Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Wal-Mart Toy Aisle & Sin

When was the last time you looked at a father, mother, and their two children and suddenly felt the need to vomit? Let’s break it down further. When was the last time you looked at a mom or a dad with their child in Wal-Mart and simply because of that momentary scene felt the need to vomit? Guessing your answer is ‘never’ to both of these questions? That is unless they were beating the child or it was one of the crazies with a 9-month-old hungry infant balling at 3AM in the electronics department. In that case you should desire to vomit or slap the parent. Sorry, but wanting to slap a parent for that is natural. Even Jesus once said, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Now, we can mince words but I am pretty sure you can replace ‘sin’ with ‘to be hurt’ and the passage still rings true. Jesus loved babies and kids, so much so - he told us we had to be like them to walk in the Kingdom of Heaven. Now I am getting ahead of myself, back to my original thought: do those scenarios make you vomit?

Probably not. Why is it then if I ask you about the following possible scene you may have responded in the positive? Two men are in the toy aisle with a child having a great time looking at the most recent superhero action figures, the child is laughing pretending to be Superman. Then it happens! The one man reaches his hand up and rests it on the back of the other man, who then turns around and gives his partner a quick peck on the lips. For about 15 seconds they share a moment of delightful joy because of the heavenly gift of their child. They have been lucky enough to find love and family! That’s right. It’s a gay couple being a ‘gay family’ in Wal-Mart! If you can still answer: no issues here, and promise that no desire to vomit would suddenly take over your system or that you would suddenly feel the need to comment or preach at the family…I congratulate you. You walk in the love Jesus told us about! However, if honestly you would be uncomfortable then guess what? I don’t hate you but I do hope you will keep reading. You need to for the sake of your relationship with God and your neighbor. That is if you value these things. Besides, if memory serves, Jesus also said we must: “love God, our neighbors, and ourselves,” and I am quite sure that includes the gay neighbors – maybe even our gay-selves if that is applicable.

What you have potentially just witnessed in Wal-Mart was the embodiment of Divine love, nothing more, nothing less. You see those two men, contrary to some fundamentalist thoughts, are not raging sexual perverts, pedophiles, or even necessarily non-Christians. They are not on a mission to make their child gay or even yours. When they kissed they were not forcing the onlookers to become gay anymore then a straight couple kissing in public forces the nearby teenage girl & boy to suddenly duck into the warehouse for raunchy sex. The glance the two men shared was not one of: I want to rip down your pants right now and get busy. The kiss wasn’t: I so want us to destroy the world and cause the breakdown of all families everywhere! It was, believe it or not, no different than what a straight couple shares when they stand in the Wal-Mart toy aisle with their children smiling. Family is a good thing.

The Christian Canon, contrary to popular opinion, gives us very little to work with when it comes to the modern day ideal “Biblical family.” It does tell us a lot about how to have mistresses, kill our children, and take multiple wives or even, ready for this: rape in God’s name. When it comes to the perfect image of Dad- the blue collar hard-worker, Mom- the stay-at-home flawlessly submitted wife, and Billy & Jean, the two wholesomely behaved angelic children; it just isn’t quite there to the same degree. We get Bible text proof worth squat on that specific front. Sorry, this isn’t me being a raging liberal trying to destroy your world. It’s just an honest fact. I have no issue with such a family, it is a beautiful expression of family, but it isn’t the only valid expression. Now, don’t think that somehow leaves us completely on our own now drifting in a 'Biblical mid-Scripture crisis' or no longer knowing how to have a family or show love. The opposite is very true! The Christian Scripture is filled with the concepts of family love, caring, self-sacrifice, and mutual submission.

Lets look at some of the words found in the Pauline texts: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” or “Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord.” or even “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” In these three passages we see beautiful guidelines for a loving family. We are told that parents are not to provoke their children; we are called to love them just as Jesus loved us. If Jesus was willing to go to the cross as a rescue mission, to show us a better way, then we must be willing to do the same for our children. Any less is to fail. To fulfill this command requires parent(s) – optional (s), in no certain manner. I doubt you would tell a single parent they are unable to rightly raise their children in love because there are not two parents. It is the same for a single gay dad, or two dads. We are told children are to obey their parents: once again they are to obey regardless of the parental unit package. Lastly, we are warned that the parent who does not provide is in trouble with God.  I dare venture to include a gay parent who doesn’t stand up to hateful rhetoric, that harms their child and family, would also fail this Biblical guideline of provision. To be a family is to love one another as God first loved us.

