Is Your Family Built On Homeschool Leaders, Or God? |

It’s been a difficult six months. I’ve remained quiet about it, not breathing a word about the Vision Forum scandal because I didn’t want to jump into this sensitive situation and write about anything while it was raging. I have never been associated with Vision Forum (besides being an affiliate for their company in times past). I just appreciate some of the products they sold.

But now yet another homeschool scandal is appearing before us. Bill Gothard has been placed on administrative leave as they investigate scandals involving him. UPDATE: Bill Gothard Resigned after the charges were brought against him. These are men who have been extremely influential in the homeschool community. Many families have looked up to these men and trusted nearly everything that came out of their mouth. I’ve attended homeschool conferences where people stand around just gazing up with admiration and deep trust towards these leaders.


The problem is, homeschool “celebrities” are just men; real life flesh and blood men who make mistakes and sin. We are all capable of sinning.  However, when you set yourself up as an authority on how to raise godly children and to have godly marriages, such mistakes are devastating in their effect, not only on you personally, but on the Christian community as a whole.

My husband and I have had countless discussions over the past few years about this.  We reevaluated our perspectives on the family long ago and I believe even more strongly that many (not all) teachings espoused by these men for the past 20 to 30 years find little or no precedence in scripture. I agree even more strongly with the sentiments in my blog post on Why I wear Skirts All The Time. I don’t do it to obey a long list of rules found in the Bible concerning skirt wearing. Wearing skirts for me is a minor detail, along with many other minor details that so many seem to love to make into major, salvation altering issues.

We are told in Psalm 146:30 to “put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.” Have we been guilty, as homeschool families, for putting our trust in man? It’s easy to do, but is it right?

Every word that comes from men needs to be brought back to the scriptures and it needs to be evaluated against the word of God.

Does the Bible really say we shouldn’t have a TV in our home? No doubt it gives clear instruction on what kind of things we shouldn’t watch on TV (Psalm 101:3, Philippians 4:8), but is there really a verse that says we should not have a TV in our home? What about a verse that says the internet is wicked, and it shouldn’t be found in our home? What about a verse that clearly states daughters should stay at home after graduation and not be found doing anything outside of the home until they are married?

If you don’t want a TV in your home, I totally understand. If you want your daughter to stay at home after high school, I respect that decision. If you are contemplating cutting the cord to the internet, I have no quarrel with you. But please, we need to step back from legalistic rules that say these things are scripturally mandated.

Now is a good time to stop and pray and ask yourself if you are following the arm of man, or trusting in God’s word. If you are wearing dresses because Caroline from The Modest Mom does it, please stop and ask God if HE wants you to do it. Be found walking in God’s path, not man’s path (or in this case, woman’s). 🙂

I say all of this, but please know my heart’s desire is to do my utmost to raise pure, undefiled, godly children. I don’t want to throw them to the world but I also don’t desire to raise them with a legalistic, proud spirit. These are opposite sides of the same coin and equally to be avoided. We are not special because we do things differently than the world. Our children need to understand this. If all we do is train our children not to do XY and Z because “that’s what the world does”, we should not be surprised if we get legalistic children who despise the people around them.

However, if we raise children who want to do XY and Z, because that’s what God’s word says (not some homeschool leader), and (most importantly) if they have a heart to please their Heavenly Father, we have a far better chance of raising pure and humble children.

I hope you read this in the spirit I wrote it. I’m not trying to gossip (which is a huge part of why I waited so long to write this). By now I think these scandals are common knowledge. As homeschool conventions are up and coming, let us remember to pray for the speakers and thank them for coming. At the same time, just remember they are there to encourage you. You are not perfect and neither are they. The only true and perfect leader is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. 




38 Comments on Is Your Family Built on Homeschool Leaders, or God?

  1. I must have missed something somewhere…you said, “The problem is, homeschool “celebrities” are just men; real life flesh and blood men who make mistakes, and in the case of these men, enormous mistakes. We are all capable of such mistakes. However, when you set yourself up as an authority on how to raise godly children and to have godly marriages, such mistakes are devastating in their effect, not only on you personally, but on the Christian community as a whole.” While Doug Philips has admitted to his mistake, The other man is being investigated. Where did I miss the end of the investigation? Or is this another case of guilty until proven innocent so many of us like to believe based on accusations of hurt individuals?

    I would like for you to prove your statement above or change it, because that is just not your, Caroline’s, typical mode of writing and why stay out of it while it is hot and come into it right now? I am sure there are other people out there who have the negative covered, you should be a different light!

    • PS…I do agree with you on who is our homeschool built on and the rest of the statement above, I just need proof that there was an admitted mistake.

