To Whom Do Children Belong?

By Dr. Glen Schultz

Children belong to ________________! How did you complete this statement? Over the past few decades how people would complete this statement has undergone radical change. This should come as no surprise since our country has become more secular with each passing day. Today, many adults believe that children belong to the state or the community and not to parents.
Here is some evidence of how today’s society views our children:

“Some children are raised in such an ideological prison that they willingly become their own jailers … forbidding themselves any contact with the liberating ideas that might well change their minds. Parents don’t literally own their children the way slave owners once owned slaves, but are, rather, their stewards and guardians and ought to be held accountable by outsiders for their guardianship, which does imply that outsiders have the right to interfere.” Daniel Dennett

“How much do we regard children as being the property of parents? It’s one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in?” Richard Dawkins

“Parents, correspondingly, have no god-given license to enculturate their children in whatever ways they personally choose; no right to limit the horizons of their children’s knowledge, to bring them up in an atmosphere of dogma and superstition or to insist they follow the straight and narrow paths of their own belief.” Psychologist Nicholas Humphrey

“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children. So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everyone’s responsibility and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.” News Anchor Melissa Harris-Perry (MSNBC promo)

 
This idea that children belong to the “village” is not new. This is clear from an old African proverb that states, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Whenever a society believes it owns the children, it then declares that it has the right and the responsibility to educate children in whatever way society thinks is best.

“The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother’s care, shall be in state institutions.” Karl Marx

“Give me four years to teach the children and the seed that I have sown will never be uprooted.” Vladimir Lenin

“We who are engaged in the sacred cause of education are entitled to look upon all parents as having given hostages [their children] to our cause.” Horace Mann

“The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason, we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.” Adolf Hitler

“Secular professors in the universities ought to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own. Students are fortunate to … have escaped the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents. We are going to go right on trying to discredit you [parents] in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable.” Dr. Richard Rorty, professor at the University of Virginia

“Let me control the textbooks, and I will control the state.” Adolf Hitler

 
Dr. Irwin Lutzer in his book, When a Nation Forgets God, explains how Hitler saw the youth of his day as belonging to the state. Because of this belief, he took total control of the education that children received. The first thing Hitler did was to declare public education compulsory in 1938. Then, he held the parents responsible for the raising of the child’s body. What a child ate was the parents’ responsibility. Finally, he took the steps to make sure that the Reich would educate the child’s soul. What the child believed and felt was the responsibility of the Reich. This is in direct conflict with what God’s Word says about the family, children, and education.

Some questions that we must consider:

  1. Have you started to think the government should determine what your children are taught?
  2. Have you relinquished the education of your children to society?
  3. Do you realize how you answer these questions indicate whether you believe children belong to the “village” or to the family?

What Does God Say?

To have a proper perspective on children and their education, we must turn to God’s Word: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate” (Ps 127:3-5).
From this verse and others, it becomes clear that children are a gift from God, and this gift is given to parents. If this is true, then parents don’t own their children but are responsible for their children. Parents have a stewardship responsibility to God for what He has given them in their children. This can be seen in the phrase, “Children are a heritage from the Lord.”

Children: God’s Homework Assignment To Parents

Everyone understands what a homework assignment means. Whoever has been given an assignment, is responsible for its completion. Whoever gives the assignment will eventually be the one who grades the assignment. In this context, God gives children to parents as an assignment for them to complete. How the parents complete the assignment will determine the grade they will ultimately receive from God.

It is important to keep in mind that God did not give this assignment (raising children) to the church, school or state. He gave it to parents. This is why the very first biblical principle that I wrote in my book, Kingdom Education, was as follows: The education of children and youth is the primary responsibility of parents.

Once we understand this truth, we then must determine what God expects to see as the result of parents taking responsibility for educating/raising their children. In Psalm 127:4 the writer compares children to arrows. God expects parents to shape their children into strong arrows. This means that our children must be straight, balanced, and razor sharp. Salvation is the only thing that can straighten out a sin-crooked life. God’s Word is the only thing that can bring balance to a child’s life. Finally, living under the Holy Spirit’s control is the only way our children can have the sharpness they need to cut through all the false philosophies of this world.

This goal for how parents educate their children is also seen in Malachi 2. In this passage, God says He ordained husband and wife to become one flesh. The purpose for why God designed marriage and the family this way is because, from this union, God wanted to see godly offspring produced.

Deuteronomy 6 is often referred to when Christians talk about God’s expectations for parents and the education of their children. In this passage, God tells us we are to have a two-fold focus in our lives as parents. First, we are told to focus on the true God: “The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut 6:4-5).

Second, we are to focus on the next generation: “You shall teach them [God’s Word] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Deut 6:7

These verses teach us that while we are alive here on earth, we are to love God with our entire being. He must be first in our life. When we die, we go to spend eternity with this wonderful God. However, there is one thing we will leave behind: our children. God wants the same thing from our children as He wants from us: to love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength.
However, God knows something we too often forget. This won’t happen just because our kids are raised in a Christian home. It won’t happen just because they are taken to church. Our children will not grow up to love God with all their hearts outside of them receiving diligent teaching. There are only four times every day that parents are expected to teach their children the things of God:

  • Whenever they get up out of bed
  • Whenever they are in the house
  • Whenever they are outside the house
  • Whenever they lie back down in bed

Do we understand the scope of what God is saying it will take to raise godly children in Deut 6:7? It amazes me that even though God has given us our children to raise, many Christians seem to act as if the state owns them. Instead of taking responsibility for how they are educated, parents turn their children over to the state’s secular educational programs and allow them to instill a false worldview into the minds and hearts of their children.

It is time we take control of how our children are educated and make sure they receive a Bible-based, Christ-centered education at home, at church, and at school. If we don’t, we will continue to see the vast majority of our children develop a man-centered worldview and walk away from the faith. Oswald Chambers wrote a powerful explanation of Psalm 127:5: “Have I been able to reproduce my own kind spiritually? If so, in a time of difficulty I will be brought through magnificently victorious; but woe be to the spiritual man who never produced his own kind, when the difficulties come, there is none to assist, he is isolated and lonely.”

Today’s Christian parents face the same challenge parents have faced throughout history. The world will always want to capture the minds of our children through its educational efforts. The world does this because it believes children belong to society and not to parents. God says they belong to Him, and He gives them to parents as a stewardship responsibility. When we lived in Hendersonville, TN, our pastor read a note that was on a Bible a publishing company had sent him. It read, “This generation of Christian parents faces an age-old challenge of faith. Will our sons and daughters put their faith in Christ? Or will they be a generation that blends invisibly into a world that considers the Bible to be irrelevant?”

Which path our children take depends on who we believe our children belong to, what we believe God requires of us, and how our children are educated. How will God grade you and me on the homework assignment He has given to us?


Dr. Glen Schultz has given his life to educating future generations according to God’s plan. After five years in public education, he entered the field of Christian education, where he has been a teacher, coach, principal, and superintendent. Glen has directed the Christian school work at LifeWay Christian Resources, served as the Association of Christian Schools International Southeast Regional Director, Superintendent of Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Headmaster of Sherwood Christian Academy. Currently, Dr. Schultz serves as founder and director of Kingdom Education Ministries. Glen is the author of Kingdom Education: God’s Plan for Educating Future Generations and several parenting booklets. Glen and his wife, Sharon, have three children and six grandchildren and live in Summerville, SC. He is a member of the Renewanation Board of Directors.

This article originally appeared in The Renewanation Review® magazine. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted here by permission of Renewanation. For more information regarding Renewanation, visit renewanation.org.