::in which I introduce the topic of Fear.
I have decided to write a series of posts on the subject of Fear. Fear is something that creeps into the carpet and into our minds quietly, but more and more I am shaking awake and noticing others embedded in the coils of fear. Christians do talk about fear. Sometimes. Kind of. Certain types of fear; certain things to fear.
We talk about fear of loneliness, fear of singleness, fear of disease, failure, and death. We have such a strange juxtaposition in Western, Christian culture, in the way we talk about fear. On the one hand, we talk about having “freedom from fear” through Christ in such a fluffy, abstract way. Yet at the same time, we foster fear of losing our freedoms. Fear of the government. Fear of bodies, fear of sex, fear of differing opinions, fear of persecution. Fear of messing up. Fear of being wrong. Fear of sin. Fear of other people’s sin.
I think we have a fear of giving too much grace. Or of giving grace but not giving enough “truth” (or, our opinion on Truth). I think we have a fear of looking weak. I think we have a fear of our God looking weak. But Jesus took on weakness in many ways; he came to shame the powerful by using weak – and he started with himself. Jesus was serious about reminding people that choices have consequences, but Jesus never picked up a sword and Jesus didn’t fight back when he was beat up on. Jesus didn’t invoke his God-given rights. Jesus died. And this biblical description should speak loudly into how we fear, and think about fear.
::in which I talk about the Romeike Family
Currently there is a German family called Romeike seeking permanent asylum in the United States, because attending an outside school is mandated in Germany, and Mr. & Mrs. Romeike desperately wish to homeschool their children. Though they have been living in the U.S. for 5 years, and though initially they were approved to stay, the ruling has recently been reversed by the courts. Still they fight (with the aid of HSLDA) against deportation.
I ache for my brothers and sisters, fellow believers, in the Romeike family. My own mother has told my numerous times about when she was first convicted to homeschool, and I cannot imagine the pain that loving, involved parents must endure when they are told “no” by the state or country. I count myself blessed to live in a country where such laws do not exist; I enjoy living in a place so generous about personal liberties and subcultures. I think the German stance of desiring to prevent parallel societies is a terrifying one – and one that stifles creativity, faith, and individual growth.
However, just because I think something is sad does not mean much. The Romeikes may be deported. The courts may rule that U.S. asylum spots would better serve other people who are fleeing from more dangerous, more life-threatening situations. The Romeike children may be compelled to continue their education in German public or private schools; and if Uwe and Hannalore continue to keep their children at home, the children may be forcibly removed. I think that is a sad thing – and I am fortunate to be neither a ruling judge nor a German refugee in this tricky situation.
::back to Fear
The Main Thing in this situation, after the sadness and the anger and the talk of basic human rights, is the fear.
Many people desire to increase the time they spend with their children by homeschooling. Many educators desire to homeschool their children to ensure the quality of the child’s education does not suffer in a chaotic, teach-to-the-test public school system. Many Christians desire to homeschool in order to remove influences of bullying, peer pressure, Godless sex-ed, science with which they disagree, and generally secular worldviews.
Those desires, I think, are generally good and benign. Those desires often spring from strong, nurturing, parental love. I would share some of those desires; were I to ever have a child, I don’t know if I could put him in a public school. I’ve seen so much hurt from it.
But I also know that, if for whatever reason, I had no choice in the matter, God is so much bigger.
And it seems so often that the possibility of good desires not coming to fruition scares the living daylights out of us.
From their actions, I think it’s very possible the Romeikes cannot imagine being able to raise their children without homeschooling. It seems like public school would be the very worst thing for them. And yes, public school can be a very bad thing. But again, fear has started to strangle when we go from very bad thing to the Very Worst Thing.
It is wonderful to have rights – but we live in a broken world and cannot always have them. Christ gave up his own rights in order to show us how to love and serve. Christ showed us that, no matter how dire of a situation we find ourselves in, we still look to God; we still trust God. The Bible is not a parenting “handbook” – and nowhere in the Bible is modern homeschooling advocated above modern public schooling (neither institution existed). What God desires of parents is for them to protect, love, and train their children in the best way they are able.
And when we are shut down? When our options are taken away? When we are persecuted? There is grace.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (M. 5:4).
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (M. 5:10).
Let us show the world, let us show our children, that the kingdom of heaven cannot be stifled by persecution. That love covers over a multitude of sins. That no hard thing is too hard for Christ. That government-mandated worldly influence, even for 8 hours a day, can be defeated by a mother’s example and a father’s kind word. That grace is big enough – that grace covers.
Postscript: If your take-away from this post is ‘my personal opinion on whether the Romeikes should be deported,’ you have misread and can find that conversation elsewhere on the Internet.