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‘Butterfly Kisses’ makes mark in nation’s cultural crisis

JACKSON, Miss. (BP)–It’s nothing short of phenomenal — and that’s no exaggeration. “Butterfly Kisses,” written and performed by Christian recording artist Bob Carlisle, is sweeping the country like virtually no other tune in Christian or secular recording history.
That’s right. An unashamedly Christian song by an unabashed Christian singer sits atop the industry-standard “Billboard” magazine pop music charts, and it seems to be picking up more listeners every day. The ceiling for this song is nowhere in sight.
It’s been a heady trip for Carlisle, who has worked in the Nashville Christian music scene for more than 20 years.
Carlisle wrote the song late one night while waiting for his daughter to return home. He thought it would be a nice present for her upcoming 16th birthday. As he put pen to paper, the verses began to flow:
“Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer,/ Stickin’ little white flowers all up in her hair./ ‘Walk beside the pony, Daddy, it’s my first ride./ I know the cake looks funny, Daddy, but I sure tried.’/ Oh, with all that I’ve done wrong, I must have done something right/ To deserve a
hug every morning and butterfly kisses at night.”
The unprecedented popularity of “Butterfly Kisses” has been achieved without the endorsement of most mainstream media (no surprise there). MTV doesn’t think much of it, and secular critics have sniffed that it’s just too “syrupy,” “weepy” and “unsophisticated” to be a hit.
They just don’t get it.
“Butterfly Kisses” is about one father’s unconditional commitment to his child, phrased simply and described in down-to-earth terms.
It’s the only secular hit song in recent memory that actually uses the name of Jesus in a manner other than defamatory. Imagine that. No copious sex, misogyny, drug use or killing cops in the whole song.
“Butterfly Kisses” must create great discomfort for the keepers of the unwritten rules of our culture. Here is a father — a man — who thinks of himself as more than a sex-charged, self-gratifying, self-centered seeker of pleasure at all costs.
Here is a father who regrets his mistakes and is humbly grateful for second chances. Here is a father who admits praying with his child at bedtime, a father who actually wants to be home at his child’s bedtime.
For all the powerful emotions stirred in the hearts of fathers, however, “Butterfly Kisses” apparently has an even more profound meaning for women.
Carlisle appeared on “Oprah” this past Father’s Day to perform “Butterfly Kisses.” When he finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the predominantly female audience. So moved was Oprah Winfrey that she could only hold aloft the song’s CD case and say, “Buy this.”
Pondering that scene, one could only wonder how many of those audience members were moved to tears because they grew up without such a father, and how many of them knew their own young daughters are sadly consigned to the same fate.
It’s tough being a father in a culture that has steadily downgraded the expectations of fatherhood for decades. It’s even tougher being a Christian father in a society where manhood is measured in hours worked, money acquired and worldly adulation.
Maybe we can take a cue from Carlisle in that area, too.
Faced with the overwhelming demands of superstar fame and fortune, Carlisle turned down all appearance requests this past spring to attend a certain high school graduation in Franklin, Tenn. It was there that he gave his greatest performance — singing his signature song for the graduating daughter who inspired him to write “Butterfly Kisses.”
Thanks, Bob Carlisle, from the Christian fathers and mothers who fight the culture war every day to be the parents God intends for us to be for our children. There are a lot of us out here, and we appreciate the encouragement.

    About the Author

  • William H. Perkins Jr.