Mary Arline (queen_of_kithia) wrote,
Mary Arline

When I was in college, I read an essay/excerpt in a creative writing textbook called "Shitty First Drafts" by Anne LaMott.1 As a writer, it's one of the most useful things I've ever read, but she also mentions something in passing that has become one of the guiding principles of my entire life:
[W]hen I mentioned this to my priest friend Tom, he said you can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure if I recognized myself in it immediately, but I've recognized myself in it many times since then, and it's allowed me to stop myself when I think something particularly uncharitable and re-evaluate my thoughts. It's helped me to become, if not a more compassionate person, then certainly a less self-righteous one.

It reminds me of something I saw on TV when I was about 10-12 years old: one of the news magazine shows was doing a story about Fred Phelps or someone like him2 saying "God hates fags," and I remember my mom saying, "But God is love, so how can you say that God hates anyone?" I remember it partially because that was long before anyone in my family had come out, and prior to that point gay issues were something that we never discussed one way or another, positive or negative.

If you can think of God as a loving parent, it's much harder to imagine God hating anyone or to imagine God taking sides. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people see God as a combination of policeman and judge, just waiting for an opportunity to bust you if you step a toe out of line. These people take the phrase "fear of the Lord" very, very literally.

These people tend to be like the older son in the parable of the Prodigal Son, who resents the lavish celebration at his brother's return. They think of love as a privilege that has to be earned, and they think that certain people are not deserving of love.

This sometimes becomes a problem if/when these people have kids. Instead of giving all their children the unconditional love they deserve, they teach their children that they have to prove themselves worthy of parental love. You can see how this can easily become a vicious cycle.

It always makes me a little sick to my stomach when I hear people in the public eye say3 something to the effect of, "If any of my kids were gay, I would disown them." It makes me feel so sorry for the kids, even if none of them are gay, because now they know that their parent's (or parents') love is conditional. I have to imagine that, in any case, that would cause irrevocable damage to the relationship because how could the children possibly trust in the genunineness of the parent's (or parents') love after that?

But I feel just as sorry, or maybe even more so, for the parents. By cutting themselves off from from a gay family member, they are also cutting themselves off from God (because, after all, God is love) and from the blessings that nurturing such a relationship can offer. As someone whose life has been greatly enriched by those blessings, I know by contrast how sad and empty their lives must be.
1It's excerpted from something called "Bird by Bird."
2I didn't watch the story itself but they ran a lot of promos for it, and that's what I saw.
3Thus far, thankfully, I've never heard a private citizen say something like this although, unfortunately, I'm sure a lot of them are thinking it.
Tags: faith, family, ideas
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