God’s test

God is testing you. But maybe not the way you think.

I am betting you are a committed person. The values you hold close are sacred to you. You put a lot of energy into living and sustaining those values.

But that is not always easy.

There will come a moment when you are tested. Maybe you have already experienced it. Maybe it is in your future.

Perhaps you are an evangelical Christian and your son has chosen to marry outside your faith. Maybe he has fallen in love with a Jew. Or a Muslim. Or an atheist.

Maybe your daughter has been having sex with someone outside of marriage. Perhaps she has become pregnant. Perhaps she is considering, or has had, an abortion.

Perhaps your brother or sister has chosen to love someone of the same sex. Or perhaps your child has come out as gay. Or it could be your mother or your father who has started a relationship like this. They tell you this is who they are now. Can you handle that?

There could even come a day when your son tells you that they are now your daughter.

You wonder at these moments what has become of the values you shared. These are ideas that seem fundamentally at odds with your world view. They may seem like a rebellion, even if the people involved do not see them that way. They are hard to accept. One day everything seems neatly in place, the next day there is upheaval and conflict and confusion.

In the end, people you love will do what they will do, and be who they will be. Anyone who is an adult — and especially anyone who is a parent — knows that you cannot fundamentally change another person. Each of us, children included, makes their own decisions.

Your choice is what you do about it.

You can cling even tighter to your values, feeling that this is God’s test for you. You can reject the things that seem wrong to you and your faith, and in the process reject a person you love and their own conception of who they are.

That choice is a path to years of pain for you and for your loved one. And on a more practical level, it just doesn’t work. People cannot change to win back your love; even if they try, what remains of their sense of self and of your relationship will be fraught with distrust and fear and is unlikely to be stable.

There is another choice, hard as it is to consider.

You could decide to retain what you feel so strongly about, but make room for the fact that someone you love has a different view. Is your faith strong enough to coexist with a different way of living? Is it really so weak that it cannot abide someone else’s difference of opinion?

You could accept that family, too, is a sacred value, and that preserving it is crucial. Honor your mother and your father. Honor your wife and your husband and your brother and your sister. Honor your children. Honor their difficult choices.

Perhaps this is God’s test of your capacity to love.

Think of it that way, just for a moment. Hold that idea in your head.

What will you do now?

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  1. This post feels of a noticeably different voice and format from your usual. No subheadings, for one. Still you? Just checking.

  2. Josh, thanks for this very welcoming invitation for people to put love above ‘being right.’ I appreciate it as a pastor, the parent of a trans-teen. What a beautiful “test’ during Pride month. <3lessings, <3en