, and it was placed upon the parents as their responsibility to educate their children.

R.J. Rushdoony: 02:41 Last week we discussed the economics of the family, and we saw that one aspect of the economics of the family was the responsibility to care for one’s children. This, of course, involves an education in the broadest sense of the word. Now when we discuss the responsibility of education by the parents, in order that there may be a law keeping younger generation, in order that the younger generation may indeed honor their father and their mother, education in this broad sense involves first of all, discipline. We are all familiar with the words of Proverbs 13:24, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 03:44 Again, Proverbs 19:18 says, “Chasten thy son while their is hope, and let not thy soul spare from his crying.” In other words, when God spoke through Solomon these words, he was aware that all of us are inclined sometimes to be too tender-hearted and to spoil our children, and foolish pity is decried. For example, “Withhold not correction from the child. For if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 04:32 Discipline, we are told is necessary, because foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. Character requires discipline. St. Paul, in Hebrews 12:11 says that if we are not chastened by our parents, then we are, to all practical intent, bastards. We are not legitimate children, and so God, St. Paul declares, disciplines those who are his children, that he might be able to make them truly heirs. The sad fact is, in terms of the Biblical law, most children are brought up as bastards today. They are not disciplined.

R.J. Rushdoony: 05:23 We are further told in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. This verse in particular is especially rich, because when it says, “Train up a child in the way he should go,” the implication of the Hebrew text is there. Train up a child. Discipline a child in terms of his bent, in terms of his direction, his aptitudes, his abilities. In other words, we do not train up a child who has aptitudes for example, for engineering in terms of music. Nor a child who has aptitudes in terms of farming in terms of law.

R.J. Rushdoony: 06:21 As soon as we see the aptitudes, and the abilities, and the direction of the child, we discipline him. We train him in terms of his aptitudes, and when he is old he will not depart from it, so that, not only does scripture require discipline, but it requires discipline in terms of the realities and the aptitudes of the child. The two must go hand in hand, and one of the sad facts is, that so often discipline is without intelligence, and too many parents, and we can add sometimes too many wives, try to make out of their children, or out of their husband something for which he has no aptitude. Then further we are told that a child left to himself, untrained, undisciplined is a shame to his parents. Thus, basic to the parental responsibility to educate, to teach is discipline.

R.J. Rushdoony: 07:30 But second we must say from a study of scripture that discipline is not a substitute for sound instruction and for proper teaching. As a result, parents have a duty to provide the child with a godly education. We are told the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and also the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Again and again these statements are made in scripture. We might note in passing that there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is learning. It is accumulated, and the sound learning has, as its beginning, the fear of God. But wisdom is not learning. It is more than learning. It is the insight. It is the common sense. It is the ability to use learning intelligently. Whether it be learning or knowledge and wisdom, the fear of God is basic to both. Wisdom, true wisdom, rests on faith, and true knowledge pre-supposes God.

R.J. Rushdoony: 08:51 Now, when scripture emphasizes that there must be godly knowledge and wisdom, we must add further that in terms of scripture, there can be no neutrality in education. There’s nothing neutral under the sun. We are either for something, or we are against it. Education by the state will have statist end. It will promote statism or socialism. Most of us grew up when schools still had teachers who were by and large godly and of outstanding character, so that we did not see the implications of state schools in our day. But as those of you who have read my study, The Messianic Character of American Education, know, all the philosophers of the public schools, from Horace Mann to the present, with the exception of Bernard over a hundred years ago, had socialistic premises. Their purpose in bringing about state support and state control of the schools was to abolish Christianity, to socialize the child, and in recent years, of course, they have been able to bring their philosophies to full fruition.

R.J. Rushdoony: 10:38 Education by the state will have statist that is socialist ends, and the hippie is the natural end product of our education. But we are not then to turn to education by the church, because education by the church will have churchly, ecclesiastical ends, and a school should not be subordinated either to the church or the state. Each will promote itself. After all, the church of our Lord’s day taught, as we saw last week, that men should give to the church, that is to the temple, rather than caring for their parents. In other words, the church of our Lord’s day was teaching sin as a virtue. Churches still do that.

R.J. Rushdoony: 11:38 Now, according to the law, children are required to obey their parents, and the counterpart of this is the duty of parents to teach their children the fundamentals of obedience, and the fundamentals of obedience are only taught through God’s law, and hence as our scripture declares, “The obedience to teach they sons, and thy sons’ sons.” One of the requirements in the law was that all parents and children should hear a reading of the law or read through the law once in every seven years. This was done in Old Testament times every Sabbatical year. Every seventh year there would be a series of days when all would gather together to hear the priest or Levite read the law through in it’s entirety.

