New Hampshire Homeschooling Case: An Issue of…Submission?

I read the following article this morning, and I thought I was in the former USSR:

Really, what right does a court have to declare that a child must be removed from her homeschool and enrolled in a government school…all because she is deemed to be “too religious”?

Scary stuff, right?

Then, I read, as Paul Harvey said, “The Rest of the Story”:

“But Amanda’s father, who has joint custody, said his ex-wife’s strict Christian teachings were socially isolating the child.”


Suddenly, this is no longer a simple case of the arbitrary violation of religious freedom, but a complicated, heart-breaking story of a broken family.

Obviously, I have no knowledge of the family, so I won’t speculate on the circumstances surrounding the divorce. Nevertheless, this case raises a whole host of questions–questions that Christians ought ask before facing such a difficult situation:

  • What obligations does a woman have to her husband after a divorce? Do these change if she is abandoned by an unbeliever? What if he gets remarried?
  • Is homeschooling an area in which we must obey God rather then man, or a situation in which a God-fearing woman ought to submit?
  • Does fighting a case like this in court set a dangerous precedent? What should the Christian homeschooling community’s response be?
  • How does a believing parent with an unbelieving spouse teach their child the absolute exclusivity of the gospel of Christ, without teaching their child, even unintentionally, to disrespect the unbelieving parent?

I don’t know all the answers, but I can’t dismiss one thought–

If this was a friend of mine, and she were still married, I would advise her to submit to her husband–and then pray like crazy.

What do you think?

15 thoughts on “New Hampshire Homeschooling Case: An Issue of…Submission?

  1. Well, I don’t believe a woman has any obligation to her husband if he divorces her. However, it is different if she divorces him. I know that sounds awful, but it’s how I interpret the Bible. She is free to do what she wants–especially if it coincides with the Lord’s teachings.


  2. This is really scary! I know someone who may find herself in this situation as she will be homeschooling her two children. Her ex-husband is an unbeliever – to the point of vehemently berating her for her beliefs (not pleased to dwell) – and has never supported her desire to homeschool. I think the only thing I can do is pray, fast and meditate that this never happens to her.

    As far as submitting to an ex-husband, I don’t believe that women are obligated to do so, although I haven’t found any scriptures to dissolve or support this belief. She is obligated to submit to God and others in authority – as Christians we’re also called to obey the laws of man (Rom 13:1-7). I know God does not condone lawsuits and encourages us to work things out amongst ourselves (1 Cor 6:1), but this case was brought by a non-believer against a believer. By Paul’s example, in Acts 21-22, Christians are permitted to protect their rights through legal means.

    Our justice system (government) is designed in such a way that appeals are both possible and legal. By appealing a judge’s ruling a person is not breaking any laws. In this situation, where the courts have disregarded their freedom of religion, I believe the ADF has made the right decision. If this ruling is allowed to stand, it would create precedent for other cases and permit the government to tell us whether or not we are allowed to homeschool.

    For the sake of those homeschooling, and those who hope to homeschool one day, I pray that this ruling is found unconstitutional. However, we must submit to God’s will. He does tell us that in the end times, Christians will be persecuted (Matt 24:9) and this particular case could be a sign of the times.


  3. I thoroughly enjoy your website and routinely pass your posts along. A very welcome respite in a dry and dusty land! Thank you so much.

    This is not the first incidence where divorced families experience conflict when one spouse is saved and the other is not and their world views clash. Unfortunately, forcing the children into a tug of war ~ been there, done that. Much prayer is needed for the mother and daughter.

    Your statement: “If this was a friend of mine, and she were still married, I would advise her to submit to her husband–and then pray like crazy.”

    But she’s not married. If she were married to the man, submit she must and pray with great fervency! We are not privy to the details of her divorce, but let us assume (based upon her desire to teach her daughter the TRUTH, home school her, the daughter’s desire to stand for her faith) that she is rightly divorced by a biblical standard.

    This would place the mother in a position of assuming the head of household – she therefore is required to make the decisions which are best for her family and honoring to the Lord.

