All quotes from The Fifth Commandment Education and the Family by R. J. Rushdoony.
My comments in the text are [bracketed and bold].
My comments outside of the text are just in bold.
God’s People Need Discipline to Learn
Last week we discussed the economics of the family and we saw that one aspect of economics of the family was the responsibility to care for one’s children. This of course involves education in the broadest sense of the word. Now when we discussed the responsibility of education by the parents, in order that there may be a law-keeping younger generation, in order that the younger generation may indeed honor their father and their mother, education in this broad sense involves first of all discipline. We are all familiar with the words of Proverbs 13:24, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Again, Proverbs 19:18 says, “Chasten thy son while there is hope and let not thy soul spare from his crying.” In other words, when God spoke through Solomon these words, He was aware that all of us are inclined sometimes to be too tenderhearted and to spoil our children, and foolish pity is decried, for example, “withhold not correction from the child, for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with a rod and deliver his soul from hell.” Discipline, we are told, is necessary because “foolishness is bound up in the heart of the child.” Character requires discipline and St. Paul in Hebrews 12:11, says that if we are not chastened by our parents then we are to all practical intent, bastards. We are not legitimate children. And so God, St. Paul declares, disciplines those who are His children that He might be able to make them truly heirs. The sad fact is in terms of the Biblical Law, most children are brought up as bastards today; they are not disciplined.
[God’s children MUST be disciplined, if they are to grow strong, straight, and true.]
We are further told in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” this verse in particular is especially rich because when it says train up a child in the way he should go, the implication of the Hebrew text there, train up a child—discipline a child—in terms of his bent, in terms of his direction, his aptitudes, his abilities. In other words, we do not train up a child who has aptitudes for example, for engineering, in terms of music, nor a child who has aptitudes in terms of farming, in terms of law. As soon as we see the aptitude and the abilities and the direction of the child, we discipline him, we train him in terms of his aptitudes and when he is old he will not depart from it. So that not only does scripture require discipline, but it requires discipline in terms of the realities and the aptitudes of the child. The two must go hand in hand, and one of the sad facts is that so often, discipline is without intelligence. And too many parents (and we can add, sometimes too many wives) try to make out of their children (or out of their husband) something for which he has no aptitude.
[We should build on the godly desires and aptitudes of our children.]
Then further, we are told that a child left to himself, untrained, undisciplined is a shame to his parents. Thus, basic to the parental responsibility to educate, to teach, is discipline. But second, we must say from a study of scripture, that discipline is not a substitute for sound instructions and for proper teaching. As a result, parents have a duty to provide the child with a godly education. We are told the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and also the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Again and again, these statements are made in scripture. We might note in passing that there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is learning. It is accumulated, and a sound learning has as its beginning, the fear of God. But wisdom is not learning. It is more than learning. It is the insight. It is the common sense. It is the ability to use learning intelligently. And whether it be learning and knowledge or wisdom, the fear of God is basic to both. And wisdom—true wisdom—rests on faith. And true knowledge presupposes God.
[Knowledge and wisdom are two different things.]
If you want your children to be strong, they must be able to understand pain, in two senses.
They need to know when pain is a warning: “Don’t do this, as it will hurt you.”
They need to know when pain is just a price that is worth paying: “Nothing good comes for free, except salvation – where Jesus carried the pain you could not.”
God’s People are not to be cowards.
God’s People are not to be fools.
God’s People are to know what to do, understand what the cost is for doing it, and — if the goal is worth the price — to do it.
Raised to be a Fool and a Thief
…we must add according to scripture, that because the Law is practical, it’s down-to-earth, biblical concepts of education appear very plainly to be practical. As a result, the common opinion came to exist in Israel which summed up the teaching of scriptures, that a man who did not teach his son the Law of God and a trade reared him to be a fool and a thief. Moreover, we find this saying from Simeon, who was the son of Gamaliel, whom we meet in the New Testament in the Book of Acts, not learning but doing is the chief thing. When Josephus, the Jewish historian, compared Hebrew education, biblical education with Greek education, he pointed out that the fallacy of Greek education was that it was either entirely abstract and theoretical, or it was totally practical. It did not have a proper connection between principle and practice, which biblical education had.
We have enough unrepentant fools and thieves: on the pulpit, and in the pews.
The unrepentant sinner is to be shown the door.
On Boys, Girls, and School
Now a person reared and schooled in the doctrine of responsibility to obey, and if needed to care for his parents and to provide for his children, is a person who is a disciplined person. And he passes on an inheritance to his children of moral discipline, of example, of material wealth and of a sense of responsibility. But when the state takes over education, the state then becomes the responsible party and it becomes as we saw last week, the true family, the true father, and the true child of man. When man has the responsibility and the duty to be competent and to provident, the dignity and the masculinity of man is furthered.
