President Obama’s National Address to Students

An interesting question is facing school officials and parents alike concerning the announcement of President Obama’s national address to students in schools across the country on September 8. Today the protests rage from some conservatives claiming a classroom venue for Obama’s speech is a wildly inappropriate attempt at liberal indoctrination targeting the next generation. School districts across the country are making decisions largely in reaction to the protest. Some school districts are affording parents the opportunity to opt out of the speech and associated classroom discussions. Other districts are making the speech available only to secondary students and still other schools are making no provision for exclusion at all. How should a Christian parent respond?

I have two daughters in public school. We received a letter from the school last night giving us a clear and fair option to withdraw our children during the speech. Thank you to the school for recognizing parents as the final level of authority in the education of children.

In my view there is a proper biblical response to this situation and an effective way to lead our children using President Obama’s speech as a “God Moment”.  This is my plan, not as a pastor but as a dad charged with leading my children spiritually.

  • Last night we used the letter from the school as an opportunity to pray for President Obama. We will pray for him every night in the remaining days leading up to the speech. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
  • We talked about respecting the office of the President even though we passionately disagree with the President’s personal positions on abortion, healthcare, big government, foreign policy and other issues. Christ is Preeminent and He has allowed Barack Obama to be President of the United States at this time in our country’s history. (Colossians 1:16-20)
  • We are confident that our children know enough of the Scriptures to think critically.  We are asking our kids to listen to the speech and make a list of anything that contradicts the Bible.  This is a great exercise for them and contributes to the development of biblical worldview. (Of course we will be viewing the speech as it becomes available so that we can have a “Faith Talk” around the content.) (2 Timothy 2:15)

As a Christ-follower and a dad this is where I must embrace the truth of the Shema (Dt.6:4-9).  We will use the presidential speech to teach our children biblical truth. We will teach them that biblical truth (God’s Word) is higher and more authoritative than even the words of the President of the United  States. At the same time we will teach them the importance of praying for President Obama even as he takes positions contradictory to Scripture. All of this “… as we sit at home and when we drive along the road, when we go to bed, and when we get up.”

Welcome to parenting Christ-followers in post modernity.

  One thought on “President Obama’s National Address to Students

  1. March 9, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Perfect. legacyblog.org rocks.

    Like

  2. September 8, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Hey Brian,

    Great thoughts. You’re right to teach your kiddos how to think critically and for themselves. Giving them tools man!

    I just read the speech. It’s actually pretty good. I didn’t really get any sense of problems out from it. He purports similar views to yours in parental responsibility and individual choice.

    Thanks for reminding everyone to have an open mind, to think critically, and to let truth reign over fear.

    Later bro!
    Jason Caillier

    Like

  3. September 8, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Great post Brian. I linked to you from a similarly written post titled: President Obama, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego | http://www.andydarnell.com/?p=1423

    Like

  4. Gerald and Karen Johns
    September 6, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Brian, Karen and I are truly proud of you. How is Angela and kids. Have you stopped any runaway golf carts lately? We are in Louisiana surrounded by our 9 grandbabies and family, still working every day, teaching on Sunday, and loving it all!!. I guess I will work till the day I die!!
    Brian, you certainly have a Christ approach to the Obama Presidency. I agree, prayer can change the worst in us.
    Stay in touch.
    Gerald and Karen

    Like

  5. Nance's Sister
    September 5, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Just curious – do you think the healthcare stance contradicts the bible? If so, how? If not, why not? Thanks.

    Like

    • September 6, 2009 at 7:41 am

      Health care reform is not a problem biblically. In fact I agree that we do need health care reform in America. The plans that have been pitched for healthcare reform thus far contradict the commands of God in the Bible on one point. The plans proposed continue and even bolster the use of my tax dollars for abortion. On that point alone I have been unable to support the presidents plan. I read that next week may birth a revised plan. Looking forward to reading the fine print.

      Thanks for your question. Many Blessings to you.

      Like

  6. September 5, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Thank you for your thoughtful and Christ honoring post. I hope you don’t mind if I share it with my friends. Blessings to you!

