By David Tulis
The other day I suggested that families outside the established economic and educational order may be better equipped than others to prosper amid economic decentralization (aka “collapse,” as its called in the shrill free market press).
Home educating families may be in their own tents, as the saying in ancient Israel went when a centralized monarchy was spurned and that kingdom broke in two. But home-oriented Chattanooga-area families will be able to aid the commonweal in several areas of Christian rebuilding in coming decades.
➤ Care of the elderly. The scriptures give the family the financial means and authority to care for elderly or decrepit family members. The family is jealous of care for seniors, yet faces continuing theft from the state of resources it might otherwise use for such caregiving. If the state’s system turns insolvent, will we lead by example in caring for our own? What the Amish do in succoring their own was once universal in Christendom; might such dedication not return if the need for it becomes sharply felt?
➤ Care of the sick. Christians are exhorted to care for one another, though for now insurance has kept mutual care on strictly commercial and nonsympathetic basis. Christendom, especially in monasteries after the fall of Rome, specialized in the operation of hospitals in what R.J. Rushdoony in his Christian History of the World lectures calls a pioneering era. In a health emergency, Christians can network online or in person to raise funds for surgery or medication. Christian burden-sharing groups ‡ exist and will play a greater role as ObamaCare takes over a large part of the U.S. economy and brings about strangulated cries of distress.
➤ Care for the family. Loss of hope diminishes reproduction, as among Europeans, Chinese and Russians. As Exodus records, Israel’s huge numerical growth despite the lash of Egyptian overseers is a model for us; we must bless God with large families despite oppression and economic trials. Thinking ahead and thankful for God’s blessings, homeschoolers tend to have large families. In the day Social Security falters, they will take care of their own, with more generous ranks of offspring making that duty easier. In an added benefit, the covenant family provides a sanctuary amid mass illegal immigration and cultural co-mingling and dissolution.
➤ Care for one’s neighbor and local economies. Centralization in government and business has been in progress for hundreds of years and some analysts suggest its heyday is past. With computing and the Internet, many establishment chokeholds on information and the flow of ideas are being shattered, making it possible for the political and commercial order to decentralize. Giant concerns, as their inefficiency and cost become more obvious, will devolve and become smaller, some predict. As the debt bomb blows up under successive pillars of the federal “safety net,” people will once again be free to consider the benefit of local economies, small enterprise, local capital and doing business with neighbors. County and municipal governments may be devastated by the forewarned collapse of the municipal bond market (the insolvent capital of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, and the bankruptcy of Jefferson County, Ala., are canaries in the mine), Christian self-government will tend to be more favorably exercised when the magistracy envisioned in Romans 13 is either state or local (vs. federal).
In a local economy, manufacturing, services, buying, selling, investing and capital are preferable if homegrown. Honest money and local currencies may once again be possible. People will gain more in personal relationships and decline relationships that are abstract or with remote parties. A Christian social order, according to economist Gary North, tends to be horizontal, not vertical. Centralization and bureaucracy seem friendly to Satan and the wiles of sinful and ambitious men. Christ-influenced economies will grow personal and provincially minded, a reading of history suggests.
➤ Retirement or continued productivity? This category overlaps those above. But I am thinking here of company-run retirement funds and 401(k)s that may not be available despite promises on paper. Government workers, promised giant pots of cash on retirement, may be the most vulnerable if they don’t have a family support system. As the Social Security system falters, families will feel acutely the pain of their paucity of savings.
Much family capital has been lost to government as the SS tax rate is 12 percent of wages, but the fault for decapitalization cuts both ways. Families have spent too much on consumption and pleasure. Christian homeschoolers should lead by example in being thrifty, reusing old things, finding markets for used materials and reducing their role as consumer in exchange for that of provider. Less bling, more substance. Less shopping, more capital for generations ahead. The ungodly fantasy of starting our eternal rest early, at age 65 as FDR’s New Deal suggested, will certainly fade and homeschool granddads in their 60s and 70s (their wisest years) will be their most productive as they remain in the workforce.
➤ Educational endeavors as public schools abandoned. Widespread failure in the debt-based economy will scare local governments out of the schools racket. That will open up entrepreneurs with homeschool backgrounds to providing educational services — online systems, tutoring services, lectures, conversation classes, apprenticeships, certification councils, mentorships of small groups and the like. Parents once obligated by public schooling will have real choice among private options, with God’s people pointing the way and offering their own lives as examples.
One question Christians should ask themselves is this: Does the word of God teach me to think in terms of these opportunities? Or are the scriptures all about how to obtain salvation for me, my husband or wife and my children?
As the Rev. Joe Morecraft of Chalcedon Presbyterian Church in Cumming, Ga., has said, “The Bible is true about everything on which it speaks, and it speaks about everything.” If this assertion is true, home educators and Christians can look into the coming 50 years not with dread, but excitement and anticipation.
‡ To this end I recently abandoned BlueCross & BlueShield and joined my family to Samaritan Ministries for Christian mutual aid.
A version of essay was originally published in Faith For All of Life, a semimonthly journal “proclaiming the authority of God’s Word over every area of life and thought.” http://chalcedon.edu/