Part Two: The Speaker’s Reply

Part Two: The Speaker’s Reply

There has been much discussion here and on Facebook (and in my house) about the recent graduation speech that we walked out of.  I sent an email to the young man that made the speech, asking him to read my post.  He did and he replied. I thought you all would be interested in what he said to me.

I want to warn you, this is long and some of it is specific.  I tried to be discreet, but please read it before you let your children read. 

I am not going to share his entire email here because it is long and somewhat repetitive.  It is written in the same, dramatic verbiage he used in his speech.  So I will just share parts, but I assure you I am not leaving out anything that changes the message of his reply.  It is important to me that I not misrepresent him.

He begins by telling me again about his beliefs about the horrors of the sins of the world, which I already heard in his talk and did not take issue with his position on those facts.  But he repeated it in the same style, as if I needed convincing that sin is sin.

Next he addresses the issue of one of the images he showed on the big screen at the graduation, “The picture was of two men kissing and two women kissing; both were fully clothed and there was no suggestion other than that their lips touched. Now, it’s possible that you don’t go to Wal-Mart, or grocery stores or book stores or get online and perhaps your children will never go to a mall or other public places and maybe they don’t plan on attending college or surfing the web, where they might see this; but that doesn’t change the fact that this sin is thriving in our culture…”

In fact I DO keep my children away from those places and I don’t let them “surf the web.”  I believe it is my calling as a mother to preserve their naivety for the very reason that this speaker wants to expose them.  So that sin will be seen as sin and not something that was normal to them their whole lives.  When my children are old enough to learn of the evils that are happening in our world it will be so foreign to them that they will be anxious to do anything they can to help those that are wrapped up in these ungodly lifestyles.  I have 2 adult children not much younger than the speaker and I can testify that this is exactly what has happened.  My grown children are appalled and ready to stand up for righteousness without apology.

He goes on, “As Christians, we can try to remove ourselves from culture, bury our heads in the sand and remain ignorant to the sin that is claiming the lives and souls of those around us OR we can accept God’s calling of stewardship that He placed on mankind at the beginning of creation”

Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to this world.  James 1:27 says we are to keep ourselves unstained from the world. 2 Corinthians 6:18 tells us to go out from their midst and be separate from them.

I am not burying my head in the sand.  I am living the will of God.  I can fight for righteousness and also keep myself separate.  God’s “calling of stewardship” doesn’t include looking at pictures of men kissing.

Further down in his email, “I’m not sorry that you were bothered by what the images represent because it bothers me too! That’s why we have to get involved and fight for God’s design and intention for marriage and the family! Much like Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” For this reason, I hope you will take the same energy and emotion that drove you to write us and write our legislators and national leaders;...”

What I actually said wasn’t about what the images represent, but that I didn’t want my young children to see them.  Their hearts and minds are not ready to wrestle with such things (and there was more than one inappropriate image even though he only he mentions one in his email).  Also, I think we can all agree that I am not silent.  Nor do I think we should be silent.  He seems to assume I have not already taken action, which is not true.  We are extremely active.  Just because I don’t think this needs to be discussed in the way he did it doesn’t mean I don’t want to discuss it at all.

In his last paragraph he says, “As I identified in the presentation, we are seeing attacks against the unborn, marriage, family, education, liberty, religious freedom, etc. Who is going to fight these battles? Who is responsible for the preservation of culture? Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth”. We are the preserving and culture changing agent that God put on this earth. We are responsible! For the sake of our children and grandchildren and the hope of our nation, Christians have to get involved.”

He and I simply have a different idea of how this is to be lived out.  What we must do is be the example of Christ, fight for justice through hard work, political avenues and loving people with the love of Christ.  One way I am fighting for the preservation of God’s work is by raising children that will be the future of our country.  If they are so exposed to sin at an early age that they become immune to the grief of its effects on our world then we will have lost the battle. The sad irony is that in his efforts “for the sake of our children and grandchildren” he actually exposed them to the very sin that he is fighting against.

Surely it is obvious by the very fact that I removed my children from his speech that I am deeply concerned about the future of our country and the path we are on.  I am far more involved than his email gives me credit for.

