Sunday, September 15, 2013

I'll Pray For You

          I stumbled upon an article earlier this week that outlined the particular issue of a man who had recently told his fundamentalist parents that he was gay. The story really upset me (as such stories always do) and also made me think about the phrase that truly caused the man so much pain. The phrase, which was included at the end of so many letters written by his mother and father, was the very common "I'll pray for you." The problem with this seemingly caring sentiment is the fact that it is horribly insulting to the person who it was told to because of a reason that the person who gave the sentiment sees as a fundamental flaw. When someone is about to take a test and is stressed, or someone is in pain after an injury and is feeling the emotional trauma of thinking through the ramifications of the injury (such as an athlete who hurts his or her knee) saying the phrase, "I'll pray for you" is entirely appropriate and helpful thing to say. It is comforting to the emotions. It is sentiment that you care about what is ailing them. 
          However, when you say this phrase to a person because you feel that they have a fundamental flaw about them, the phrase becomes one of the most hurtful things you could ever say to another person. If you believe God designed people and knew them before they were even born, why do you feel that God made a mistake in making them gay? It is an absolutely despicable attitude. It's analogous to a white person telling a black person that he'll pray for him because he is not white. The phrase, in this way, becomes "I will pray for my idea of you." When you pray that someone will change an inherent quality about them, you have ceased to care about who they actually are. You only care about who you think they should be. 
          This is multiplied when placed in a family setting. When you write to your family member and say "I will pray for you" because he or she is gay you have ceased caring for who they actually are. You do not love the person they are. You despise it. You only love your own idea of them and what they "should" be in your eyes. It is like a parent who raises a child to become what he or she could not as a child. That parent then judges that child's success along the lines of what success they achieve. There is no actual way to meet the parent's approval because the bar is set too high. It is like attempting to reach the outside of a circle when all you can do is take a step halfway to the outside every time. When you create an idol of what you think a person should be, you cease to love that person and only love the idol because the idol is more fulfilling.
           So the question is put into your relationships with those around you: Who do you love? The person as they are, or the idol as you wish them to be?

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