Thursday, May 24, 2012

KuyAte Leadership: Cross the Bridge, Bridge the Cross

A youth once complained about his little bro being a crybaby, effeminate & liking girly stuff. My reply: "Where were you as his brother?"

It's nothing new. For the past weeks, we've heard of it: conflicts of views about homosexuals and homophobics. Of political rights and moral wrongs. Of third genders and sex offenders. And as much as we Christians must take a stand on what the Bible says, how can a world who has long slowly started to reject the word of God believe our arguments?

Where does homosexuality start? Is it really genetic, as some would insist? Is it spiritual (like a demon possession), as some religious extremists would claim*? Is it borne from psychological, environmental and social influences, which help them shape their personality and view of self?

[*As a Christian, I also share this view that homosexuality is also a spiritual influence. However, I believe that it is a personal choice, too; even if we try to exorcise that person - it will be to no avail unless the person admits and confesses to it being morally wrong, and allow Christ to work in that person's life. Our task then as Christians is to guide and bring them to that realization, not by force but by sincerity of motive which is the love of God, then believe in God's power to move in their lives.]

I am not a psychologist, nor am I an expert. But what I do know is that these people also need Christ, that His sacrifice also includes them, and that based on countless stories it is possible for them to change and rediscover the life that God has planned for them.

But that isn't what this blog is about. What I want to talk about is: where are you as a brother? Where are you as a sister?

Being part of the youth ministry for quite some time has allowed me to observe families and siblings as they grow into (or devolve from being) families. Here are some of my observations:

  • Just because you're surrounded by brothers doesn't automatically turn you boyish.
  • Just because you're surrounded by sisters doesn't automatically turn you girly.
  • Having parents around is a big factor, but it doesn't determine how one grows into their sexual orientation.
  • Sexual education only helps you understand your sexual physiology and psychology; it doesn't guide you to really make that decision on what your sexual orientation should be.
  • When unguided and unmonitored, kids get their sexual development from those around them: what they see in media (TV and internet), what they hear (songs and conversations) and who they interact with.**
  • Just because you're "not family" doesn't you can't be a big brother or a big sister to someone.  

[**Again, I am not saying that we should isolate the kids from 'unwanted influences', though both parents and responsible siblings have every right to. However, that will only cause them to learn animosity, which could lead to hostility and/or avoidance. This is also not good.]

The point here is actually simple: why keep looking for excuses and other people to blame? Why not look at ourselves and see what we can actually do – by God's grace?

First of all: are we taking it seriously?

As a Christian, I believe that homosexuality is a sin as clearly stated in the Bible. It is also a psychological deviation from our natural physiological design. And while it is a personal choice, we all know that we don't always make the right choices — simply because there was nobody around to help us make the right ones. And seriously, whose fault was that?

I mean, come on — we joke about it, make pranks about it. We take photos of us in amusing cross-gender outfits for the laughs, make provocative (albeit disturbing) poses, or even imitate their tone and language.

Sure, it's all for fun.

Sure, it's all for the "bonding".

But surely, what are we teaching them with such flippancy?

I am not against fun, jokes or pranks; in fact, if such were a crime, I'd be hunted by the Interpol by now. But there is something that we should also learn: responsible humor.

Sure, it's all around the internet and TV and radio. It's in the streets, billboards, magazines, and novels. Heck, it's even in Japanese manga, cartoons, and the Marvel comics (gaaah I used to think the Marvel/DC comics was a "manly/boyish" literature... now I don't know).

But what does it mean to be responsible? What does it mean to be accountable?

Every action, every word has a consequence. But not only for harm.

Imagine what can happen when we start being more responsible in how we interact with the youth. When every word and action is a wonderful lesson for them to learn, practice, emulate and share to others. Where amidst all the fun and laughter, they find purpose and principle — and most of all, how God's grace is real and true in our very lives.

Sounds simple. But really, how?

I enjoy being a surrogate brother to a lot of young people in our church. As an adult now, I understand more the important of how words of encouragement or correction can influence how a person thinks of themselves.

Like how calling a young girl "pretty" without malice can help  her discover how beautiful God created her to be, and guide her to enjoy being a girl without the misconceptions of romance and sex.

Like how calling a young boy "kuya" can instill in him a sense of boyhood, or even manhood, and with it all the responsibility of such a title that society expects from him - both as a boy and as a man.

Like how gently correcting their choice of words, their choice of actions, their choice of thoughts may seem trivial but would someday give them a strong foundation of morality.

Like how a stern but loving rebuke brings them back to perspective, especially when they see the sincerity and shared pain of it.

Like how our own interactions with their parents or siblings help us build bridges for them to cross whenever they're too afraid of the currents of emotions, or when the family foundations appear to be shaky.

Like how by our own lives, we live out Apostle Paul's quote: "Imitate me as I imitate Christ."

Being a brother or a sister is actually simple.

So why bother?

Siblings, both by blood or friendship, play an important role in everyone's growth. It is not the sole responsibility of the parent. Every family works as a team. Every team member is important. As cutely pictured in Disney's Lilo & Stitch: "O' hana means family. Family means no one gets left behind, or forgotten."

Love always is first learnt inside the family. And love without correction and guidance is not love. As Paul describes in Hebrews 12:
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,  and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,  and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline —then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
To the Kuyas and Ates out there, it is our responsibility not only to be God's ambassadors, but also as stewards of His household. And a home without a loving, fun, watchful brother or sister is both boring and empty.


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