Dear Homeschool Parents and Leaders, Jesus Doesn’t Need Your Reputation

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CC image courtesy of Flickr, John Wright.
CC image courtesy of Flickr, John Wright.

“The reason why offenders get away with what they do is because we have too many cultures of silence,” [Boz] Tchividjian said. “When something does surface, all too often the church leadership quiets it down. Because they’re concerned about reputation: ‘This could harm the name of Jesus, so let’s just take care of it internally.’ Jesus doesn’t need your reputation!” Tchividjian declared. “When somebody says that, it’s a lie. Keeping things in the dark and allowing souls to be destroyed by abuse, that shames the Gospel. Jesus is all about transparency.”

~ Kathryn Joyce, “By Grace Alone”

Here we are again, with yet another homeschooling family revealed to be more than the pearly white smiles and perfectly obedient children that make up their public image.

Yet again we are faced with the heartbreaking reality that there is no formula or curriculum or potion that will guarantee your children will grow up how you hope.

And yet again we hear the choruses of homeschooling parents and leaders decrying these revelations and heartbreak as an attack against homeschooling. Yet again they rush, tumbling over each other headfirst, to grab a microphone and defend homeschooling. “Not all homeschoolers!” “It’s not a homeschooling issue!” “They weren’t real homeschoolers!” “Forgive and forget!” “Matthew 18!” “Let’s not throw stones!”

And yet again — again, and again, and discouragingly again — the victims and survivors of abusive homeschooling families are pushed to the sidelines, dismissed as anomalies, or branded as angry or bitter for wanting the Church — the Church of Jesus that all these homeschoolers claimed they love — to hear their cries and save them from abuse. Once again the majority of parents and leaders speaking up are only doing so because they fear the abuse will tarnish the name of homeschooling. Their first priority is to defend homeschooling, to protect homeschooling’s reputation. The young children and adults whose lives were smashed into pieces like broken Tinker Toy sets are again reminded they aren’t valued.

But you know what? These homeschooling parents and leaders have it wrong. They are betraying the very Jesus and the very Gospel they claim to uphold when they choose to put their reputations, homeschooling’s reputation, and their political freedoms before the hearts, minds, and souls of homeschooled children and alumni.

Dear parents, dear leaders:

Jesus does not need your reputation.

Jesus does not need your freedoms.

As GRACE’s Boz Tchividjian says, “The reputation of Jesus is never protected when Christians remain silent about abuse. Jesus doesn’t need us to protect His reputation.” Jesus needs us to follow him. To follow the same Jesus who welcomed the little children, saying, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them” The same Jesus who warned his disciples and followers that, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” The same Jesus who rebuked worshippers in the temple who felt irritated by the children speaking up, saying, “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”

Jesus does not need your reputation.

Jesus does not need your freedoms.

Jesus calls us to value the little ones,  the lost sheep. And who are they if not the little boys and girls violated by their older siblings and their homeschooling parents and homeschooling celebrities and homeschooling debate coaches and homeschooling leaders and homeschooling television stars? Who are they if not the alumni struggling to recover from decades of spiritual abuse and physical and sexual trauma? Who are they if not the sheep lost in the wilderness, the sheep Jesus will not rest until he finds?

Jesus does not need your reputation.

Jesus does not need your freedoms.

Jesus calls us to be a light to the world, a light that will dispel the darkness of abuse and misuse and the tyranny of false gospels promising perfect children and perfect futures. Jesus demands us to, as Mary DeMuth says, “do better, to shed light on darkness, to be champions for the voiceless, to dignify the marginalized no matter how powerful the perpetrators are or what titles or fame or positions they hold.”

Now more than ever we need homeschool parents and Christian leaders and abuse advocates who are willing to stand up and say, “No more,” instead of attacking the few already doing so. We need homeschool parents and leaders who refuse to pass on taking responsibility for the crimes committed within their communities. We need homeschool parents and leaders who actually have the courage to do more than draw lines in the sand and instead walk their own talk.

We need homeschool parents and leaders who will follow Jesus on the radical path of actually welcoming children. We need a Christianity that has the backbone to not only hear Jesus’s call to welcome children, but also implement that welcome in real life.

If our places of worship and education are not safe for children, we have failed to truly welcome children. And if we fail to welcome children, we have failed to welcome the Kingdom of God itself.

*****

Take serious the call to protect your children and educate your homeschooling community today! Here are some resources:


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Author: R.L. Stollar

R.L. Stollar is the Executive Director of Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out.

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