R.J. Rushdoony: 12:50 Now, this was a duty that was taken seriously by the church for centuries, and the result was of the Lectionary, which those of you who are Episcopalian in background are familiar with. The Lectionary provided for the reading of the entire scripture over a period of time, so that one would hear, at morning and evening prayer, each Sunday portions of scripture read, so that the whole of the scripture over a period of years would be read through regularly. This then is an obligation, a thorough knowledge of the scriptures, in order that the child might learn his duty to God, and his duty to his parents. Sound instruction, therefore, a knowledge of God’s word is basic to the education of the child.

R.J. Rushdoony: 13:57 But third, we must add, according to scripture, that because the law is practical, it’s down to earth, Biblical concepts of education appear very plainly to be practical. As a result, the common opinion came to exist in Israel, which summed up the teaching of the scriptures. The man who did not teach his son the law of God and a trade reared him to be a fool and a thief. Moreover, we find this saying from Simeon, who was the sone of Gamaliel who we meet in the New Testament in the book of Acts, “Not learning, but doing is the chief thing.” When Josephus, the Jewish historian compared Hebrew education, Biblical education with Greek education, he pointed out that the fallacy of Greek education was that it was either entirely abstract and theoretical, or it was totally practical. It did not have a proper connection between principle and practice, which Biblical education had.

R.J. Rushdoony: 15:26 Fourth, we must say that Biblical education was family centered. It emphasized the responsibility of parents and children. Now, this is a point which Christian schools have found to be a very, very interesting one. I’ve talked with a number of school boards in the state of California, incidentally, that have had a great deal of experience with having children that are charity students, and invariably, each school has had this experience. If they take in some children who are too poor to pay a tuition for their schooling, these children are the discipline problems in the school. But the minute they drop these children as a total charity patient, and say to the child or to the parents, we will take your child without any tuition since you have no money, but so many hours of work are required around the school by the parent, the mother or the father, or the child, there is no discipline problem. In other words, there is now a sense of responsibility, and the entire character of that child changes.

R.J. Rushdoony: 16:58 When there is a responsibility for providing for the education, in other words through money or through work, there is immediately a sense of responsibility. Now, a person reared and schooled in the doctrine of responsibility to obey and as needed to care for his parents, and to provide for his children is a person who is a disciplined person, and he passes on an inheritance to his children of moral discipline, of example, of material wealth, and of a sense of responsibility. But when the state takes over education, the state then becomes the responsible party, and it becomes, as we saw last week, the true family, the true father, and the true child of man. When man has the responsibility and the duty to be competent and to be provident, the dignity and the masculinity of man is furthered.

R.J. Rushdoony: 18:17 One of the very, very significant difference between a Christian school system and a statist school system is the performance of boys. When our schools in this country were predominantly, and in fact earlier entirely Christian schools, the outstanding pupils were the boys. But as education progressively became statist, progressively the performance of the boys deteriorated, and the performance of the girls began to pass up that of the boys, so that today, by and large, the outstanding pupils in any class at any school are girls, and the boys do not compare in their performance. This is a most significant fact. Since responsibility is the basic aspect of man under God, he is to be responsible for the care of his household. He is to be responsible under God for leadership in society.

R.J. Rushdoony: 19:46 An educational system which is geared to this fate produces boys who are more responsible. But an education system which is geared to the statist concept that the state is the responsible agency has a psychological destructiveness on the male student. Thus in our Christian schools, although our society by and large is still geared to the socialist concept, boys on the average, while they have not yet in most schools surpassed the girls, are performing to a far higher level than in the public schools, and this is a most significant fact. In other words, the Christian school, because it restores man to his proper place, because it restores the family orientation, restores masculinity to the boy, and it also restores a womanly characteristic to the girls. In statist education, woman either become fluffy luxuries or aggressive competitors to men. There is no stability, because there is no center, God. There is no sense of true function, and therefore education becomes abstract or vocational.

R.J. Rushdoony: 21:36 One of the fearful things about our education today is that it has become so overspecialized. I recall when I was doing graduate work at Berkeley. As I came to know a number of the very superior scholars whom I in particular liked, the thing that struck me most forcibly was their total specialization, so that an important fact that tied into their field that happened to be in another field, they totally ignored. In fact, they prided themselves on their ignorance of something that was outside their specialty, even though it might be very closely related. They drew such arbitrary lines, in terms of their specialization, that they would not look outside their field, and so there was no sense of relationship to other fields of knowledge. This is the consequence of this lack of center, a lack of meaning in education.

