picklesink

A mom, a dad, and two nutty kids.

Grinning from ear to ear – Part 3

and finally…

THE VOTE.

We won.

The knot that has been in my stomach for weeks has finally disappeared and has been replaced by a whole-body glowing sense of relief. Not only did we win, but we won by a landslide – for every person who voted to keep the status quo, 4 people voted for change, and the atmosphere in the room when it was announced was alive and joyous.

I explained it to Ben and Molly thus:

We had a really important meeting at church yesterday, and I was really worried about it because we were having a vote about something that I think is really important. Our church had a rule that not everyone could get married at our church. That meant that for some people, even if they came to the church and said, “We really love this church, and we really want to have our wedding here!” we would say, “No,” and I didn’t think that was fair, because God loves everyone equally. I thought that anyone who loved God and loved the church and wanted to have their wedding there should be able to do that, and so did a lot of other people, so we had some meetings, and we arranged some times that when anyone could come and talk about how they felt about it, and when that was all finished, we had a vote.

Everyone wrote on a piece of paper if they thought we should keep the rule the same, or change it so that everyone could get married at the church if they wanted to. And I was really, really worried that more people would want to keep it the same, but it turned out that lots more people wanted to change the rule and so we did, and now EVERYONE who comes and says, “We really love this church and we would like to have our wedding here!” will get a, “YES!”

~ karyn

Jesus with Rainbow Sheep, http://www.othersheep.org/

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To a time when “coming out” doesn’t exist

I had a lovely visit the other day with my friend David (also known as The Guy With BPD – when you have a moment, mosey on over to his excellent blog!). We got to chatting about all the usual topics – heterosexism, homophobia, religion, marriage equality – you know, typical dinner-table conversation! He asked what my kids knew about the idea of sexuality and being gay or straight and how I explained it to them.

My educational background is in child studies and social work, which means I have a pretty good understanding of child development and a strong interest in social justice. When it comes to my kids, I’ve answered any questions that they have had (mostly Ben, but Molly listens carefully to all of it!) in a way that I hope will reduce the impact of heterosexism (the idea that being heterosexual and cisgender are the only “normal”) in a way that they can understand.

When it comes to sexuality, at this point, Ben understands that when he grows up, he will hopefully fall in love with someone, a man or a woman, and might decide to marry that person. He understands that a lot of grownups are married, some to people of the same sex and some to people of the opposite sex, and also that some people who have been married have decided not to be married anymore and have gotten divorced. I have deliberately chosen not to explain “queer” or “gay” yet because they require an understanding of sexual attraction that Ben and Molly do not yet possess. As far as they are concerned right now, love is love. There is no difference between the love they feel for each other, me and Ian, their friends, boys and girls – in fact, Ben was devastated when I had to explain that one of the few people he would not be able to marry eventually was Molly, since she was his top choice.

When it comes to making babies, he understands that you need the seed from a man and the egg from a woman to actually make a baby grow inside a woman’s uterus, so if a couple is the same sex they need some help from someone of the opposite sex to make a baby. Babies and children can also be adopted, which is when a baby’s birth parents aren’t able to look after him or her and so they place the baby with an adoptive family.

Finally, when it comes to gender norms, and this has been the one that has impacted Ben’s life the most so far, he understands that he can wear or play with whatever he likes, and that people will sometimes laugh or tease when they see something that they don’t expect (like a boy with a ponytail or a Dora lunch container). I also taught him the word “stereotype” which is when people thinks that someone can’t do, wear, or like something because of what they are, like “boys can’t like Dora” or “girls can’t play with trains.” Now I’m just waiting to overhear the argument between Ben and his friends – “Don’t say that! That’s a STEREOTYPE!!”

