I read with great interest this article in The New York Times this morning: http://nyti.ms/18TEgrp.
Here is the caption about it: “Same-sex parents. Cohabiting couples. Voluntary kin. Children with parents in prison. Immigrant-Americans. What we thought of as the typical American family is being rapidly redefined. It is more diverse than it was even half a year ago.” [I particularly love the phrase “voluntary kin”–isn’t that fabulous?!]
These rapid changes in what “family” means represents a challenge to the church, true, but a far great opportunity, in my view. It’s a challenge, because too many churches’ rhetoric, programming and mindset still focus on the [dare we say “mythic”] nuclear family; and singles, divorcees, gay and lesbian families, and other types of “non-traditional” families continue to be marginalized and excluded–both implicitly and explicitly. However, it’s so much more of an opportunity, because no one knows better than the church that family is constituted by love first and foremost; and if it’s founded on blood in any way, it’s Jesus’ blood, not our own. [Frankly, I don’t like that metaphor all that much, but I threw it in for all the Anselmians out there. However, in light of a previous post, might we say Mary’s menstrual blood? Surely Mary DID have periods, right?! OK, I digress….]
The church can and should proclaim with the most emphatic conviction and joy that the bonds of love God has with us, and that we, in Christ, have with each other, are the most important foundation for any family; and those bonds stretch across age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc., etc. All families are welcome in God’s family, and in their beauty, diversity, and uniqueness all families can embody God’s love for us. The loving bonds of my own natal family were woven through adoption, and, as I have grown older, they have expanded to include not only a husband but also a dog, a German goddaughter, Swedish cousins, and several dear friends. I am deeply blessed by all these family members God has brought into my life.
This Thanksgiving, then, I give thanks for them all, near and far–and even more, I give thanks that I am a part of a much, much larger family that is bound up in and through the serendipitous, surprising work of the Holy Spirit, who weaves us all together in ways that are both delightful and mysterious. The more the merrier!