Home-oriented families enjoy an edge in economic collapse

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By David Tulis

The crackup of Israel after the death of Solomon was accomplished by a feckless son who rejected wise counsel of older men and followed the dare of the younger advisers to raise taxes.

Solomon’s son Rehoboam met at Shechem with a delegation from the disgruntled tribes, led by Jeroboam, who had been anointed by a prophet as king. To be decided was the level of taxation and regulation imposed under a trade-minded King Solomon. “Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you.”

Rehoboam rejected this plea, and added a lash to his response. “Whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you the scourges.”

The people of the tribal confederation answered the king,

“What share have we in David? We have no inheritance in the sons of Jesse. To your tents O Israel! Now, see to your own house, O David.”

This act of separation, of walking out of the grouping of the 12 tribes under an elected king, is something homeschoolers, too, have done. I’ve heard good argument that the Israelites should not have revolted that way from their tribal covenant. Still, confronted by the intolerable tax, as it were, of the government school, thousands of families across the United States have said, “To your tents, O Israel.” Rather than accept a system of statism undergirded by a variety of religious conceits, Christians have said, “You go your way, and we go ours.”

The origins of separate pattern

Home educators have separated themselves from public schools, which John Taylor Gatto describes as an abstraction of which its creators have lost control. I focus on this group partly because I am one of them, but also because their lives and ideas are often overlooked in the attention we give to government and big players in the educational arena.

Being separate, and being Christian, home-oriented families may prove better prepared to deal with a coming economic crisis whose tremors were first felt in 2008. The meltdown was led by a train of corporate bankruptcies and federal bailouts. Indicators in the financial press suggest the meltdown is just getting warmed up, with Europe’s centralized ideasphere money system about to crack once again with a collapse in Spain. The global economic return to reality promises to smash the dollar, bring inflation, worsen joblessness, expand government debt, reduce stock market and property values and diminish popular consent to civil government.

State and national government responses to these crises will be more of the same — they will increase statism, just as the Roman senate did in the decades of the empire’s collapse. Civil government will add controls on the marketplace and people’s lives, reduce economic and political liberty and step up centralization and bureaucracy.

A doleful prospect, to be sure.

But the collapse will give Christians an opportunity to engage in Christian rebuilding in a culture whose failures are ever more obvious and whose debts on paper seem ever more unpayable.’

They will be obligated to propose godly solutions in new areas. Already we have proposed godly solutions to the educational disaster, namely Christian education in the home. If illiteracy, evolutionism, statism, humanistic mind control are the disasters of schooling we bravely avoid, what other sets of ruins can we consider and rescue ourselves and others from, for God’s glory?

Before I hint what solutions Christians should consider as opportunities in the meltdown arises, it is important to consider an argument some faithful people make against applying Christianity to economics. If we simply turn on Christian radio or Christian TV programming, the argument is presented there thoroughly — albeit indirectly. Christian programming is almost entirely focused on the individual — on his salvation, his sanctification, his adoption as a son of God. Almost exclusively in view is his personal walk with Christ, his dealings with difficult times, the need God imposes on him to avoid temptation, to be faithful to wife, family and the Savior, to allow the Holy Spirit to operate in his life as a Christian, to be serviceable to God as a God-fearing man. Christian exhortation and preaching focus exclusively on individual piety, the personal.

Character traits for times of distress

These virtues are essential. But the scope of Christianity does not stop with the individual. What is excluded is any sense of the gospel touching human existence beyond that. The term for the narrowly focused Christianity is pietism. This perspective was a reaction against a perceived too-great interest in the 1700s to Christian doctrine and theology (heart knowledge beats “head knowledge,” to oversimplify its claim). But the privatization of Christianity and its retreat from most every field of human endeavor except the individual soul has affected us all by shrinking the horizon in which our work as Christians is to be accomplished.

The prospect of a federal default on the national debt will destroy innumerable “entitlements” that have been part of the political and social landscape, some going back 75 years. Social Security Medicare. Medicaid. Health reform. 401(k). While the national debt is about $14 trillion in current paper dollars, the level of unfunded liabilities and political promises probably is in the $100 trillion range. The best-known programs are just the tip of the iceberg upon which the national ship of state is slashing its hull. Loan guarantees and implicit political promises to a welter of connected special interests add to the atmospheric, theoretical total.

As homeschoolers roll up their shirtsleeves and take up serious rebuilding, they will stand on their example today of independency, self-reliance, Christian confidence and obedience to God’s law and word. As “reforms” of federal and state programs come too late or create a new set of cascading crises, what will we say if we are asked for our view?

What will we counsel?

Here is Part II of this essay.

An economy propped up by an unpayable mountain of debt will fall into disrepair of the sort that perhaps afflicts this empty storefront in Hixson.