I was privileged to go to a Samoan wedding last night. It was the first Samoan wedding I’ve been to. Actually, it was just the wedding reception, but there was enough Samoan to know it was almost exclusively a Samoan wedding. I’ve been to other cultural weddings in the past. I’ve been to a Macedonian wedding, an Indian wedding and plenty of Aussie weddings. Incidentally, do you know the difference between an Aussie wedding and an Aussie funeral? One less drunk.
Jokes aside, it was a beautiful reception. The groom was a couple of years younger than me, and is currently a professional rugby league player. To be honest, no-one really mentioned the bride, as lovely as she was.
Now, I don’t know how indicative this reception was of Samoan wedding receptions, but there were many things that the MC would preface much of the proceedings by saying ‘in Samoan culture’. For example, he’d say ‘in Samoan culture, we always invite the priest and his wife to eat first’, or ‘in Samoan culture, we share dances and songs at gatherings like this’. Indeed, there was much singing, dancing, prayers and formalities. Most of the reception, save for a few speeches, was done in Samoan. One of the grooms family members was a tribal chief, who gave a very ostentatious speech in Tongan. The women all gave dances, the men gave dances, they all gave dances. At various times during the evening, they broke out into beautiful Samoan songs – many of which I recongnised as old church hymns, except in Samoan. It was truly a beautiful experience, and it gives me goosebumps even now thinking about it. Regardless of your views on faith, there is something totally inspiring about spontaneous hymns in a beautiful language.
Just over a year ago, I was in Fiji. Going there, it weighed heavy on my mind the disparity between my Western wealth and the humble, austere living of the Fijians. Anyone who has been to Fiji will know what I’m talking about. How do I reconcile having a plate of food, served by a beautiful Fijian man or woman, who goes home to a simple home, perhaps without even electricity. It wasn’t until I visited a nearby village and partook in a kava ceremony that it made sense – how the Fijians could live like this – really in what we would describe as poverty.
During this ceremony, the village elders described how they were deliberate in preserving their culture. How they were committed to seeing their culture and their way of life preserved and passed onto their children, and their children’s children. They were describing their love of their culture. So we sat there, on the floor of this wall-less shelter listening to the elders, sipping kava, being mesmerised by this simple way of life. It wasn’t until that moment that I realised that even though there was a huge disparity – and I mean huge – between my shallow wealth and the depth of their culture that I wondered who was missing out.
I can’t help wonder, now, what is my culture. Even as a fairly conservative kinda guy, I don’t have any real rituals, customs or rites. I had no formal initiation into manhood. I have a personal faith, but to say the predominant culture I find myself is in anyway religious would be incorrect. I have no tribe with a chief, I have no songs of my forefathers, even at significant events (weddings, funerals etc), to say there are cultural expectations would be a stretch of the imagination. I have no special language to pass onto my son or daughter, no lore nor rites. I pray I will train them up in the ways of the Lord, and this is one inheritance I am very proud to implore them to find their faith in Him.
So, we – I – have very little in the way of culture. What do we have? I have been searching for the answer. What have we found our new culture? I look back to the social revolutions of the 60’s, where there was a very clear rebellion against the conservative ways of the 50’s. It is very easy to see the difference this rebellion, if you want to call it that, had on our Western society. But even now, if one was to rebel, what culture would they be rebelling against? If I was to tell my culture to ‘stick it’, so to speak, what would I actually be rebelling against, for the cultural rules and expectations placed on me are so minimal.
In the years proceeding 1990, Latvia, along with many other former Soviet republics regained independence after being occupied, bound by the evil yolk of communism. During those oppressive years, the Communists imposed their might on the Latvians, forbidding the language, the culture, the stories, the lore. In the three decades since independence, Latvia, as well as her sister states Lithuania and Estonia have been deliberate in nurturing their culture, their language and traditions. Jay Nordlinger writes that for many Lativans returning to Latvia after Communism it has been both a physical and spiritual experience. Many Jews similarly express similar sentiments when they return to Israel.
I love capitalism, and firmly believe ethical capitalism (I know some friends will scoff at that term!) does much more benefit than controlled economies. What capitalism can’t do, what it cant buy or produce though is connection, culture and being. I wonder, if, here in ‘the West’, we have traded culture, connection and a sense of being for a never-satisfied need for ‘things’ and ‘stuff’. I wonder.
