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Randy Huff: Who Knew Personal Choice Could Be So Wrong?

What Butker did was dare to speak truth as he saw it.

Harrison Butker

The news cycle dismays with its speed, the worst news soon forgotten in the daily ocean of new stories and constant click bait. Consider the enormous dust-up over a graduation speech last week. One Harrison Butker, devoted catholic and Super Bpwl-winning NFL kicker, spoke at a small Catholic college in Kansas, causing an uproar that will soon be all but forgotten.

Maybe we can see it better as the fury abates. I scanned the transcript for the offending words and was surprised to find the speech somewhat ordinary. I expected a professionally written piece: polished, erudite, and deep. Instead I saw the plain talk of a man striving to be faithful to what he believes. Since when is that so wrong?

Here’s the offending section, edited for brevity:

“For the ladies present today… You should be proud of all that you have achieved to this point in your young lives. […] I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you. Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.

 “I can tell you that my beautiful wife, Isabelle, would be the first to say that her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother. I’m on the stage today and able to be the man I am because I have a wife who leans into her vocation. I’m beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because… my wife, [embraced] one of the most important titles of all: homemaker.”

Many took great exception to Butker’s comments. His idea that women might prefer family and children gave extreme umbrage to feminists everywhere. The NFL distanced itself, and there are serious calls to ax him from his team. Even a predictable swath of the American Evangelical world looked askance.

There was, of course, the weary epithet “misogynist.” And one “analysis” I saw suggested Butker thought Mother Theresa was not a complete person because she had no family. How can we imagine such nonsense?

What Butker did was dare to speak truth as he saw it. He merely stated the value in what his wife had chosen, and what he believes women will find to be the most meaningful in the long run. He dared to suggest family is central, a fixed good. He stepped in the ditch of thinking if there is to be a home, someone must make it. And that it might be a good thing if we put more eggs in that sorely neglected basket.

I remember as a young college student reading a passing comment in Allan Bloom’s blockbuster, Closing of the American Mind. He said plainly, “The barrenness of family life in America is beyond belief.” This was puzzling to me.

I was raised in a home and extended family in which I took goodness for granted, not least for many things Butker dared to suggest were important. I tended to assume most homes were like mine: stable, wholesome, happy, hard-working places where Mom and Dad were devoted to one another and their children, we knew what mattered, and we enjoyed being together. But along the way I learned Bloom was right – there was enough barrenness in family life to choke and dismay the soul. And that was nearly 40 years ago.

What’s so wrong about suggesting a path back to family health, to goodness, to caring for children as our most prized possession, to investing our lives in this most natural of paths?

Of course everyone doesn’t have to be catholic and share Butker’s particulars. Not all will get married – and many who do will not have children. Could we look beyond and love the good? Or admit that many aspects of our cultural experiment grounded in the sexual revolution have had negative results? What could we learn if we honestly ask ourselves, “How is this working out?”

The answer is clear enough: “Not good” and the litany of proofs wearies the soul.

Butker simply tried to say so and offer a solution. We would all do well to try to hear his proposals for what they are – and see if maybe, just maybe, they might lean us toward the good.

We could all use a lot more of that.

Randy Huff

Randy Huff and his wife lived for 5 years in Roanoke (Hollins) where they raised 2 sons. Randy served as Dean of Students at a Christian school and then worked in construction. For the last 8 years he has served as pastor of a church in North Pole, Alaska.

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