There is not a modern movement any better poised to change the very face of culture in
the United States than today's Christian homeschooling movement. This is true because
each succeeding generation of homeschoolers should be increasingly removed from the
prevailing propaganda of past and present popular culture (government schools, television,
pop toys, fluff books, etc) and better trained to interpret reality past,
present, and future in terms of a sovereign Creator: One who is there and
personally involved in the redemption of His creation.
For a family to secede from main-line society takes continuing acts of courage and
conviction requiring steadfastness, perseverance, and sacrifice. For most of us it means
dedicating ones self to the current and next generation, sacrificing our own
ambitions of fame and fortune, and living within the means of a one-earner family in a
two-earner society. Many times it takes all the physical and emotional strength we have to
provide our children with the very best we can offer and then there still remains times of
ministering to the brethren and to a lost and dying world that cannot be neglected. One
often wonders where the time and energy comes from to fulfill all that is required.
I may not know exactly where ALL the time and energy comes from, but the statistics tell
us that something is being robbed and I have a pretty good idea of what it is: the
marriage relationship. Since one out of every two marriages today end in divorce, within
and without the Church, the failure of couples to nourish their marriage relationship,
while in the throws of whatever pursuits, seems to pervade the whole of society.
Homeschooling marriages are far from exempt to this malady.
The Critical Nature of Love
But I suggest to you that, while not wanting to diminish the tragedy of any marital
demise, the homeschooling family stand to pay a bigger price when a marriage goes awry
than the typical Christian or non-Christian family. This is so, I believe, because many
times, though not every time, the ability to homeschool or the under-girding passion for
the long-term vision of homeschooling is greatly compromised if not completely destroyed.
In such a case, homeschooling is many times abandoned or reduced to only another
alternative means of education.
Under such circumstances, the greatest potential for damage is to the children who once
embraced the idea and vision of their parents only to have it swept away from them for
reasons they can't control nor fully understand. Granted that kids are the most adept
at adjusting to the present circumstances, but one must wonder about the long-term impact
on their faith in God and their willingness to embrace a radical calling of God when faced
with the failures of the previous generation right in their own home.
For these reasons, and many others, it is imperative that parents closely guard their
family from influences and practices that may undermine their Christian calling that
includes the home education of their children. For example, one concern is in the area of
finances. Many times financial difficulties are unforeseen and unavoidable. Perhaps the
husband has been laid off, has fallen sick or injured, or there has been an unforeseen
economic shift in his industry or geographic location. These situations can present enough
of a challenge for even the strongest of relationships. But when bad financial decisions
or stewardship precedes unforeseeable setbacks, it can quickly jeopardize a couple's
ability to live on a one earners wages thus threatening their ability or willingness
to effectively home school their children.
But these and other challenges can be overcome if the couple has maintained the most
crucial aspect of their life together - their love relationship. A decaying or dead
love relationship only serves to magnify the severity of other difficulties in the family,
leaves the couple impotent to fight against such difficulties, and may eventually lead to
I believe the reason for a prevailing neglect of the love relationship among couples today
is due, for the most part, to the tendency of people to become automated in their
relationships. They stop working on the relationship, stop keeping it current, shift gears
into neutral, and try to coast as far as possible. Suddenly, the relationship is taken for
granted and the substance of the relationship is neglected in favor of more pressing
issues. Why we fall so easily into this pattern is due, in part, to the prevailing view
that makes little to no distinction between the form and the substance of marriage i.e.,
as long as there's a certificate on record in some court house somewhere then a marriage
exists (the form) in spite of the relationship of the married persons and judicial
violations perpetrated by one or both parties (the substance).
Form AND Substance
From the beginning marriage is the property of God. He performed the first marriage and
gave away the first bride. He established it as a covenant relationship and sanctified it
with the mystery of the two becoming one. The fact that the Roman Catholic Church now
advocates abolishing the practice of one parent giving away the bride, in the name of
biblical correctness, only underscores the distance Christianity has drifted away from
covenant and toward increased individualism and autonomy.
