Opinion

Bursting the homeschool bubble

I have a beef with homeschooling.

Woah! Hold up! Put away your torches and pitchforks and just listen for a second.

I’d like you to meet my made-up yet all-too-real friend Dave. Dave is a great guy, been a Christian since he was seven years old, raised in a great family with a great church’s support. He wants to be a missionary to the Muslim world (which, by the way, we need more of). Isn’t he awesome?

There’s a small problem, though.

See, Dave’s been homeschooled his whole life. There’s nothing wrong with that inherently, mind. He’s not one of those crazy hermit-homeschoolers who might as well be Amish. He doesn’t think that all things without the word “Jesus” are evil. He was even involved in a co-op group of a couple hundred people, so he’s not a social unicorn.

He just hasn’t met very many unbelievers. He’s certainly never had a friend who wasn’t a Christian.

Dave decides to go to a Christian college, or a nearby community college, or maybe he does online college. That doesn’t really matter. Either way, he’s not going very far from home, idealistically or geographically.

Then he’s got his degree in intercultural studies or missionary studies or whatever, and he’s off to the Middle East.

Maybe he’s done mission trips before, but this isn’t anything like what he’s done. Before, he was safe in the knowledge that he could help. But now? Suddenly he’s surrounded by people who are different from him, raised differently, think differently, and are completely sure that they don’t need any help, thank you.

What’s Dave to do? How’s he supposed to relate?

This is my beef with homeschooling, especially homeschooling in high school. High school is when you form your identity, when you figure out who you are. I think that forming your identity is as much about comparison as it is foundation. I think that you can’t really know who you are until you also know what you’re not.

What’s more, I don’t think you can properly relate to people well in order to tell them about Jesus until you’ve related to them badly. And what better place to relate to people than in the only social setting where such things are expected! Understanding people and evangelism are just like anything else: they take practice.

Look, I know I can’t pin this all on homeschooling. Homeschoolers can figure it out after graduation, and often do. What’s more, I know that public schools are not always the answer. From what I’ve heard about the public schools around here, many of them are very different from my experience, and a few of them are downright terrible.

About now you’re probably like, Hannah, where are you going with this?

What I’m trying to say is not that you should send your children to public school. That’s between you and them and God. What I’m saying is that Dave’s problem is our own.

Dave finds himself unable to relate to unbelievers because he’s never needed to. That’s the thing, though. We ALL need to relate to unbelievers. God said so.

“I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I may save some,” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:22. And no, I didn’t take that out of context. Look it up. We’re all commanded to preach the good news, folks. How can we do that when we don’t know what people are going through, haven’t heard their ideas, have no clue where they’re coming from?

I went back home over break and got together with “the oddsquad,” my old high school friends that I care about deeply. Two of them are bisexual, one’s a Wiccan, and the rest are varying degrees of atheist, agnostic, or Christian so deep down that it’s hard to see fruit.

And I sat there in Arby’s listening to them talk, and suddenly I remembered that there are people in the world who are not Christians. That’s easy to forget at this school. And I remembered that I am a light in a dark world. Or at least, I should be.

We talk about the Christian bubble. It’s all too real, folks. To get sucked in, to never even try to reach out to the outside world, to be satisfied with being a Christian among Christians—to do these things is to snub unbelievers and disobey God.