The Speech We Didn’t Want to Hear

The Speech We Didn’t Want to Hear

My niece was graduating this weekend, so we drove to Austin for her graduation ceremony.  It was a group of homeschoolers graduating together, about 60 of them.

We had the whole family there, plus a lot of my extended family and everything was going fine.  Until.  The commencement address.  It was a young man.  He was passionate about Christ, which was good.  But he was also passionate about making an impact.  Which was not so good.

I’m guessing that his motives were pure, to motivate these graduates to get out there and make a difference in the world.  But there is a time and a place to discuss the evils happening in the world in such a detailed and dramatic way, and this was neither.  I am not going to mention the subjects he spoke about since I know many of you let your children read my blog, but you can imagine.  And he had pictures; I’m not kidding.  About 7 minutes into his 30 minute speech James leaned over to me and loudly whispered, “Get the boys out….hurry!”

So I led my four young sons, who now had questions about what they just heard, out to the lobby.  My youngest daughter (age 16) quickly followed, asking if she could leave also.  It was more than her tender, protected heart could take.  “Mommy, I felt so uncomfortable.  I’ve never seen images like that,” she said.  These are subjects we have purposely not exposed our children to at a young age.  It is our place to decide when they learn about the horrific sin happening outside of our doors, not the guy speaking at a graduation.

Other people were filing out, offended.  One father expressed his outrage at having to take his 10 year old daughter out of her sister’s graduation.  He, like us, is conservative and while he agrees that the young man may have been right about his points, it was not the right place to give such a graphic message.

I tell you all of this not to complain about the graduation, but to say that we have become so desensitized to sin that we think we have add shock value to make a point.  James and I have purposely sheltered our children from as much as we can so that when they are grown and learn about the things our country is doing, their hearts will be naturally broken over it and we don’t have to add drama to the simple message, sin is real.  Just the fact is enough to make us grieve over someone’s ungodly choices.  We don’t need a visual example mixed with dramatic language.

And my 90 year old grandfather certainly didn’t care for the message.  He is a wise man who has spent much of his life honoring God.  Afterward when we were talking about the speech he summed it up perfectly, “That just wasn’t necessary.”

This is so often what happens to us even in churches.  A pastor takes off on a rabbit trail, naming sins that are socially accepted today and going into detail to stir up his congregation.  We so often have to shuffle our children out that they have become used to it.  I don’t like doing this.  It feels rude, but I can’t prefer politeness over protecting my children’s hearts.

I want to write a letter to Christian speakers to tell them it is possible to make the same points, but be discreet so that it goes over the heads of those that don’t know about such things.  It is possible to motivate people to action without showing graphic pictures.  It is possible to speak words gently and trust God to stir in our hearts.  We do not need to be manipulated emotionally.  That is shallow at best, offensive at worst.

Maybe you won’t agree with me about sheltering your children and that’s fine.  But it is still our decision what our own children should hear and how they are exposed to immorality.  No one else has a right to inject that into our lives.  We don’t let them watch TV, we are extremely careful about the movies they see and we spend a huge amount of time building a pure, godly foundation for them.

And guess what, our adult children have turned out to be joyful, caring people who understand now what is going on in the world and are not falling down dead from the shock.  They didn’t need to be prepared by knowing about specific evils.  They needed to be prepared by knowing what is right and good and true.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17


  1. Thank you for putting this so graciously and succinctly. I, too, have struggled with taking my children out of a crowd to protect their ears and hearts. It does feel rude. It feels like I am giving a harsh judgment and a “we are better than you” attitude. My children have asked why others don’t leave. That’s a tough one, too. I have just had to tell them that if it is a conviction for their Dad and I, then for us it is sin to stay. But we have to work through not looking down on others for not having the same convictions. Hard stuff. But, thank you for giving me hope that we are not alone!

    • Victoria, I agree it is a difficult balance. You said it so well, I don’t want to send the message that I am better. But it has to be done and consequences faced later. Isn’t that all of Christianity? We want to send a message of love and it is received as a massage of hate? I’m also really glad we’re not alone! Lisa~

  2. AMEN!!!!!

    This happened to us at a homeschool graduation. But instead of it being a student speaker it was the main speaker – a man who was the “most popular adult Sunday School teacher” at a certain church in our area. He proceeded to tell us and the grads about things that I didn’t care to hear about . Oh, he was a cool and hip person….but what a mess….

    • Thanks Deanna! I didn’t mean to give the impression that it was a student giving the speech. No, it was a grown man that they brought in for that part. He was just young. But I think he’s a pastor somewhere. Not cool! Lisa~

  3. my children know the general idea of what kind of sin is out there, but we too, think it is unnecessary to heap reality on their heads just because they are teenagers. Please! There are things _I_ have learned about lately (and not intentionally!) that I wish I didn’t now know-why oh why would I want my kids to know now when at 50, I wish I didn’t know. Good for you. Good for your husband. <3

    • Shannon, you make a great point! Some of these things would be better if I didn’t know about, much less my children. Thanks for the encouragement. Lisa~

  4. I completely agree with you! Speakers need to take their entire audience into account. Our youngest just turned 10 and while she isn’t as sheltered as our older girls were, she does not need to hear or see things that make adults cringe.