Thus marriage today has become more a legal arrangement and less a Church ordinance. There
are at least two reasons, I believe, why this thinking has propagated even within the
Church. First, the Church gradually stopped administrating marriage. Why this happened, I
do not know. But the evidence of this fact lies in Her lack of power to grant or deny
divorce. Secondary evidence is the turning over of family counseling to
professionals. Second, many times Church ministers openly abdicate to the
state when they include the state as a granting authority of the marriage just performed.
I suggest to you that the only authority the state has in marriage and divorce is that
which has been usurped from the Church.
The result of this usurpation by the state is an opened door for frontal attacks on the
institutional family, say, in the name of same sex marriages, for example. But there are
more subtle repercussions among those who desire to hold to a traditional and Biblical
model of marriage. The intrusion by the state has caused marriage to gradually lose its
covenantal identity and take on the nature of a contract.
This contractual nature of a relationship allows one person to justify his faithlessness
to his vows based on the real or contrived belief that the other party broke their vows.
This kind of thinking causes the relationship to deteriorate and become dominated by the
form of marriage rather than balanced by the substance of
marriage. An abundance of marriages in form only is nothing new. But a marriage in form
only is an unhappy state for all parties and if the real or contrived contractual
violations continue, in today's climate of no-fault divorce-on-demand, the contract
is likely to be dissolved.
A marriage of form AND substance, on the other hand, is one that operates according to
biblical covenant i.e., upon the non-negotiable vows of the individual who is faithful to
his vows regardless of the other person's faithfulness or lack thereof. Now, I know
such a statement is going to raise questions that originate from life's hard
experiences. What does one do in the case of adultery, incest, abandonment, abuse,
neglect, etc? These are valid issues that must be addressed. But how these issues are
addressed cannot be successfully formulated until the norm is fully established. In other
words, it is necessary to first establish that which is to be normative according to
biblical standards and then the exceptions can be judged and worked out according to the
standard. The mistake that pervades our whole society is allowing the exceptions to become
a part of the equation that defines the norm and, thus, no standard is ever truly
The Substance of Marriage
The fabric that gives substance to a marriage is companionship. Companionship is sharing
ones life with another person on a day in, day out, experience by experience basis.
A critical ingredient to companionship is communication but even that alone is not
sufficient. For companionship is not only communicating one's hopes and dreams to the
other person, it is also taking the person along with you and allowing them to actually
share in the experience of your hopes and dreams.
Companionship is, thus, living life together, working together toward common goals,
experiencing common interest together, sharing the joys of victory, and sharing the grief
of failures. In an almost ironical sense, this happens without thinking for couples first
dating (gads!) and newly wed. But eventually, the pressures of real life (the need to earn
a living, new babies, schooling, church and social activities) tend to force the husband
and wife into differing roles with differing schedules and differing activities.
Obviously, not only is some of this unavoidable but is the right thing to do. But if we
are not careful, living within our differing roles becomes a way of life and before we
know it, the children are grown and married. Suddenly, the couple realizes that they have
both changed, physically and emotionally, and, having failed to share with each other
their mutual changes, have little or nothing in common.
When this pattern prevails in a marriage, someone has to step up to the plate and initiate
a change in the way the couples relate to each other. It matters not which one does the
initiating so long as someone does. But the ultimate responsibility of initiation lies
with the husband, not just when it becomes obvious there might be a problem, but more
importantly in the day to day maintenance of the love relationship.
To Love a Woman
Thankfully, when Paul admonished the husbands to love their wives (Eph 5:25), he
didn't stop there and leave it up the each guy to decide for himself what was the
appropriate way to love his wife. Rather, Paul gave them (and us) a model to follow after,
that is, Jesus and His love relationship to the Church. Jesus demonstrates His love for
His Church by His faithful service to the Church as prophet, priest, and king. But the
Holy Spirit, in His wisdom, limited Paul from expounding too much detail as to how we
fulfill the commandment. Therefore, we tend to overlook the unstated applications (not
because of any deficiency in scripture but because of our finite and sinful nature) and,
thus, fail to align our life with the full counsel of God's word. Accordingly, there
is more to "and gave Himself for her." (vs 25) than daily family devotions
and the willingness to die for her at some future date.
