This series I’m writing is based on a simple idea: Each day, I’m going to wake up, pray and read in Proverbs with “parenting eyes.” Then I’m going to blog whatever comes to mind. This could be brilliant or an epic failure. But that’s the plan. Today, I read Proverbs 6:16-35.
The beginning of the movie Bull Durham gives us the narration of Annie Savoy, Durham resident/minor-league baseball *ahem* fan, telling us what she believes in. Mostly it’s what she describes as the Church of Baseball. Apparently, she tried all the other religions (notably, Catholicism as the Rosary has 108 beads and a baseball has 108 stitches) and prefers metaphysics to theology.
She runs into Crash Davis, a journeyman catcher sent down to the minors to mentor a young pitcher on his way up. She asks him what he believes in, and, in one of the more noted soliloquies on the big screen, lists opening presents on Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve, good scotch, and that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
He took Annie’s breath away with his speech, and all she could say was, “Oh, Crash…” Later, he gave another insightful speech and she noted that he could give a good speech but couldn’t give of himself.
Those speeches were at the heart of defining the characters. You can tell a lot about people by asking them what they truly believe in, which is really an extension and insight into what they hate and what they love. So, if I were to ask you what your parents loved, what would you say? If I were to ask you what they hated, what would you say? What would their speeches contain?
I think about what my dad loved, and that list is pretty easy. His family. Hunting. Deep-Sea and bass fishing. His family. Auburn football (noting that means much more than simply the football). Johnny Cash. Basketball. Pabst Blue-Ribbon. My mom’s list is pretty easy, too. Her nuclear family. Her friends, manifested in lots of going out. Her dad…big time. Dancing. A good meal (she usually ate a little off of everyone’s plate). Dogs.
But what they hated? A little more difficult to quantify. I’m not talking about minor annoyances or rival sports teams or quirks. What they truly hated. What set them off.
I know my dad grabbed my throat and pinned me up against the wall after I said a curse word to my mom. All he said was, “Nobody, and I mean nobody, talks to my wife that way? Next time, I knock your teeth down your throat and you pay for the orthodontia. We clear?” Before all you moms get all “child-abuse” on that, I knew that man loved me and, brother, I had it comin.’ My blue-collar dad was just reminding me of the pecking order and I never ever said another cuss word near my mom. He certainly hated his wife being mistreated. After that, my list gets real fuzzy on him.
I know my mom hated lack of effort in school. My higher-order life-liver sister Jilly was viewed as the “gifted-child” (which we still joke about to this day) and her report cards were usually very good. Mine were slightly average or maybe ever a little better, but my mom knew that I was not even giving a third of the effort I was capable of. I knew it, too. I simply didn’t care. I cared later. But at the time I didn’t. And she hated lying. After a few times of getting caught, she pretty much started making it easy on me to tell the truth. I figured out that she’d give me more freedom as long as I was up-front with the truth. But the early instances of lack of compliance were enough to let me know how strongly she felt about lying. Past that, I’m not sure I know much about what she hated, either.
And I wonder what my kids would say that I truly hated. Again, not the quirks and annoyances, but what truly sets me off.
Frankly, my list is pretty short…Few things make my stomach churn like people getting physically harmed. It’s funny but stuff I know to be fake doesn’t bother me at all. If Jason slices up a few summer camp counselors or John McClain gives Hans Gruber what’s coming to him for trying to steal bearer bonds or pro wrestlers fall thirty feet or whatever I have little, if any, problem with it. It’s acting. But show me Rodney King getting a brick to his head on the news or a kid getting bullied in real life or watching an MMA fight, well, I have to change the channel.
Same goes for animal abuse of any kind.
And, well, it goes without saying that I hate it when the Church settles for being anything less than it SHOULD and COULD be. I have strong opinions on that to the degree that it won’t be any surprise to long-time Diner patrons to read that. I’ll fight with great passion on that deal.
After that, I don’t know what my kids would say I hated.
But Proverbs 6:16-35 tell us specifically a few things that God hates:
First, the sentence structure of “six things the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him” lets us know that this is not to be taken as an exhaustive list. It’s really representative rather than complete. That helps us from making this final and thus, limiting.
We know He hates haughty eyes. This expression is really about the eyes exemplifying the attitude of arrogant ambition. The willful rebellion of what we want and the drive to get it as contrasted against what God wants for us. Yeah. God hates that.
We know He hates a lying tongue. The idea is one that might be used to describe a false prophet. Somebody who willfully deceives…almost a betrayal. Yeah. God hates that.
We know He hates hands that shed innocent blood. Generally speaking, when people created in His own image are innocently killed. Yeah. God hates that.
We know He hates a heart that devises evil plans. Kinda self-explanatory. Yeah. God hates that.
We know He hates feet that are swift to run to evil. Again, self-explanatory. Yeah. God hates that.
We know He hates a false witness. Perjury. Yeah. God hates that.
We know He hates a person who spreads discord among family members. People with a short fuse who create chaos in the family. Yeah. God hates that.
I look at that list and wonder sometimes if I’m communicating to my kids that I really do hate the things that God hates. I mean, we’ve disciplined our kids for variations on those things over the years. We tried to discipline for rebellion (when contrasted with kids being kids or age-appropriate behavior we hadn’t instructed them properly yet) and we had some wins and some losses on that ability. We dealt with the lies we caught them in and prayed they’d get caught on the ones we didn’t snag. They didn’t murder anybody so that never really came up…although we certainly had discussions about when life began and the practical repercussions our stance on life beginning at conception might have. That’s the closest we came on that deal. If they devised evil and ran toward it, we did our best to teach and instruct and explain…but sometimes I wonder if we gave them too much freedom here and there. Our kids really didn’t throw each other under the bus so we didn’t have to deal with perjury at all other than a few back-seat Cosby-type household issues where I really didn’t care about justice, I mostly wanted quiet (thank you, Bill Cosby). And, well, our family is pretty laid back and we enjoy each other for the most part, so short-fuses and dissension weren’t much a part of our lives by nature.
And I wonder how you’d teach them the things that God hates most effectively. I mean, I guess we tried our best and maybe we did okay in some areas of what God hates, and maybe we needed a little work on some others.
But my guess is that the best way to teach our kids what God hates is by living the opposite. You know, just living out the opposite characteristics. Maybe they deduce what we hate by watching us live out what we love.
Are we parents who “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God” and submit to His will? Do we let them see us doing that? How?
Are we parents who tell the truth? How do they see us giving credence to His truth against the lies of the world?
Are we parents who value life? Not only technically and/or biologically, but living this one out abundantly? What are they seeing?
Are we parents who are eager to do good? To be righteous? Do we celebrate the right or wrong things?
Are we parents who champion the underdogs? Do we have bad attitudes toward the homeless or widows or orphans or the oppressed? Do our political views crush our/their compassion? (Awfully suburban question, I know)
Are we parents who keep our tempers and strive for peace in the family?
Because it’s easy to nod politely at all these things, no? I mean, they’re the “right” things, no?
Because, we all have a little Crash Davis in us. We sure can make speeches.
But we should be giving a lot of the Sermon on the Mount to our lives instead, no?