I’m baffled at the fervor that drives people to tell others what God wants for them. But I’ve come up with an analogy that I think embodies that fervor.
Rob and I had a full house for many years: two boys and three girls. We would leave the kids with a babysitter while we escaped, er, went out. It was for our own sanity. When they were old enough, we let them stay at home without us. We’d put one child in charge, usually one of the older kids, but occasionally the youngest… just to shake things up.
And the stories they would tell when we got home! Whoever was in charge couldn’t wait to tell us of the grievous wrongs their siblings had done in our absence. We finally got a little notebook so the child-in-charge could keep track of the transgressions, just so they could let it go and not try to deal with the situation themselves. It seemed that not an infraction escaped their notice.
Power can be intoxicating, can’t it?
The hardest part of the whole event was convincing the child-in-charge to surrender the grievance. We’re back, we got it, and that child could trust us to deal with the “transgression” appropriately. Sometimes it took a while for the child-in-charge to make the adjustment. Often they thought severe consequences were in order. They had a hard time of it if we chose a different route. In the end, they learned that the other kids are really in our jurisdiction, not theirs, and eventually, they trusted us with it (to one degree or another!)
Adults have an even harder time surrendering power. We like to make sure people (other people) are being held accountable. And really, it needs to be as we see fit.
Many of us Christians treat other people’s “transgressions” as a personal affront we must remedy.
We are the child-in-charge who duly noted the transgression—according to us—and is now plaintively appealing to the returning parents to handle it appropriately.
Nevermind that the returning parent—God—has said, “You don’t need to worry about it. I am sovereign. I’ve got this.” Because unlike us, God never left the building. And just like our children, we may have gotten something wrong in our interpretation.
What we are certain is a terrible grievance, God may see a different way. Didn’t we get many other social issues wrong, even though they were “airtight” from our own perspective?
We were told to love God and love others, which many Christians ignore and plow down in their fervor to enforce “moral law.”
It’s really important that we recognize that God is here, we are not each others’ babysitters.
She is the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin, and her “Mom, I’m Gay” book has been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign and others. Sharon Groves, PhD, HRC’s Religion & Faith Program Director says, “I often get asked by parents for resources that can address the struggles of raising LGBT sons and daughters without having to leave faith behind. Susan Cottrell’s book, Mom, I’m Gay, does just that. This is the kind of book that parents will love.”
She and her husband have been married more than 25 years and have five children – one of whom is in the LGBTQ community. She lives in Austin, Texas, and blogs at FreedHearts.org and here in IMPACT Magazine’s FreedHeartsand Jesus Blog columns.