Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!? These are all destined to perish with use, because
they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. (Colossians 2:20-23 NIV)


In the last few months we have had the opportunity to travel across the country speaking at home school events. We have had the wonderful chance to interact personally with lots of home school moms, dads, and students and we enjoy it immensely. Many discussions in this venue have turned to what we think about various home school experts' ideas. On more than one occasion parents have shared with us that they have become discouraged with their ability to live up to the standards set by the experts. Nowhere is this truer than when speaking to home school parents of teens. To be honest, folks, this phenomenon has grieved us and burdened us. If there is anyone earth who needs to be encouraged in their love and good works, it is the faithful home school moms and dads we have met.

While searching for ways to encourage one another, it sometimes happens that we end up burdening each other instead with extra rules and regulations --  lots of do not handle, do not taste, do not touch. Suddenly, we find ourselves knee deep in mud, trying to press on, but instead slowly sinking. The rules we encounter are many and varied everything from what we should wear, how we should discipline our children, what we should eat, what we must teach, what time of day we should do our devotions, what our daily home school schedule should be ... and on and on.

Don't mistake what we are saying; we believe in holiness but what exactly does that look like? The Pharisees of Jesus's time thought they knew how to be holy, but they missed the point entirely. For holiness depends upon a real abiding relationship with the Father, an acceptance of Jesus as Lord, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

During this month of giving thanks we would like to encourage you to carefully consider the blessings and liberty given to us through the wonderful grace of our Lord. Our encounters with Christian home schooling parents has convinced us that there is not a more committed, careful, God-fearing, and humble bunch group of people. We are in no way suggesting that we should abandon the precepts of God in our life. But the theme of Scripture is that we are made whole by Gods grace to us, not by keeping laws, rules, regulations, or the ideas of experts.

So here is our expert opinion. Take every idea, standard, or rule you hear from any outside source and put it through a grace test. Is this idea, standard, or rule clearly outlined in Scripture? Is there more than one way to understand the Scripture on this point? Will I be subjecting myself or my children to unnecessary condemnation by making this idea, standard, or rule a part of our life? It is certainly true that those who love the Lord will love His law. But the law of God is very specific and leaves a lot of room for personal liberty. There are lots of good things to do and a lot of ways to do them.

I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad. Psalms 119:96 KJV.

Originally published November 14, 2003