Within the non-traditional parental relationship the same, classic Scriptures are still natural and adhered to: “And don't sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry.” or “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone?” and lastly “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.” In the end what is required of a healthy relationship between two adults is love and self-sacrifice and the ability to persevere, never cheating on each other. It is not dependent upon the body parts down below and how they function. If that were the case then a paraplegic would never be allowed to marry. Honestly, I might be so brave as to say a ‘gay family’ often has a leg up on the straight family. You see the family with two same-sex parents does not always have the support of the world via extended family, media reinforcement of their worth, churches jumping up to honor them, and the kids tend to take a lot more work to create or find! A same-sex family is an icon of love triumphing over hatred, hardship, and what should be impossible – the caring of children. It is a family that exists, without doubt, because two loving humans came together and said we will bring another family into this world to reflect the Divine’s love.

Now if you are of the mindset that love has nothing to do with it…you are likely already armed with Scriptures to bring forth hate towards the two dads in Wal-Mart. Yes, I know that hate is actually some bizarre form of ‘loving the sinner while hating the sin.’ Keeping telling yourself that but don’t mistake ‘pure doctrine’ for simply refusing to see what is in front of your face and heart. Christians have been guilty of such practices for 2,000 years, more than once From wiping out a culture in the name of God in order to spread ‘truth’ and their version of the Gospel to burning at the stake 'heretic.' Yes, the verses are a plenty such as: "At last!" Adam exclaimed. "She is part of my own flesh and bone! She will be called 'woman,' because she was taken out of a man. This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” But really what does that have to do with the same-sex family? It is a beautiful Scripture trying to explain our place upon this earth and using the bare bones of science and procreation of the time. If you want to tote this as an irrevocable command of God then I would like to know why you are not knocking down the doors of single men who clearly live in sin by simply not marrying? What about those evil monastics that dared to introduce a life in the ‘way of the angels’ to mankind? What about the single mother who is evil to even attempt to raise her little boy without a father to teach him to be a man? And Jesus had serious issues not following his own decree when it came to finding a woman! The Scripture is beautiful and it reveals to us the Divine, however it is not a literal play-by-play instruction book commanding a certain way of life at every moment for every human on earth. It was written in a time when sexuality, scientifically and psychologically was still unknown, when races were still fighting for survival from the most basic of diseases, and when nations were striving to not become a single footnote in a history book.

The Mosaic laws were absolutely necessary for the survival of the Hebrew people. They are not compulsory for us today, int their entirety  but all that is beside the point because I am not writing an exegesis here on why homosexuality is not a sin. You can find plenty of those but chances are it will not change your opinion if you have “ears that will not hear and eyes that will not see.” What I am writing to you is the hopeful heart’s cry that the next time you see a same sex family, like the two dads in Wal-Mart, you will not pull out your pocket commentary or make a snide remark to your kids, “look away.” Instead, I pray you will take the moment to see the image of God in that family and realize it is truly no different than yours and deserves the same respect and honor. Even if you are convinced their sexuality, which is not a choice, is still somehow removed from the ideal does that give you the right to ignore all the other beauty found within that family? Do you ignore the child who is happy, healthy, and living a joyful life and instead wish they could ‘escape’ and to what? Do you ignore these are two adults who treat each other with mutual respect as Jesus commanded? There are plenty of families that should not exist, or if they must, need to be radically changed and altered. They are families of abuse, hatred, incest, and all sorts of unspeakable evils. Breaking News - The happy, healthy, and blessed gay family is not that family, not by a million miles, and it is a lie to project upon them such evils. So take a moment and you might just see Jesus standing in front of you. You might see an icon of the Holy Family, besides they were not perfect either, Joseph wasn’t the ‘real biological’ dad according to the Bible I read and Mary’s conception and birth giving was far from the normal routine. They broke normal form the get go, Jesus had a way of turning 'normal' upside down. 

In the end if you can’t respect and value your neighbor as commanded by Jesus, do the gay families of the world the smallest favor and just walk away bridling your tongue. It’s a good practice in virtue and silence. We know what you are thinking, likely we have extended family members who would stand and abhor our family right along with you. You will not be delivering a message of deliverance or causing the two men who have made vows to divorce one another and throw their child into the welfare system or at a family member who despises the kid’s dads. Jesus is not in heaven keeping tabs if you preach against your neighbor or asking you to burn at the stake before you respect their family relationship. You will not loose your one-way ticket to heaven if you respect all families. Regardless, sorry - you fail because that family in the toy aisle is here to stay. The love is here to stay and at the end of the day that loves is stronger than any narrow mindedness that exists in this world. Keep these words of Jesus in mind before you speak in an attempt to destroy a family: “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” If Jesus isn’t enough for you perhaps the words of Paul: “Don't quarrel with anyone. Be at peace with everyone.”

Family is family. Love is Love. God is found in both for John tells us: “God is love.” 

Which one is the sinner in the Wal-Mart toy aisle: the loving dads caring for their child or the judging individual casting stones? Enough said.

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