    The Alliance Defense Fund article states that the reason this has turned into a fight is NOT because the daughter is educationally or socially below par (with the world’s standards), BUT because the daughter’s “strongly held Christian values need to be sifted and challenged in a public school (read indoctrination camps) setting.”

    This isn’t about a woman not submitting to the headship of an infidel – this is a war designed to thwart the Word of God in the life and heart of a young pilgrim.

    Much prayer needs to be offered up: For godly judges, wisdom for the counselors, strength and fortitude for the mother and daughter.


  4. We have no information regarding the reasons for the divorce so we cannot make any judgements on that. However, he divorced his wife not his children, surely, married or not, he is regarded as the head of the family and resposible for decisions regarding his children.


  5. Tiana,
    I would agree completely with your advice. We are too quick to say a woman doesn’t have to submit to her divorced husband. While that might be true on a personal level, the children are not divorced from their father. Those children were given to him too and just because the man and woman are divorced, it doesn’t negate the father’s role and leadership in their lives.

    Unfortunately this is SO far from God’s perfect plan for marriage and family, that in situations like this it would be best to err on the side of “Biblical caution” and walk as close to the Scriptures as we can.

    What kind of a witness could that ex-wife be to the father and her child by demonstrating peace and love in this situation.


  6. I am a single homeschooling mother.. my children’s father has for all intents and purposes left the faith. This life is a very very difficult one and my heart and prayers go out to the mother in this story. While I am not divorced, but rather separated, there are many parallels between my family and hers. The difficulty of sharing parenting with a part-time father who does not share the rest of the family’s spiritual path cannot be overestimated.

    I agree with what jireh8 wrote:
    “But she’s not married. If she were married to the man, submit she must and pray with great fervency! We are not privy to the details of her divorce, but let us assume (based upon her desire to teach her daughter the TRUTH, home school her, the daughter’s desire to stand for her faith) that she is rightly divorced by a biblical standard.

    This would place the mother in a position of assuming the head of household – she therefore is required to make the decisions which are best for her family and honoring to the Lord.”

    I guess I feel as though one really can’t look at this family and this situation and say, “If she were married, I’d advise her to…” or for that matter, draw inferences on correct behavior and choices based on what the Lord commands of the married woman in an intact family. At least, not any more than I could look at you and say, “If you were married to … oh, say..the man next door, I’d advise you to….” LOL;-}

    I think sometimes there is this misconception out there that single women/mothers have this wonderful “out” of sorts in that we don’t “have to” submit to a husband, but can make our own choices for ourselves and our families. Truly, that could not be farther from the truth… at least for myself, I would give almost anything to have a husband to submit to. The burden of being the head of a household is a very heavy one for a woman to carry, and I don’t know a single woman who relishes it. Let’s not judge this sister or place heavier burdens upon her than she already bears, but rather let’s commend her for doing her best to live a godly life in difficult circumstances… and for teaching her daughter to do the same♥


  7. I could be this woman, but by God’s grace, it hasn’t happened yet. I almost didn’t homeschool out of fear. I’m sure there are many details that have not been revealed in the article, and some would agree, some would disagree, but the fact is, she is in this situation, and she needs our prayers and support. I pray that this mother and daughter would stand firm in their faith, trusting in God’s great sovereignty, and that they would come out of the fire purer and brighter than ever before, to the glory of Jesus!


  8. I am curious as to why a wife has to “submit” to her husband. I have found that the happiest of marriages , even those faith based, are the ones where both husband and wife are equal,and there is no submitting but comprimise. Should that not apply to parents that are divorced as well?


  9. I don’t think it’s a matter of submission. She isn’t married to him anymore. Biblically, her obligation to him is simply to make sure she doesn’t remarry, and of course to treat him with the same respect and love a Christian should show everyone. Obviously, since they have a child together, she needs to try and keep the peace for the sake of their daughter (and so does he), but she isn’t duty-bound to submit to him because he isn’t her husband anymore.

