There’s been so much discussion and argument and anger on the Internet this week, discussions which I’ve been unable to keep myself from joining. And the only thing I can think about–the thing that makes me speak up–is how much I love my children.
Love is what this all keeps coming back to for me.
Love is not an if-then statement. If love is conditional, then it isn’t love.
I don’t often talk about God or religion or my personal beliefs because they’re just that to me. Personal. But suffice it to say that I fell out of favor with the fundamentalist beliefs by which I was raised a long time ago. I saw far too much judgment and condemnation coming out of the church and not enough love. I still see it, and right now I’m seeing it with renewed fervor and all it’s doing is solidifying my belief that I made the right choice when I decided that particular denomination was no longer one with which I wanted to be associated.
All of this “hate the sin, love the sinner” that I see flying around is judgment, pure and simple. It’s not discernment, as some people want to call it. It’s not looking at the actions or choices of another and saying “that is not for me.” It’s looking at those actions and choices and saying “I am better than you because I do not do that.”
That’s not showing love, people. At all. And for the record, it’s probably not winning you any new converts or bringing people like me back to the fold, either.
Growing up I carried this intense belief that to disappoint my mother would be the worst thing I could ever possibly do, despite the fact that she never did anything to make me believe that her love was conditional. But still, I sought her approval and before I made any decision, I thought “what would my mother think of me?” I’m 31 years old and I still have a hard time not thinking that.
But I wasn’t gay. I’m not gay. So I never had to worry about that particular brand of “disappointment” and what might happen to our relationship.
And now I’m a parent. I’m on the other side of this now. And I see so many parents who love their children but still hold this “love the sinner, hate the sin” belief and I just can’t see how that exists in the role of being a parent. I can’t rationalize it in my mind or my heart. It doesn’t make sense to me.
So in the midst of all of these conversations swirling about in cyberspace and in grocery store check-out lines and probably pulpits across America this morning, all I can think about are the children of parents who hold beliefs such as those. How very alienating it must feel to believe that love is conditional upon being straight.
Love isn’t love if there’s an “as long as…” attached. It just isn’t.
Will my children disappoint me in their lives? Probably. They will make choices I wish they hadn’t made and that will disappoint me. But this isn’t really their choices I’m talking about.
I will never be disappointed because of who they are. I will never love them less or differently. I will never make them feel like they can’t be 100% themselves for fear that I’ll disapprove or that the way I feel about them will change.
I know as surely as I know my own name that there is nothing my children could ever do or be that would stop or change my love for them. Nothing. At all. Ever.
For the rest of my life and theirs, I will love them with every drop of blood in my body and every fiber of my being. To stop loving them would be to stop loving myself because they are part of me. Tiny little people that I grew and nurtured and when I look at them I see every single good thing in this world radiating from their faces.
What I want my children to know, more than I want them to know anything else, is that I love them. Full stop. Forever. No matter what.