Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Home Fires That Burn

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
—Malachi 4:5-6

If life were a movie, Baltimore wouldn't be crumbling under the angered fists of protesters, gangs, and the desperate poor. This scene has already been played out—in Ferguson, Missouri, and in Los Angeles, and in a dozen other places across the home of the free—so it makes for a poor storyline to see it again. But here it is. And once more, as if on cue, a cry for justice has turned into a cry for blood, and the only thing being wrought is more injustice.

I believe there is a tragic, self-fulfilling prophecy at work in all the looting and burning. The shouts of "Black lives matter!"—true though the sentiment might be—masks a deeper cry: "I matter!" And though the current protest finds its lifeblood in the African-American story, this longing is not unique to any one race or city. It is the longing of every human heart for home. But "home" is receiving the full brunt of the fury. By attacking their own city, the rioters are, in essence, agreeing with the very injustice they came to battle. Every shattered window and torched convenience store loudly proclaims that the folks who live in this neighborhood actually don't matter after all, that home is just an illusion.

Every night when I come home from work, I make sure to give my son lots of hugs. I tell him, "I love you," more than once, though he cannot yet understand my words. I build a tower out of fabric blocks that his mother made for him, and I cheer when he crawls across the room to knock them down. Laurin and I pray for our sweet boy before placing him in his crib for the night. He knows "Thank You, Jesus," and he smiles, because we show him those words in sign language at every meal and every nap.

More than anything, I want my son to know that he matters to me and to our heavenly Father. I want him to know he has a home here in this world, and when this world is over, if he wants it, a home with Jesus.

There is something broken in Maryland—and all across this world—something that cannot be repaired by police sensitivity training, neighborhood watches, or social programs. Nothing can replace the family—a mom, a dad, and their children. Everyone needs a home—a mom and dad to tell us we matter, to speak deep into the recesses of our hearts in the unique ways that only a mom and dad can. 

I wonder how many acts of senseless violence might be left undone if each angry face knew he mattered, not only to his mama, but to his dad too—and also to his Maker. Could it be that what's spilling out into the streets began years ago with hugs that weren't given, "I love you"s that went unsaid, and prayers that were never prayed? I know a bit of what it's like to grow up that way—and my heart aches for anyone who longs for home.

Today, just 40 miles from Baltimore, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that may very well change our nation's legal definition of marriage. If the highest court in the land should decide to make gay marriage legal in all 50 states, they will condemn millions of children to the same fate as many of those young men and women in Baltimore: a home that will never really be home because it lacks the love of either a mother or a father.

Those who support gay marriage want us to believe that love is all that matters—that a dad (or a mom) isn't necessary as long as there's love. But that's just not true. Don't take it from me. Take it from Heather Barwick. In her recent letter to the gay community, Heather writes about her experience growing up with two mommies and the pain that it caused her:

Gay marriage doesn't just redefine marriage, but also parenting. It promotes and normalizes a family structure that necessarily denies us something precious and foundational. It denies us something we need and long for, while at the same time tells us that we don't need what we naturally crave. That we will be okay. But we're not. We're hurting.

If our nation continues down this path, the meaning of family will not really be changed. Only God can define marriage, and therefore the family. But we will be doing the cultural equivalent of looting and rioting—setting fire to our own homes and pretending that what we're doing is somehow noble.

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