This past weekend, I gave a commencement address to graduating homeschooled students at the 2022 Statewide Home School Graduation hosted by the Indiana Foundation For Home Schooling. It was a wonderful, meaningful ceremony, and I want to thank the Indiana Foundation For Home Schooling for inviting me. If you are interested in what I had to say to our nation’s hope for the future, you can find a reasonable approximation of my speech below:
Thank you very much for that kind introduction. It is a real delight being here, and I mean that sincerely. Of all the speaking engagements I have, homeschool commencements are my favorite, because they give me hope. If you keep up on the news, it is very easy to become discouraged about the future. However, the more homeschool graduates I see, the less discouraged I become. So I am not really here for you, your parents, your family, or your friends. I am here for me. I need a good shot of hope!
Now, over the next 2-3 hours, I am supposed to come up with some words of wisdom to inspire you as you contemplate your future. Unfortunately, I don’t have any. But that’s okay, because there have been lots of other people wiser than me, so I will borrow some of their words. Let’s start with Abraham Lincoln. On the first of January in 1863, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Many students, and unfortunately some teachers, think that the Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery. It did not. It was an important proclamation, because it directly tied the issue of slavery to the Civil War. Since most European countries had already abolished slavery, this kept them from supporting the Confederacy, because they didn’t want to be seen as siding with that abominable practice. It also encouraged those who were held in slavery to escape and go north. Many of them found better lives there, and some of them ended up joining the Union army, providing significant aid at a time when it was desperately needed. Thus, the Emancipation Proclamation had important, positive effects. However, it did not abolish slavery; the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution did that.
Why wasn’t slavery abolished by the Emancipation Proclamation? Because it did not have the force of law. It was an executive order, and most legal scholars at the time thought that it went far beyond the authority of such an order. In fact, Lincoln, a lawyer himself, agreed with them. He said calling the Emancipation Proclamation a law would be like asking a child how many legs his calf had if he counted the tail as a leg. The child would say “five,” but the correct answer would be “four,” because calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg. It is still a tail.
Why am I sharing this tidbit of history with you? Because unfortunately, you are graduating at a time when many people in this country want to believe that calling a tail a leg makes it a leg. Worse yet, they want everyone else to agree that the tail is a leg, as long as someone decides to call it that. While this might make some people feel better, it is delusional. It is a lie, and Christians should have nothing to do with it.
Proverbs 12:22 says, “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal faithfully are His delight.” When you call a tail a leg, you are lying, and that is an abomination to the Lord. It should also be an abomination to you. Lies are destructive. Believing them may produce some short-term happiness, but it always results in long-term misery. Lies enslave. When you lie about something, it might make you feel better for a while, but then you must continue to reinforce the lie with other lies. As time goes on, you become a slave to a web of lies. Eventually, the web falls apart, and you end up suffering. The best way to avoid such calamity is to refuse to believe the lie to begin with.
Of course, refusing to believe a lie is difficult when everyone around you seems to be committed to it. But I think that you as Christian homeschool graduates have a distinct advantage. There are specific aspects of a Christian home education that make you more suited to believe the truth regardless of what others are thinking. First, since your education was firmly rooted in Scripture, you are better able to identify what is true. Publicly-schooled students are forbidden to study Scripture as a part of their education, at least in any meaningful way. Even Christian schools tend to relegate Scripture to Bible class and Chapel. However, my experience with Christian homeschoolers is that they integrate Scripture into nearly all their academic subjects. For example, just as scientists did for the vast majority of science history, I relate the science I teach in my courses to Scripture. In fact, I cannot imagine how I would teach science without relating it to Scripture, because they both come from the same Source.
In John 8:31-32, Jesus says, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” To know the truth, then, you have to be firmly grounded in God’s Word. Hopefully, the Bible was such an integral part of your education that you will be better to identify what is true and what is a lie. Of course, this means that you can’t stop your study of Scripture when you stop your formal education. Jesus says you must continue in His Word to know the truth. So you must continue with what your parents taught you – continue studying Scripture daily. That way, you will be able to discern the truth from the lies.
In addition, you have been given a better education than most of your non-homeschooled peers. How do I know this? Partly because of the many studies that demonstrate homeschool graduates are, on average, better educated than the rest of the population. But also, it has been my personal experience. I started working with homeschoolers before I had a child of my own, because as a university professor, my best chemistry and physics students were homeschool graduates. Indeed, while I no longer teach university classes full time, I still teach them occasionally, and to this day, my best students are still the homeschool graduates.
This superior education has taught you a lot of facts, but more importantly, it has taught you how to think critically. Lots of lies come wrapped in wonderfully pretty packages, promising joy and contentment. However, a critical thinker can look past the packaging and actually reason through the issue. Honestly, if more people knew how to do that, we wouldn’t be experiencing the cultural insanity we find ourselves in today. However, as experience has shown us, the general public is really quite inept at thinking critically, and as a result, the pretty packaging is enough to convince them that the lies are true.
But most importantly, you have been given an incredible gift in the form of your parents. Not many parents are willing to sacrifice for their children the way your parents have sacrificed for you. Think about it. How much money have your parents spent on overpriced homeschool curriculum written by greedy authors? How much money did they give up because one of them couldn’t have a job while you were being babysat in school? How much of their own time did they sacrifice in order to help you learn the things you needed to learn? Most parents don’t have to spend time worrying about trigonometry, but homeschooling parents do. Now that’s a sacrifice!
Finally, your parents have given you a unique gift when it comes to fighting our culture’s descent into madness. They have given you real-life examples of what can happen when you defy culture and do what you know is right. Think about it. Were your grandparents happy about your parents’ decision to homeschool you? What about your aunts and uncles? What about your parents’ non-homeschooling friends? How often did a well-meaning teacher try to convince your parents that they were going to ruin you by homeschooling you? The culture says that real education can only happen if you cloister kids away in a ghetto with others their age. We call that school. Aren’t you glad your parents didn’t believe that lie? If you haven’t done so already, the very first thing you need to do when you leave this auditorium is to thank your parents for their sacrifices and for resisting the culture and doing what they knew was right.
So here’s what I want you to do. Be like your parents. Ignore the culture. Don’t accept the lies. Stand for the truth. I’m not gonna lie – it will be hard. Very hard. But this is important. Our culture is going stark raving mad, and I honestly believe that it’s up to your generation to stop this march into full-blown insanity.
I want to inspire you to be like your parents, so I want to borrow some more words, but this time, from a very unlikely source. In fact, they come from a comic book. You see, I believe that truth can be found in many places, and regardless of the source, when you find it, you should share it. The words I want to share come from The Amazing Spider Man Volume 1, #537. You might have heard it referred to as Civil War. If you saw the movie, you heard some of these words, but they were misquoted and mischaracterized. The movie is never as good as the book. These words were originally written by J. Michael Straczynski, and they were part of a speech given by Captain America.
Here is the truth that I want you to remember for as long as you can. In the words of Captain America:
Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — “No, you move.”