Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Official Marriage Equality Rant!

My four-year-old daughter Riley is a truly remarkable little person.

I make that statement not to pat myself on the back or somehow take credit for something Riley was simply born with; I make the statement because watching her grow and participating in her discovery of the world around her has been the most remarkable experience of my life.

Riley is everyone's best friend. From the moment she sees someone she wants to give them a hug, and she immediately asks two questions: 1) Do you want to be my friend? and 2) Do you want to play with me? It doesn't matter if the kid she's talking to is white, black, Asian, Hispanic, etc, she simply sees another kid and assumes they will want to drop what they're doing and play with her, and more often than not she's right.

Kids are amazing!

It occurred to me as my wife and I prepare to meet with the president of Riley's private (Christian) school regarding his policy on what marriage may or not mean, that children are more like Jesus Christ than anyone else is. They are born loving all, caring not about race, religious affiliation, or any of the other things that are eventually, sadly, beaten into us as we make our way through what can often be a judgmental and harsh world. Our culture works to divide us, not unite us, and pushes us to see anyone who is not exactly like us - or the "us" we like to project - as wrong. "They" are sinners, "they" are evil, "they" are wrong. Our children do not inherently see any of this or make any such judgments; they must be taught to do so.

It's unfortunate, but too often the case, that Christians are the first to judge, and to use the Bible as the means by which to do it. We isolate some small section that corresponds to our own world view and then judge others using that one verse or section. The isolation part is important, because very often what follows the isolated passage is another passage that makes it more difficult to use the original passage as we have set our minds to do.

Leviticus 18 is a perfect example of this practice, which is known as eisegesis, or using our own agenda to impose meaning on a particular text. Leviticus 18 is where the Old Testament details the laws of sexual morality, famously specifying that man shall not lie down with man as he does with a woman because it is "detestable," or "an abomination," or something along those lines depending on which translation is being read. This passage is most often used to justify the condemnation of homosexuals. Of course, such a reading requires that one not read on, and absolutely avoid Leviticus 19 at all costs.

In Leviticus 19 we find that our entire payday structure is against God's law, which commands that everyone be paid every day that they work and that their wages not be held even overnight. It also dictates that we not wear clothing made from two different kinds of material, so watch for lightning all wearers of cotton/polyester blends! Slavery is perfectly fine, men must never get haircuts, illegal immigration is an oxymoron, and justice is never to be perverted for financial gain. This sayeth The Lord!

Confronted with Leviticus 19 most will say that, you know, that was a long time ago when the world was much different and we have moved on from such laws.

I will only say that if that's true for 19 it has to be true for 18, as well. We don't get to pick and choose which of God's "laws" we will follow and which we will not.

Fortunately, God saw fit to send us a much less ambiguous love letter a couple of thousand years later. In the person of Jesus Christ he told us that we were far too caught up in the legalistic terms of the holy scriptures and should just focus on two laws. We should love God with all whole hearts and we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Most of all, he taught that we are not to judge others lest we, ourselves, be judged.

No one embraces these values - what I would call the core Christian values - better than small children.

Riley and I spend a lot of time at our neighborhood pool during the summer, because it's too hot to do anything else and it's also great exercise. She keeps an ever-watchful eye on the parking lot, and whenever a new car pulls up she eagerly asks me if there are kids inside. If there are, she jumps out of the pool and waits for them at the entrance, greeting them with an enthusiastic "hi!" and introducing herself as "Riley Ingram Diane." Next are her two questions, "Do you want to be my friend?" and "Do you want to play with me?"

Riley doesn't notice, or at least doesn't care, if the kids have a different skin tone, different accent, or anything else. She sees a kid, and her wide open heart can't wait to embrace them, play with them, and even love them.

Isn't that what being a Christian - or even just being a human - is all about? Shouldn't it be?

It is in these moments where I realize that the most profound impact I can have on my daughter's social development is to just stay the hell out of the way!

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave one of the most important speeches of all time when he talked about his Dream of racial equality, and thankfully his dream is coming closer and closer to reality every day. I have a dream myself, though, one that is a bit more ambitious than Dr. King's.

My dream is for my daughter to live in a world where people are not judged by anything other than their own character and their own actions. Religious affiliation shouldn't matter; skin color shouldn't matter; sexual orientation shouldn't matter - none of that mattered to Jesus of Nazareth, after all.

Perhaps it's time we adults stopped trying to be the teachers and the authorities all the time and spent more time studying our children as they are inherently and learning from them.

I am absolutely certain the world will be a better place if we do.


Well said, Son! You are absolutely right and I commend you for saying it!

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