      • Christi,

        I have not stated anywhere that Bill Gothard is or is not guilty. Obviously I can’t make that statement until the board does. But it’s troubling that another investigation is taking place on a homeschooler leader, and it’s not the first time an investigation like this has been performed on Bill Gothard. My point of the whole post is that we need to step back and not treat homeschool leaders as if everything they say is gospel truth.

        My husband and I both wrote this post together, as we feel this topic needs to be considered. The response I’ve seen from Christians has been either total falling away from everything they held dear (which I find terribly sad), or else mocking and laughing at the person’s sins (which I find to be horrible). I’m not here to do either of those things, simply urge families to trust in the word of God and not in the word of man.

        • Thanks for considering and changing you wording in that paragraph. I agree with everything in this post! This reads more like the Caroline we are used to.

    • The problem with Gothard is not just that he is being investigated, but that his teachings are not Scriptural mandates, although they are often presented as such.

      The point of this post IMO was not to assign guilt, but to point out the dangers of putting ‘leaders’ on pedestals and letting them do all our thinking for us, instead of searching Scriptures for ourselves, and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us about the changes HE wants us to make.

  2. Thank you for this heartfelt post that I’m so glad someone has had the courage to write about. It’s God’s grace that we need- no one else’s.

  3. Caroline, I support you in your conclusions. It has been freeing to me to take the word of God for my guideline and not follow after every person that cries sin. What God requires of me is hard enough. I can’t even do it without His help. I’ve often wondered if it’s tempting to add rules because they are easier to keep than God’s. For example, It’s easier for me to “Not have a TV” than to control my tongue. Though God said nothing about TVs and a lot about my tongue. I spent a lot of years tied up in extra rules for my family, which ended up being a distraction from what God really wanted to do in my heart. It was false pride, thinking what I was doing was Holy when really I was just a white sepulcher.

  4. Thank you for this post. I ponder these things often and pray my motivations are right and not focused on “just because the world is doing it so it must be wrong”. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. The devil wants us to look towards man instead of “turn your eyes upon Jesus”. I sing that song when I catch myself feeling depressed when Godly men fail.

    • Any man can fall, just like you or I can fall. We can be kept by God IF we want to be kept.

      I think the I problem with Gothard and all the godly people who fall, they let notoriety get to their head.

  5. God, wants NO ONE before him. Leaders are men and women, and they make mistakes like you and I do. You must be careful to not put leaders on a pedestal and not make them an idol. Leaders are there to guide us, and to help us, period. Not the one to be looked up to has being some great person. They aren’t greater than you or I.

  6. For every Christian leader who falls into one sin or another there is still standing in history of the past, and life in the present, other righteous men and woman pointing us to Christ. Their strong testimony encourages and blesses me. I’m accountable to God for my soul. I’m accountable to God for teaching my children of Christ. Thank you for the reminder that in any teaching we encounter to look to the Christ and the gospel. There are many bunny trails we each could follow and people we could esteem too highly, hanging our hats on their words and interpretations.

  7. Caroline,

    You have spoken well. Perhaps, if there is good to come from this, it is causing thousands of families to make sure their eyes our on the Father instead of a man. I am speaking on one of the things you mentioned–“why we do the things we do” tonight in a live webinar. I won’t put the link here just because I don’t mean for this comment to be an advertisement 😉 but the link is on my blog for anyone interested in hearing more about this important topic you’ve brought up.

  8. To me the bottom line is everyone needs to get back to the basics and stop looking to others for answers and direction and just serve The Lord . Follow His commandments and love Him with all you Heart should and strength as it says in Duteronomy 6 and train our children up in His word and He will not fail us . People spend way to much time trying to be like other people and not serving The Lord these days . Look to the bible for direction , he says for parents to raise their children according to His Word that means front to back not just the middle of the bible , and for women to be modest and not dress like men , to me that means skirts below the knee or dresses, to be covered by our husbands and to submit to them . Just some basics I see for muself . I train my children with the bible and character qualities out of the bible and pray the do not part from it . Who care what others are doing or getting in trouble for , just put The Lord first in your life and follow Him and not man!!

  9. Excellent post. I have been thinking about this a lot recently. I come from a Christian Tradition that honors Saints. These are Christians who have finished the race and proven themselves – and we still see them as humans subject to sins – but as holy examples and intercessors (Heb 13:7, Heb 12:1). I hear a lot of criticism of my beliefs from my fellow Christians – but then I see them giving certain contemporary Christian Celebrities an almost cult-like reverence when I read various blogs.

    You’ve said it very well – we need to rethink the way we look at these famous speakers.

  10. The confusion for me seems to be that so many of the legalistic teachings are good ideas in many but not all situations. To me, this discussion points out the importance of knowing the difference between Biblical commands and Biblical principles. While we would hopefully agree on the unchanging Biblical commands, the Biblical principles may lead us to different decisions (different from each other and different in different seasons or situations). For example, if I know I’m going to be climbing over a high fence in the presence of males, I choose to wear (modest) pants to prevent exposing a view up my skirt — otherwise I love to be in skirts for the same Biblical principle of modesty.