    This case strikes me as a bitter divorce – mother got custody, and father’s lashing out in the strongest way he can because he wants to hurt her. She does not have to submit to that. And for the sake of the precedent this court case sets, she should not just give in. This goes beyond her and her daughter; this strikes at the heart of religious freedom and the freedom to homeschool one’s children. Giving in and allowing the legal system to force her to put her kid in public school just because she’s religious would be a huge mistake. I hope she fights it with all the strength she can muster. I do believe she can fight this battle in court and still maintain a good testimony as a Christian.


  10. Submission is a biblical principle taught in the Old and New Testament; that’s why all Christians should practice and want to practice submission. For the married woman, submission is to her head, her husband.

    “Nevertheless, this case raises a whole host of questions–questions that Christians ought ask before facing such a difficult situation…” Indeed.

    We should all pray for this broken family.


  11. This situation is very sad, and the fact that the judicial system is the one deciding now, is no comfort for us. Our parental rights are in danger of being eliminated by an international treaty of the United Nations that doesn’t believe we are the best people to raise our own children. This ideology is infiltrating our courts today and used to pass jugdment. I want to urge everyone to visit and get informed of the dangers and the solution to this predicament. An amenmend to our Constitution is being proposed to protect our Parental Right from such intrusion. I pray God helps and protects us as we try to obey His word in teaching His truth to our children, without persecusion.


  12. As the disciples stated do we follow God not men. As with Diane Shiffer, I did what was recommended to step back and allow my husband to take the leadership role in matters of faith, school, finances, etc. Over the years what I find is the truth always seems to be in the middle of extremes.

    I am an ex-feminist, and can tell you the reasons women often take that route is because the role of biblical femininity is often portrayed so wrongly. Ruth went to glean because no kinsmen redeemer stepped up until Boaz, then Boaz had to through down his shoe in declaration that he was stepping up into the place the other one simply neglected. Naomi had let many in the town know that she was back so there were plenty of opportunities for the rightful redeemer (man) to step up.

    Often we cannot make some men step into their roles, nor will it see that other men will hold them accountable. Nor will any such men step up to come along side to bring teachings of such. So women for generations have had to step into traditionally male roles not because they want to but because as a matter of survival they had to. The men in my family did not provide for my mother when after 8 years of sexual abuse she had to leave for the sake of her daughters.

    Yet no men in the family would step up, she had no choice but to go on welfare and go to work and put us in the hands of her feminist sister. It took me a long time to realize that a woman can do all God has called her to do and yet still have to step out of her role because no man stepped up. We see it everyday, women having no choice but to step into traditionally male roles. It does not make it right and I can tell you that every time I have to step into a role God did not choose for me, my spirit dies a little, along with a bit of the biblical femininity.

    Like the beggar Lazarus, women are set before the door of manhood and if women choose to serve the Lord in that vocation they will suffer. There are no bones about it. The duty is to stand in the role God chooses not matter what it looks like. This means suffering in ways that God never meant for women. It is hard to make this statement but I can tell you God made a way for me to have to stay home due to illness. This does not get rid of the constant oppression to “perform” to secular ways; “work from home” is often the mantra. This only serves to undermine the biblical feminine role, but still here I am forced to work from home on top of the regular duties and illness.

    We well be forced into many things God never intended, we need to support one another in what ever course this suffering takes us, not in condemnation but in grace. It is hard to keep bitterness down each time suffering increases. But we must read the book of Job and see he was not without complaints, yet he was called faithful. No one ever told us that serving God would be easy, if it were everyone would do so without complaint, well maybe we would still complain.

    Suffering is part of this fallen world, there is not getting around that. What we need to understand, the coarse Christendom’s leaders take will be the tide, so we must strive to continue to raise Godly leaders.
    After 33 years of marriage, nothing has changed and many men have come and gone though out this marriage that advice a course God did not give me; so I stay. Not because I enjoy suffering but because God’s grace is sufficient. Even this morning I poured my heart out to God in bitter tears for relief because at that weak moment I could not stand on my own, He came and met me with peace and grace. Some times that is all we can do.

    Mrs. J.


  13. She’s not still married, so she owes him no submission at all. This is her child and the parents should have the authority here, not the law.


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