This article looks at the relationship between the authority of parents and the authority of the school.

Source: The Banner of Truth (NRC), 1986. 3 pages.

Authority in Home and School

Authority is a blessing. Modern man often pictures "authority" and "freedom" as opposites. "Authority" is viewed as a negative word and "freedom" as a positive term. "Authority" and "freedom" are often represented today, as horses pulling in opposite directions, whereas portraying them as a team, yoked and pulling together in a profitable manner, would be a more accurate presentation. The exercise of proper authority does not take away from, but safeguards, freedom. Imagine our civil authorities stating that all traffic laws will be removed tomorrow. Authority in Home and SchoolThere will be no more traffic lights, stop signs, or speed limits. Complete driving "freedom" will be given – everyone may drive as he desires. There will no longer be any authority to set or enforce any driving regulations. We can visualize what would take place. With the removal of this authority, our freedom to safely drive would be lost. Good driving laws and their consistent en­forcement ensure our freedom to safely use our roads.

The last chapters of the Book of Judges relate one of the most sinful, gruesome, and grotesque histories found in the Bible. An Israelite man cut his abused and murdered concubine into twelve pieces and sent these twelve body parts throughout all Israel seeking revenge upon the tribe of Benjamin. This created a civil war between Benjamin and the other tribes of Israel in which 55,000 men died plus all of the women and most of the children of Benjamin. Due to all the women in Benjamin being killed and the vows of the other tribes not to give any of their daughters to a Benjamite, orders were given to kill all the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead (who were absent at the time of the vow) to secure 400 virgin girls who could be given as wives to the 600 remaining men of Benjamin. When this did not suffice the Benjamite men, permission was given to them to hide near the highways and physically capture girls traveling to the feast of the Lord in Shiloh and to keep them as their wives. This uncivil, degrading, and shocking history begins with these words, "And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel..." (Judges 19:1a), and it closes with this conclusion "In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25). The lesson is clearly emphasized: we need authority. Without it, injustice, cruelty, and chaos will reign.

God is authority. He is the absolute and ultimate authority. After creating the universe, God still continues to govern it through His laws. After creating man, God did not leave him to himself but He gave man His Word and law for the proper regulation of all human affairs. God has chosen to teach and enforce His laws through means. Therefore, He has delegated authority to people to govern in each sphere of human life. He has delegated authority to parents for ruling in the home, consistories for governing in church, government officials for reigning in civil affairs, and managers for supervising in all institutions such as schools or places of employment. This authority structure can be pictured as follows:

Authority in Home and School

The persons to whom God has delegated authority are not absolute rulers. They are answerable to the Lord. They may not ultimately rule according to their own desires and thoughts, but they must govern according to God's law. God will judge and hold them accountable for how they have used the authority that He has delegated to them. As parents and teachers, we may not rule in our homes and schools as we see fit, but as God directs us. We may not exercise our authority for ourselves, but for the Lord. The Bible speaks of the Lord's delegation of authority to people clearly: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: for he is minister of God to thee for the good" (Romans 13:1, 2, 4a).

As parents and teachers we need to ask ourselves, "How effectively are we ministering for God in our homes and school? Are we consistently and diligently ministers of God for the good of our children?"

Authority in Home and SchoolScripture ascribes the central role of raising children to the home; the primary responsibility and authority for doing so is delegated to parents. "For He (God) established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them (God's Word and deeds) known to their children" (Psalm 78:5). God testified of Abraham, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment" (Genesis 18:19a). Can the Lord testify this of us as parents?

The school and church serve a supporting function in the education and training of our children – not a foundational one. Parents delegate some of their parental authority to the school and church to which they choose to send their children. But the primary, central, and final responsibility for childrearing rests with the parents in the home. An average child spends 1% of his time in church, 16% in school, but 83% in his home. God established the family as the building block of society. The family was instituted before man's sin in Paradise. God provided that a man shall "leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:24).

This deep, caring, and self-sacrificing union of two people sealed by a firm oath and commitment for life was the loving and stable environment God established and required for raising children. Children would be the very fruit of the physical expression of this deep mental, emotional, and spiritual oneness. When man therefore breaks this institution of God by separating that which God has joined together, we see the painful and disastrous results. This can be done by separating the physical expression of oneness from the life-long marriage commitment vow or by breaking the vows through divorce. In either manner, we witness the strain, disorder, and chaos which occurs and the breakdown of the family unit as a result.

The position of the home and responsibilities of parents are of prime importance in the training of a child. There is no occupation in the world which influences the life of another human being more than the position of a mother. Of greatest importance in child-rearing are the daily and often-esteemed "least important" events. God provides parents with children – they are a loan from Him. Ultimately, they belong to God as all "our possessions" do – God places them in our custody and we serve as His stewards. As illustrated in the parable of the talents, God shall one day ask us what we have done with all the valuable gifts He has placed in our charge. God has formed our young children with minds like sponges: they soak up all we tell and show them as parents. He has placed within them a natural faith and trust in us. But this stage only exists for a limited time.Authority in Home and School As our children enter their teenage years and begin to mature into young adults, this condition and opportunity closes. What their teachers say, what their peers do, what they read and see, and what their own thoughts and convictions tell them become increasingly stronger influences. Therefore serious concentration must be given to this early and prime time in raising children. Richard Baxter writes in this regard: "When the earth is soft, the plough will enter." Neglect this opportunity and it is gone forever.

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