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