Today is my wedding anniversary. My husband and I got married 18 years ago, on our kid’s first birthday. Which also means my kid is turning 19 today. Wow.
So family, and the idea of family, is on my mind right now.
There’s this story about Jesus and family that I always thought was kinda cold. Jesus goes to his hometown for a visit. He is doing his thing – healing people and telling stories generally hanging out – when someone comes up to him and says “Hey Jesus! Your family is outside! They’re asking for you. And Jesus is like, “Naw, man. You are my family.”
Mark 3:31-35 The True Kindred of Jesus Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters[a] are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
I read this passage again this morning and realized Jesus isn’t actually denying his blood family. What he is doing is emphasizing his chosen family.
Because the people who are with you through thick and thin are not always blood. Our strongest bonds are with those who have walked alongside us through our darkest nights. I feel such sorrow for those who do not have family – whether chosen or blood.
And – perhaps because it is Pride Month – I also am also thinking about the changing meaning of family. You know it’s only been 6 years since the United States deigned to grant gay people the right to marry. Six years! I remember when “family” was code for gay, because you couldn’t just openly declare such a thing. I remember when it was almost a given that a gay kid would someday have to choose between staying forever in the closet or maintaining ties to their blood family. Many still have to make that choice.
Chosen families become so much more important when your blood family shuns you.
So for today’s artwork I found a depiction of family that represents all these things. This is by AORTISTS – an Indian, nonbinary, transgender artist in England. This particular piece was made to honor International Women’s Day. Read AORTISTS’ bio if you want to learn more about them. And prints of this piece are also available in their shop.
We have seen some amazing growth in societal acceptance of LGBTQ+ families in my lifetime. But there is still room to grow. Even if we could snap our fingers and get rid of homophobia and anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination today, there would still be massive amounts of work to do because there are still so many people out there who have been hurt from a lifetime of being treated as deviant, as unlovable, and as not worthy of finding love. Especially by the Christian Church. A Church that purports to preach a god of love, and then turns around and condemns some love, calling it “sin.”
So now, looking back at this text – who is my family? Whoever does the will of God. And what is the will of God?