Culture, in the traditional sense of the word, doesn’t spring up overnight, but something I think needs to be practiced daily. One only needs to look at the Jews to see how, especially for observant Jews, their culture is a daily practice. It’s a culture that’s sustained them through over 3500 of human existence, through being scattered amongst the earth, through Pogroms and Holocausts and ever present promises of destruction.
So I ask – do you come from a strong culture? How do you see culture in terms of identity? Is it a culture you wish to impart into your children? Do you find comfort in the company of ‘your own’?
You may think this blog is somewhat somber, and perhaps it is. I guess I’m just missing this idea of culture, this idea of belonging to something bigger than myself. Something that perhaps compliments my faith, and something bigger to shepherd my children in as I guide them through the wilds to maturity. I’m interested. Tell me your thoughts.
Picture credit from http://www.qiane.co.nz/anele-nigel-le-lagoto-resort-savaii-destination-wedding/
They say marriage is a lifetime of getting used to someone. Without a doubt, any long term relationship is a rollercoaster. You get the good, the bad, the ugly. Sometimes you can get all of that in the space of an hour!
You’ve probably noticed your slightly (or very!) different, depending on who your with. Some people are quiet and industrious at work, but put them in a grandstand at the football and they are boisterous and uncouth! Some people are relaxed everywhere, except behind the wheel of a car. You probably have variations on who you are, depending on the context of the situation.
Another way of looking at this is do you give your partner what’s right, or what’s left. For example, do you find yourself planning your life on how you can invest in your partner, or, do you find yourself giving them the scraps of your energy after everyone else has had a piece of you?
There’s an interesting dynamic though, in marriage. It’s the dynamic, or tension between being your real self, and being your best self. It’s the tension between doing what’s real to you, and doing what’s best for your relationship. It’s an interesting, and difficult tension.
It’s the tension that you get after you and your partner have had really huge weeks, and you want to sit quietly and they want to talk through the week. Do you be your true self, or your best self for your partner?
It’s the tension in silly things – leaving the toilet seat up because you don’t care what way it goes, and putting it down because your partner likes it down and you want to be your best for them.
It’s the tension between just wanting to go to sleep, because that’s what you want, or choosing to open up physically to your partner because you want to give your best to your partner.
It’s the tension between listening enough to hear the key points, or giving your whole attention to your partner.
I think this tension manifests itself in many things.
So what is the answer? I used the picture above because I’ve met some people who seem to think that love is a licence for bad behavior. They seem to use the ‘if you can’t love me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best’ mentality to really just be selfish. Inversely, I’ve met other people who do literally everything they can to support their partner. It might be in the way they put their life on hold to support their partners career, or family, a project or lifestyle.
Is there a point where you give up being your real self, and give your best self, for the sake of the relationship? What about vice versa?
You can only every control yourself, your actions and emotions, so this isn’t about changing your partner. What I’m asking is how have you managed that tension between giving your best self to your partner, and being your real self? Can the two ‘selves’ exist? Can you be real, but still give the best of yourself to your partner? I’m curious, let me know.
Danny was the odd kid out in class. He had ADD, he couldn’t play sport to save his life, his mother had recently shacked up with a new man. Being the eldest, he took up the mantle of looking out for his younger brothers.
Steve was an outsider. He was from a non-English speaking background, didn’t have his dad around growing up and both wrestled and accepted his mothers’ view on faith.
Grant changed schools a bit. By the time he finished school, he’d been to 5 schools across two states. Sure, he’d met some mates, some good mates, but never really felt popular.
I’ll tell you about Danny, Steve and Grant. They are all me. Let me turn the story around, and change the perspective:
I grew up in the confines of my parents loving marriage, that also produced my two amazing brothers. My dad went through a trial or two – he was laid off in the coal mines and managed to carve out a landscaping business to support his wife and boys. Sadly, he contracted cancer and was dead just after his 33rd birthday.
I started school at the local state school. My mother re-married a man who I am proud know, a man that supported us the best way he could (and did a solid job of it), a man who always followed the call of his very strong convictions, even when they were unpopular.
