Yup, I am a talker. Not all the time, but sometimes it hits me and then, LOOK OUT! When I first considered homeschooling, I did a little looking around and thought that I had found a curriculum that we would use. Then, my sister called me. She told me that since Number 1 was already reading, we might want to check out Sonlight.
Now before you all start to think, oh great, another Sonlight post, this isn’t. But be forewarned, Spring is a comin’ and that means curriculum planning and for this blog that means some Sonlight talk.
So I did. Check out Sonlight, that is. And am I glad that we did! It has been a perfect fit for us. In those early days of homeschooling, when I was pretty much friendless and alone (only a slight exaggeration there), and I was thrilled to find that they had an online community. A Forum. And at first it was neat. I only used the side where curriculum was discussed and I learned a ton. I was able to start my homeschool journey with realistic expectations and I had a way to vent homeschool frustrations and get some grand advice from ladies that were doing (or had done) what I was trying to do. It was lovely.
Then I found that the forum had another side. The social side.
I don’t know how it escaped me for so long, but they had a special area where ladies could get together just to chat about life. But it became apparent to me that “life” on the forum was a little strange. When I say became apparent, I would love to mean that it became apparent within a week or so, but it would be more accurate to say a year or so. I started to notice funny things, like some of the “in” ladies would give advice that sounded totally against against sound reason. Then I noticed some of the ladies gave advice that was totally against sound doctrine. I decided to take a long break from the forums. It ended up being a year or so where I completely left.
During that time, I found a new passion for studying God’s Word. He graciously revealed some areas of sin in my life (cuz reading His Word does that) and I was growing to love Him and obey Him like never before. Well, I decided to head back and take a look at how the old forum was going. Since the time I had left, they had instituted some new policies. Only people that paid were allowed to join. This was a good change because it weeded out a few weirdos that were always on trying to stir up problems.
Point of clarification here: The Sonlight forum is open to anyone who wants to pay to use it. You don’t have to use Sonlight or even homeschool. And because Sonlight uses material that is published by non-Christian publishers (think Charlotte’s Web), it does attract some people that aren’t believers. I knew that from the get go.
So, when I returned and found the changes, I was pleased. But then I started to notice something. I was part of a minority. There were lots of women that said they were believers, and even a few men (case in point, a man named Touchstone masqueraded as a believer for quite a while), but what they were believers in, was really not clear. It was obvious that it wasn’t the bible. They counseled women to get divorced, advocated immodesty (think bikinis) and preached tolerance of sinful behavior. I was horrified at some of the discussions that went on. What angered me most was that all of this was said in the “presence” of young women and couched in terms of advice from older women. Ack!
I began to see that it was very, very easy for a person to project whatever kind of persona that they wanted and that we had no way of knowing if what they showed us was who they really were. Anybody can give advice on how to keep your house clean, but, on the internet, you have no way of knowing if their house is truly clean and their advice worth taking, or whether their house rivals a junkyard.
I did begin a mini campaign to try to be the voice of biblical thinking there, but I soon saw that it was throwing my pearls before swine. There was one lady that began a thread issuing a call to all of us to hike up those plunging necklines for the sake of our fellow brothers in Christ. She had been shocked at what she had seen in church that morning. When the discussion developed into “I used to struggle with jealousy over women who had a better body than me, too. All women who rail against ‘immodest dress’ are really deep down dealing with envy.” I said good-bye and never looked back.
I still occasionally visit the curriculum part of the forum because they only talk about things related to homeschooling with Sonlight. And I love Sonlight. But I am always quick to say to people to whom I recommend Sonlight, I do not recommend the forums. Find godly women who you can really know in real life. Look to them for biblical advice. Be wary of taking advice from women whose lives you can’t see but who are constantly offering their 2 cents on every issue. The bible speaks about these women.
1 Timothy 5:13
13 And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.
With the advent of the internet, wandering from house to house is easier than it has ever been.
Edited to add:
The forums are Sonlight forums, that’s true. But Sonlight is hands off when it comes to the social side of the forum. They provide it merely as a service to their customers. Never, not even once, did the existence of this side of the forums diminish my love for Sonlight. I not only wholly endorse their curriculum, I recommend it every single chance I get. The educationally value of their curriculum is unsurpassed. The whole reason for this post is that I am getting ready to share about my plans for next year and I wanted to get this “issue” dealt with and out of the way before I start gushing with praise. 🙂 And I do believe that this post could be applied to almost any social forum.