  11. Thanks for a good reminder, and I appreciate the gracious and thoughtful comments. You’re absolutely right about setting leaders up too high; we also have to remember that these accusing individuals and organizations are also fallible.

  12. Very well said! It’s so easy sometimes to just follow what different pastors or leaders say, and not look at what the Bible actually says. This is a great reminder to always be searching the scriptures. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  13. I appreciate your blog so much. I love your love for the Lord and your family…way beyond whether you wear skirts or not. I agree with this article… thank you for writing it… and my most fervent prayer for these teachers of the Word is that they will seek forgiveness from the only one who truly forgives… and they will enjoy the joy of His restoration…and healing for those involved and hurt…it’s too easy to lift these leaders up as people they were not meant to be…and we can all do a soul check in the meantime.

  14. Awesome post! I am not ashamed to say that I was one of the people you were talking about. Thank God I took a step back and realized that some of the things that I was doing was not biblical and just something a leader was saying. I was becoming legalistic and I am so glad I am not like that anymore. Praise God!

  15. A refreshing take on some ‘touchy’ issues…I am new to homeschooling and thankfully don’t know that much about either case. I just agree that people mess up. People fall. Leaders and laypeople alike. Of course discipline is justified where people are proven in need of it, but grace needs to be extended in our hearts towards these men & their families. I’m sure many are hurting from the side effects of all involved.
    Rachael @ Diamonds in the Rough (

  16. Caroline such good reminders and wise words for us all to remember. God does work all things for good even in these difficult situations because they make us look to Christ and be mindful that He is the only one who is worthy of our praise. Excellent post!

  17. Dear Ms Caroline,

    I honestly praise the Lord and rejoice that He gave you the courage to speak up, and put on your heart to address these important issues. I was actually wondering about your silence on the Vision Forum issue, and now the article you posted concerning both V.F. and Gothard really shines out the fact that you stood up for the truth in the blogosphere, and are building on the right foundation (Christ our Lord). Sadly this is a rare reality among believers today, and it does my heart good to see families being Christ centered when it’s so easy to be man-centered.

    With appreciation in Christ,

  18. Except some of these things aren’t “mistakes” they are sin… it what it is. Sad yes and I agree totally with that you’re saying but sin isn’t a “mistake”.

  19. oh.
    you have GOT to be kidding me…
    I didn’t even KNOW about either one of these scandals…
    oh my…
    saving your post to read later although I already believe I agree with your sentiment… but WOW.
    that just makes your heart sink. wow this breaks my heart

  20. As one of the older homeschool families, all students graduated and starting their own families, I will say we went to one if the conferences and had a group of homeschool friends we hung around with a year or two that had encouraged us to Attend. All I can say is I’m glad it was a very short season in our family. Many of the teachings didn’t sit well with me. It led to legalism and some hurt in both my older children’s faith that I pray they allow God to heal. It has been a long journey for me but I am so thankful for grace upon grace. I won’t go read what you are discussing here but find real genuine Christ followers are the perfect kind of friends.

  21. Your article is spot on. I have always felt this way. It is neither good for individuals or those who are leaders to be putting/or put on pedestals. My only only concern with your article is that you use the word “mistakes” instead of “sin”. A mistake is not necessarily a sin. The things that they have done or are accused of are SIN.

  22. Hi Caroline,
    I think you did a wonderful job expressing yourself. Many want like what you said because it is not politically correct. I didn’t home school my children but wish I did. I have been a Christian for about 16 years now… and I can honestly say that…it has been a growing process. God has opened my eyes to a lot of things. One of them being not to put my faith in man. I think that a lot of people look to man for answers that they should be looking to God for. As I am writing this I am reminded of the passage of scripture we studied last week in Bible Study. John 12: 42 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Some of us Christians are sheeps being led to the slaughter. I thank God for truth and Revelation. Some body is not going to want to hear what you are saying…even though it is the truth. But be encouraged…faint not in well doing.
    Much love,
    Your sister in Christ

  23. Excellent post. It is so easy to follow someone that you admire, and the kick-on-the-gut feeling that you feel when they fall is horrible. I have felt it many times. Thankfully, the Lord always pulls me to Himself, and brings phrases to my memory like “fix your eyes on Jesus”, and “only Jesus”. Theses are words from songs from different periods of my life, and I am thankful for them.

  24. I love, love, love this post. You have a new reader in me. I’m a home schooling mom too, and there are so many many different ideologies that I read about constantly. Oh we shouldn’t do this or do that, and our children should only have this and not this…and it’s just like, enough already. Forget what my friends are doing. We’ve gotta do what God wants us to do. I’m making it my mission to study the words of Jesus this year and do my best to apply them to my life. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

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