Sunday, June 13, 2010

Are you an extremist?

"So the question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love?"-Martin Luther King

I posted this on Facebook earlier this week as I contemplated the end of my homeschooling journey.  While my son still has things to finish up, it can be argued that he is done with "homeschooling," as we have always done it.

I actually began thinking about extremism when I did my regular Google search on myself to be sure nobody is saying terrible things about me, and I came across this gem describing me as a Right Wing Extremist, apparently based on my Twitter account. That wasn't the only thing they got wrong, and if you went to that page it doesn't say that anywhere, so I am not sure exactly why it says it here.  But it did get me thinking about what it means to be an "extremist" and if there is really anything wrong with that.

When we first started homeschooling, we could have been described as "extremists."  We were motivated by a desire to shelter our children from The World, and to train them up as Bible believing Christians. We gave them a lot of opportunities to socialize with other children, but we did strictly control the quality and quantity of those interactions. We even homeschooled year round - From July 5 to Thanksgiving we had "9 week on/one week off" rotations, then taking off from Thanksgiving till January 2. Then more 9 week rotations until mid-May, and off again until July 5.  It worked well for us for a variety of other reasons, but it also gave us a reason not to be available in the summer when neighborhood kids were at home, and for them not to be available when we were off during everyone else's school year.  We preferred to spend time with other homeschoolers.

Actually, I was the one who preferred to spend time with other homeschoolers. It was tiresome to have to defend the way I lived all the time.  Remember, this was 15-20 years ago, when acceptance of home schooling was a lot different.  We were only the second homeschool family in our town.

Ultimately, we were motivated by love.  As we were both raised in non-Christian homes and had experienced many trials and sorrows during our own forays into the world, we wanted to give our children a foundation based on the truth of Word of God instead of on the winds of public opinion. A foundation that would help them avoid the snares that entangled us, and the heartache they caused.

Over the years, we began to relax our standards as the world changed, and the church changed. I got careless. I began to be concerned about whether they would be "irrelevant."  I opted for controlled exposure to media and other worldviews, and NEWSFLASH - kids are no more able to resist the siren song of the world when their exposure is "controlled" than when it is "uncontrolled."

My daughter just wanted to be like all the other kids.  My son, who preferred solitude, was glad to be able to stay home. They both got their wish. 

As for me, I agree with Dr. King. The question is not whether we will be extremists, but rather, what kind of extremist we will be.  There are plenty of things happening in higher education that we should be extremely concerned about.  You can read here about the Christian counseling student at a Georgia university who has been told she has to "change her beliefs" and submit to diversity and "sensitivity" training, or be expelled from school.  There are many others who have been thrown out of colleges around the country for refusing to affirm homosexual behavior.

Don't assume your children are strong enough in the Lord to withstand this kind of pressure to conform. Particularly when they are facing the prospect of being called haters or homophobes. Or facing the prospect of being saddled with paying off student loans for a degree they may never receive if they will not bow down.

If you are extremely concerned  for the future of religious freedom - or for that matter, freedom in general - in this country and have the nerve to say so, they will probably call you Taliban, teabagger, racist, or who knows what else.  If they know you are a Christian, they might add "Jesus freak", or perhaps "religious wingnut" to the mix.

Be an extremist - someone who is extremely, wildly in love with Jesus who talks to Him like He is real, and act as if you believe He can really answer prayer. Academic excellence is important, but what good is it if getting into that college of their dreams results in the shipwreck of your child's faith? Leading your children to Christ and helping them develop a living relationship with Him is imperative.  Jesus once said (in quite another context), "You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."