The Hausvater Project

Hausvater: /HAUS-fah-ter/
noun (German)
1. Housefather.
2. Spiritually responsible head of household, including the housefather as assisted by the housemother.
>> Example: "As the Hausvater should teach it [Christian doctrine] to the entire family ..."
(Martin Luther, Small Catechism, 1529)

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Nurtured for Chastity or Schooled for Sexual Expression?

When the Trump administration announced in August 2017 a shift in funding from “comprehensive sex education” to “abstinence only,” the public outcry warned that the sky was falling down. Scientific reports circulated stating that abstinence doesn’t work and only comprehensive sex education can train students for success in the real world. A third approach, nurturing children for what Luther called “chaste and decent lives,” was unfortunately overlooked. It is that third approach that truly prepares the youth for success, not only in this world but also in the next.

The problems with comprehensive sex education begin with false assumptions about human nature: that “sexuality” comes in many forms; that people have a need to express their sexual identities virtually from infancy; and, therefore, that biblical morality is too restrictive. “Comprehensive” curricula proceed next to teach “how to … now” rather than “why to wait … marriage,” portraying all manner of sexual experimentation as healthy, so long as “protection” is used and the people involved are gratifying their own desires rather than being coerced.

Oddly enough, the kinds of behaviors encouraged are illegal in most states—depending, that is, on the ages of those involved. For example, if one person is 16 and the other is 15, then any sexual relationship between them could fall under the definition of statutory rape, even if the school lesson plan would be legal for them to follow a year earlier or a year later when both of them fall on the same side of the age-16 cutoff. But the gusto of gnosticism overpowers even the civil law—gnosticism, that ancient heresy that holds the soul, the seat of desire, as the highest authority in the universe and renders both the body and the body’s Creator irrelevant. Our culture’s postmodern proclivities toward same-sex marriage and transgender identities draw from gnosticism and add to it existentialism: the 20th-century philosophy that one’s choice of action can re-create one’s essence. Gone is that old idea that God created human nature long ago; instead, each individual creates his/her/its own nature simply by declaring oneself to possess a new sexual identity.

That’s where the funding used to go. The revised federal spending plan shifts monies toward “abstinence only” programs, which generally extol the value of waiting until marriage before becoming involved sexually with another person. Abstinence programs do not deviate so far from biblical morality as do comprehensive programs, but some problems still remain. For one, it’s not clear quite what “waiting for marriage” means now that the Supreme Court has redefined “marriage” to include same-sex relations. Another problem, present when abstinence education was first launched in the public schools about ninety years ago, is the shift in venue from the privacy of one’s home to the co-ed classroom and the corresponding convolution of vocations from parents nurturing their children in chastity to teachers now discussing sexual matters as casually as they do mathematics or social studies. Modesty tends to get lost when the older standards of “polite conversation” give way to classroom inquiry, and this risk is equal regardless of whether the content is comprehensive or abstinence only.

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“Back to School”: How about Going 500 Years Back?

It is the time of year when students go back to school, as they have for every year of their education career, and will do until they graduate out of school. But perhaps it is also a good time for all of us to go back to school. Let me explain.

Seventy years ago, Dorothy Sayers wrote, “if we are to produce a society of educated people, fitted to preserve their intellectual freedom amid the complex pressures of our modern society, we must turn back the wheel of progress some four or five hundred years, to the point at which education began to lose sight of its true object, toward the end of the Middle Ages.”

In this essay, Sayers was advocating for a return to the classical liberal arts in education, or simply classical education. First she lamented the state of education in her day (1947!), saying “is it not the great defect of our education today … we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think.” She concludes that in order to improve education, we must go back to school. That is, we must return to another kind of school. Eventually, Sayers’ essay sparked a revival and renewal of classical learning in the United States. Today there is a growing movement of schools and homeschooling parents seeking to recover this education for their children and for future generations.

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The point to which Sayers would have us go back, “four or five hundred years … toward the end of the Middle Ages” is a significant one for Lutherans. This year marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Lutheran Reformation. “Four or five hundred years ago” is exactly the time in which Martin Luther, his colleagues, and those who followed them sought to establish a system of education that would do exactly what Sayers sought.