In our family we are not silent.  We are not denying sin.  I am clear about what I believe.  I have never given anyone license to sin and in fact have lost friends because of my firm beliefs.  I am ready to stand and face my duties as a Christian.  I have no fear of fighting for God and I believe there are clear boundaries when it comes to sin.

I am also a sinner.  Saved by grace.  No better than the next person, even if they are walking in godlessness.  It is through His grace that they will, hopefully, prayerfully, also be saved.

I hope this young man will someday realize that he doesn’t need to be explicit about sin for God to change hearts and turn people toward Him.  God is right there, waiting, nudging, holding his arms wide open.  God can turn people away from sin with a whisper.  He doesn’t need us to do His work, we need Him.  We stand for Christ because it draws us nearer to Him and to glorify Him, not because His message can’t get through without us.  There are times when we are called to be gentle and one of those times would be when young children are present.

The speaker closes his email to me by saying, “God bless you to stand for truth and fight for righteousness!

I can only say in reply that I stand for truth and righteousness everyday and will continue to do so.  I will also stand for my children and their future by protecting them from hearing any more of these types of speeches.  It is up to each parent to decide when to expose their children to the evils of the world.

Thank you for reading this long post.  And thank you for standing with me!

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  1. I think his tone is rather arrogant is assuming you aren’t “standing against” sin because you didn’t agree with him exposing you and your children to sin. Regardless, I am affronted when I see men and women in public places holding hands and such. What used to be shameful is blatant. It doesn’t mean I point it out to my kids though. It isn’t their time of life to deal with it yet. We will. But currently we are focusing on teaching them God’s way, God’s perspective, God’s word and God’s character.

    • Barefoot, I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt about his tone. It is hard to communicate well over email. But I, like you, am equally appalled by blatant sin these days. You make a great point about our children’s character. Thanks! Lisa~

  2. I am hazarding a guess, but my bet is that he is young (in his 20’s, maybe early 30’s), not married, and DEFINITELY doesn’t have kids. There are things you just don’t fully “get” until you have your OWN children…..

    • Shannon, he is in that range. I think he is married, but I don’t know if he has children. I agree…he seems like he has some maturing to do. But don’t we all! 🙂 Lisa~

  3. Proud of you Lisa. God bless you for your mother’s heart to protect your children. I agree that the more we are exposed the less shocking and more acceptable sin becomes.

  4. I understand where he’s coming from, but now that I’m a parent, I understand that some things I thought when I was younger was overzealous and not thought through. If I was ummarried and childless, I likely would’ve agreed with him. …but now that I’m a parent and studying more and more on how to be the best parent possible as to what the Lord says I should be doing, I realize how my ‘sheltered’ friends did so much better! I’m just praying it will be possible to protect our kids from such evil and sin until such a time that they can discern Biblically on their own. It won’t be easy. Not when there’s huge billboards advertising restaurants that are NOT family friendly right by home, and when all the billboards by Daddy’s work are advertising outfits that are meant for behind married bedroom doors.

    I’ve no idea how we’ll do it. But I pray that God gives us grace each day to cross each hurdle and raise our kids as best as we can, without purposefully exposing them to sin. Oi vey.

    • Becky, well said! It does change your perspective. And we need that youthful passion, but when older people are telling you that it’s too much, you should listen to their wisdom. Just scale it back.

      How annoying about the billboards by your husband’s office. That is exactly why we moved our children out of the city. It sure is hard. I will pray for wisdom. You can do it! Lisa~

  5. Taylor Spangler :

    Yes I agree with Shannon. He is young, zealous, and thoughtless because he isn’t a parent. He is focused on being righteous but not using common sense. You have to think about your target audience and how you want to motivate people. You won’t persuade an older generation the same way as a younger or men the same as a women His lack of sensitivity turns us off from him and unfortunately hurts his message. Like a kid fresh out of college who thinks he knows everything and is eager to make an impact. God is not rude or shocking and to motivate people you don’t need to be either. We know what homosexuality is and we don’t need a visual. I certainly don’t see that in my local Walmart and I live in a VERY liberal area in Massachusetts. Also, he forgets that God gave us all different gifts. Some are people who pray, some are servants, some plants seeds and some harvest them. If God has called you to a specific task than that’s what you do. He shouldn’t be deciding exactly how we need to attack sin and he certainly shouldn’t think he knows better than a mother when her own children are ready to see something disgusting. Be careful little eyes what you see!