R.J. Rushdoony: 23:00 In modern education, the state is the educator, the parent, and the true family of man, and so the child is taught to look to the state, and what is the answer to our problems? Another law. Win an election and you have salvation. Pass a law, and you’ve answered all problems, so that the orientation becomes the state. The state has the answer rather than the fact that each man, on his own, through his work, through his independence must solve his problems. Moral decision is transferred to the state, instead of residing in the person.

R.J. Rushdoony: 23:51 Fifth, we must say, in terms of the Biblical law, that basic to the calling of every child is to be a member of a family. The family is the first and basic institution of scripture, of life. Virtually all of us, virtually all people are destined to become someday, husbands or wives, fathers and mothers, and all are born as children, and so, all of us have a responsibility to live in terms of family life. But we are not educated for this. The statist school, when it deals with the family, deals with it in terms of facts. Let us give them some facts, sex education. Let us teach the girls home economics. Let us teach the boys something about this or that aspect of life, and there are boys’ courses in family living.

R.J. Rushdoony: 25:06 But it is not facts that make for family living, and the best teacher of home economics is always the mother, and so, the effect of a school as it approaches the family, is factual and destructive, and only the Christian school, only godly education, which is family oriented and family controlled, can meet the need, can teach the child truly to honor his father and his mother. The family is, after all, the best and the truest educator. There is no education that compares to that given by the parents. There is no educator to equal the mother.

R.J. Rushdoony: 26:01 We are, today, given a constant brainwashing to the effect that the parents should not interfere with the education of the children. In fact, there was an article in the paper just this past week which stated that a psychiatrist had given a report based on a study of three or four children, that these children had become virtually psychotic when their parents were trying to teach them. But the minute the parents backed off and said, “We won’t interfere with the education of our children,” then these children blossomed and began to do marvelously.

R.J. Rushdoony: 26:41 Now, of course this is rubbish. There is no teacher equal to a father or mother, and the most difficult task, as I’ve pointed out previously, in all education is accomplished by every mother when she teachers her baby, who can neither speak nor understand any language the mother tongue. Now, there’s no professor or no teacher from kindergarten up through graduate school who has a more difficult task than that, to teach someone who could neither read, nor write, nor understand any language, a language, and it is done in a very short time by every mother. That’s the most difficult task in all education, and it’s done routinely.

R.J. Rushdoony: 27:43 But even greater than that, the task of moral training, the discipline of good habits is an inheritance from the father and the mother to the child, which surpasses all others. This is taught routinely by family living, and there is nothing that can take its place. Nothing that the public school can do, or the church can do can equal that moral discipline and training from the home that becomes second nature to each child.

R.J. Rushdoony: 28:28 Finally, Biblical eduction not only emphasized learning, but godly learning. Earlier I sighted the proverb, “Just as a man is required to teach his son the torah, the law, so is he required to teach him a trade.” Another proverb, incidentally, said, “He who teaches his neighbor’s son the torah, the law, it is as if he had begotten him.” Here’s another Hebrew proverb that comes from ancient times that is very, very revealing, “An ignorant man cannot be saintly.” “An ignorant man cannot be saintly.” Holiness is not a self-generating act. Holiness requires growth in grace and obedience to God, which requires a knowledge. Thus an ignorant man cannot be saintly. He must have a knowledge of the word of God, or he cannot conform to God’s requirements, and he must have growth in that knowledge, and growth in grace. Hence, an ignorant man cannot be saintly.

R.J. Rushdoony: 30:11 Education, therefore, is an important aspect of the parental duty, and its goal is that the child grow up in the fear and admonition of the law. “Take heed to thyself. Keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thine heart all the days of thy life, but teach them thy sons and thy sons’ sons.” In order that we may have a generation that honors parents, godly education, Christian education is basic. Commandment declares, “Honor thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee, that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee in the land which the Lord they God giveth thee.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 31:46 Let us pray. Our Lord and our God, we give thanks unto thee for our parents, and for their discipline and training of us. We pray that we in turn may pass on a goodly heritage unto our children, and our children’s children. We thank thee, our God, that thou hast called us to be members of thy family, and because we are thy sons and not bastards, thou dost discipline us and teach us, and by thy chastening, we have been made heirs of thy kingdom. Our God, we thank thee, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books. Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder