Frank Weathers writes:
The President of the United States would like for you to discuss health insurance over the Christmas and New Years holidays, but you’re going to spend it quacking on about the sinfulness (or not) of homosexuality, gay marriage, etc. Baby Jesus is being born, and you might recall that event for a few hours, but then it will be right back to Duck Dynasty, what A & E and Cracker Barrel did, and other stuff because nothing, not even a religious holiday celebrating the Incarnation, can get in the way of what many are heralding as the most important civil rights issue of all time.
“If it’s gay, it’s news,” he concludes, and the implication is that we’ve got our priorities reversed, that these discussions are distractions from what really matters. In one sense, Weathers is right, and I’m guilty. Before my eggnog hangover* has worn off, before I’ve left my in-laws’ house, with O Holy Night still ringing in my ears, from the desk next to my wife’s childhood twin bed, here I am back at the computer making arguments about the equality of gay relationships. And though I’ll try not to, I might say something over the course of these posts that causes some of the season’s goodwill to dissipate.
But Weathers is wrong in suggesting that these things are unrelated. Bill Lindsey has written movingly about the tendency of some in the Church to speak as if gay people are not in the room. Well, for lots of us, Christmas is one time of year when our gay relatives literally come through the door and into the room. And when they come bearing gifts and love and hugs and kisses and, yes, spouses, and when they eat the same carne guisada and drink the same champagne and take the same delight we take in a three-year-old’s Christmas-morning joy. When that happens, questions about the nature of family lose all of their abstraction. In those moments, in the glow of God’s love for us, we stop thinking about what makes a family and instead experience family.
So if we come back to these spats with renewed energy, it’s not that we’ve forgotten the lessons of Christmas. Quite the contrary—our arguments come from what we’ve just experienced.
After all, if you’ve spent the past few days watching the self-sacrifice in your gay sister-in-law’s marriage, why wouldn’t you push back against people who say she’s just playing house?
And if you’ve spent those days watching love work in families that take a variety of shapes, why wouldn’t you resist the notion that good can only come from one idealized family form?
And, finally, if you’ve been meditating on the example of a Holy Family built on love, why wouldn’t you speak up against those who would define family by the ability to procreate?
*Okay, I had champagne and red wine last night, but “eggnog hangover” sounds so much more seasonal.