Doodling in the Sand

The news that Brian McLaren has taken part in the same-sex commitment ceremony of his son has already received comment in the evangelical world.  Denny Burk's piece is particularly helpful.

It is a reminder that familial ties and relations are powerful and impact the way we think and act.  While many orthodox Protestants dismiss Erik Erikson's thesis about Luther's problems with God being really about his problems with his earthly father, I have always considered the argument plausible to some extent.  One cannot reduce Luther's theology to mere psychological projection but to deny that his disrupted relationship with his father had no impact on his thinking would seem to require him to be less than human.

Family ties are one thing.  We have no choice over them.  But there are other ties that bind that can be equally damaging.  The feudal ties of voluntary confederations and personal friendships can be just as powerful and have negative effects that seem less excusable precisely because water is, as they say, not as thick as blood.  How many of us have kept quiet on issues because of the fear of offending a friend?  Or because of the potential for upsetting the big names on whom some rely for public profile and media access? How often have friendships which should provide a context for plain speaking actually proved to be the reason for cowardly silence?   Bad company corrupts morals, as somebody once said.

You cannot choose your relatives but you can choose those with whom you join together in voluntary alliance.  McLaren's actions are certainly worthy of scrutiny and criticism; but so are those of us who keep quiet because of much shallower relationships than that between a father and a son.  And some of those silences could prove far more damaging in the long run than the domestic arrangements of the McLaren household.


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