But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead.” – Luke 9:59b-60 (NRSV)
I’m gonna go ahead and assume you’ve already gotten the word about what God thinks about “God ‘n’ Country” kinds of Christians. Good. Now Jesus delivers tough news for all you “Faith and Family” types, too: he really doesn’t care much about your family ties. Want to bury your dead dad before you head out to follow Jesus? Nope. Want to just run home real quick and tell your sister you love her before you leave forever to follow an itinerant preacher you just met? Not if you have faith you don’t.
It’s a point important enough that Jesus makes it a bunch of times, including by ditching his own family at least twice: the gospel is more important than your mom. Life with Jesus matters more than filial piety or whatever Pinteresty “family is everything” sentiment is stenciled on the dining room wall.
If that’s a bitter pill for you, maybe it will help if you consider that there are people out there—lots of them—for whom a divine commandment to leave their family behind is actually a huge relief. There are people out there—lots of them—for whom the expectation, or at least the permission, to make a new, chosen family is the very thing that might save them.
Queer people have been doing it for generations. Survivors of childhood abuse, people who peek out of closed communities and discover a whole world out there, those who break out of generations of addiction; the list goes on.
If you’re one of the many for whom freedom and health outweigh loss when they leave their families of origin, hear this: the gospel is for you, maybe especially so. Jesus is on your side. God knows it’s not easy, but the gospel—and you—are worth it.
For all that you free us from, and for, thank you.