Monday, January 01, 2007

What If

Over the holiday I spent some time with an old friend and his family. It was a rather noisy weekend with seven small children underfoot (his two plus his sister's five kids), but we were still able to catch up over a few rounds of Catan, among other games.

I've never had a strong desire to have children of my own. For a long time I assumed that I eventually would, but in my mind I usually skipped over the first sixteen years or so of my hypothetical children's lives. As cute as kids can be, I prefer them in small doses. True, there's something endearing about having a four-year-old suddenly decide that you're her new favorite playmate, but it's also nice to be able to pass her back to mommy when it's bedtime.

I've learned to be content with who I am and where I'm at in life, but all the same I sometimes wonder what my life might have been like under other circumstances. There's something very compelling about having a "normal" life (wife, 2.5 kids, two minivans and a house in the suburbs), which is no doubt part of the appeal of ex-gay ministries, but where in the Bible does God really call us to a life of normalcy?

Just because the evangelical church has put marriage and family on an idolatrously high pedestal that leaves anyone who's unmarried and/or childless feeling deficient doesn't mean that their priorities are in the right order. Just because many Exodus spokespersons imply that marriage to an opposite-sex partner is the epitome of 'healing' and 'holiness' doesn't mean that the married ex-gay has necessarily achieved any significant degree of either. Just because some Christians have conflated Genesis 2:24 with the discipleship that Christ calls his followers to doesn't mean that they have any idea what true discipleship looks like.

To whatever extent God may actually have any of our lives planned out for us, he has a unique path for each of us to follow, specially tailored to account for the millions of factors that differentiate each of us from everyone else. No church, no pastor, no ministry leader can chart that path for us or dictate what our lives should look like. However invaluable their counsel may be, as soon as their advice turns to ultimatums it's time to take a step back and take a closer look at that relationship.

And if I did suddenly find myself genuinely attracted to a woman? I'd approach the situation with caution and more than a little prayer, but I wouldn't dismiss it any more than I'd rule out what good could come from a relationship with another man.

But at the end of the day, there's only so much to be gained from dwelling on what might or might not someday be. The most that I can do today is to make the best use of what I presently have while making an effort to listen to that still, small voice. The more time I spend worrying about what I don't have or how I wish things were different, the less use I actually am to God or anyone else.


Anonymous said...

Catan? Settlers of Catan? Wow... if I was into dudes and you were into dames, we might stand a chance!

In other news, I totally agree with you that the evangelical church has put marriage on a pedestal... When I went to that counseling thing my mom sent me to, at one point the ladies who were 'treating' me told me that they believed that God had a mate for everyone, and people who were single were single because they had somehow missed out on God's plan. (This, by the way, came in response to my saying that I may end up being celibate). When I mentioned that Paul actually seems to think that being single is better than being married, and actually only seems to want people to get married if they can't handle being single, they didn't believe me! I had to stop myself from saying "Have you not read any of the epistles?" It is strange how people skip over things they don't want to see.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Eugene. While the thought of not having children nags me from time to time, I have become increasingly aware that my "progeny" are those who may receive any benefit from having known me and I hope that the decisions and actions I make benefit those who are to follow.

Who is my neighbor? Who is my brother? Who is my child? I think the answer is the same for each question.

KJ said...

In reviewing the comments, I see I accidently was "anonymous". Hate that! The 1/3 entry was "KJ".