when is the time?

injusticea few days ago the fam and i went to see the great debaters with denzel washington, the true story of an all-black debate team in the 1930’s that was the first to compete against white colleges.  we love those kinds of movies, ones that stir up great conversation and a desire to make a difference in this crazy world.    it is so painful to see such harsh examples of racism and injustice.  there were too many good lines to recap but one that was the most powerful to both jose and i was when one of the debate team members, samantha booke, argued on the immorality of segregation and responded to her opponent who said “the world’s just not ready yet for integration.”

she came back with “so when IS the time?…when will there be a right time?”

if rosa parks never got on the bus, if the freedom riders never took their first bus trip, if the first black student didn’t walk through the door of a white college, segregation would still exist.  why?  because there’s never a right time for unjust systems to magically fall.  it just doesn’t work that way.  this exact statement was said to me after i taught on a weekend at our old church a few years ago (i was the first woman to “preach”…i personally hate that word but i guess in that moment that is what it is).  you see, afterward, a few people with deep pockets and conservative convictions asked the question “so what is our stand on women teaching?” and it stirred up a hornet’s nest of back door conversations.  this is what the conclusion was: “we believe in kathy.  but we’re just not ready for it yet. it’s just not the right time.”  this past year a bible study tool i co-wrote got released, and the #1 christian retailer of bible studies refuses to sell it in their stores because i’m one of the “lead” pastors at the refuge & they are deep rooted in conversative theology about women in leadership (this is no joke, for reals, a bible study for women written by women won’t be promoted because of my job title).    “they’re just not ready yet.”   do you know  how many women i know who are amazingly gifted and talented communicators and “pastors” and leaders who are waiting around for the “right time”?

it is clear, i’m not the most gracious and gentle when it comes to issues of injustice, especially in systems of Christ-followers.   i believe that unjust systems are allowed to perpetuate themselves because it’s never the right time to change.

there will never be the right time for people to all of a sudden accept what has never been accepted before.

but it’s always the right time to stand up for something that is wrong.

of course i recognize that many christian circles are theologically adamant that women can’t lead.  honestly, i am not talking to them; they have come to their conclusions and interpret the Bible differently than me.  i can respect their position even though we don’t agree.  i am speaking to the many men and women who know in their heart “something is awry” but sit by and don’t do anything about it.  it bugs them that they go to churches where women can’t speak but they just accept it.  they  keep hearing & seeing the same boys over and over and kind of wonder where the different voices are but just assume “that’s the way it is.”  they repeatedly see women working their tails off but with titles that are demeaning to the jobs they actually do.  they have wives and daughters and friends who have something to say & contribute but never get a chance.

there’s never a right time. 

but i believe the time is always now to start asking questions.  to start questioning the system.  for those in power to give up a little of theirs to make room for voices that never get heard (and i’m not just talking about women here. the women’s issue is only one of so many examples of continued inequality and subtle and overt discrimination against those not in power in society & the church. it is just one of many issues of injustice i am passionate about & just happens to be on the tip of my tongue at the moment).   yes, i believe the time is always now for some small (or maybe big) steps toward battling injustice.  and yes, as much as i am an idealist, i am also a realist.

i know  the hard road to equal rights is paved with years and years of crazy sacrifices, casualties, and experiments.

but just because it’s hard, maybe feels impossible, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take clear and tangible steps toward the right thing. i deeply respect all of the men out there making room & starting to ask questions and all of the women out their using their gifts and risking their hearts.   each of you are paving the way for not just women but others who don’t typically have power or voice because of man-made systems that contradict Kingdom principles.     micah 6:8 is one of my favs.  God requires us to do justly, love mercy & to walk humbly.  the time to live out micah 6:8 is always now.    

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

9 Comments

  • now IS the time! thank you so much for having the energy, courage, and stamina to do what you do and be who you are! the work you’re doing is helping to clear the path for the young women behind us who will carry the torch in the future. God is totally using you – you go girl!
    xoxo

    Reply
  • I saw the movei last night and thought the same thing. I read an article recently that talked about the saying ” an idea whose time has (or has not) come”

    Their point was that some ideas will never come at the “right time”. When is the right time for communism or for that matter consumerism or racism to come to an end. It turns out that there never is a right time.

    Marketers dont even bother wasting their time thinking about “the right time” once they decide to act they go to market acting like their idea has always existed and they are simply announcing that “if you drive this years BMW” you will be cool. I mean who really NEEDS another car.

    Ghandi – didn’t take a vote – he led – he acted

    My life is no longer up for vote – Jesus and I will decide what’s important to act on- I of course will engage with trusted people in (and outside of) my community but I realize that all I have is me and Jesus and he is the only person whose vote I covet.

    Reply
  • leslie, thanks for the encouragement. so glad you keep stepping out, too, leaning in to all that giftedness you have! so glad we get to do it together.

    jim, yeah, waiting around for a vote, we’ll all be waiting a long time. acting on what we know is right deep down, that is what we need to lean into. see ya next week in denver, it will be fun!

    Reply
  • the “when” question is why I like to understand ‘thy kingdom come’ as a statement of fact, in present reality (without denying it’s eschatology). When it is understood as here and now, there is no waiting around.

    Reply
  • I am excited about your new blog. Great post. Your words are an encouragement to me. Things DO sometimes feel impossible, but God keeps putting it into our hearts to stand up. Ready or not we must be here now for a reason. Trust that you are paving the way and injustice is shrinking. You are right on time.

    Reply
  • Hey Kathy, I love this new blog! It’s such a great way to spread the revolution beyond the bounds of the Refuge! I don’t how you find time to write so much! You’re so prolific! Keep it up!

    Reply
  • sage, “the kingdom come”…the “kingdom now” has helped encourage me so much these past few years. that the kingdom now is possible & i think the big idea

    jenny, yeah, it does feel like we are all here for a reason, that something bigger is at work. glad we’re in it together

    paul, glad you stopped by! prolific is not a word i’d use to describe me, hahhaha. but it is fun to rant and ramble!

    susan, thanks for commenting! this same thought is probably really prevalent for any minorities & unfortunately i think true…and sad. way too much pressure and so not fair. it’s all so messed up!

    Reply
  • this blog reminded me of the lyrics to the ben harper song, better way.

    I’m a living sunset
    Lightning in my bones
    Push me to the edge
    But my will is stone

    Fools will be fools
    And wise will be wise
    But i will look this world
    Straight in the eyes

    What good is a man
    Who won’t take a stand
    What good is a cynic
    With no better plan

    Reality is sharp
    It cuts at me like a knife
    Everyone i know
    Is in the fight of their life

    Take your face out of your hands
    And clear your eyes
    You have a right to your dreams
    And don’t be denied

    I believe in a better way

    Reply
  • marty – beautiful! i want to hear the real song now, i will have josh get me off itunes. i believe in a better way. thanks for believing with me…

    Reply

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