    • Taylor, you hit it on the head. Young and inexperienced. I am not sure why the planners used him for their speaker, but I know they have said they won’t do it again. And I LOVE your point about not all of us being called to those specific battles. I thought the same thing, but couldn’t cover everything in a single post. Thanks for shedding light on that! Lisa~

      • Lisa,

        Your blog has been a blessing to me. I am grateful God gave you the gift to express yourself. 🙂


    • +1 regarding God giving us different gifts!

  6. You did the right thing, Lisa. His premise is flawed, and that is why he doesn’t get it. We don’t have to give visuals to stand for what is right and good in any area. Jesus drew people with lovingkindness. Period. I think that if all of us spent our time focusing more on becoming Christlike, we would not need any flashy pictures to fight sin. The world will be drawn to the way we love one another in gentleness and with compassion, not brazen brigades. The bottom line, if anyone tells you that they were offended or something you said was inappropriate, your response should be of total humility, meekness, and concern that you missed the mark. Not a treatise of defense. God will honor your heart, Lisa.

  7. You were right in protecting your children’s heart and mind. I would have walked out also and like you I would have done it in a humble manner. Those images had no place at a family function. As Christians most of us agree that sin is rampant and I for one sometimes feel as if we are heading in the wrong direction too fast and we as a country will suffer the consequences. We need to hear his message but not in that setting. Let us use some WISDOM here!

  8. Jennifer S. :

    Taylor nailed it. Zeal without knowledge is never a good thing.

  9. Lisa,

    I applaud you for standing up for your convictions. I love this sentence: “He doesn’t need us to do His work, we need Him.” To me, this is one of the most important messages we can share (with appropriate context, of course.)


    • I hope this young man has a good mentor. He has a lot to learn. My whole family would have walked out and we don’t shelter as much as you do. My kids go to public school, and that would still have been offensive. A speech like that makes sin the central focus, and then sin is made more important than God. The focus should always be God. Whatever is pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy – think on these things. Point others toward God who has the power to overcome the sin.

  10. Hi Lisa
    If he wasn’t the speaker you might not have had this discussion and shared your beliefs and reasoning. So maybe that was why he was the speaker! Just a thought :).

  11. Ah, youth. Right now, he’s at that stage of running around like Chicken Little screaming that the sky is falling. His goal in this is only to get people fired up. Too bad he doesn’t spend as much time telling of agencies and lobbies that have bigger clout than us as an individual, as he spent accumulating the inflammatory photos. And, in his youth, he is completely deceived to the fact that the devil is using him only as a tool to educate about evil and desensitize his audience. Thus the use of photography. Shocking images that, sorry to say, were arousing to him, though he’s not likely to admit it. As I prayed for him I began to see his energy to cry out making him short sighted enough to not be quiet before the Lord and ask Him what to do about it. Get fired up? Sure. But go before the Lord and seek wisdom as to what to do with the issues and how best to serve God regarding them. Instead, the Counterfeit slipped in and used him to desensitize an entire audience of innocent bystanders. Case in point? He thinks that fully clothed lip touching is okay. Umm, no. “… no suggestion other than …”? Then, why did he choose this picture. “Sorry, Bubba. You missed the mark. How embarrassing for you.” I’d have to ask him whether he teaches his children not to smoke by having them smoke, or having them visit MICU units. Or, to use their seat belts by showing them pictures of some of the most horrific accidents?