Husbands, following the example of Christ, execute the office of prophet within their
family by teaching them the whole will of God in all things concerning their edification
and salvation. Too many times the wife, seeking leadership on a particular issue, takes
off in a direction while the husband acquiesces to whatever counsel she has received from
other people. A husband might get away with this with his wife for a while, but an
indecisive father will soon find his children going in differing directions both
physically and philosophically.
As a priest, our duties toward our family include more than sacrificing our own personal
agendas for their benefit. Also included is leading our family into personal and corporate
worship, teaching them how to pray, teaching them the meaning of salvation, instructing
them in the meaning and application of God's word, calling them into times of
meditation and repentance, interceding with prayer on their behalf, and pronouncing
judgements on issues within the family.
Kingly headship of a husband follows the same characteristics and traits of our
Lord's kingly rule. Husbands are to establish a rule of order within the home. Order
and discipline within the home are key ingredients to successful homeschooling. There
should be a basic foundational schedule from which everyone works from and is held
accountable. There should be a visible chain of command. An important aspect of familial
government is for the husband to unfailingly support the authority of the wife and for the
parents to unfailingly support the authority of the older siblings.
These are the tangible ways in which husbands demonstrate their love for their wives.
However, since we are not totalitarian dictators, we depend on our wives' consent to our
leadership and, thus, love. There is an aspect of voluntarianism in marriage that begins
with the agreement to marry and must continue throughout the depth and breadth of the
relationship. I have already touched on two of the very significant dynamics of a marriage
relationship: Companionship and communication. There is more to be said about those from a
practical standpoint. Another vital ingredient to a relationship is the character of each
person and the development (or degradation) of character during the relationship. Last, I
would like to share some thoughts on self-deception and the devastating role it plays in
the decline of a relationship.
Companionship is living life together, working together toward common goals,
experiencing together common interest, sharing the joys of victory, sharing the grief of
failures, etc. . . . Companionship is not just sharing the same dinner table, watching TV
together, and sleeping in the same bed. Because "the companion of fools will suffer
harm" (Proverbs 13:20), then companionship infers a relationship where thoughts and
actions are exchanged, challenged, and behavior is effected.
But there is another element of companionship that must be acknowledged. For if I am
simply hanging around with people, doing things with them and exchanging ideas, and I come
to realize that I don't agree with these people or that they are doing something that is
dangerous and I don't want to participate, I can just leave. Thus for companionship to be
something that could cause me harm there must also be present an element of commitment to
those I am with and their actions and ideas. There must be some element of loyalty to them
and their cause that would cause me to stick with them and engage with them in spite of
whatever better judgement I might have.
Such a concept of companionship that is marked by commitment and loyalty stands in stark
contrast to the instruction my generation received and promoted by a then popular folk
band: "If you can't be with the one you love then, honey, love the one you're
with." It is then, therefore, that the dynamics of loyalty and commitment in
companionship should be instructive to us when we attempt to apply the positive promise of
the above scripture: "He who walks with wise men will be wise." For you see,
wisdom doesn't transfer from one to another simply by osmosis, whether it be with our
children or with our spouses.
Neither will the fabric of a marriage materialize when denied the substantive features of
companionship marked by unequivocating commitment and loyalty. Each person, thus, to be a
faithful companion is to be marked as one who lives a singular life that is open and
transparent, has no hidden or contrary agendas, and is sensitive to the desires and needs
of the other person. This type of lifestyle is not likely to occur apart from the ability
and willingness of each party to communicate openly and honestly.
Open discussions with our wives are one place us guys are most likely to struggle. After
all, after a whole day of fire fighting and problem solving at the office, who wants to
come home and recount the whole day's problems and personalities to someone who
probably doesn't have much of a clue as to what is going on anyway? But that
assessment is accurate only if we have segmented that part of our life away from our
spouse to the point that she really doesn't have a clue as to what is going on. So whose
fault is it that she doesn't have a clue about what is going on and, therefore, you can't
talk about those things of the office with any real meaning? Hummmmm????
