The following post is almost word for word from a popular blog being shared by both Christians and non-christians. I have changed the word “gay” in the article to “alcoholic” but feel free to replace “alcoholic” with any vice you prefer…. it will be just as ridiculous. The point is… among the good comments on unconditional love we can get carried away and actually cause some harm by ignoring the negative effects of sin.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have alcoholic children.
I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do; quite often.
Maybe it’s because I have many alcoholic people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe.
Maybe it’s because, as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of alcoholic Christian kids, from both inside and outside the closet, trying to be part of the Church.
Maybe it’s because, as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find alcoholism to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity.
For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now…
1) If I have alcoholic children, you’ll all know it.
My children won’t be our family’s best kept secret.
I won’t talk around them in conversations with others. I won’t speak in code or vague language. I won’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, and I won’t try to spare the feelings of those who may be older, or easily offended, or uncomfortable. Childhood is difficult enough, and most alcoholic kids spend their entire existence being horribly, excruciatingly uncomfortable. I’m not going to put mine through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin with misplaced anger issues.
If my children come out, we’ll be out as a family.
2) If I have alcoholic children, I’ll pray for them.
I won’t pray for them to be made “normal”. I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children are alcoholic, that quite likely is their normal.
I won’t pray that God will heal or change or fix them. I will pray for God to protect them; from the ignorance and hatred and violence that the world will throw at them, simply because of who they are. I’ll pray that He shields them from those who will despise them and wish them harm; who will curse them to Hell and put them through Hell, without ever knowing them at all. I’ll pray that they enjoy life; that they laugh, and dream, and feel, and forgive, and that they love God and all people.
Above all, I’ll pray to God that my children won’t allow the unGodly treatment they might receive from some of His misguided children, to keep them from pursuing Him.
3) If I have alcoholic children, I’ll love them.
I don’t mean some token, distant, tolerant love that stays at a safe arm’s length. It will be an extravagant, open-hearted, unapologetic, lavish, embarrassing them in the school cafeteria, kissing them in public, kind of love.
I won’t love them despite their alcoholism, and I won’t love them because of it. I will love them for the same reasons I already do; simply because they’re sweet, and funny, and caring, and smart, and kind, and stubborn, and flawed, and original, and beautiful… and mine.
If my kids are alcoholic, they may doubt a million things about themselves and about this world, but they’ll never doubt for a second whether or not their Daddy is over-the-moon crazy about them.
4) If I have alcoholic children, most likely; I have alcoholic children.
If my kids are going to be alcoholic, well they pretty much already are.
God has already created them and wired them, and placed the seed of who they are within them. Psalm 139 says that He, “stitched them together in their mother’s womb”. The incredibly intricate stuff that makes them uniquely them; once-in-History souls, has already been uploaded into their very cells.
Because of that, there isn’t a coming deadline on their alcoholism that their mother and I are working feverishly toward. I don’t believe there’s some magical expiration date approaching, by which time she and I need to somehow do, or say, or pray just the right things to get them to “turn sober”, or forever lose them to the other side.
They are today, simply a younger version of who they will be; and today they’re pretty darn great.
Many of you may be offended by all of this, I fully realize. I know this may be especially true if you are a religious person with a particular theological stance. Perhaps you find the whole topic unsettling.
As you’ve been reading, you may have been rolling your eyes, clicking the roof of your mouth, or drafting familiar Scriptures to send to me. You may be praying for me to repent, or preparing to Unfriend me, or writing me off as a sinful, evil, Hell-bound heretic… but with as much gentleness and understanding as I can muster; I really couldn’t care less.
This isn’t about you. This is a whole lot bigger than you.
You’re not the one I waited on breathlessly for nine months.
You’re not the one I wept with joy for when you were born.
You’re not the one I bathed, and fed, and rocked to sleep through a hundred intimate, midnight snuggle sessions.
You’re not the one I taught to ride a bike, and whose scraped knee I kissed, and whose tiny, trembling hand I held, while getting stitches.
You’re not the one whose head I love to smell, and whose face lights-up when I come home at night, and whose laughter is like music to my weary soul.
You’re not the one who gives my days meaning and purpose, and who I adore more than I ever thought I could adore anything.
And you’re not the one who I’ll hopefully be with, when I take my last precious breaths on this planet; gratefully looking back on a lifetime of shared treasures, and resting in the knowledge that I loved you well.
If you’re a parent, I don’t know how you’ll respond if you find out your children are alcoholic, but I pray you consider it.
One day, despite your perceptions of your kids or how you’ve parented, you may need to respond in real-time, to a frightened, frantic, hurting child; one whose sense of peace, and identity, and acceptance; whose heart and very life, may be placed in your hands in a way you never imagined… and you’ll need to respond.
If that day should ever come for me; if my children should ever come out about their alcholism to me, this is the Dad I hope I’ll be to them.
*Let’s by all means offer unconditional love… but that includes helping protect our children from the effects of sinful behavior. This issue isn’t about “feelings” it’s about behavior. We make a terrible mistake in thinking anything God calls sin is harmless.