Going back to the visit with David, as we were nursing our delicious coffees from the Mulberry Street Coffee House and discussing this, he said, “Wow. I have so many friends raising their kids like that…if more people would do it, can you imagine? We will end up with a world when coming out is superfluous!” Wouldn’t that be amazing – to have our kids grow up in a world where they can just say, “Mom, dad! [or, of course, ‘Dad, dad!’] I’d like you to meet the person I’m in love with!” and know that the response would be, “Oh, sweetie! We’re so happy to meet the person who makes you so happy!”

~ karyn

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I am a Christian, so I support same-sex marriage.

I am a Christian.

To me that means 2 things. First, it means that I believe in God. That doesn’t mean that I think there’s some old white man who looks like Santa sitting on a cloud shaking his finger at us. When I think of God, I always think back to The Secret Garden and Mrs. Sowerby’s description of “the big good thing,” something or someone that encourages goodness and gives us strength through troubled times. Second, it means that I try to live my live the way that Jesus taught, and that also boils down to 2 things (I don’t know; is there something about the number 2?): Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and mind, and soul, and love your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10: 27).

A very wise man, now gone from us, once preached a powerful sermon on the topic of the former commandment that has stuck with me. He spoke first about loving God with all your heart and soul, and said that that’s fairly self-explanatory. You let that love show in all that you do. You revel in that love, and you see God in everything and everyone around you and love them too.

He then spoke about loving God with all your mind, saying that that is the part that people often have trouble with. Using the example of evolution, he said that he had heard people talk about how believing in the concept of evolution is totally at odds with what the Bible says and is the “greatest danger the church has ever faced.” He paused for a moment and then said, essentially, that that was hogwash. If you love God with all your mind, you honour the mind that God has given you and you think with it. And if science, or society, has made new discoveries and come to new understandings about topics that the Bible, in its historical and geographical context, once described differently, you think about those concepts in relation to those new discoveries and understandings using your God-given brains, and you maybe realize that what the Bible says, outside of that historical and geographical context, doesn’t make sense. So in order to love God with all your mind, you recognize that God wants you to come to realization, that the times, they are a-changin’, and that your beliefs need to change along with them.

An extremely thoughtful and articulate young man, Matthew Vines, gave a sermon recently that has been now been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people and has been changing minds all over the world.

Watch the video here – it is an hour long, but well worth the time.

or

Read the transcript here, but a lot of the power is in Matthew’s presentation.

He makes a compelling argument that if you look at what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, taking into account historical and geographical context and nuances of language and translations, not only should the Bible not be seen as condemning same-sex relationships, but in fact that 1 Corinthians 7, where Paul says, “It is better to marry than to burn with passion,” should be interpreted as encouraging marriage between two people of any gender who love each other. He also points out that Jesus himself has given us a litmus test to weed out false teachers and false teachings: In Matthew 7 Jesus tells us that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit – therefore, good teachings will have good consequences and should certainly not lead to the destruction of human dignity and tearing down of self-esteem.

Very soon, my church will be embarking on a journey that I really hope will lead to a new understanding of how to love our neighbours. We will be making a decision about whether or not to change our marriage policy, which currently prohibits marriages between same-sex couples in our church building. The people at my church who wish to keep the policy as it stands do not consider themselves homophobic. Their understanding of the Bible is that it prohibits same-sex marriage, and they feel that they can accept and welcome gay people as neighbours and church members while still being true to their belief that the Bible dictates that marriage is between a man and a woman. I disagree — strongly — but I also have to acknowledge that for many of them, even coming to that point has been a journey in a positive direction. I just hope that over the next few months, with thoughtful discussion, they will come even farther on that journey and we will become a truly accepting and welcoming community.

To me this situation epitomizes the question of “What Would Jesus Do?” If two consenting adults are in love and wish to have God be a part of their marriage, would the Jesus who told his disciples to “Let the children come unto me,” really say, “Nope, not on my watch!”? I believe that my church could be a good tree, but right now the fruit we are bearing is a little hard and underripe. I hope that in the next few months we will plant some seeds that will flourish and grow and soon come to bear plump, juicy, satisfying and life-sustaining fruit.

~ karyn

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