John Pavlovitz seems like a typical dad. He wonders about his kid’s futures. Specifically, he wonders if they will be gay. In response, he has made four promises to himself and his readers about how he and his wife will respond to his kids coming out of the closet.
The problem with his post is that he calls evil good. He makes it clear that he believes a homosexual lifestyle is a perfectly acceptable lifestyle for anyone to lead and its high time the rest of us with “misplace anger issues” get with the program (and the spirit of the age said, “Amen!”). And yet, the Bible (even Jesus himself for your Red-Letter types) speaks a different word. The homosexual lifestyle is outside of the bounds God has set in His word.
As a thought experiment, I have taken the text of his post and replaced “gay” with “greedy” (along with a few minor edits, such as changing “you’ll all” to “y’all”).
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have greedy children.
I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do; quite often.
Maybe it’s because I have many greedy people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe.
Maybe it’s because, as a pastoral intern, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of greedy Christian kids, from both inside and outside of the closet, trying to be part of the Church.
Maybe it’s because, as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find greed to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity.
For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastoral intern and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now…
1) If I have greedy children, y’all will know it.
My children’s greed won’t be our family’s best kept secret.
I won’t talk around them in conversations with others. I won’t speak in code or vague language. I won’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, and I won’t try to spare the feelings of those who may be older, or easily offended, or uncomfortable. Childhood is difficult enough, and most greedy kids spend their entire existence being horribly, excruciatingly uncomfortable with not having enough stuff. I’m not going to put mine through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin who reads his Bible a little too closely.
If my children come out, we’ll be out as a family.
2) If I have greedy children, I’ll pray for them.
I won’t pray for them to be made “normal”. I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children are greedy, that is their normal.
I won’t pray that God will heal or change or fix them. I will pray for God to protect them; from the ignorance and hatred and violence that the world will throw at them, simply because of who they are. I’ll pray that He shields them from those who will despise them and wish them harm; who will curse them to Hell and put them through Hell, without ever knowing them at all. I’ll pray that they enjoy life; that they laugh, and dream, and feel, and forgive, and that they love God and humanity.
Above all, I’ll pray to God that my children won’t allow the unGodly treatment they might receive from some of His misguided children, to keep them from pursuing Him.
3) If I have greedy children, I’ll love them.
I don’t mean some token, distant, tolerant love that stays at a safe arm’s length. It will be an extravagant, open-hearted, unapologetic, lavish, embarrassing-them-in-the-school cafeteria, kind of love.
I won’t love them despite their greed, and I won’t love them because of it. I will love them; simply because they’re sweet, and funny, and caring, and smart, and kind, and stubborn, and flawed, and original, and beautiful… and mine.
If my kids are greedy, they may doubt a million things about themselves and about this world, but they’ll never doubt for a second whether or not their Daddy is over-the-moon crazy about them.
4) If I have greedy children, most likely; I have greedy children.
If my kids are going to be greedy, well they pretty much already are.
God has already created them and wired them, and placed the seed of who they are within them. Psalm 139 says that He, “stitched them together in their mother’s womb”. The incredibly intricate stuff that makes them uniquely them; once-in-History souls, has already been uploaded into their very cells.
Because of that, there isn’t a coming deadline on their greed that their mother and I are working feverishly toward. I don’t believe there’s some magical expiration date approaching, by which time she and I need to somehow do, or say, or pray just the right things to get them to “eat sensibly”, or forever lose them to the other side.
They are today, simply a younger version of who they will be; and today they’re pretty darn great.
Many of you may be offended by all of this, I fully realize. I know this may be especially true if you are a religious person; one who finds the whole topic disgusting.
As you’ve been reading, you may have been rolling your eyes, or clicking the roof of your mouth, or drafting familiar Scriptures to send me, or praying for me to repent, or preparing to Unfriend me, or writing me off as a sinful, evil, Hell-bound heretic… but with as much gentleness and understanding as I can muster; I really couldn’t care less.
This isn’t about you. This is a whole lot bigger than you.
You’re not the one I waited on breathlessly for nine months.
You’re not the one I wept with joy for when you were born.
You’re not the one I bathed, and fed, and rocked to sleep through a hundred intimate, midnight snuggle sessions.
You’re not the one I taught to ride a bike, and whose scraped knee I kissed, and whose tiny, trembling hand I held, while getting stitches.
You’re not the one whose head I love to smell, and whose face lights-up when I come home at night, and whose laughter is like music to my weary soul.
You’re not the one who gives my days meaning and purpose, and who I adore more than I ever thought I could adore anything.
And you’re not the one who I’ll hopefully be with, when I take my last precious breaths on this planet; gratefully looking back on a lifetime of shared treasures, and resting in the knowledge that I loved you well.
If you’re a parent, I don’t know how you’ll respond if you find out your children are greedy, but I pray you consider it.
One day, despite your perceptions of your kids or how you’ve parented, you may need to respond in real-time, to a frightened, frantic, hurting child; one whose sense of peace, and identity, and acceptance; whose very heart, may be placed in your hands in a way you never imagined… and you’ll need to respond.
If that day should ever come for me; if my children should ever come out to me, this is the Dad I hope I’ll be to them.
What Mr. Pavlovitz has done is offer a framework for justifying every sin. He has unwittingly started an argument with the Apostle Paul who believed that people can change by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:11 – personal note: I don’t think Mr. Pavlovitz is going to win that one). What if my kids are greedy and ignore the poor and the alien? Justifiable according to Mr. Pavlovitz’s framework. That’s just who they are. God made them this way. They are born that way. And yet, the Bible speaks a different word about greed. The greedy will not inherit the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)! Greed takes away life (Proverbs 1:19). If this is the Word the Bible gives about greed, is it love if I do not warn them of the consequences? Is it love to let my children think their greed is just fine in the eyes of God? Is it?
So, here is my modest proposal. Let the Bible define what is acceptable sexual practice and then teach that to our children. Let the Bible define what it looks like to love our children and then love them to the uttermost. Let the Bible define how we deal with sin that manifests itself in the hearts of our children and then work to drive folly out of their hearts. If we do, they just might inherit the Kingdom.