unless we're all free, none of us are free.

blog unless were all free none of us are free“freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

– martin luther king, jr.

most of you know i’m a nut case for equality.  you hear me talking a lot about gender equality but that’s just because it’s a critical starting place.  when half of the population of the world is thought of as “less than”, we’re in serious trouble.  in a church that is supposed to be the free-est, most liberating place in town, we’re in even deeper trouble.  christians should be leading the way on equality in absolutely every area, yet we all know that on the whole, we are lagging behind, stuck in white privilege & imbalanced power & segregation and all kinds of things that are not reflective of the kingdom of God Jesus called us to create.

equality isn’t just about gender. it crosses into race, sexual orientation, socioeconomics, and any other ways we are divided that strip people’s dignity.

it’s not a side issue or a pet project  equality is a core issue of an active faith and one that as Christ-followers we are called to participate in creating.  here, now.

the fight for equal rights has never been a simple one.  all over the world, there are wars & battles & movements calling for change.  people are sacrificing all kinds of things on behalf of change, even their lives.   i believe passionately that we re called to be dignity restorers and champions of equality in every way, shape and form.  toni morrison says “the function of our freedom is to free someone else.”

i am supposed to use any freedom i have to help free my brothers & sisters who aren’t free yet.

yeah, unless we’re all free, none of us are free.

this week was a historic week in our country in the movement toward marriage equality.  i always say it’s easy to be against equal rights when we have the ones we want. i love that our president stepped out in a big and bold way to advocate for change that’s been a long-time-coming in this country.

it was brave.

i hope it calls all of us to be brave, too.

the reason it’s so risky to stand on behalf of change in a public way is because we’re scared.  we’re scared of what other people might think.  we are scared we’ll lose our jobs.  we are scared we’ll lose our ministries.  we are scared we’ll lose others approval.  we are scared we’ll be bullied alongside the outcast.

and the truth is that we might.

but it’s worth it.

because unless we’re all free, none of us are free.

galatians 5:13-15 says: “for you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. but don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. for the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “love your neighbor as yourself.” but if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! beware of destroying one another.”

i am so tired of all the destruction, all the ways christians have used the Bible & power & control to separate, divide, and strip others’ dignity.

but i firmly believe the solution is not in looking at how jacked up the system is and spending energy there.  it’s fun to rant & rave about it, but the truth is that ranting and raving won’t change anything.

what will change things is when we begin to vote with our feet (and in ballot boxes) and refuse to be part of churches & systems & groups that oppress.  period.  they aren’t going to get our money or our time or absolutely-anything-anymore and i don’t care how good their music, teaching, or kids program is.

when we risk our reputations and speak out for equality and freedom.

when we actively participate in setting others free.  that means creating little pockets of love & freedom where equality is practiced & dignity is restored.

our freedom is all tangled up together.  our dignity is all tangled up together.  our hope is all tangled up together.

Jesus shows us what love looks like–laying down our life for our friends.  this means we will pay a cost on behalf of love.  i am reminded of what cornell west says: “justice is what love looks like in public”

it’s time for change.  so many are starting to rise up from below.  there’s a holy stirring.  a hunger and thirst for justice and righteousness.  we are done sitting passively in our fear & complacency while our brothers & sisters are marginalized, oppressed, and stripped of their dignity.

the cost to us will be great.

we’ll lose our reputations, jobs, respect, friends, appearances of theological credibility, and a whole-bunch-of-other-things-that-are-worth-losing-on-behalf-of-doing-what’s-right.

it’s the least we can do.

so that’s why i’m writing this today.  to say strongly and clearly that i stand on behalf of my brothers & sisters and their fight for freedom.

because unless we’re all free, none of us are.


Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • I like what Fr. Rohr said about this discernment-

    “… I believe the authority of the Church comes from a life shared and lived together. Out of that come our answers, our roles, functions. Out of that experience of the risen Jesus freeing us and giving us his victory come the teachings of the Church. Unfortunately we in the Church are trying to teach a morality apart from the experience of the risen Jesus freeing his people. Yet the most compelling moral responses come from the ambiguities of real life not from textbook answers that are prefabricated and so-called pure. That’s why any renewal of the Church that is not a return to some type of community, loyal relationships, family, isn’t renewal. We do not think ourselves into a new way of living; we live our way into a new way of thinking. Educators and prelates seem to have a hard time understanding that.”
    from “Community: The Foundation of Authority” by Richard Rohr
    Thanks Kathy, I appreciate your courage and clarity.