  12. I am a Catholic mother of (soon to be) seven children. We live in California about 45 minutes from San Francisco. So the drama is everywhere. Simply, we are all living in an era that is attacking the family at its roots…our children. Posters in the mall, ads on TV, scenes in movies, magazines (that just happen to placed right at kids level at the check out lane), bill boards, music etc are saturated with inappropriate material for children of any age. We try to shelter are children by home school, no TV, No computer, no cell phones, etc. and by choice we do not go to the malls and filter as much as possible. Just when a parent thinks that is enough, inappropriate behavior view points are forced into our schools, Boy Scouts, sports teams, public bathrooms, etc. No matter how hard as parents we try, sometimes our kids do get a sneak peek at the “World”. I believe that all you can do is guard, guide and teach your children so that they have a strong foundation in their faith and do not become jaded to what is of the “world”. So when these moments arise they are “uncomfortable” with inappropriate content and should feel strong enough to “get up and leave”. By setting the example and showing them to stand up for their values by being strong enough to get up and leave, you are showing them that it is ok to go against the flow of the world and not compromise their values by being quiet and not doing anything. Good for you! Although this speaker was not appropriate in his means of getting his message across in a family friendly event, we still as Christians need to pray more people will be strong enough to stand up against the injustice in the world. Lord have mercy and pray for all of us.

  13. Ephesians 5:12 NIV ” It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.”
    Makes it rather clear.
    I absolutely would have taken my children out too! I applaud you for your courage in appropriately sheltering your children.

  14. Oh goodness gracious 🙁 . Had I seen pictures of that, even with no kids there, I think I’d have walked out. I never want to see that as long as I live, and no, I have never seen that – in real life, or in photos/film. If I am ever coming ‘close’ to seeing it, I turn away, or close the screen. But to show it with KIDS there ….. that is inexcusable. I’m sorry, but it is. That is NOT ‘fighting sin’. That is hardening people to it.

    Oh, Lisa, I’d have *wept* if I’d taken my kids to a place where they saw that. I would want to be as kind as you are, and as gracious as you are, but I suspect I’d just be *MAD* at that fellow.

    I’m so sorry you had to see this, and had to go through the upset of walking out. I’m so sad that this is even happening in places where you ought to be ‘safe’.

    I’m not being deliberately harsh on the guy, but just saying how I’d have felt…. and even how I feel *reading* what you say. 🙁

  15. Hi Lisa,
    I live in the Austin area and know several families that were at this graduation either with a child graduating or as friends and family of graduates. I will say that some of the people I’ve talked to said they were mortified by what was said and one friend had unsaved family that had to sit through a message of condemnation with no explanation of God’s forgiveness, love, mercy and grace. One young adult in her extended family walked in her house afterward and said “Well, I’m going to Hell!” That’s not the reaction of someone who has heard the gospel of a savior who came to save the lost. My friend was grieved that this message confirmed to her unsaved family why they hate Christians. Turning a milestone celebration into a family crisis was unfair to the graduates and left a sour taste in what should have been a sweet memory for years to come.

  16. I am a young mother of three who reads your blog. I identify with you, and I identify with this young man as well. I think the points you made were correct, however I feel like your delivery of them was unnecessarily abrasive. I think there was a kinder way to go about this- maybe a more intimate way. Posting about it on the internet feels like you are making a spectacle of it. I am feeling sorry for the man, and I’m sad he has the view he expressed in his speech. Again, I think the points you made were correct, I just wish they could have been made a bit more gently. I am a reader and will continue to be one, but I wanted to give my feedback since no one else seemed to have the same opinion as me.
    Consider this quote: “Gentleness is a powerful force. A gentle answer can settle a raging argument. Gentle words can break through hard headed thinking. People who possess Gods powerful gentleness energize you when you are weary, correct you without crushing you, and make your heavy load seem lighter. Matt 11:28-30” -Bob Hazlett

    • Hi Jessica! Thanks so, so much for your thoughtful comment. I am always glad to have people watching my back and holding me accountable. You were so sweet to stop and let me know what you thought here. I appreciate not only your point, but the polite way you presented it.

      I understand what you mean, at least I think I do, and will give that some thought and prayer. I want you to know that I showed this post to several people that I trust before I published it. I did not want to start a war or humiliate anyone. I purposely left out the name of the young speaker or the organization he works with so that would not happen. I doubt he even read this reply. I did not send it to him. I was writing with the readers of my blog in mind….to say that we need to shelter our children despite what anyone else thinks.

