Monday, April 07, 2008

Privacy Fences and Neighbor Love

I am currently engaged in building a fence in my backyard. When completed, it will be five feet tall and have pickets spaced approx. one inch apart. God willing, it will also be straight and sturdy. It should be, considering I dug some of the post holes almost as deep as the posts were tall and then proceeded to pour 40 lbs of concrete into them. Barring tornado or natural disaster, some of my posts will remain until the Lord's return.

What bugs me about our culture is our great tendency to isolate ourselves. Nearly everyone in the community has build a six foot wall encircling their backyard. I wonder why we do that? What in the world is going on in those backyards that they don't want everyone else to see? Sun-tanning? Bizarre cult rituals?

As for me, about the most exciting thing that will happen in my backyard is baseball tossing and hamburger grilling. I look forward to standing on my deck on a nice spring day, flipping juicy steaks with grill spatula in one hand and waving to neighbors I can see with the other. As long as my fence keeps my children and my dog out of the street, I will be content. I am building the fence to keep my family in, not to block my neighbors out.

It seems strange to me that we, as a people, flee home after work every day to get behind a closed garage door as quickly as we can. Why don't we want to come into personal contact with one another? Why do we erect impenetrable barriers between ourselves and and our neighbors?

As a Christian, I wonder what sort of signal it sends to our neighbors when we build a privacy fence? Though it may be subtle, doesn't it say to them, "We want to keep you out?" Where is the God-given command to love our neighbor in that? If we were only interested in keeping things in, wouldn't a five foot fence with gaps do as well as a six foot fence with no gaps?

I don't know what everyone's motivation for building a fence may be. I know that I could never build a fence that would not allow me to wave at my neighbors. I want to know my neighbors, and even more shocking, I'd like to share my burgers with them. To me, that would be immensely more fun than watching TV or sun-bathing, and it would seem, far more Christian.


Anonymous said...

Bro. Brad.....I totally agree....


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