getting started homeschooling, homeschooling

Does Psalm 1 Mean You Biblically Must Homeschool?

Although my theology differs from Voddie Bauchman’s and he’s a little too patriarchal for me, I often find things he says I do agree with.

This however, I do not agree with:

“If Psalm 1 is to be believed, we must not allow our children to stand, sit or walk with those who deny biblical truth and morality.” –Voddie Baucham Jr

He is referring to this verse:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners,  nor sits in the seat of scoffers;  but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2

Like Bauchman’s belief that women must keep having babies, a false teaching which I discussed in my quiverfull post, he based his conclusions on a misunderstanding of how promises should be interpreted and applied to our lives.  

As I’ve discussed before, promises are not commands.

A blessing is an extra benefit, extra favor.

It is an extra benefit if we are able to not surround ourselves with those who are against God.

But is it a sin, wrong, immoral –or anything like that– if we find ourselves in a situation where we are surrounded by unbelievers?

No! Of course not.

In fact, we are commanded to go, commanded to be ready to give an answer, commanded to shine in the dark spaces.

Is it wise if you choose to not surround  your child with negative influences when they are young?

Yes, it is absolutely wise to make careful choices for yourself and your children.

Is it wise if you are careful who is influencing you?

Yes, we should be vigilant that the influences we allow in our lives are not ungodly.

But is it a sin to be around unbelievers?

No, that’s ridiculous!

You don’t always have the option to not be around sinful people.

In fact, we’re not supposed to never be around sinful people.

How can we go and preach and be a light if we are never around people who are unbelievers?

We can’t. 

Homeschooling allows us more control over how and when our young people interact with those who may be hostile to our faith, but Psalms 1 does not teach that we’re in sin if our children are ever around those who aren’t part of our faith.

Not only that, this interpretation of this Old Testament, Mosaic Law Era passage is in direct conflict with New Testament commands that we go to the people of the world. We do not see the members of the early church in the book of Acts shutting themselves off from the world.

If we are hiding away from all unbelievers we are violating direct commands to us, Gentiles, during the Age of Grace.

This verse does not teach that we can’t be around unbelievers.

(Even if it did command that,  it would be an Old Testament command which would not apply to us today.)

And it doesn’t teach that sending your children to public school is a sin.

This is a twisting of scripture.

It’s not the only scripture that I’ve seen used to try to make the Bible say homeschooling is the only way.

My husband actually laughed the first time he heard this idea.

We’re homeschool graduates, but we were not raised with homeschooling as part of our religion.

He said “Do people really think that every single parent between 1900 and 1960  was in sin for not homeschooling?”

(I have known families who believed that you weren’t even saved if you didn’t homeschool.)

Most states made school attendance mandatory sometime before 1900, and the first of the homeschool pioneers emerged in the 1960s.

Do we honestly think that every God fearing, Jesus loving, Holy Spirit following parent for 60 years ignored the Holy Spirit’s conviction?

That’s a pretty ridiculous assertion.

But a bigger issue to understand is this:

The issue is how we approach scripture and not twisting the Bible to suit what we want it to say.

From the Quiverfull post:

Those who take this point of view unfortunately don’t have a very solid grasp on bible interpretation.

The big error in this argument is assuming that a blessing is a command.

A blessing is NOT a command.

How we approach scripture matters. We need a consistent approach that follows clear rules.

One of these bible interpretation rules is that you look at the context of a passage and take it at face value within that context.

A consistent approach to scripture means that if we take one blessing as a command then every single blessing in the bible must also be a command.

God doesn’t make mistakes: He wouldn’t accidentally write one blessing that He meant to be a command.

So, that begs the question “Can every blessing be logically converted to a command and still make sense?”

I would argue that some of them cannot.

For instance,

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:2-12

If it is true that every blessing is a command then logically –and for the sake of consistency– the above verses would have to be commands as well.

If that is true then if you’re not mourning, being persecuted, and being mistreated you are in sin and disobeying the commands.

This does not make sense.

Nowhere in scripture is it indicated that blessings are commands.

This is huge!

A blessing is favorable.

It does bring benefits.

But it is not a sin to NOT do it.

So please stop using this scripture to try to make parents who do not homeschool feel like they are in sin.

Those who misuse scripture should be concerned about their own sin.

Additionally, if you are homeschooling, you need to be careful that you are actually fulfilling the New Testament commands to go, witness, and disciple.  

Your first disciples are your children, but they are not the only people you are called to reach.

It is possible for homeschoolers to shut themselves off so much from all bad influences and anything that is worldly that they cease to impact the world around them and become insular in their own little group.

And then, in an effort to fulfill a misunderstood command (which is really a blessings) you could be disobeying scripture.

This is actually one valid concern that Christians who send their children to public school voice about homeschooling.

This is a legitimate concern.

Most homeschoolers I know are out in the world taking classes, being in their neighborhoods and communities, serving in their churches, etc. But the possibility exists that we could be breaking real New Testament commands in our efforts to insulate our children.

We need to act in wisdom.

Unless we are actually keeping them away from people, we are not sinning.

My family is out and about nearly every day, but I do know families who will not having anything to do with others who do not believe the same as they do.

If we are not sinning by intentionally isolating our families, then how we handle this falls into our Christian stewardship.

Christian stewardship gives us the freedom to do as we believe is best.

Christian stewardship applies to anything about which there are not clear commands in scripture.

Where your child goes to school is part of your Christian stewardship.

It is not a sin to send your children to public school. I will address this more fully another time in another post.

Don’t let anyone add to the clear rules in scripture.

That’s what the Pharisees did. They had good intentions, I am sure, but Jesus had harsh things to say about them.

We should take the warnings about the Pharisees seriously and not add to scripture.

And don’t make blessings into commands. It makes all kinds of problems in our application of scripture if we do not understand these important issues.


Sarah Forbes

This post is dedicated to my longtime friend Cati who cared enough about me to graciously challenge what I had been taught about Psalms 1.


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