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How to Foster Cooperation among Homeschools, Christian Day Schools, and the Congregation

Christian homes, Christian congregations, and Christian schools are all places in which the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word, gives and strengthens the faith of His children. Yet, it’s easy to see ourselves in vastly contrasting “boxes” which emphasize our differences and weaknesses, rather than our similarities and strengths. All too often, suspicion and misunderstanding exists between school leadership and homeschool families. Instead, what we all need is proactive, constructive curiosity and mutual respect. How can we build bridges between churches, schools, and homeschools, working together for the Christian education of all of the congregation’s children?

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How Can a Church/Church School Support Homeschooling Families in the Church?

  1. Shared Goals/Recognition
  2. Open Communication/Invitation
  3. Shared Resources

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The Reformation and Education: Emphases, Influence, and Lasting Impact

Martin Luther may be best known for his theological reformation of the medieval church, which had strayed from the pure teaching of God’s Word. Luther did not, however, pursue his theological aims in isolation from other concerns; his writings touch upon politics, social life, and the arts. He also recognized the importance of education, both for the church and for the civil realm.

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From Luther’s writings on education, we may derive answers to the following questions:

  • What Should Be Taught?
  • How Should It Be Taught?
  • To Whom Should It Be Taught?
  • By Whom Should It Be Taught?
  • How Shall We Honor Luther’s Legacy Today?

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What Blessings Are These?

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Fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

(Ephesians 6:4, ESV)


What blessings are these

  That God has placed within our arms

As we bring them to Christ

  Within this water here outpoured?

His blessings theirs

  And we to them a blessing, too

As we teach their lips

  To praise and call Him Lord.

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To Whom Will You Give Your Daughter’s Hand in Marriage?

What He Must Be … If He Wants to Marry My Daughter, by Voddie Baucham, Jr. (Crossway Books, 2009)

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In this marriage-readiness book, Pastor Voddie Baucham seeks to provide “a clear, balanced, realistic, biblical picture of what moms and dads should be looking for on behalf of their daughters and seeking to produce in their sons” (9). He avoids the heavy-handed approach of arranged marriages, but he even more sternly rebukes the hands-off approach that would “let boys be boys” and leave girls without any paternal guidance for becoming women of God and wives of virtuous men. Rather than letting the culture dictate the terms, Pastor Baucham situates marriage and the family within the larger picture of God’s salvation plan: “my role in fathering my children is a lifelong partnership in kingdom expansion,” as fathers raise their children up in the Lord and prepare them to do the same for the next generation (17).

What He Must Be … If He Wants to Marry My Daughter is not some sugar-coated how-to book for pious evangelicals; rather, the book frankly calls a spade a spade wherever it may be found, with the author providing equal measures of self-criticism, rebuke for the church, and correction of secular society. As a result, some readers will feel a swift kick in the pants, and they probably deserve it. At the same time, all readers can benefit from the discernment and discipleship that Pastor Baucham offers.

He begins the book by underscoring the multigenerational vision that God’s Word has for both the church and the family. Examining Jeremiah 29:11 in context, he reveals that God’s plans for prospering the Jews would not be fulfilled until after the prophet’s own lifetime. Just as God positioned Jeremiah to prepare the people for a blessing that was to come later, so also God calls upon parents—fathers in particular—to pass God’s Word down the generations (Deuteronomy 6:4–9, Psalm 78:4–7, Ephesians 6:4, etc.), leaving a spiritual legacy that outlasts any one person. Marriage, as God’s appointed covenant for childrearing, therefore exists not merely for the present couple, but also for their posterity, and not only for the material security of their lineage, but also for transmitting a spiritual heritage to generations yet to be born.

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Man Up! The CHRIST-Centered Quest for Real Masculinity

Man Up! The Quest for Masculinity, by Jeffrey Hemmer (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2017)

I won’t lie to you. When I first read the title for this book, I wasn’t sure I would read it since “Man up!” has become such a clichéd phrase. Concordia Publishing House made an extremely wise move, though, in making Pastor David Petersen’s foreword available online before the book came out. His foreword convinced me to buy the book—and I am grateful I did.

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Pastor Petersen says, “It is quite possible that you are holding the very best book to ever be written on masculinity.” I will take it one step further: It is the very best book written on masculinity and one that every man should take the time to read. Man Up! is one of the most important books that CPH has published in recent years.

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