Such is just one example of many degenerative cyclical habits of relating, all of which is
the duty of the husband to identify and correct within his family. But communicating is
more than just exchanging the facts and events of the day. Communication between spouses
that is substantive is revelatory. It reveals the very nature and character of the person
whether good or bad, tasteful or distasteful. It presents our true self to the other
person - our prejudices, tastes, judgements, and our hopes, dreams, and aspirations. It
does so not only in the immediate present time, but also historically and, more
It is the futuristic element of communication i.e., our hopes, dreams, and vision, that I
believe to be the most crucial to a substantive relationship and the most difficult. Most
people I know of, and particularly women, are not content with simply day to day survival.
Yet, the survival mode is the easiest operation to default to, especially for us guys,
because of the hectic nature of day to day living and because it's easier to be lazy.
Therefore, God gave us our wives who, from their own desire for leadership, ask us from
time to time to what end is all that we are doing.
It should be noted that this is just one area of relationship that the wife will receive
input from one source or another. If not from her husband, then she will find a vision for
her life somewhere else. The professional counselor is the most popular and accepted means
today for wives to get what their husbands should be giving. While we might get by with
outsourcing a few of our husbandly duties to others who are eager to set the direction
while avoiding the consequences, we will find our willingness to live with the
consequences of outside guidance to wane in direct proportion to our willingness to
acquiesce our responsibilities.
Of course, an important aspect of communication is the ability and willingness to listen.
Listening is an art of itself. It is sometimes difficult to know how someone wants you to
react when they are telling you of a problem. It takes wisdom and discernment to know when
to answer back with a solution, with sympathy, or with some mix of both. When in doubt,
the best policy is to ask. But our willingness to attentively listen and be engaged speaks
loudly not only of our relationship with the person but also of our own character.
There is no other place where our true character comes through than when dealing with the
ones we are the closest to - our family. This is the setting in which we find it
impossible to keep up the constant fašade that we put up for those we desire to impress
the most. Thus, a substantive and enduring love relationship between two people depends,
at least to some degree, on the initial character (or "goodness") of each person
but mostly to their willingness to submit to the sanctifying process brought to bear on
them by the Holy Spirit through their spouse.
We sometimes smile about couples who have been married a long time when we notice how
their behavior is similar and maybe even their looks. But that is exactly the product of
the mystery of marriage - the two becoming one by virtue of sanctification. There is no
doubt that we are not the same person we were 10 years ago, nor will we be 10 years from
now. The question is from where does the pressure of change come AND is the same pressure
being applied to my spouse. If the answer is, "Not from my spouse" and
"No," then I suggest that the mystery is being quenched in the marriage. If the
answer is in the affirmative but my reaction is to dig in my heels, go the other
direction, or discount the values or convictions of my spouse, I suggest the mystery may
not have even begun.
There are three character qualities that I believe to be vital to an enduring love
relationship: Accountability, dependability, and predictability. These are particularly
important for the husband who is the leader of the family and are modeling such leadership
and responsibility before his children. They are also very tangible ways in which we
express our love to our wives.
Accountability simply means no secrets and no lies. The implication is that there
are no secret compartments of your life where the other person is excluded. This should be
the case whether a one time historical event or a current continuous situation. Imagine
the damage to trust and honesty if it is not so and the truth is discovered. Worse than
the damage is the attitude of so many men that minimize the significant value of trust and
honesty by discounting the effects on their wives when they are caught or by making their
wives feel guilty for showing concern about their misbehaving.
Dependability is more than doing what you say you will do. It is being known for
doing what you know needs to be done or what you are responsible for doing when it needs
to be done with no need of prompting or reminding. It is taking care of your business
timely and effectively. Dependability frees those around us to get their business done,
first, by not using up their time monitoring our progress and, second, by enabling them to
accomplish the things that they need to that only could be done subsequent to our
A simple example is preparing dinner. The family cook must be able to buy groceries at the
store in order for dinner to be ready timely. If the cook is going to write a check for
the groceries two things must first happen: 1) The family bread winner must show up for
work every day and, 2) he must get the money into the bank. If he's not dependable to make
it to work and/or to get down to the bank and fund the account, then she's not going to be
able to get dinner done within the time frame of all her other responsibilities. Likewise,
if she has to check up on him everyday at his work to be sure he's there, call the bank
every Friday to be sure he's funded the bank account, and hunt him down when he hasn't you
can be sure she's not going to be a very happy person. And he won't be either.
