Distant Neighbors

In Touchstone Magazine, Amanda Witt on Keeping Children Innocent When Lesbians Move In, a touching story about how a mother negotiates the delicate balance between charity towards her neighbors and the needs of her own family.

� Of course you can be friends,� I said. �But you�ll have to agree to disagree about this. Tell her you can be friends, but she cannot keep trying to persuade you that her mother�s behavior is acceptable.� They nodded.

�She�s really upset,� my son said, tears welling up in his eyes. �She thinks that we won�t be allowed to play with her.� That, of all the mess, is what he understood most clearly: Someone�s feelings were getting hurt.

�You can play with her, but she has to agree to disagree. Now, would you like to make brownies and take them over as a welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift?� All the children nodded.

I love the way this doesn’t turn into a lecture. She teaches by example, and with a very light touch.

My husband, in his evening Bible studies with the children, has been focusing on people who decided to make an exception for themselves in obeying certain rules, either because they didn�t understand why God made such a rule, or simply because his law conflicted with their desires. He has not been pounding away at homosexuality in particular; we�d just as soon our kids forget it exists for now.

I wish more priests would pay attention to this tactic. People complain about the lack of homilies about homosexuality, birth control, abortion, pornography and all the other hot-button cultural issues. But a priest must discern how to speak pointedly on the issues and yet not strip the children in the congregation of their innocence. By speaking about the principles rather than the details I think priests could address the issues that need to be addressed. Also, I think most priests could benefit by talking more to parents and hearing about their concerns, finding out about what they need to hear about.

So some of [my son’s] innocence has been preserved, though a good bit of it has gone for good. I grieve for that. And I grieve for the girl who brought this unwelcome knowledge into his life, for �what chance,� as a Christian friend of mine said, �does she have?� She�s not bright, nor is she pretty; she�s from a broken home, is living with lesbians, is discontented, and �specializing,� as she herself puts it, �in being bored.� She has a lot of strikes against her and, making matters worse, is willing to embrace the role of victim.

I do the only thing I know to do: I pray. I ask God to guide my children�s thoughts and attitudes. I ask him to guide the new girl�s life. He is strong enough to work a miracle there, though it may be a slow miracle, one I may never see.

I have, however, been allowed to see one small step. Recently a new family moved in down the street, and the girl with the lesbian mom suggested that my children go with her to meet them.

�You never know,� she said hopefully. �They might be Christians, too.�

This kind of brings me back to Linda Fay’s post about how to raise heavenly-minded children. This girl has obviously learned to expect love from Christians. Can I say the same about everyone I encounter?

Update:
See additional thoughts on this article by radical catholic mom (I love the Blake poem she quotes) and literacy-chic

2 Responses to Distant Neighbors

  1. Melanie Bettinelli April 2, 2007 at 9:41 am #

    Leticia,

    I’m glad I was able to pass it on in such a timely manner. I never am certain why there are some things that I read and enjoy and then forget about and others I feel moved to write about.

    Maybe sometimes it’s a little nudge from the Holy Spirit who knows that someone else could use the help. At least I like to think so. I like the idea of being a conduit of little graces, the small blessings like smiles from a stranger when you’re having a bad day. I’m not very good about the big things, but it pleases me to think I might at least be useful in some of the small ones.

    Of course, we seldom know when we’ve been allowed to be that for someone else, so it’s also nice to hear sometimes that something you’ve done has helped someone.

    A blessed Holy Week to you too.

  2. Leticia April 2, 2007 at 5:41 am #

    Melanie, I hadn’t seen that column before, thanks for posting it just when I wasn’t feeling so optimistic. I’m going to link to it when I’m blogging again after Easter. Have a Blessed Holy Week.

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