    • Laura, it is hard to shelter the younger ones when their sibling know so much! But we try. 🙂 Lisa~

  5. What exactly did the speaker talk about? You don’t have to specifically list what they said, but what was the nature of the subject? I’m interested to know what had offended so many people.

    • I will send you a private email. I don’t want to answer that here in the comments. But thanks for your interest! Lisa~

      • I was also wondering if you could share a little of the subject matter to provide some understanding. I admire you and your husband for protecting your children and providing guidance and being true to your principles. I have heard sermons that seemed to wander from spiritual content to political idealogy which made me very uncomfortable, but I have never had to view pictures at a graduation ceremony. How unfortunate that someone spoiled what should have been a happy celebration. It must have been truly inappropriate if others felt compelled to leave, along with you and your family. I really enjoy your stories and photos of your family, and posts like this help us to explore our own feelings. It’s nice to know that other mothers have similar feelings about negative subjects in the world from which we would like to spare our children.

  6. I know what you mean… I too have been protected by my parents, and have only been made aware of things through my Mum, and then, very gently. I’m so thankful that I did not get shocked by the overwhelming amount of sin in the world through something graphic or explicit.

    I have had experiences where I was at a Christian women’s conference, and some things were said/shown that were rather shocking (granted that has a little more leeway since it was a women’s conference that supported A21). But on the whole, I’m glad I have been kept safe from the knowledge of such sin. At times I hate the fact I know things about what goes on in the world, but the Bible says we are to be as wise as serpents, gentle as doves. I sometimes forget the first part.

    I’m ever so grateful that our pastor is never explicit in her sermons. I know many people would disagree with a pastor who is a woman, but her tactful way of putting across touchy subjects is something I greatly cherish, because she understands that not everything needs to be said, and is as discreet as you mentioned above. I always feel safe to hear the word she brings.

    Thankyou for sharing these thoughts, Mrs. Pennington. I will be sharing this post with others. 🙂

    • I’m glad to know other young ladies that are being protected by their parents. You’re such a blessing! Tell your mum I said hello and great job! 🙂 Mrs. Pennington~

  7. We just had this issue at our Mother/Daughter dinner. While I agreed with much of what the speaker was saying it just was not the right place for it. I did not walk out as a lot of it I had talked to my daughter about already and it wasn’t necessarily naming sins just not the right venue for the talk but if I had a younger daughter I very well may have. Sometimes I think people just don’t think about WHO they are talking to and instead get to excited about WHAT they are saying!

    • Faith, a mother/daughter dinner? Wow. The who and what were definitely a problem at this graduation. It’s not easy, but we felt good about our decision. Thanks for sharing your experience. Lisa~

  8. Lisa I would have done the same thing. That definitely was not the time nor place to have that discussion. It should have been a joyous family event where all felt safe to bring their loved ones. So sorry that happened to you.

    • Thanks Kim! We’re OK. We took care of it and talked with the kids. They know that there are things they don’t need to understand now. But I will be more careful in the future. Lisa~

  9. Small children don’t have the cognitive or emotional skills to deal with the horrors of our world today….teens and pre-teens are very susceptible to the sinful nature of the world. I do believe it is the adults duty to shelter and guide their children the way God places it in their heart. Who knows your children better than you do? And a public speaker (including pastors) should always take note of their audience and speak accordingly. I am so glad that we don’t have cable TV anymore….using the Roku and Netflix along with many free Christian networks keeps my mind at ease that my young granddaughters are not being exposed to things they are not ready for yet. You are not alone Lisa! I know God will put in your heart the best way to help your kids deal with what they heard, and I will keep you and your family in my prayers. <3

    • Elaine, you are always such an encouragement to those of us that are younger and still raising children. Thanks for being such a good example. Lisa~

  10. I have received several comments that were unkind about their opinions of our position here. This is one that was the least objectionable, “I pray that God opens your mind and heart to not only listen to things that you don’t understand or agree with, but to also experience acceptance and grace. You are the not the chooser of how others express themselves, you are not their maker. You are simply another follower.”

    My reply is this: I actually did agree with him and understood him completely; I am not closed minded. I am happy to listen to what people have to say. But there is an appropriate place for those kinds of conversations. I certainly never claimed to be anyone’s maker. I have a responsibility to my children to raise them in the way we believe the Lord would have us do.

    I will pray the same prayer for you. Lisa~

  11. It was very brave of you to do that and to stick to your beliefs!
    I am curious as to how you handled the boys’ questions afterwards?

    • Melanie, we just took them one at a time and tried to be careful about what we explained. Sometimes they need to know and sometimes they just need to trust that we will tell them when the time is right. Thanks! Lisa~

  12. Amen sister! Be so thankful that you have a godly husband that knew it was important not to expose your boys to that information. Just think of the door that would have opened in their minds. It’s not easy to follow Christ even in the Christian arena.

