Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thinking about a Book....

Today on my blog, I am going to tackle something political (which is not at all the forum for this blog) and I’m also going to create a spoiler alert for the new Jodi Picoult book (readers, beware!)

I have just finished reading Sing You Home, her latest novel about the issues of gay marriage and infertility. I must first tell you that I am a fan of Jodi Picoult books. I love courtroom dramas and Picoult has a way of tackling pretty tough issues and making you think about it from another view point. She has tackled many issues from suicide to terminally ill children. The language in her books can be a little rough at times, but its usually to help the character express himself in the light of very strenuous circumstances. I’m not saying I like the language, but neither am I tempted to start dropping the F bomb – so I don’t really see it as a huge deal.

The plot of this novel is this (spoiler alert): A married couple, Max & Zoe have tried IVF unsuccessfully to help them have a child. When their latest round of IVF ends in a still birth, the couple can’t cope with their loss and divorce. Zoe befriends a lesbian teacher and decides she is also lesbian and they get married. Max goes to live with his brother Reid and his wife, Liddy, who are members of an ultra conservative church. When Zoe asks Max for the use of the last 3 frozen embryos so that she and her partner can have a baby, he decides he wants to give them to Reid and Liddy who have also been unable to conceive. A court battle ensues. There are a lot of details I’m leaving out (so read the book) but,  Zoe decides to give Max the embryos instead of being slapped with a sexual harassment suit (which was fabricated). Max in turn gives them back to her knowing she will make a great mom. The last chapter is told from the view point of Samantha – Zoe’s little girl. Sammy knows she is the luckiest girl in the world because she has Mommy Zoe, Mama Nessa, and Daddy. She also has Auntie Liddy – who is getting ready to marry Daddy. Yes, by the end of the book Liddy has left her husband Reid for his brother, Max. The book closes by Sammy saying she really is the luckiest girl in the world.

I was bothered by many things in this book – and the top one on the list wasn’t the gay marriage issue! I was bothered by the fact that Max fell in love with his sister-in-law and it was perfectly natural to express that emotion by having sex (in his brother’s house). It was okay, in the end of the book, for them to be together. While the author in no way made this a central issue of the book, the message was loud and clear. Love is enough reason to leave a committed marriage relationship. A woman is a good enough reason to destroy your relationship with your brother. There are no boundaries. Being together feels good, so be together at any cost. Well, what happens, when Max or Liddy fall in or out of love again? It is so easy to tell ourselves the lie that “I deserve to be happy” or that “feeling good” is enough reason to move ahead with our selfish plans. But what no one else ever reads in books or sees in movies is when that thing no longer makes you happy. What then?

 I also hated the way that Christians are portrayed in this book. It was either the Westboro “gay-basher” Christian or the “Christ saved me and now my life is amazing, so we must pray others out of their sin” type of Christian. Neither of those come close to depicting my life with Christ!

I believe that living the homosexual life style is a sin. But I also believe lying, gossiping, being disobedient to your parents, hate, immorality, and a whole bunch of other things are sins, too. In fact the famous passage in the Scripture that speaks of homosexuality as a sin (Romans 1) also lists many other things that are sins.

I do believe that there is an agenda in America to take God completely out of society and force me to be tolerant of all other lifestyles – while no one is particularly tolerant of my choice to be a Christian.

I do believe that America is on slippery slope when the family and marriage is no longer considered sacred. How do you tell a polygamist that his marriage is not okay? Why is it not okay if all parties enter the relationship willingly? Is it really any different than telling two women or two men they can get married if both parties willingly choose to do so? My questions is: Where does tolerance end? How can we choose whose lifestyle we will or won’t be tolerant of?

And, I do believe there is a breakdown in the American family. But I’m also convinced that is has very little to do with the “gay agenda.” It has more to do with the fact that so many people are having children outside of marriage, that divorce is such an easy option, and fathers are largely absent. I am not passing judgment on anyone who has had to make the awful decision about divorce. I love too many people who have had to make that decision to believe that it’s an easy one – but I know that its an available one.

I wish so badly that Christians had been portrayed differently in this book. Then again, I wondered if the author had ever actually met a Christian that didn’t in someway fall into one of the categories. Maybe that’s the problem – the Christians that the world sees are the “God-hates-fags” “let me pray you out of your sin” types. They see us glamorize Christianity as if I’ve had no problems since I came to Christ and my life is a sunny-walk-through-roses kind of life. Maybe we as Christians have failed to spread the real message about Christ. Maybe we’ve gotten in His way. We’ve jumped on the band wagon that the “gay agenda” is ruining America and that the democrats are the reason for the moral decay in society.

I believe that it is important to take a stand against sin, but I also know it is more important to love people. I know that when I read encounters of Jesus and sinners in scripture he was hanging out with them – having meals with them. And, I don’t ready encounters where Jesus took them and their sin head on. It’s more like just being with Him changed them. Over time, as they got to know Him, they left their sin because their lives didn’t match up with His.  Even when Jesus confronted the woman at the well – he made more of a statement, “You are right in saying you have no husband. You’ve had five husbands. And the man you’re living with now is not your husband.” She was shocked that Jesus knew all about her life and he’d only just met her! It was enough to make her leave her current lifestyle and follow him. But for the most part, Jesus loved people, and that loved changed them. Jesus saw the person and he just loved – without an agenda. Maybe it’s time to set down our “Christian agenda” of being kind and loving SO that we can win people to Christ. Maybe it’s time to just pattern our lives after Christ and love people because we all need to be loved. Maybe, just maybe, the love of Christ still has the power to change lives. I’m not suggesting that we water down the truth, or stop sharing what Jesus had to say about sin. I’m just suggesting that maybe knowing how we feel about sin isn’t the most important thing when we are trying to reach the lost. We read in the Scriptures that it is the “love of Christ that compels us.” His love is enough to change the hardest heart, the most seasoned sinner. It’s time we start believing that we, too, are sinners saved by grace and to give the world a glimpse of who He is instead of what He’s against.

The thing I really believe is that if people can get just a glimpse of who HE really is that will be enough. 


Pam said...

I so agree Jen! Love people is key! I miss you and continue to pray for you as you serve!

mmdwhitten said...

Good post Jenn! Totally agree