My good friend, Dr. RC Sproul Jr, wrote this thought provoking and challenging article recently. I think it is a great challenge for us all…
There is, in evangelical homeschooling circles, a growing divide. On the one side there are those of us who might be called movement homeschoolers. We homeschool because we believe it to be the Biblical choice, not because we merely prefer it. We tend to adopt many of the secondary lifestyle issues related to homeschooling, lots of children, modest dress, husbands as the heads of their homes, courtship, denim jumpers. On the other side are a different bunch of folks. These typically are homes where moms see homeschooling as a choice, an arena wherein they can excel by helping their children excel. The former are driven by issues of conviction, the latter by more practical matters. The former, as a rule, tend to be more prickly, the latter more care-free.
There are real differences, but both camps profess allegiance to the Christian faith, which ought to mean that our differences are handled with grace. This is not always the case. One particular group has taken it upon themselves to critique The Prairie Muffin Manifesto, put together by my friend and fellow movement homeschooler Carmon Friedrich. Carmon, years ago, wrote this brief piece to describe some of the convictions common to movement homeschooling moms. Now the notion of critique is just fine, and I don’t doubt that some of their concerns are valid ones. What surprised me, however, was to read in this discussion an argument that people like me, people whom they call “hyper-patriarch,” who believe in “extreme modesty,” that we are one small step removed from the Latter Day Saints folks that have been in the news of late down in Texas. You know the ones, heretical doctrine, polygamous marriage and sexual perversion. These Texans believe that husbands should be the heads of their homes. They homeschool. They dress modestly. They have lots of children. Surely one day, some of these ladies argued, people like me are going to just jump over that thin line and start taking multiple wives, the more and the younger the merrier.
Ouch. I raise this, however, not to fuss at my sisters on the other side of this divide. I know, even if they don’t, that there is, by the grace of God, a great yawning gap between my worldview and whatever damnable lies drive those Texas perverts. Neither I nor my friends are like that. What we are like, however, is our brothers and sisters across this narrower divide. That is, I took the occasion to apply the R.C. Sproul Jr. Principle of hermeneutics outside the arena of the Bible and stupidity and in the arena of today, and meanness. The principle in its most basic form runs like this, “Whenever you see someone in the Bible doing something really stupid, do not say to yourself, ‘How can they be so stupid?’ Instead say to yourself, ‘How am I more stupid’” The corollary here is, “Whenever you see yourself unjustly tarred and feathered by your neighbors, do not ask yourself, ‘How can they be so mean?’ Instead, ask yourself, ‘How have I been more mean?’”
I may not resemble those nutty Mormons, but rest assured I’ve been like these blog brothers and sisters. I’ve presented others in the worst possible light. I have first made dubious associations, then convicted others through guilt by association. I have failed to practice a judgment of charity. I have treated professing Christians with whom I disagree with less grace than I treat poisonous snakes. Those nutty Mormons have not been regenerated. They are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. But I have the Holy Spirit, and so ought to know better. My calling then isn’t to bash those saints who slander my friends. Nor is it even to call them to repent. My calling instead is to repent for my own sins, for my own slanders. My calling is to tend my own garden. May God have mercy on my soul.