Monday, June 13, 2016

An Unexpected Lesson from Harambe

You're all aware of the whole story, I'm sure, of the little boy that fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden that ended up with the zoo officials having to kill the poor endangered gorilla named Harambe. It was quite a story with all sorts of moral outrage. "How dare they kill that poor gorilla? Let the kid die instead!" "What's wrong with that zoo? Not securing their exhibits against all possible intrusions?" "That mother should face charges for not keeping her child out of the enclosure."

In many places it was that last one that was the loudest. And it's that last one that baffled me. We live in a world where "judging" is evil. You know, "judgmental". We live in a country where we worship freedom, a freedom that even exceeds freedom. Like our fervor to give "freedom" to less than 1% of the population by taking it away from 99% of the population because that tiny number believes themselves to be elves. Okay, not elves, but you get it. Freedom is our god. In gender questions (as if there is one), the aim is "let me be me." Don't limit us to binary gender identity. Let's obliterate it instead. In sexual pleasure, our aim is absolute freedom. We should each be allowed to do whatever it is we like. Well, almost. There is still a remnant of folks opposed to "man-boy love" and bestiality, but the rest is an open field, limited only by what we want. In child rearing, the aim is to make your kids free. Don't limit them; let them express themselves to their fullest extent. It would seem to me, then, that this mother was a hero. She didn't limit her child. She let him express himself fully. She should get a "mother medal" or something.

To tell you the truth, though, it is not the dead gorilla, the poor little boy, the zoo, the mother, or that news item that I have in mind. It isn't even the problem of Americans' worship of freedom. What occurs to me is the almost universal response that the mother should have protected her son better by limiting his freedom, by correcting him and even preventing him from doing what he did. We see that in parent-child relationships. Why can't we see that in the rest of life? Why is it love for a parent to correct a child, but it is not love for someone to correct another? Why can we see that a mother that drags her son from the brink of disaster or a husband that plunges into a burning building to pull his suicidal wife from the fire is loving and heroic, but we cannot see that a friend who tells you "God says your behavior is sin and it won't end well for you; there is a better way" is performing a service, an act of love?

If we were to be consistent, we would either give that mother a medal for refusing to meddle in the child's freedom, or we would recognize that true love sometimes has to "reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." (2 Tim 4:2) But, of course, we're humans, twisted by sin, and not consistent.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2)

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