      I am not sure what I said that you felt was not gentle enough, unless you are talking mostly about the fact that I did it on the blog instead of privately. I would love to know more about what specifically you found abrasive so that I can learn and grow….which I certainly need to do!

      Thanks again for your comment and I’d love to hear from you more often! I loved it!

  17. Dear Lisa,
    When I read your posts it is always with interesent and curiousity, normaly I dont comment on them because I’m just visiting and should therefore behave as your guest. My vieuws on Christianity are different from yours in several ways, not all however. I’m a an active and devoted Catholic was raised that way and feel realy strong about my faith. Today I felt I should comment, because of something you’ve said in your post about not being silent. I undertand you want to shelter your ( young) kids from terrible things that happen everyday around us, like: hate, war, murder, rape, injustice to human rights etc. ( the list ends here because I dont want to upset the other readers, with ‘to much’ sin..) I agree young childeren should keep their innocence as long as they can. You don’t say what kind of sins the speaker spoke about, only mention homosexuality. Did he talk about the sins I gave as an example? I ask you this to better understand your “frustration” ( and that of the other readers that left a comment here). Those a real sins, those are the sins everybody should fights againts, not only religious people. How can homosexuality be a sin? How can a picture of 2 same sex people kissing upset you? Or frighten you to the point that you feel the need to take out your kids. It is love, pure love . Like the love Jesus talks about between 2 people created by God. My godloving parents gave me and my sister a healthy upbriging, with public school, church, sunday school, TV, cinema, radio, books, school, friends, magazines, visits to big cities, other countries etc. And we turned out just fine and with a clear understanding of good and evil in this world. We didn’t “become immune to the grief of its effects on our world” as you put it. Quite the contrary, what I want to say is ( and I know my words won’t change your beliefs, only the holy spirit can do that I’m afraid, but it doens’t hurt to try) don’t be scared for the things you don’t know, don’t waste your time fighting false sins, put it into fighting the real threats of this world. You’re childeren are inteligent and loved enough to one day understand what is right and wrong, you don’t have to shelter them all the time from everything in this world. Have a little faith in them, and in their gardien angels. Please don’t see my comment as an attack on your beliefs, but as a different point of vieuw worth thinking about.

    • Hi Sofia! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You came across very kindly and I didn’t think it was an attack at all. So thank you for that! 🙂

      The speaker mentioned many different things and I am not mentioning them mostly because I don’t want searches to stumble across my blog looking for those topics. I do not want to get into a discussion here about whether homosexuality is a sin. It is doubtful you and I will agree on that and it wasn’t my point anyway. The point is that it is not his place to expose my children to these things and believe me, the speaker thought it was a sin and was being descriptive about it. So just by his own thinking he should have left that decision to me.

      I am sorry if I came across that I shelter my children all the time from everything. I definitely don’t do that. In this case there were many things he mentioned that they had not been exposed to and it should have been up to their own parents to tell them about when they thought their children were ready.

      I also want to respond to your comment that I shouldn’t be scared of things I don’t know. I am not sure why you would assume I don’t know about that or that I am scared of it. I know quite a bit about most of these things even though I am not involved in any of it now. I don’t mean to sound defensive. I am definitely not at all. Just like you, I have strong beliefs. 🙂

      But the best part is that you and I can disagree and still love one another. I am glad you felt you could express yourself here. You are welcome to do that anytime!

      Really, thanks for your comment. You were very sweet and I could feel your care and concern. Thanks so much, Lisa~

  18. Lisa ~
    I think that God calls us each individually to different paths. I happen to agree with the young man’s point about Bonhoeffer that saying nothing is saying something. I also agree that you are “saying something” with the decisions you have made regarding the way you are raising your children. I am neither young (50 this year) nor childless (homeschooling our three) and I would not have appreciated my children seeing those unexpected images at a graduation speech. But I am grateful for young people with passion to speak out in a very public way against the culture of sewage that exists today. God has not given me that burden, but He has given it to someone close to me and I have seen the weight of carrying that message to the church. It is not welcome in much of today’s carnal christian environment. Perhaps there was a reason Bonhoeffer was childless, perhaps he could not have carried his message so boldly or for so long if he had had a family to care for.
    So, while I do not disagree with your decision to remove your family from the arena in which the message was being shared, I will respectfully disagree with some of the responses here that call the young man rash, young and irresponsible. Likely Jeremiah, Hosea and Paul were called worse 🙂