  13. I applaud you! Shock talk is never appropriate. The odd thing about it all is that, those who know it’s going on also know that talking ad nauseum about it, with pictures, only further desensitizes us and lets that line of tolerance creep. The speaker was probably more intent on being known as “the guy who said thus and such” rather than the guy who did a good job educating and encouraging mission mindedness. And that never rings the bell of liberty, freedom, or moral uprightness. It’s simply unnecessary self-aggrandizement. There is a time and place for everything …

    • Celia, yes…shock talk is exactly what it was! And “self-aggrandizement”….I love that term! I need to find a way to use it often. LOL! Lisa~

  14. It is our responsibility before God to determine when and where our children learn certain things. No one else has the right to make that decision for us. It is not just “sheltering” it is sheltering until the appropriate time to give info in the best way possible.

    • Barefoot, great point! Of course you don’t shelter your older children from this information. But instead of them hearing about it from a stranger shouting to get a reaction, I want them to hear about it in a calm, informative way from people that know them and love them. Thanks for making that point! Lisa~

  15. I believe that we as believers should abstain from all appearances of evil. If someone is preaching to a group of people regarding a subject that could cause just one to think sinful thoughts, then this subject should not be shared in a public setting. I know there are many immoral issues in our world today, and yes, we as Christians need to abstain from them, but what if that message to abstain was also causing another brother or sister to sin with their thoughts on the subject? I believe that there are certain subjects that are for small group discussions/classes, not in the open public forum. I applaud you, Lisa and James, for standing up for your convictions and for protecting your young children’s hearts! Man looks upon the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. HE knows your heart. Only HIS opinion is what matters! Thank you for being a positive influence to so many through your blog!

    • Lisa, I don’t know if he caused sinful thoughts, but he definitely introduced sin. But it’s a good point and a speaker should definitely think about that! Thanks for your thoughtful comment! Lisa~

  16. Thank you! I just stumbled upon your site today. I have 3 young boys and had struggled with this whole concept of “Sheltering” your children. It is spoken of as such a negative thing to do. And I pretty much agreed with this, that is until I had kids of my own. I then realized that the notion that we are NOT suppose to shelter our kids was a lie from the pits of hell! Its funny though, because we expect God to “shelter” us…Psalms 91!

    • Hi Tameka! I am so glad you stumbled by. 🙂 You are so right, sheltering is seen as a bad thing and that may just be what has gotten us to this terrible place where we are listening to people in speeches talk about sin in great detail. You keep protecting those precious boys! Just let me know if you need support and I’ve got your back! Lisa~

  17. Oh Lisa, I’d have been *horrified* to hear these things – even without the kids. I have never been in the position of hearing such dreadful things, and am thankful that our speakers here are very careful in their choice of words and phrases. I do hear American preachers and speakers who say things (not, I’m guessing, what you had to listen to in this situation) that we would not be used to hearing over here.

    It is SO unnecessary …I’m sorry you had to go through it, but I would definitely have done what you did (I hope I would have anyway).

    • Croft, I was horrified for myself. Some of what he said went way beyond what I needed to hear. It happens so often. Maybe I need to move over there by you. 🙂 Lisa~

  18. I hope to one day be the kind of parent you are, your conviction is inspiring!

  19. Oh, my. I am so sorry to hear that. We have chosen to keep our kids in with us during Sunday morning service and there have been times when I’ve just thought, “Oh, this is not what they need to hear right now.” That happens so rarely that it always catches me off guard.

    Did you ever hear the story Corrie ten Boom told about her father? Paraphrased, it went something like this: Corrie wanted to understand what the adults were talking about, but was being sheltered from it. Frustrated, she went to her father and wanted to know what was being said. He asked her if he would purposely allow her to carry a suitcase much too large and heavy for her. She said no and he responded that neither would he explain things to her that her heart wasn’t ready to bear yet. (I read this several years ago, if it isn’t quite accurate, I’m sorry.)

    Loved this and it has stuck with me! I use that explanation with my kids all the time.

    • Jamie, that is my FAVORITE story about protecting your children. I think about it all of the time and it gives me strength. Thanks for telling it again. It’s such a beautiful example! Lisa~

  20. Way to go, Lisa. I would have done the same thing. Especially if images were involved. I protect my the news and other topics until they can handle it.

    Jamie, I remember that story about Corrie ten Boom. It is very fitting for this situation.

    • Thanks Amanda! The news is just as bad as this speaker….just from an entirely different perspective. Lisa~

  21. Thank you so much for sharing this. As a Christian mother I am getting so sick of the way Christians are acting about these things. The thing that frustrates me even more is when talking to some of my Christian friends they act like we are some some kind of freaks who are living in a hole and don’t know any thing of the world because we refuse to let our kids be exposed to this stuff! Some of these Christian mothers get mad at me because I’m not teaching my kids about the horrors of the world. The thing is they will learn about these things but they don’t need to see graphic pictures or details from places that should be “safe”. I’m glad we aren’t the only ones who walk out!