My parents (meaning my mum and step-dad) somehow managed to send me to one of the best schools in the district. I don’t know how they did it, but I know it would have been a sacrifice for them. It was there that I was diagnosed with ADD, and despite my best efforts, was never really one of the sporty boys. I can’t say why I moved schools after that, but I did, and was equally happy in all of them. I found a few good mates (the benefits of being an introvert), and some of them I am proud to still call mates decades later (geeze, I’m showing my age!).
Why do I tell you these stories?
I’ve noticed a creeping word in our lexicon. Privilege. You see it more in America, but it’s creeping up here.
Privilege. What is it? It’s a benefit you derive really by the luck of the draw of your birth.
Privilege. It’s also becoming an insult, a put down, a slur. It creeps into conversations as a shut down or shut out. For example, someone like me (who happens to be Anglo-Saxon, straight and Christian) can’t have an idea, opinion or suggestion on someone’s life or experience that is different to mine. For example, I can’t say ‘he got the job because he worked hard for it’ because that would mean I am privileged and supporting a system that uplifts men (and by implication, pushes down people who aren’t men).
This idea of privilege manifests itself in other ways. You may have heard examples of some teachers saying parents shouldn’t read to their children at night, because this is promoting privilege (because some children don’t get read to at night, and this reinforces an unfair system).
Essentially, the idea of ‘privilege’ gets used to say that all my success in life is because I was born into a system that fully supports me and will do whatever it can to ensure I succeed. It also says that people who are different than me (for example, minorities) are born into a system that actively discriminates against them, and will do whatever it can to keep them down.
It says I got the job, because I’m a white, straight man. It says I got the promotion for the same reason. It says I don’t get pulled up by the police because I don’t have coloured skin. It says I don’t get stopped at the airport for bag checks because I don’t look like a terrorist.
Some people use the phrase ‘you got that (whatever) because of your privilege’. For the people that say that, here’s what I think.
My privilege (and make no mistake, I’ve been privileged with plenty) isn’t a ticket to an easy life. It’s a set of expectations. A set of expectations whose results yield rich dividends. A set of expectations that is open to everyone. Everyone.
My privilege expects me to work. There’s no two ways about it. My privilege expects I get up every day, dress appropriately and work.
My privilege expects me to be present in my family. It expects me to be a husband and father who is loving, present, who leads with integrity.
My privilege expects me to look after my family. It expects me to work out problems in my family with my family. It expects me to make future plans, to discipline my children in love, to listen to my wife.
My privilege expects me to show my peers, colleagues and managers with respect. It expects me to respect the delegations and decisions my workplace entrusts to me. It expects me to be a good steward of the resources entrusted to me.
My privilege expects me to respect those who have delegated authority. It expects me to comply with lawful directions in a respectful and honest way. My privilege expects me to obey the road rules. It expects me to be a participative citizen, interested in my community, my state and my nation.
My privilege expects me to be respectful to my fellow citizens. It expects me to listen to differing points of view, ideologies, cultures and ideals, even when I find them offensive.
My privilege expects me to have consequences for not meeting my expectations. Very real, very tangible consequences.
I mentioned the story of Danny, Steve and Grant above. Danny, Steve and Grant could have all been victims of circumstances. Medicated, minorities, single-parent households, austere upbringings, but I’m not a victim.
I’ve been blessed with privilege, but I’ve been blessed with something much more onerous. Expectations. Expectations that I meet and don’t meet every day of my life. Expectations I put on myself, expectations others put on me.
From time to time, you’ll hear people saying you (or me) have gotten an easy life because of our privilege. You’ll hear this loud and clear with ‘victim’ groups who both act like all their problems are someone elses fault (read: yours) and they have no agency in changing their lives.
I’ve benefitted from my privilege, but here’s the rub. If I start failing in my expectations, that privilege is going to evaporate, and quickly. Stop turning put at my job? No amount of privilege will keep me employed. Tune out to my family? Eventually they’ll get the picture that I want to be elsewhere, and they will probably make the first move. Start breaking the road rules, or not complying with the various laws that govern my life? You can bet your bottom dollar that before too long, no amount of privilege will keep me on the right side of the law.
Privilege only works because the privileged keep on practicing self-discipline, and keep meeting the expectations they have for themselves – good expectations, but expectations never the less.