    • Hi Lori! Thanks for stopping to share your thoughts on this. Believe me, I do not think we should be silent at all! Our family is very vocal about what we believe according to Scripture. It has been a sacrifice that we gladly make. I applaud the young speaker’s passion and I am certainly glad there are people willing to step out and and speak the hard truth. However, he was irresponsible (and young, there is no arguing that!). He had no relationship with the crowd and did not consider the age of some of the listeners (although by his letter to me I don’t think he cared that he was exposing my children). He did not need to be so descriptive and visual to get his message across. Yes, his calling is different than mine, but we all have some of the same callings too….to glorify God and spread the Good News! He wasn’t giving Scripture references or offering positive direction as he only focused on the sin and evil. I don’t mean to sound defensive and I am really glad you left your comment. **I think you are making a great point that we all need to encourage one another to be willing to say sin is sin.** I also have friends with a similar ministry and have seen them be ripped apart for their convictions. It is so sad!! I applaud the message, just not his method. Thanks so much! Lisa~

  19. Thank you. I have never been able to put into words the reason for keeping media and other things out of my home and you have given me those words. I am not ‘sheltering’ my young children as some might say, but rather, I am maintaining their innocence and virtue at a time when it is not easy to do, or popular for that matter. Thank you for standing and for sharing. We are all dependent upon Grace, though Grace without works is dead, and because of that I am humbled and try to work each day to help others see that, thank you for your work in this cause. Thank you so much for giving me words to explain to others what are reasoning is behind the choices we make

  20. I’m new to reading your blog and I’m enjoying it! I agree completely with what you did during the graduation. It is very disappointing that what was meant to be a wonderful time of celebration (for the graduates) – became more focused on the speaker’s inappropriate topic choice. I hope the graduates and their families were able to move beyond the speech and enjoy their special day.

  21. I admire that this young man wants to lead the battle against the sin that is ravaging our country and eroding away its foundation, but headlong and aggressive is not the best way when there are young children in the audience. We work to shelter our children from sin as much as we can until they reach the appropriate age to understand and deal with it through God’s word.
    I am proud that you not only had the gumption to remove your children from the situation, but you have gracefully and lovingly dealt with this young man. I pray God gives him best audience for his message.

  22. Perfectly said!! Amen sister!! We have to stand up and protect our kids!

  23. Lisa,
    I find it a comfort to know that there are still parents who follow God’s commands concerning children very seriously. I believe in Matthew 18, it states you would be better off with a millstone tied around your neck and dropped in the depths of the sea rather than cause one of his little ones to stumble. Regardless of the young mans age, shock is not necessary to make a point or deliver a good speech. I would have been horrified had my children been exposed to that. My heart aches at what so many children have to see and hear at an inappropriate age. You can’t reclaim innocence o ce it’s lost. Reminds me of Corrie Ten Boom and her father in The Hiding Place.
    Amy Callahan

  24. I just read this tonight…but I agree. The kid was young and overzealous…and I have been that kid twenty five years ago. I’m grateful for the people who smiled and patted me on the back then whispered words of wisdom in my ear. I, however, was taught to listen to my elders and value their opinion. Sometimes in our own “overzealous think-for-yourself homeschooling” we have trained kids to not have respect for authority or those older because we don’t show it ourselves. I think as homeschooling “comes of age” we will see more and more “irreverance” for any authority (secular or parental, ecclesiatical, …biblical) because we have (as a group) thumb our nose up and had an “I know better” attitude rather than a gracious one when it comes to those we disagree with. I’m looking forward to reading your blog. I came over as a result of seeing a link on another blog. I’m glad I found you!

  25. BTW….the old evangelist Jack Wyrtzen used to say “I don’t have to crawl into a garbage can to know that it stinks.” I use that on my children and other’s often who say seem to think I can’t express an opinion unless I’ve fully experienced a situation, circumstance, book etc.