Bloggin' the 28: Marriage, family, homosexuality, children


(system) #1

Continuing our summer Bloggin' the 28 project, we have two -- from a man and a woman -- applications of the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine of Marriage and the Family to contemporary life.

“Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in loving companionship. For the Christian a marriage commitment is to God as well as to the spouse, and should be entered into only between partners who share a common faith. Mutual love, honor, respect, and responsibility are the fabric of this relationship, which is to reflect the love, sanctity, closeness, and permanence of the relationship between Christ and His church. Regarding divorce, Jesus taught that the person who divorces a spouse, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery. Although some family relationships may fall short of the ideal, marriage partners who fully commit themselves to each other in Christ may achieve loving unity through the guidance of the Spirit and the nurture of the church. God blesses the family and intends that its members shall assist each other toward complete maturity. Parents are to bring up their children to love and obey the Lord. By their example and their words they are to teach them that Christ is a loving disciplinarian, ever tender and caring, who wants them to become members of His body, the family of God. Increasing family closeness is one of the earmarks of the final gospel message.”

Between Heaven and Earth: A Reflection on Marriage and Family Siroj Sorajjakool

I personally believe that there is an ontological drive toward Transcendence in all of us and this drive expresses itself in various dimensions of life. This fundamental belief about marriage and family grows out of this inner reach for Transcendence and Divinity within human relationships. While it may be practical to capture this within the belief system, Transcendence always transcends any attempt to capture it, especially in doctrinal form.

There is an inner longing in us for that ideal family where love, respect, honor, and responsibility form the core values. Where our inner needs are fulfilled. Where there is harmony. Where family members constantly support and nurture one another. Where everyone is fully committed to standby in misery and happiness. Where there exists complete acceptance and love. Where family members take the time to really listen. These are the yearnings of the soul for the Divine within the boundary of human relationships. These yearnings and longings are a part of us from creation. They are the essence to which we were created for. They are the stuff of the soul that needs to be recognized and honored.

At the very same time there needs to be the recognition that as human beings, we are always standing in-between, between the heaven and the earth, Divinity and humanity. We are children of both realities. And “family” is very much a part of these two realities. We stand in-between. The earth represents the possibility for conflicts, tensions, human weaknesses, the basic primal aspects of our humanity. The earth symbolizes the messiness of life, of the reality that love is a difficult path to follow, that respect requires a great sense of maturity, that honor does not come easy, that responsibility comes with growth. On earth one realizes that the desire to love is compromised by the reality of our humanity, of the possibility of our weaknesses, insecurity, and jealousy.

To stand in-between is to come to an awareness of the deep yearning for the Divine within the boundary of marriage and family and the reality of our humanity. It is to create the distinction between the yearnings and the reality of there fulfillments. To stand in-between is to allow our souls to savor the romance of Divine agape while extending our love tarnished by our very own humanity in the best possible way. I personally think that if we do not place our marriage and family between heaven and earth, we may be living in a home without a soul, or having a soul that has no home.

I do have many suggestions about raising children in relation to the concept of standing in-between. But when you have your own children and you have lived through their teenage years, what is there left to say about raising children except that may the grace of God be upon all of us parents. As my wife once remarked to me, “When you have children, you are never the same. They change you.” While raising my teenage son, I was forced to grow emotionally. I can’t say that I’m fully emotionally mature, but I have certainly grown. If you are not growing while helping your child to grow, you have to wonder what growth is all about. A part of parenting is about a corrective that a child places on us in the way we come to experience Transcendence.______________________

Marriage is a School; Churches are FamiliesCarrol GradyIn addition to procreation (“Be fruitful and multiply”), companionship (“It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.”) and a reflection of the Trinity’s relationship (“Let us make man in our image.”), in our fallen world I believe marriage serves as a school where we can learn to understand God’s love for us and model His love to each other and to our children.Marriage, at its best, draws us out of our self-centeredness; becoming one-flesh, we learn that our partner’s needs and desires are as important as our own. If we stick with our marriage through difficult times, God uses them to teach us many lessons and mold our characters. Becoming parents, we learn to forego sleep, surrender personal plans, and expend financial resources for the sake of a helpless, squalling mite of humanity we helped create.The love we experience for our children gives us a small glimpse of God’s love for us. We discover that discipline is necessary for their long-term good, even though they don’t appreciate it, and this helps us discern God’s loving hand when our cherished plans go awry. Our deep love is strong enough to encompass our children even when they are flawed, make mistakes, or misbehave, just as God loved us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8).Children don’t realize their parents are just people. For a few years, in their little world, their parents are God for them. One of our most important tasks as parents is modeling God’s constant, unconditional love. If we fail at this, it may take our children a lifetime to believe God really loves them.\u003cbr\>\u003cbr\>\u003cbr\>From my experience, some of the most profound, most difficult lessons we learn as parents come as our children near or reach maturity, when their decisions may be life-changing. For me, such a lesson began 20 years ago when we learned our youngest son is gay.\u003cbr\>\u003cbr\>\u003cbr\>\u003cbr\>Not once did the possibility of shunning or withholding my love from him enter my mind. The first thing I had to do was confront my ignorance and prejudice. After the first shock, I realized that my pre-conceived ideas about homosexuality \nneeded some revising. I’ve spent the years since learning as much as I can and reaching out to hundreds of other families going through this experience.\u003cbr\>\u003cbr\>\u003cbr\>\u003cbr\>God has taught me many lessons. I learned the meaning of unconditional love on a deeper level. As I came to understand homosexuality better and to realize what my son had gone through, I learned tolerance for those who are different from me. I learned not to be judgmental, because I can’t know others’ circumstances. In sharing my experience, I learned that transparency and vulnerability allow others to drop their masks of perfection. I learned the relief of humility. Through it all, we have kept a close, loving relationship with our son.\u003cbr\>\u003cbr\>\u003cbr\>\u003cbr\>I believe church families, just like individual families, have an important responsibility to model God’s overwhelming, persistent, mighty, unconditional love to \neveryone who seeks their fellowship. Our job is to love everyone and pray for them. We can leave the rest to God and the Holy Spirit.\u003cbr\>\u003cbr\>\u003cbr\>\u003cbr\>Just one final, thoughtful question: Do our gay and lesbian sons and daughters also need the growth and learning provided by the school of marriage or a committed relationship?\u003cbr\>",1] );

//-->From my experience, some of the most profound, most difficult lessons we learn as parents come as our children near or reach maturity, when their decisions may be life-changing. For me, such a lesson began 20 years ago when we learned our youngest son is gay.Not once did the possibility of shunning or withholding my love from him enter my mind. The first thing I had to do was confront my ignorance and prejudice. After the first shock, I realized that my pre-conceived ideas about homosexuality needed some revising. I’ve spent the years since learning as much as I can and reaching out to hundreds of other families going through this experience.God has taught me many lessons. I learned the meaning of unconditional love on a deeper level. As I came to understand homosexuality better and to realize what my son had gone through, I learned tolerance for those who are different from me. I learned not to be judgmental, because I can’t know others’ circumstances. In sharing my experience, I learned that transparency and vulnerability allow others to drop their masks of perfection. I learned the relief of humility. Through it all, we have kept a close, loving relationship with our son.I believe church families, just like individual families, have an important responsibility to model God’s overwhelming, persistent, mighty, unconditional love to everyone who seeks their fellowship. Our job is to love everyone and pray for them. We can leave the rest to God and the Holy Spirit.Just one final, thoughtful question: Do our gay and lesbian sons and daughters also need the growth and learning provided by the school of marriage or a committed relationship?


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4168