One of the very, very significant differences between a Christian school system and a Statist school system is the performance of boys. When our schools in this country were predominantly and in fact earlier entirely Christian schools, the outstanding pupils were the boys. But as education progressively became Statist, progressively, the performance of the boys deteriorated and the performance of the girls began to pass up that of the boys, so that today by and large, the outstanding pupils in any class, in any school, are girls. And the boys do not compare in their performance. This is a most significant fact.
Since responsibility is the basic aspect of man under God, he is to be responsible for the care of his household. He is to be responsible under God for leadership in society. An educational system which is geared to this faith produces boys who are more responsible. But an educational system which is geared to the Statist concept, that the State is the responsible agency, has a psychological destructiveness on the male student. Thus, in our Christian schools, although our society by and large is still geared to the Socialist concept, boys on the average, while they have not yet in most schools, are performing to a far higher level than in the public schools. And this is a most significant fact. In other words, the Christian school, because it restores man to his proper place, because it restores the family orientation, restores masculinity to the boy. And it also restores a womanly characteristic to the girl. In Statist education, women either become fluffy luxuries or aggressive competitors to men. There is no stability because there is no center: God. There is no sense of true function, and therefore education becomes abstract or vocational.
[…from the follow-up questions…]
I think one of the most interesting things done in this area is at St. Thomas School, the Rev. T. Robert Ingraham in Houston, Texas, an excellent Christian school. But in that school, which is for both boys and girls, the boys and girls are in separate classes throughout the grade school, so that there are two first grades, one for the boys and one for the girls. They have all kinds of contact on the school grounds and so on, but they are taught separately. This has very interesting repercussions. The boys, when they are in coeducational classes, don’t like to compete with the girls. And as a result, the girls who like to please the teacher do better. The girl naturally wants to please. The boy has a more critical temperament. So the girl, in a coeducational class, is naturally the teacher’s pet. But in these classes where the girls are in one class and the boys in another, the boys compete with one another and do far better. So the results have been quite remarkable and I think this should be the pattern of education, when there is a competition between boys, it’s a wholesome competition and the boys are ready to compete and do their schoolwork much more ably and effectually.
Christian men, aware of their responsibilities and ready to pay the price for God’s law and liberty, are worth any number of dependent Statists, regardless of their sex.
Christian women simply get the job done. Indeed, the only serious failure in the March of the Establishment – the failure of the ERA – was due to one woman, Phyllis Schlafly.
No Christian man has made a similar political impact.
But if there is to be Christian growth in politics, Christian men need to take their responsibility – and the command to gain the victory over the Lying Snakes – seriously.
This is going to take some time, since most preachers has been preaching surrender to the Snake – implicitly or explicitly – for the last 200 years or so.
But the sacrificial, victory-minded mindset must be regained, and it must start today.
An Ignorant Man Cannot Be Saintly
There is no teacher equal to a father or a mother. And the most difficult task, as I’ve pointed out previously, in all education, is accomplished by every mother when she teaches her baby who can neither speak nor understand any language, the mother tongue. Now there’s no professor or no teacher from kindergarten up through graduate school who has a more difficult task than that—to teach someone who can neither read nor write nor understand any language a language. And it is done in a very short time by every mother. That’s the most difficult task in all education. And it’s done routinely.
But even greater than that, the task of moral training, the discipline of good habits is an inheritance of the father and the mother which surpasses all others. And this is taught routinely by family living and there is nothing that can take its place, nothing that the public school can do or the Church can do can equal that moral discipline and training from the home that becomes second nature to each child.
Finally, biblical education not only emphasized learning, but godly learning. Earlier I cited the proverb, just as a man is required to teach his son the Torah, the Law, so is he required to teach him a trade. Another proverb, incidentally, said he who teaches his neighbor’s son the Torah (the Law) it is as if he had begotten him. But there is another Hebrew proverb that comes from ancient times that is very, very revealing. An ignorant man cannot be saintly. An ignorant man cannot be saintly. Holiness is not a self-generating act. Holiness requires growth in grace and obedience to God which requires knowledge. Thus, an ignorant man cannot be saintly. He must have a knowledge of the Word of God or he cannot conform to God’s requirements and he must have growth in that knowledge and growth in grace. Hence, an ignorant man cannot be saintly.
Education therefore is an important aspect of the parental duty and its goal is that the child grow up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. “…Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons…” And so in order that we may have a generation that honors parents, godly education, Christian education is basic. The commandment declares, “Honor thy father and thy mother as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee that thy days may be prolonged and that it may go well with thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
You must gain – and grow – Godly knowledge.
And Godly knowledge must be coupled with Godly action.
That is how you gain the victory over the Snakes, the Dragons, the Beasts of our era.