Predictability is a stabilizing trait of any relationship. The worse fears of
people emerge from their imagination. To be predictable in ones actions, tastes,
responses, and behavior minimizes the wild imaginations of our family members. If my wife
calls the office late in the evening and there is no answer, she should be able to predict
my arrival home within a time period unless she has been given other information.
Predictability is not intended to eliminate spontaneity or promote mundaneness.
Spontaneity is one of the things that make life fun and exciting. But being predictable in
the everyday workings of life increases the efficiency of life at home and is an important
way of expressing our love to our wives.
The antithesis of the character traits described above center around deception. The lack
of honest communication, refusing to give an honest account of one's time and activities,
and choosing companionship outside of the marriage are practices that wear down the love
relationship and pave the way to a marriage that is asundered.
It is probably safe to say that everyone of us have committed some type of deception with
our significant other at one time or another. But what I am speaking of here is a more
insidious lifestyle of deception, one that involves double standards and hidden agendas.
It involves, to some degree or another, a double lifestyle. The damage to any relationship
by this type of on going behavior is obvious.
Less obvious to the destruction of a relationship is self-deception. The ability to
self-deceive is unquestionable; all of us can point to evidences of people who act on a
belief that everyone but that person is able to discern as not a truth. While the ability
of self-deception is taken for granted as a common occurrence, the real mechanics behind
the act itself i.e., the ability to know the truth yet live in thought and behavior as if
not to know the truth, points vividly to the complexity of human nature.
We chuckle and shrug our shoulders when a parent seems oblivious to the behavior of their
disobedient and rebellious children. Perhaps you think we should speak to that parent
instead of chuckling, and most of the time we will if it is someone we know. But my point
is that it is right here at this point of confrontation that one realizes the significant
difference between being deceived by another person and being deceived by one's self. In
the case of the former, the facts of the truth can many times expose the deceiver and free
the person from the deception. But in the latter case, the self-deceived person has a more
compelling motive for the self-deception than evading the truth. It is this over-riding
compelling motive that leads to the self-deception. Therefore, in this case, the facts
don't speak for themselves.
This is a very important distinction to understand when dealing with a situation where
self-deception is involved. For if we deal only in the facts of the deception, we're
probably not going to get very far in bringing the person to face the truth. Instead, we
must work to understand the compelling motive the person has for the self-deception and
bring them to face that motive.
The symptoms of self-deception usually manifests itself as a denial of what is obvious to
everyone else. Thus, while the wife is dying from a lack of companionship or the family is
on the verge of bankruptcy, the husband goes on his merry way, doing his thing as if there
were no troubles. If confronted with the situation, he denies or minimizes the facts,
manufactures soon-to-be solutions, and convinces his wife that it is not as bad as she
thinks and that she's making more of the situation.
My point is the subtle, stealth, and covert nature of self-deception and how easily we can
fall into its grip and be victimized by its consequences. The protection from it is having
an honest, open relationship with other people, with ourselves, and the honest examination
of our own hearts and motives in light of God's word and the Holy Spirit.
As Christians, we should be appalled by the divorce rate within the Christian community. I
don't think we can conclude that the pagans are doing marriage as good as the Christians.
Probably the conclusion is that the Christians are doing marriage as bad as the pagans.
I'll grant you that the ease of obtaining divorce and the fading social stigma has served
to make divorce a palatable alternative to a bad situation. But I don't think the
Christian response to the social trend is to deny any validity to any reason for divorce.
There is a judicially Biblical justification to dissolve the form of that which one party
has already asundered the substance.
What the Church needs to witness, not to mention the pagan community, is Christian couples
who do marriage well. Not perfect people or perfect marriages. We need demonstrations of
how imperfect and sinful couples resolve their deficiencies lovingly and biblically and
how they give and receive sanctification from each other. What the world needs to see are
husbands who know how to reinforce the fabric of their relationship over the life of their
marriage with the substance of an honest, open, and vibrant love relationship.