The next time someone accuses, or even casually mentions that you’re privileged, ask them what expectations they put on themselves to better their life. Ask what responsibilities they are taking on board – not who’s supporting them, not who’s keeping them down, but what disciplines they are putting in their life, then tell them to stop practicing privilege.
There’s a part of the Australian psyche that reveres the beach. For the most part, our beaches remain commercial free. I suspect it’s one of the remaining places people go that is relatively free, and done completely for pleasure. It means a lot of things to a lot of people, but when you boil it down, the beach means a place where you don’t have to work.
As is my wont, I observe the different people on the beach. The leathery old people who arrive before dawn to swim come rain, hail or shine. The locals. The show-offs. The holiday makers and the kids. I’ve noticed some key differences between local families and holiday families. Interested to know my findings? Read on…
You can always tell the local beach mums. They look effortless as they skip down the beach with their kids from carpark to beachside. Apart from the necessary sun protection, there’s little fuss and the kids are off! Beach mums defer parenting from the laws of parenting books to the law of evolution. Yes, they are only too happy to let their tanned youngsters literally sink or swim in the ocean. These mothers causally sip coffee from take-away cups and catch up on the latest local gossip with their likeminded mothers. All the while, they look relaxed, happy and know you’re envious of their life and lifestyle. Regardless of body-shape, they just seem to have this casual put together look, replete with tan-line free skin and light blonde wisps of hair.
Holiday mothers, on the other hand, are a different beast all together. The struggle starts WAY before the beach. It starts as soon as their children wake up 3 hours before normal. It starts with a breakfast tantrum. It starts with the way their children wriggle and giggle around like an octopus on ice when applying suncream. They struggle as they hopscotch across the piping hot carpark. On their shoulders they carry beach bags full of almost everything, under their arms headlocked children are mixed with body-boards, buckets and spades, their suncreamed bodies wriggling in vain against their mothers grip. The book that they have no possible chance of reading on the beach falls out of the overfilled beach bag into the sand. Their husbands are merely an extra pair of hands, relegated to hours of digging sandcastles which will be instantly knocked over by toddler or tide, and the failsafe scapegoat when their child inevitably gets dumped by their first unsupervised wave.
You can tell the holiday mothers, because they hang around their children closer than seagulls at a beach picnic, growling and begging and nagging their children through the morning at the beach. They latch onto other holiday mothers and bitch about how holidays mess with their children’s sleep, how the garbage truck idled outside their hotel at 5am and how they wished their husbands would consider, just for once, a different holiday place, like Caloundra or Noosa (hint: it ain’t going to happen). Holiday mums, regardless of their size or shape, wear their swimming costumes purely for decorative purposes only. It is important to remember that the holiday mum waits excitedly all year round for a sea-side holiday and spends hours every second year looking for the perfect bathing suit that will never, ever, ever see the cool, refreshing waters of the ocean. Ever.
Holiday dads. Actually, let’s start with local dads. Like their female counterparts, the local dads are stupidly good looking, relaxed, tanned and happy. They have perfect white smiles and play effortlessly on the beach with their well behaved children. Holiday dads problems, like holiday mothers problems, start much earlier. You’ll see a holiday dad dragging his children down the beach, children who both adore and are completely ungrateful of him in equal measure. You can tell he’s dragged them away from ABC2forKids, wrestled them into swimming costumes and lacquered on sunscreen onto their wriggling bodies, cajoled them into the hotel lift, coerced them through the hotel foyer, beaten them across the piping hot carpark and threatened to drag them back to the hotel room unless they suddenly start enjoying the beach.
You can see him as he trapses down the beach. He has two choices for his ever-expanding body. He can choose shame and don an unforgiving sun-shirt or he can choose melanoma and bear his Bondi chest to the world. Personally, I choose the Bondi chest. Why? Because tanned fat is better than white fat. True story.
The holiday dad has these fanciful ideas about family holidays, where everyone gets along, reconnects, has fun and he has great holiday sex with his Mrs. You can tell, if nothing else, he’s grateful for two things – the that he’s not at work, and that it’s warm and sunny. Get along side the holiday dad and he’ll talk more than a tortured POW. Deprived of all his basic needs, except maybe food, and he’ll blubber to anyone, about what’s really going on. He’ll tell you that he thought holidays were all about getting away together, but he’s come to the stunning realisation that for his family, it’s just about getting away. He wonders out loud how wives ignored their husbands before the advent of smart phones. He’ll tell you how men are, in fact, the real winners from feminism, judging by the svelte young things wearing ‘body-confident’ swim suits.
