To a Concerned Friend: A Pastor’s Response

This post is by our friend and blogger and routine commenter here, Jim Martin. He is responding to yesterday’s post about homeschooling. Jim is the preacher at Crestview Christian Church, and his contact info is at the bottom of his response:

It is difficult to see a family self-destruct.  It is especially difficult to watch the fallout as the spouses avoid dealing with critical issues at the expense of their children.

I read this letter several times.  I think there are at least two issues at work here.  First is this couple’s stubborn refusal to seek help for their marital crisis.  A second issue is their decision to homeschool their 6-year-old and 8-year-old in such an environment.

As the conflict escalates, the children are going to be negatively impacted by this marriage whether they attend traditional public schools or are homeschooled.  However, it does seem that attempting to homeschool children while in a marital crisis will complicate matters even more for these children who are already in a difficult situation.

This couple’s denial does not alter the reality of what is happening in their family.  The kind of emotional intensity present in this couple’s life does not seem to put them in the best position to homeschool their children given the demands of such a choice.

One of the most important gifts that a husband and wife as Christian parents can give their children is a front-row seat to a godly, healthy marriage.  One does this as a part of their discipleship and response to Jesus.

A few observations:

1.  The central issue here is their stubborn refusal to get help for a marriage in crisis.  You might consider making this a priority in the conversation and then discuss your concerns regarding their desire to  homeschool.  In talking with them, it might be good to acknowledge their desire to be good parents and to do right by their children.  I would suggest, however, focusing first on their need to get help for their marriage.  Be ready to give them a specific suggestion (such as the names of several good, competent marriage therapists).

2.  What does it say about their view of the church when Christ-following friends are ignored when they attempt to share their concerns with them?  You might express to these people that it appears they prefer to “go it alone” as they ignore the counsel of friends who care deeply about them.

Their former pastor has already communicated that their marriage was under much stress and “in need of help.”  Aside from the homeschooling concern, I’m wondering why they refuse to get help?  Even without homeschooling, it sounds as if they already have their emotional plates full with this marriage.

3.  Some people cut off relationship with friends and family who may love them enough to share their concern about the reality of a situation.  Some people attempt to avoid conflict by simply ending whatever relationships they have that do not tell them what they want to hear.  Immaturity wins the day when men and women walk out of churches, abandoning their fellow church members, because they don’t “like” what they hear.

4.  Some people resign themselves to the marital conflict that exists.  “My marriage may be disappointing, but I won’t mess up with my children.  I am going to give them all I have.”  They become super mom or dad, displacing the energy that ought to be put into their marriage with a dogged determination that their kids will do well.

5.  This situation is a reminder of how blessed Christ-followers are to be in a community of believers who look beyond themselves to love and care for others, even when it is difficult.

Twitter – @jimmartin
FB - https://www.facebook.com/jim.martin

Blog – http://www.godhungry.org

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Kristin

    I was struck by point #4. If a marriage is “out of control” then it makes sense that homeschooling might be perceived as a means to assert control in that environment. Overall I think pastor is right in that the issue really isn’t homeschooling but the marriage.

  • MatthewS

    This is a great response. I agree with Kristin above that the pastor is wise to be concerned primarily about the marriage.


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