    Like

  7. Pam Whitcomb
    September 5, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Brian, thank you so much for your divine insight. It’s been a difficult decision to make. We totally agree with your counsel on how Christian parents are to deal with this issue. We must be very intentional and proactive in instilling in our kids a Biblical worldview so that when they hear anything from anyone that is counter to Scripture, they can discern truth from lies. President Obama is not the first leader to seek to change culture through ‘the children’. They do not have life experience to draw on. School children live in a world of ‘words’ on which to form judgments. If they are discipled in THE Word, there is much less chance of them being pulled away to follow a wrong message.

    Like

  8. julespaq
    September 5, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Thank you so much for this. We used to attend Kingsland 2 1/2 years ago and then we moved to Austin. We took your family night training and we do family nights each week! We just sent our first daughter to public school (Kindergarten) 2 weeks ago. We also plan on using all the legacy milestones! Anyway, I have added your blog to my google reader and am excited to hear more about parenting Christ-followers in post modernity! Thank you!

    http://blog.jamesandjuliepaquette.com/2009/08/01/going-public/
    (great book that I’m sure you’ve heard of about public school, but in case your haven’t)

    Like

  9. Norris Hall
    September 5, 2009 at 4:45 am

    I’m not a Christian but I appreciate your thoughtful views.
    What little I know if Christ is that he was a man who taught us to love one another, take care of the poor, help the weak, feed the hungry and love everyone as we love ourselves.
    I am surprised that many Christians, therefore, would be opposed to having all of us use our tax dollars to help provide health care for the millions of poor Americans who have to wait in line at free clinics to get their teeth fixed or their eyes checked. So many are turned away.
    How sad that a country that has provided hundreds of billions of dollars to build hospitals, bridges, roads in Iraq and to bring a better life to people half way around the world…can’t even reach out to help their own poor people.
    If Christ were on earth he would reach out and bring healing.
    Since he is not, it’s up to all of us to follow his example.

    Like

  10. Pele
    September 4, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    While I think you’re taking it way more seriously than I think a presidential speech is, I at least give you props for being civil about it and letting your kids hear the speech. I know so many other parents would rather pull their kids out of school or raise hell to the principal to force the whole school to opt out of it – which is just sad and frustrating that they are unwilling to even listen to an alternate viewpoint.

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  11. Linda Fritz
    September 4, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Brian,

    My concern is not that Obama wants to encourage children to stay in school and further their education, but his motives. Why at this very time, when the health care debate is so critical, is he now again pushing himself into our homes, through our children, to look like the hero for wanting our kids to have better educations? Didn’t every president want that? In my gut, I feel he’s only trying to promote his ratings that have been falling like rocks by using our children as his pawns. Being on the other side of high school, my son if very aware of the worldview and it’s the Holy Spirit that gives all of us pause to even give this man the attention he desires, and whose agenda from the beginning has been very short of promoting our constitution and God’s laws. I personally wouldn’t want my impressionable child to succumb to the pressure by the gov’t, school and peers to believe that this man is some type of rock star.

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  12. Andrew
    September 4, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Hello Brian,

    A friend was kind enough to share this link with me.

    First, let me applaud you for your decision to listen to the address and participate in the discussion. There are many out there who would simply close their ears and make judgments in absence of the facts.

    I am wondering about something though. You seem to blur the line between your own political opinions and the message of God when you refer to “healthcare, big government, foreign policy and other issues” in this context. Is it fair to say that your differences in opinion on these issues are of your own design, or do you actually propose that God’s plan differs from that of the President.

    Like

    • September 6, 2009 at 7:46 am

      Thanks for the point of clarity Andrew. The answer is a little of both. As it relates to abortion, health care reform that bolsters abortion, and some foreign policy, Obama deviates from God’s plan based on Scripture. However, I am speaking based on my opinion when it comes to big government, other points of health care reform, and other issues.

      Like

  13. Andrew
    September 4, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Brian,

    I’m not an American (I’m from NZ), or a christian for that matter, and I came to your post from reddit, but I absolutely agree that it is a concern if children are taught to ‘do what the president says’ rather than to think critically – after all, from what I have heard, both former president Bush and president Obama seem to endorse having the government monitoring everyone’s private internet communications, and obviously presidents who want such authoritarian powers against people who have done nothing wrong shouldn’t be trusted.