Despite all that, the holiday dad simply aches to hit the beach. Once he’s under that fresh, salty water, he’s free again. Weightless, unshackled, unworried, free. He swirls salt water around his mouth, spitting it out like a fountain. He dives deep under the waves, skimming his hands across the sandy bottom of the ocean. He feels the sun on the bald spot on his head, swims past the breakers and just ‘is’.
You may read this and think ‘how depressing’, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. You see, the annual beach holiday doesn’t get remembered for sleepless nights, the maxed-out credit cards, the sunburn or the struggling kids – oh no. The beach holiday gets remembered for the most amazing things. About watching the kids confidence grow in the waves. About getting away from it all. About burying the kids in the sand, late-night ice-creams and meeting other families that simply just ‘get it’. It’s those funny conversations on the beach with likeminded families, with one-and-a-half incomes that juggle all year with jobs and school pick ups and bills, who, even after they’ve joked about it, simply love each other through the good times, the bad times and the times when they want to murder each other. It’s the icing on the family cake, the sugar in the tea.
Catholic Week at the beach is the oddest, but most comforting time. I’m amazed and happy at the complete lack of pretension who work hard all through the year to spend this one, almost sacred week together in the sun.
“Yes, Catholic Week” my new found friend explained, continuing “all the Catholic schools finish a week earlier, so all the Catholic school families go on holiday, before, you know, the other families” he said in earnest.
I’ve always found it interesting that, for the most part, when parents tell you that they send their kids to Catholic school, they always add the caveat ‘not that we are really Catholic, or believe much in it’, yet still, invest considerable amounts of the family budget sending their kids to a Catholic school to learn the same values that they learned in Catholic school many years ago, those same values they personally shun but believe is important to teach their kids.
So, as is the trend, we find ourselves back in Mooloolaba for Catholic Week, surrounded by ultra-middle class families and a healthy shake of locals. We go to the same place every year, for the simple fact that it’s full of people ‘like us’, enjoying the same holiday ‘as us’. There’s a delicious familiarity about a Mooloolaba holiday, but still being a far enough from Brisbane that you feel like you’re on holidays.
When we started coming to Mooloolaba, it would take well over an hour and a half. Thanks to my late model Camry (which, you might be interested to know is very popular with ‘our people’), the upgraded highway and laxical policing, we can now make it up in a pinch over an hour. Not a bad effort, considering it can take me that long to get to work on public transport!
Packing is easy for the Mooloolaba holiday, because quite simply, you pack the same things every year. As a side note, you meet the same dads on holidays year after year. They share your aversion to change, although, one dad I met went to a different resort this year, but will be back at the original one next year, because it wasn’t quite right, and just that bit too different. These dads, like me, have an aversion to change and losing weight. You know you’re in the company of kindred spirits, with your prescription sunglasses paid by health insurance and the tattered straw hat from Bunnings that you simply can’t get rid of.
Have you noticed that you clean your house in an amazing way just before you go on holidays? It’s like you want the house to enjoy some clean time, without you. You tell yourself, though, that there’s nothing nicer than coming home to a clean home, having a shower in your own shower and taking a good, long, post-holiday dump in your own toilet, often drinking the last of your holidays beers as you do so.
So you arrive. Because we’ve been going to the same place for the better part of half a decade, the managers let us check in as soon as the room is clean, and we are at liberty to park our car in the carpark and use the pool while we wait. As soon as we are given the all clear, we unpack as quick as lightning!
I know that just outside the door and down the road, the mighty blue Pacific is waiting for me. The piping hot sand. The ocean, praying to baptise me, ready to wash away those cares I’ve been harboring for the better part of twelve months. I’m feeling giddy. It’s a feeling not unlike teenage love. I’ve been itching to feel the warmth of the hot, soft sand between my toes. I long to be enveloped into the bossum of the great ocean. I shiver at the thought of her waves caressing through my hair, and embracing me as one of her own. I imagine. I pine. I remember, that I have a family. The promise of hot yellow and cool blue is replaced, but more about that in the next blog.
