I am a father of one son, with another son on the way. I saw this post a few days ago and it was a great reminder of how I believe all parents, myself included, should approach their children: with open arms. I believe the advice shared by the author applies to parents who are gay, straight, working, stay-at-home, Christian, atheistic, Islamic, or whatever. Mainly just some sound principles for appropriately accepting and loving our children regardless of the ways they may be different from us (their parents).
That said, I think that tolerance has its limits, and can at times breed indifference, ethical apathy, even ignorance–especially if we just accept what people say without investigating the fullness of the principles they postulate. I watched a parenting video a few years back and one of the take-home messages was (and it’s been a while so I’m paraphrasing slightly here), “If it’s not morally or physically dangerous, I let my children make as many decisions as possible so they can learn from the consequences of those decisions.” People will obviously differ culturally on what constitutes moral danger, but I think there’s something healthy to take away here for all people of all backgrounds. Eventually your kids will need to start making their own decisions, and wouldn’t it be great if you got to continue being part of/influence the decision-making process, instead of being a resented old coot that they can’t wait to get away from? Ask your kids questions. Be interested. Be an influence. Be balanced in your feedback. Show them the human respect they deserve.
(As a side note, isn’t it interesting that children are the only people in America not protected from certain forms of assault? Good luck spanking your employee that shows up late for work without getting sued for your next 10 years’ earnings!)(And for anyone getting ready to throw out the “spare the rod, spoil the child” argument, there are more effective and lasting ways to discipline a child than physical violence. They just take more determined, consistent work on your part as a parent. Stop taking the easy way out.).
I hope you’ll give the post linked above a quick read and consider what it means for these 4 promises to have been made by: a) an American man in 2015, b) a straight American father, and c) a Christian pastor (who also happens to be a father). I hope you’ll think about his motives for what he says. What drives him to be so passionately accepting? Is there a faith-based motivation? A moral conscience? A simple belief in the good that can come from being kind to others, especially children?
Regardless of your faith background, if you side with this man in radical acceptance of a child…better yet, if you decide to “judge not, lest you be judged,” what implications does that have for your acceptance of others that society has traditionally cast aside? Who else deserves your radical acceptance? Is there something to which you should be devoting more time, energy, thoughts, prayers, or money? I don’t care what your personal/theological/ethical/moral stance is on the LGBTQ community. You’re entitled to your opinion, whatever it is. What I do care about is that you start and end your conversations with anyone from that community–or any other community that differs from your own–with respect and curiosity. Work toward understanding even if you have a hard time with acceptance. Leave the judgment and hate for someone else. It’s not your job.