by Carol Jensen
Samuel the Lamanite taught me something this morning I somehow had never seen before. It’s this: you cannot teach freedom without teaching faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Samuel couldn’t, Lehi couldn’t, Mormon couldn’t, and a hundred thousand homeschool moms and dads can’t. That’s because without Him, there is no liberty in any sense – political, economic, spiritual, emotional, or physical. It’s simply that no good thing can come without the Light and Life of the World.
For a long time I have wondered why homeschooling – a more free approach to education than public school systems – attracts more god-fearing parents than agnostic or atheistic ones. Perhaps the answer lies in the connection between liberty and faith.
I saw this relationship when I read, “ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free. He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death. (Hel. 14:31-31)
Wait! Wasn’t Samuel the Lamanite the one that talked about a night without darkness and five more years ‘til the Savior’s appearance? What was a discourse on agency doing in the middle of his prophecies about the Redeemer coming?
I flipped to the Topical Guide. There it was again: a lesson on freedom of choice in the middle of Lehi’s explanation to Jacob about the Savior’s mission. (see 2 Ne. 2) Then when Mormon addressed the members about making choices (Moro. 7), he admonished them to “lay hold upon every good thing… and in Christ there should come every good thing.”
But suppose we do teach freedom without laying a foundation in Jesus as the Messiah? Neil Flinders, in his book, Teach the Children, helped me see the answer to this question. The result is an individualist education rather than an agency-based one. While the former seeks to fulfill the individual by developing his or her talents, it ends up breeding self-centeredness and glory-seeking. The fundamental question of individualist training is “What do I want?” On the other hand, faith-centered education that is grounded in choice and accountability to God poses the question, “What does Heavenly Father want?”
So what does this mean to the homeschooling parent who is trying to keep liberty alive in the rising generation? Simply this: education isn’t about the teacher’s will or the student’s will at all. To debate student-led learning vs. teacher-directed education is to have one’s ladder on the wrong wall, so to speak. All of us should be seeking God’s will through the Spirit, which “speaketh the truth and lieth not.” (Jac. 4:13) “and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
In studying the ancient Greeks, our homeschool group discovered that the significant difference between a Greek “state-centered” worldview and an LDS “family-centered” paradigm is this one core doctrine: the individual’s relationship with God. Because the Greek gods were whimsical, imperfect beings that were equal to man except for a few superpowers, man’s authority and laws were supreme. Men became accountable to government instead of God.
The lesson is obvious: Our Lord and Redeemer is and must be the head of our school as well as our religion. If we want to teach freedom, let us first teach faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.