So welcome to Catholic Week in Mooloolaba. A magical place where white, middle class families do a stack of crazy white, middle class things like splash out on coffee, let kids stay up past bed time and check Facebook to see what’s happening back in Brisbane.
Image from http://www.cocomooloolaba.com.au/mooloolaba-accommodation/page/2/
My son came home from Kindy yesterday with some craft, as he so often does. He had brought home a picture of a bucket with things inside. He’d learned about ‘love buckets’. You’ve probably hear about something similar – needs, love banks and alike. My son exclaimed that we need to put deposits into each others love buckets. You can make deposits be being kind, saying nice things, showing someone you love them. For the record, I’m accepting deposits into my ego bank at the moment 😉 .
Why do we put deposits into someone’s love bucket? I guess some answers would be because we love them, we want to show them and we want to invest in their life.
In a sense, love is an investment. I’m quite sure we invest love into someone, because we expect some type of return – love, support, kindness, companionship, the best for them. Whilst I think it’s wrong to give, expecting some type of return (this will usually lead to disappointment), deep inside I think we all want some type of return on our investment.
So the question is, what do you do when someone invests love into you?
What do you do with the love that is shown and given to you?
Some people’s hearts are high-risk investments. They are volatile, their return fluctuates depending on a myriad of factors. Sometimes, they give a huge return, showing massive amounts of appreciation, support and love. Other times, they are a negative investment, taking all that you have to give, the return on the investment is hurt and disappointment. The giver of love is left in deficit, the taker of love has squandered the gift entrusted to them.
There are hearts that seem to be closed to deposits. You know the type – people who’ve built walls around their life for whatever reason. People, where you’ve tried to show them you’re feelings and thoughts towards them, but they just don’t seem to be receptive to you in any way. Maybe you’re married to this type of person?
Then there’s are hearts who gives a steady return on an investment. A heart that pays interest adds to the love already deposited in it. What do I mean? Unlike a bank, there’s no cost to paying interest on a deposit of love in your heart. When a bank pays interest, they have already carefully calculated the cost of paying interest. There’s no cost to paying interest on a deposit of love, however!
So how can you pay interest on a deposit of love? I think there’s a range of ways. A word that isn’t used that often is gratitude. Being grateful to the one who deposited love into your heart. Being thankful of the love that’s being deposited can be a great way to pay interest on an investment of love. It might pay to ask the best way to pay interest on the deposit of love – you may be surprised! Showing love back is a huge return on the investment put in your heart.
Is there someone trying to put deposits of love into your heart? What type of bank are they investing into?
Are they risking it all to sow into your life – will their investment tank or will you allow it to build you up?
Is your bank open to deposits? Can you allow someone to invest love into your life?
Is your heart a bank that will warmly pay interest on the love it’s been entrusted with?
Open up the bank of your heart. Be receptive to the love someone wants to invest in you. Be generous with the interest you pay that love. It’s the only investment where both people give, and both people are richer for it.
I expect this post will raise the ire of some of my more conservative readers, and perhaps generate some debate.
First up, I’m not going to debate the morality of people who have same-sex attraction, neither am I going to delve into the alphabet of sexual identities.
Same-sex parenting was again brought to the forefront of the media recently with iconic Italian designers Dolce and Gabbana expressing that there is only one family – a man, a woman and children. Elton John quickly expressed outrage over these comments, as did many progressive commentators.
The debate about Same-Sex couples revolves around ideas such as: should be able to adopt, utilise IVF and have the same legal rights as ‘traditional’ parents. It focuses on equal rights for all. I totally get this. One of the prevailing arguments used by supporters of Same-Sex couples having children is that Same-Sex couples make just as good parents. I’ve got no doubt on the parenting ability of Same-Sex couples, the love they can provide their children and the resources, time and emotional energy they so evidently give their children.
There is a risk, at this point, to refer to the recent story of a Same-Sex couple here in Australia that adopted a dear child and did unspeakable crimes to him, then use this story as an argument against Same-Sex parenting. Sadly, and disgustingly, child abuse favors no sexual orientation, belief system or set of ideals. It is an insidious crime that should not be tolerated in any situation.
