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Vol. XIV • 1992

The School - A Responsibility of the Family
Jean-Marc Berthoud

In the Basic Charter on Schooling, founding document of the Association of Christian Parents of Vaud (Switzerland), we read:

The responsibility for the education of the children is incumbent first of all upon the parents, and only by delegation upon school institutions. The rights and the obligations of the parents with regard to their children have priority above those of the state." (Article 4)

This first responsibility of the family in education and the schooling of its children is a truth of the order of creation and hence valid for all men, believers or not, of any place and any time. The family is the founding institution of society, It is from it and from the Covenant which God established with it at creation, and not from the apostate state of modern times and from the myth of an imaginary original social contract on which it is based, that all social institutions are derived. Actually the myth of the social contract was developed in a nominalist and thoroughly anti-Christian tradition, It is part of the current of ideas which goes from Marsilius of Padua to Hobbes, from John Locke to Jean-Jacques Rousseau. This myth seeks to replace the family as founding institution of every healthy society, honoring the Creator and therefore truly useful to men, by the state autonomous from God and His laws, ...

The priority which God gave to the family in the social order is forgotten by our modern world. Since the development of absolute monarchy in the seventeenth century the creation covenant of God with men, fixing by God's law the conditions of all true life in society, has been replaced by a mythical social contract of men amongst themselves in order to found the modern autonomous state. This is as true for those regimes calling themselves democratic as for those openly totalitarian.

We must return to the realist vision of society as divine covenant founded upon the conditions God laid down at creation. These conditions are defined once and for all by biblical Law and summed up in the Ten Commandments. Only by rejecting the tradition of the social contract and by returning to God the Creator of the cosmic, political and social order and to His laws will we demolish the fraudulent legitimacy of the modern state. ...

We must realize that only a course of action attacking this evil at the root can justify the priority we give to the duties of parents toward their children over those which the state claims to want to exercise. ... It is not possible to fight against the claim of the modern state to exercise an absolute right of life and death over all its citizens... without equally denouncing its claim to be its own founder, its own norm, its own God. ...

Evidently the family as independent institution is always the first enemy to be attacked. For the labor to destroy it is in vain, it always rises from its ashes. For it is not possible to establish any society whatsoever which can last without its cooperation, Yet we must realize clearly that as we work to re-establish the family's duties and creational functions in society, we declare war against the divine pretensions of the Leviathan State. The anti-creational process of elimination of independent institutions... is bound to proceed above all by way of the abolition of any real social, economic and political autonomy of the family. This is why modern legislation on the family in most of our Western countries has replaced the Christian view of marriage as a covenant or as a sacrament, a view conferring upon it an inalterable status and character, by a simple contract of commercial type which can be dissolved at will. ...

We must reawaken Christian parents to the dangers threatening the family and arm them in order to fight effectively in this war without mercy they are facing, ... It would be the task of the churches, and in particular of the clergy, to instruct the people of God in these realities. ,,, unfortunately, and only with rare exceptions, they are incapable of accomplishing this task, .,, We founded the Association of Christian Parents of Vaud in 1979 in order to try to fill this void. It seeks to promote public action in favor of the family and the school in the perspective defined by the Law of God, Its statutes define its goal as being that of "promoting education of youth according to the norms established by the Law of God." (Article 4) The bases of its action are: historic Christianity revealed by an infallible Bible, holding its

authority from God and normative for all aspects of human life (rejection of all spiritual subjectivism); the absolute and conceptually definable Truth of the Christian faith (rejection of alt philosophical subjectivism); respect for the commandments of God (rejection of all moral subjectivism); the application of these commandments to the social reality of our time (rejection of religious individualism, and of the separation of moral obligations from public duties).

Our action as a non-confessional association allows the cooperation of Christians from diverse backgrounds and is limited to the goals defined above, without entering into doctrinal and spiritual discussions of a properly denominational kind. Such doctrinal debates, though certainly essential, must be reserved for another context. Our first task as an association of Christian parents has been to recall to Christian circles the forgotten biblical teachings about the Christian perspective of society, and especially about the responsibilities of the family in the area of teaching. ...

One of the tasks, and by no means the least, which is incumbent upon the Christian family renewed and strengthened in Christ and by the Holy Spirit according to the creation model, is to assume the responsibility for the education and the instruction of the children, either by its own means--for example by starting what is called the school of home, the home schooling so widespread in the United States--or by delegating its authority to pedagogical institutions of its choice whose action would be only the reinforcement of the values defended by the family. ...

Within the framework of our association of parents we have paid particular attention to the doctrinal bases necessary for pedagogical action in the interest of the family, In the past the Church of God formulated Symbols and Confessions of Faith which defined the essential foundations of the Faith on particular contested or deformed points. These were doctrinal defense posts indispensable for the survival of the Faith revealed once and for all by God to men, the Faith Christians had the duty to guard and keep in the same terms in which it had been transmitted to them by the Apostles (I Corinthians 15:2).

In the pedagogical domain there are also numerous errors/ heresies: child-centeredness, moral relativism, epistemological agnosticism, biological evolutionism (Darwin) or psychological-episte-mological evolutionism (Piaget), historicism, laxism, non-direct edness, statism, and so on, which must be carefully defined so we can defend ourselves against them. ... For as we affirm in our Charter of Instruction, we must not only be guided by sane pedagogical principles which are in conformity with the true nature of the children and the objective relationship between teachers and students, but we must also, in Christian instruction worthy of this name, bring all thoughts of the children in subjection to the obedience of Jesus Christ (Romans 12:2), We formulate this principle thus:

It is indispensable to establish in all subjects of instruction an overall conception of scholarly programs answering to a true Christian finality respecting the real, and to act so that the Christian view of instruction here defined might again inspire the public education of our (area), (Articles)

For our concern is not only to form the Christian thought of Christian parents on these matters and to enable them to assume the responsibilities God gave them in entrusting children to them, but to act upon society at large. For Christ declared to His disciples that as children of God they were "the light of the world" and "the salt of the earth," that "the world would not overcome their faith," for this evil world had already been defeated by the decisive victory of Jesus Christ at the cross, and that they must, while drawing upon the omnipotence of the Son of God on earth and in heaven, work to "disciple all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to keep all His commandments" (Matthew 28:18-20).

If a recovery of our civilization is to happen, it is of the greatest urgency to found numerous similar associations of Christian parents duly adapted to their local and national circumstances. Their task will be: to inform parents uneasy about the situation in which their indispensable to the struggle against the destruction of family, school and social cohesion;

-- to furnish to the parents the necessary means so they can react in time to the debilitating influence of the public schools upon their children;
-- to help them to arrest the movement of decay all too evident in many church schools caught in the net of influence of the state schools;
-- to encourage them to undertake the instruction of their children themselves at home and to furnish them the teaching materials indispensable for this form of instruction;
-- finally, such efforts must lead to the founding of numerous Christian schools which would become the veritable seedbeds of a return to a civilization worthy of this name, By all these actions and yet many others we must work to reverse the current trend that is so destructive to all Christian and human values. ...

Such a work of Christian recovery cannot succeed without reawakening faith in Jesus Christ, without a resolute love of Truth, without a return to the joyous obedience to the commandments of God which is the spirit of sacrifice, and without a fervent spirit of prayer. May our God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come to our aid.

Editor's Note: Translated, abridged and reprinted with permission from an address delivered at the Congress of the 20th Anniversary of the French Right to Life organizations: Laisser les Vivre and SOS Futures Meres, Paris, March 3-4, 1991.

"The School - A Responsibility of the Family"
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