As I watch my home-schooling career draw to a close, I'm both fascinated and concerned by what I'm observing as the expanding Christian home-schooling movement begins to mature. When I began home schooling 12 years ago, there were less than a million of us out there. Now, there are over two million.

 

As the number of home-schooled students who are approaching college and adulthood continues to rise, I see a trend that I believe to be contrary to the original spirit of home schooling. I also sense new motives among home-schooling families that appear to be contrary to the Evangelical roots upon which home schooling was founded.

 

Home schooling is a predominantly Evangelical movement, and was founded in the spirit of the Salvation Army and other great social welfare movements that once embraced the world-movements that sought to bring the Kingdom of God into the world. Now, however, there is a growing fear of the world among home schoolers, a growing intellectual snobbery that is beginning to resemble a movement of selfishness and isolation.

 

Many home schoolers today seem to be offended by and ashamed of what is commonly referred to by Christians as "The World" -- mainstream culture and our American society. Vast majorities of high schoolers that have been raised in a home school do not take seriously -- and sometimes simply laugh off -- the views of liberal and mainstream thought. Rather than embracing the culture and trying to bring their Christian influences to bear, they withdraw from the culture.

 

This intellectual segregation may not initially appear to be that serious of a problem. Indeed, Christians are called to be different from the world (and, inherently, we are). However, we're also called to be in the world.

 

Out of the Christian Ghetto

 

This means being involved and interested in our culture and society. Inside the home-schooling community, there's a wealth of intellect, critical thought and productivity that may never influence our society because we, the Christian home-schooled high-schoolers who have been graced with these gifts, are too offended by the world in which we live. The product of this mentality is that a lot of society-changing potential is being burned up inside what some would call a "Christian ghetto."

 

I feel quite strongly about this, and I'm convinced that something ought to be done to reverse this practice of isolationism that is threatening to envelope the home-schooling community. The isolationism, as I mentioned earlier, is not a physical isolationism, but an intellectual and emotional isolationism that refuses to be involved in our culture, because of its perceived impurities.

 

Now, I'd better pause and qualify my argument. As I understand it, the home-schooling movement was formed so parents could actually raise their children, teach them the truth, and point them towards Christ-the intention being that after these children have been raised with a strong foundation in the truth, they would be fully prepared to enter the world and impact it with the truth.

 

I do not disagree per se with parents who do not want their young children being exposed to or affected by our progressive culture. However, the original philosophy of home schooling strongly disagrees with the continuation of this practice of sheltering into adulthood, and it is about this that I am speaking.

 

Some would argue that a lifelong intellectual and emotional isolationism is intrinsic to the philosophy of home schooling. While that may be true to the philosophy of some unique home schoolers, I do not believe that it is true, or right. For most people, I believe this continuation (into the early adult years) of isolationism is caused simply by a failure to realize that the sheltered environment of home schooling is a synthetic, crafted environment that must come to an end. After reaching an age of responsibility, these developing adults ought to eagerly enter the world, where they will be salt and light to a poor and desolate culture.

 

Live Among Them

 

In his letter to God's elect, Peter instructed us to live good lives "among the pagans" (I Peter 2:12). The key word in that phrase is "among." Notice he didn't say around, near, in sight of, or within earshot. To be among a group is to be a part of them, in their midst, involved and interested. To be among as opposed to around would be the difference between having pagan neighbors in the house next door and having pagan friends sitting in my living room, engaging in meaningful conversation.

 

Why ought we to do this? So that they, too, may one day glorify God, Peter says. Young adults that are engaging the world and interested and involved in the world should be  "among" the pagans. Those who laugh off the gravity of progressive American and European ideology are, in my view, not at all "among" the pagans, but looking through a glass wall as the world goes on without them.

 

The home-schooling movement is now coming of age. Children who have grown up in a home school are now heading in unprecedented numbers toward college. Intelligent, home-schooled young people (who score extremely high on tests) could prove themselves to be poor members of their culture if they don't actively seek to engage their culture for Christ.

 

If the home-schooling movement does not turn out to be influential in our society, I fear that it may one day be regarded as a well-intended, yet failed, endeavor. Children must be brought up and expected to be leaders and engagers in our culture. Our culture desperately needs this, and our God earnestly commands it.


 

Do you agree or disagree with this article? You can e-mail Ethan at dttef@hotmail.com

 

Ethan Wingfield is home-schooled, high school senior, who hopes to attend Brown University in the fall. Ethan has been home schooled for 13 years. He also maintains his own Web site "Quote of the Day," which can be accessed at http://www.qotd.net/