    One thing I found a bit odd about your post was you seemed to imply healthcare was a bad thing. I don’t understand why anyone would adopt that position – surely looking after people’s health allows them to get on with their life, rather than dying early. But I’m not an American, so maybe I’m missing the context. For the benefit of my understanding, would you be so kind as to explain why you think healthcare is a bad thing?

    Like

    • September 6, 2009 at 7:51 am

      I don’t mean that health care is a bad thing. I should have said “health care reform policies” to clarify for readers outside of the U.S. We have good health care in the states. Health care reform is something that is needed in America. However, I do not agree with some of the finer points of President Obama’s plan. Thanks for your comment and your willingness to engage in dialogue.

      Like

  14. Mary Lou
    September 4, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Brian,
    Once again I witness the work of one who seeks diligently the truth and how to effectively apply it to our everyday actions and reactions and how to teach and prepare children for challenges they will surely face.[I’m referring to you and your sweet wife!] What a blessing to know and work with one with such authentic, practical vision! I pray your advice will be read and considered by many on both sides of the issue. It represents such a calm, wise but bold stand which includes appropriate respect for authority which is missing in the reactions of many. We should all pray diligently for President Obama. Nothing is too hard for God!

    Like

  15. Jim McCollough
    September 4, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Thank you for a level-headed approach to this. I am not against his speaking on continuing your education. My biggest beef is the video that will precede his talk. I am glad you have taken this opportunity to help give your children valuable Christian exercises.

    Like

  16. Stephanie
    September 4, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Brian, Thank you for sharing how you and Angela are handling this issue in your home. I have been so troubled by the reaction across America and here in Katy. Do I think the President has an agenda? Most likely because we all do in some form or fashion. Do I think he is evil or deserves to be compared to men like Hitler? No, I do not. Earlier today that statment felt radical and even anti-Christian to some. After much prayer, I am glad to know that God guided me to much the same place as you, my Pastor.
    I agree with you that this speech provides Christian parents with an opportunity to seize the differences that may crop up from what Obama might say and what we believe, and to then use them as “God moments” in our homes. As Christians we are set apart in this world, and we need to teach our children to think critically when they are faced with world beliefs and values that are different from what they have been taught. Otherwise, you have a young adult child that isn’t equipped to make decisions grounded in biblical values. I certainly don’t want that for my kids.

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  17. September 4, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    HI Brian, thanks to Roger Sharp for linking this post in Facebook. I appreciate your perspective and support you in that decision. I personally have no problem with my kids hearing the speech at school either. My greater concern is not the speech itself, but the follow up in class, where students in general may feel limited in their ability to speak truth among teachers and students they have to see every day. My kids are prepared with how to think about these issues through the lenses of their Christian worldview, but I”m pretty sure that’s not the case for all of the children. In general, there is something slightly wrong with this whole thing, but I applaud you for preparing your children as well as you have. 🙂

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  18. September 4, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Brian…

    Thanks for addressing this issue. I agree that the responsible thing for Christian parents to do is prayerfully and intentionally dialogue with their kids about the content of the President’s speech. Our children must learn to love God with all of their minds and not just their hearts. One way parents can help their kids develop strong minds that can intelligently articulate a biblical worldview is by having faith talks with their kids that address difficult issues. I’ll look forward to hearing more as you follow-up on this topic in the days to come.

    Blessings,
    Omar~

    Like

  19. September 4, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Brian-thanks so much for this post. I have had a heavy heart about all of this, mostly to the reactions I am hearing. I see this speech as an opportunity to be leaders in our homes. Our children certainly hear more than we can ever shelter them from, and we need to be equipped to spiritually lead them through these days. Thanks!

    Like

  20. September 4, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Brian,

    Thanks for your thoughts here. As a parent of a Sophomore in HS, I too am taking the same approach. I firmly believe that if we as parents are actually discipling our own children as you allude to, then we should not fear whatever humanism/socialism/_____ism is presented.

    Roger Sharp
    Confident Christianity Apologetics

    Like

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