Alan’s monthly letter for February 2012
Every now and then a challenge comes along that leaves you unsettled. Not because you don’t know it’s wrong, but because you don’t know why. For many Christians, that challenge came this past December when a three-minute YouTube video went viral, reaching nearly 20 million views. Most content on that site isn’t worth taking seriously. But this was different.
The video was of a 19-year-old University of Iowa student, Zach Wahls, appealing to the Iowa House of Representatives to pass a measure in favor of same-sex marriage. He claimed that although his two lesbian mothers raised him, he turned out healthy and successful. And he gave proof: He’s an Eagle Scout, he scored 99% on the ACT, and he operates his own small business. All this was offered as evidence that same-sex parents can raise healthy children. Because, according to Zach, “The sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.”
But the substance of his speech was only part of the appeal. Zach’s impassioned plea was nothing short of sensational. He dressed impeccably, looked handsome, spoke eloquently, and calmly painted a portrait of his loving family whom he claims the state deems second-class citizens. Frankly, I was worried after I watched it. It was a perfect delivery.
In fact, Google declared his video the number one most watched political video of 2011, besting President Obama’s speech about Osama bin Laden’s death. He even caught the attention of lesbian star, Ellen DeGeneres, who brought him on her national television show. By every measure, Zach Wahls’s video was a hit.
But it hit Christians hard. Disconcerted friends kept asking me, “Have you seen that Zach Wahls video?” I could hear the concern in their voice. They watched it and were taken aback. They knew it was wrong, but didn’t know why. And they were looking for a way to move past the emotion, unpack the ideas, and clarify the falsehood.
There was enough concern over Zach’s speech to warrant a response, so I produced a 14-minute video and posted it on YouTube. My goal was modest: to provide a fair, calm, and reasoned response to the claims made by Zach for the sake of Christians. I was primarily concerned for believers who were bewildered by Zach’s charm, cleverness, and rhetorical skill.
As you might expect, I received a lot of hostile feedback. Foul-mouthed commentators called me names and lobbed insults at me, but ignored most of my reasoning. I can live with that. It comes with the job and especially the subject matter.
But by many measures my video was a success. It was viewed thousands of times in a matter of weeks. People reposted it on their websites because they said it responded to a challenge that was unanswered up until then.
Here are just two of the many comments that were sent to me.
“This is an amazing response. I’m not an emotional driven person, so Zach Wahls appeals for same-sex marriage made me roll my eyes and want to give a curt response. However, you presented the counter-argument in a very simple and beautiful response. Bravo! I will use this method in the future.”
“This was presented very intelligently, persuasively, & respectfully. You made many points I had never thought about. At first the length of your video worried me that there would be a lot of unnecessary information that could be summed up more concisely. I was very surprised to see the exact opposite. It’s amazing how Zach’s speech could say so much to move the heart in one direction in such a short amount of time, but to educate and truly inform the mind it takes a bit longer. Great presentation.”
Of course, it’s the not the praise of men that I seek, but sometimes it’s an indication that a need has been met. And this work fits my mission: to train Christians to articulate their convictions in a winsome and gracious way. That is something that God commanded and Jesus modeled.
Because you partner with me, we are able to equip believers to share their faith. They are now more capable and confident in their ability to communicate the Gospel and remove barriers to it. Thank you for your willingness to work with me. It’s a privilege to serve our King with you.
For His kingdom,