Education and the State

The State as Protector of Free-Market Education: The anti-role of the state in education

The following has been lifted from my PhD dissertation, and slightly edited for this blog site.  I continue to give thought to some of my earlier ideas, and welcome feedback as I continue to refine them.

Christ said, “So if the Son sets you free (from slavery to sin), you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Christian liberty has been a compelling catch-cry throughout the ages, especially in the English-speaking world. Paul wrote: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). This compelling call to liberty is what inspired Patrick Henry, in 1775, to finish his rousing speech to the second Virginia Convention with the words:

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! (Henry, 1836 [1775]).

The role of the state is to guard this freedom for all those in its jurisdiction. The state is to protect the church, the family, and the general marketplace, from invasion from without, and from corruption within. However, God has strictly defined and limited this activity of the state. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1). This authority is given by God so that the state can be “a terror … to (the) bad” (Romans 13:3) “bear(ing) the sword (not) in vain. For (the state) is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on wrongdoers” (Romans 13:4). It is those who steal who are to fear the sword of the state; it is those who commit adultery (and every other sexually deviant activity under the broader application of the word adultery) who should fear the sword of the state; it is the murderer, the idolater, the man-stealer, the covetous, the breaker of God’s holy Laws, who should fear the sword of the state. Were the state to capitally punish the adulterer, it would protect the family. Were the state to capitally punish the murderer, it would protect the lives of people in the street. Were the state to exact the prescribed punishments of God’s Law, it would administer God’s justice, and ensure that those who live within the boundaries of God’s Law live in peace and liberty.

On the other hand, when the state over-steps its jurisdiction, then God’s people must respectfully dissent. Peter and the other Apostles, when confronted with a state that over-stepped its jurisdiction, responded with the truism: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Peter was echoing Jesus when Jesus said that we must “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).   Education does not belong to Caesar, it belongs to God, and God has delegated it to the family, the church and the market place. The state has a duty to protect the freedom of the family, church and market place to go about their educational business without hindrances. The state is to promote liberty in this area, not be guilty of repression through legislation, taxation, certification, registration, and accountability administrivia[1].

So therefore, the state does have a God-ordained and legitimate function. However, the function of the state is limited to the parameters set by the Law-Word of God. When the state is functioning within the limits set by God, we are to obey the legitimate officers of the state as unto the Lord. However, as soon as the state oversteps its legitimate role, it is the duty of Christians to petition the Justice of God, and call the state to account, working within every legal means to persuade the state to return to its limits. As a last resort, it is the responsibility of God-fearing people to resist the state by peaceful protest and make an imprecatory appeal to the courtroom of heaven.

[1] Noun 1. administrivia – the tiresome but essential details that must be taken care of and tasks that must be performed in running an organization; “he sets policy and leaves all the administrivia to his assistant” ( Accessed: 1/12/2013 10:39 PM


Henry, P. (1836 [1775]). Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death! In W. Wirt (Ed.), Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry. Philadelphia.



One thought on “The State as Protector of Free-Market Education: The anti-role of the state in education

  1. Pingback: The Role of the Church to Protect the Family from the State, as it relates to education | lanceaboxeducationresearch

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