It would be naive to think that legislation will stop or encourage Same-Sex parenting – certainly not in a Western democracy. Indeed, ISIS are taking a more hardline approach to homosexuality, and, as a side note, I often wonder why ‘progressives’ stand up for this evil ideology. You don’t need a science degree to figure out how babies are made. I don’t want to sound crass, but it isn’t particularly hard for Same-Sex parents to find a kindred couple (or individual) to donate sperm or a womb to produce a baby. There are still legalities involved, but to put it pragmatically, if a Same-Sex couple wanted to have a family, the ‘mechanics’ of it really isn’t that hard.
My views of Same-Sex marriage and parenting have changed somewhat over the years. Some have argued that permitting Same-Sex marriage and parenting is a slippery slope to all kinds of depravity. Truly, I think the depravity has been there since day dot. It’s just out in the open now. If a couple, regardless of sexual identity wants to marry, I have to be honest – it really does not impact me. Same as Same-Sex couples that want to have children. Does it really impact me? Honestly – no.
Here’s what I do think, however. I’ve written before on how my dad died when I was 6. I’m blessed to have a wonderful, loving mum and to have a step-dad that I love, respect and honour. He’s been a real rock for me in many times of woe. Here’s the rub, for me at least. As great as my step-dad is, there’s a part of me that longs to see my dad again. To share my life with, to laugh, love and be with.
Children of Same-Sex relationships, I’m sure, grow up to be happy, stable, productive members of society. I can’t help think, however, that a child misses out by not knowing their mum or dad, like a hole in their heart, that despite how much love, attention, support and goodness they get from other sources, still has a biological-parent shaped hole that they want filled.
There are people that I love, respect and worship with that are ardently against Same-Sex marriage and parenting. I understand their arguments, passions, thoughts and feelings. Honestly, I don’t begrudge them either. I expect they may take exception to what I’ve written.
Personally, I believe that the optimal way of ‘doing family’ is a child having married hetro-sexual parents, living together, working towards a shared set of values who invest in their marriage and their children. Anyone who has been in any type of relationship knows that a long term, committed relationship is hard yakka. Really hard. You don’t need to look far to see the terrible impacts of broken families.
I’ve found when you attack an idea, a person, or a way of life, it seems to galvanize those who you attack. You only need to look at the likes of Fred Nile – his stance against Same-Sex marriage seems to have strengthened his opponents. If you believe that your way of life is the optimal way – the ideal, shouldn’t the results speak for themselves?
Supporters of traditional marriage should be selling the benefits of marriage, not attacking detractors of it. Let your marriage and family be an example of love, grace, support and shared values, not a platform for condemnation. Oscar Wilde once said “Wickedness is the name we give to the curious attractiveness of others”. Certainly, demonizing a particular way of doing marriage and parenting will only support the curious attractiveness of it, not prevent it.
I’ve said before that you can’t legislate against an idea, ideology or opinion. You can legislate against a behavior (with limited success), but not ideas.
Family is one of the most important things in the world – I think we can all agree on that. If you think and believe that you have the ‘best’ way of doing family, be an example in your community. Not as a ‘holier than thou’ Flanders type family, but a real family. Get alongside families (of any colour, shape or description) in your community and support them in love. Be a family that includes, not excludes. Be a family that loves, not loathes. Be a family that shines light, not casts darkness.
I suspect that it is only a matter of time before there is no legal impediments for Same-Sex couples to marry and have children. You can sign petitions, write letters, like Facebook pages, but honestly, I suspect that it’s not going to make a whole lot of difference. Here’s where you can make a difference – with the people you work with. Your neighbors. The families at school. The individuals. As far as I know, there’s no law against being the best example of the family model you believe in – warts and all.
Marriage, family and parenting is hard. There’s always going to be people that do it in REALLY different ways to you – ways you probably won’t agree with. I’m a true believer that kindness wins over judgement any day. I truly believe that if you model, in love, what you believe is the optimal type of family, people will be drawn to it, not repelled by it. Love draws in, not casts away. Everyone is on their own journey – if you believe in God and believe his ways are right and true, his Holy Spirit will guide you, and those around you, to holiness. Pray for the families in your community, for the strength to love them in a way that they need.
Be the light in your communities. Be the best family – the family that loves, supports, guides. The family that’s honest in it’s struggles and open with it’s triumphs.
That will influence your community more than any legislation can.
Pic from http://cdn04.cdn.justjared.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/john-fam/elton-john-david-furniss-family-trip-with-zachary-elijah-03.jpg