I had an interesting conversation with a friend about the (repulsive) response Pat Robertson gave to a woman who called in to his talk show about her adopted kids. If you aren’t following this story, well good for you because I wish I hadn’t heard of it either. Basically, this woman had adopted children and she was finding it hard to get a man to marry her and adopt the kids as his own. Something like that and Robertson made crazy statements about adoption and basically made a total fool of himself.
Probably one of the most damnable statement he made was “You don’t have to take on somebody else’s problems.” I was floored by this when I read it. I had to look up the segment because my initial reaction was that there’s no way he said that and it must be the media twisting his words because they’re out to get him – not that I blame them. (Dear 700 Club, seriously… get him away from the microphone!!)
But nope. He sure did say that out loud. And so… conversation…
Of course my friend was particularly interested in my take on this being adopted and all. What am I going to say? I know folks who are staunchly against foreign adoption because it has become a government industry (is that an oxymoron?) and countries like China and Korea make money off of the shame of usually single teenaged mothers. There have even been rumors that families will essentially whore out their daughters because they will get some money compensation to bring a healthy baby to the institution for sale to some nice rich white folk. I believe that happens without a doubt.
But I can’t blast people who have understood that principle – the one that says do unto others. The one that says this isn’t my mess, I had nothing to do with it, but I’m claiming it as my own and I want to be part of redeeming it.
And about a man who will marry a woman and take on her kids and treat them as if he gave the sperm that created them, well good for that man. The phrase “as if they were his own” makes my skin crawl. What does it mean to be “his own?” Is it about DNA and fertilization? Sure. On a very base level we all know this. We sat through that awkward class with that awkward video with that awkward gym teacher who really really needed a beer at that moment. But what life teaches us is sperm and eggs do not a parent make. Well, technically they do. But you know what I mean.
All of this said, what really gets to me in the original problem of this single mom trying to date is the key point our friend Pat completely missed. Maybe because he hasn’t dated in awhile. When you are dating someone and at some point considering marrying this person, you are dating and marrying THE WHOLE PERSON. Not some segment of them – not their best side, but also their worst side. Not the wine and roses and mountaintop giddyness. But the heartaches and the painful memories and the failures and the gut wrenching regrets. You don’t get to pick and choose what comes with the deal – this isn’t a cable bundle package where you get NFL games only (and whether or not a game is in overtime you still get to see ALL the games). You get everything. For keeps. No backsies.
My heart goes out to that woman. I cannot imagine being in her shoes. The painful realization that so many of the men she will meet will walk away because they don’t want the Home network channel with 24/7 Nickelodeon, they just want NFL. or whatever.
And let’s say at this point that I can’t exactly blame them. It is HARD WORK to take on a marriage and an instant family overnight all at once. I can only imagine how someone who is not quite sure, and not quite secure in himself and his role in it all, might completely freak out and walk – nay run – away from that. To go from completely single and aloof to responsible for an entire family’s well being, not forgetting the process of figuring out all the workings of a new marriage, is a tall order and I would never begrudge a person their right to bail… but only BEFORE saying “I do.”
At the end of the day, you have to be looking at the whole picture. Who is this person I want to spend my life with? What is it about this person that I see fitting in so completely and wonderfully with who I am and what I am meant to do? Can we communicate and work things out well together? Are we both willing to throw everything onto the table and deal with this whole life every day and every night until Christ returns or calls us home? Are we in it for the warm fuzzies and candlelit dinners and walks along the water? Or are we also in it for the screaming whining children and the busted air conditioner and the 20th time we have to talk about one of our insecurities and fears? Or maybe it’s the 200th time, because I lost count.
And yes. yes we do have to talk about it for the 200th time because that’s what it’s about at the end of the day. Because what’s yours is mine. We bear each other’s burdens and we carry it through. We take each other to the foot of the cross and we stay there together. I cannot say I love you without meaning ALL of you, every part, every hurt, every sorrow, every joy, every struggle, every gross habit, every memory, every dream. When you marry someone, you are saying this is what I commit to, I’m stepping into this mess and you’re stepping into mine, and we’ll straighten it all out by the Grace of God.
It’s also not to say that everything will be all good the moment you give everything to God. It’s not like the Mary Poppins sugar spoon snap my fingers and everything gets reset. There will always be mess. There will always be broken toys and birds that refuse to sing and soldiers that don’t quite make it back into the box. And you can snap all you want, but there are some things that are beyond repair. and this grieves us, and it grieves the heart of God.
But more importantly, we look forward to the day it will all be set back aright. It makes me think of Christmas – yeah I said it CHRISTMAS! When the long awaited Messiah came and everyone in the stable was excited but bewildered. Like, really God? You sent a baby. Cool. That’s cool. He’ll grow up he’ll be strong he’ll start an army he’ll storm the barricade he’ll sing a rousing bar song… oh wait… he’ll die? He’ll be rejected and stoned and beaten to a bloody pulp. Um, ok.
And so redemption doesn’t always look like we think it will. It doesn’t take the amount of time we think it will. This is the Gospel working out in our lives. This is about God stepping in to a mess He didn’t create, taking ownership of it and making it beautiful. In His time, in His way, to His glory. Our relationships are but a glimpse of the epic reset button, the recovery period being longer for some then others, but the story will unfold for you as it is for me and for all those who cling to the Cross and its promise to save us and adopt us and restore us.
And that’s what Pat Robertson shoulda said.
photo from loving-shepherd.org