    • that richard rohr. so much in that little paragraph, really every sentence in there is so good, so challenging.

    • it’s so lovely to be connected out here. thank you for your voice and passion. it’s a gift.

  • This is one of the best reactions to President Obama’s speech. Thanks for stepping up and out, Kathy. The living Word unites us, it can not and does not create a platform to segregate classes based on sexual orientation, race, economic class or otherwise. As lovers of Jesus, we love.

    • oh realy? If you plan to do nothing when you have the power to…are you realy “FOR” it? The Obama Justice dept has gone to the Supreme court to fight the overturning of the Defence of Marriage Act. He has refused to sign an Executive order giving health benefits to the partners of same sex Federal Employees. In his Courageous Speech while he said he was for same sex marrige, he also said was a states isue-not a Federal Government issue-which means he does not believe it is a civil rights issue, which would make it a Federal issue. When he ran for the senate he was for gay marriage. When he ran for President he was against it. He just keeps evolving. (I know-isnt he wonderful!!)

      • michael, for me this isn’t about obama. that is one little piece and i could have easily written this a different week.

    • thanks, travis. i usually stay away from politics on here but this really isn’t just about politics and i could feel that thing inside of me that needed to be listened to–why wouldn’t i write about this this week? i’ve written about it before so it’s not new but what’s interesting is i could feel that fear inside of me because i know how this works. i know the dividing lines and how nut-ball passionate people can be over this one and in a flash, people turn. but silence is a way we stand on the side of the oppressor. and often love requires more than just words. very thankful for you out here. you give me so much hope.

  • this is hard, what you’re challenging us to do. and you know i’m with you all the way, in theory, in my heart, in my friendships, … the challenge that to simply rant and rage, is not accomplishing much of anything hit me like a bulls-eye. and yet, driving along the day the president made that beautiful speech, realizing that i speak freely because i don’t work for anyone except myself, still two things hit me hard.
    1) two of my children have chosen against “Christianity” because the church seems to “hate LGBTQ people.” 2) my church, a beautiful amazing loving community came out and said last year that they believe the LGBTQ lifestyle was a sin.

    i don’t know what to do about either of those things. advice?

    • thanks so much for sharing, melody, and that beautiful piece that you wrote. damn, that is good! really. i was in a hurry yesterday because of a wild day so didn’t have time to comment yet but it was so well-said, this dilemma. no easy answers and each person has to make their own decisions, but i do think it’s important to decide what our limits are. i do think that part of what our children are expressing is that they smell the inconsistency. they are intuitive that something is awry in the whole thing. we made a shift out of the typical systems we had been part of for years 6+ years ago and it is very interesting how much really still lingers for my oldest ones based on their experience. the littler ones have been spared a lot of the hypocrisy now that we are in a place where equality really means equality. i respect so much the huge dilemma that you are in when the church you love believes firmly in their position. i really do honor that we have a wide breadth of differences on this, and to me, the saddest space is when we can’t hold that tension all together somehow. but i guess that is one question–what do they do with your feelings? can you speak about them openly? that’s sort of a ramble this morning and not sure if it was helpful or not but tossing it out there to start.

  • this week was a historic week in our country in the movement toward marriage equality. i always say it’s easy to be against equal rights when we have the ones we want. i love that our president stepped out in a big and bold way to advocate for change that’s been a long-time-coming in this country.

    it was brave.

    According to this guy, it was anything BUT “brave”:

    (FYI, looking forward to getting your book soon. I really like your blogposts.)

    • thanks eric, yeah, lots of different takes on it that’s for sure. for me, the point really isn’t about obama necessarily but about just speaking out in a clear way on behalf of others equality even when we already have it.

  • It is one thing to love a person, despite their sins because in the end we all sin and those sins are forgiven by God. But, to encourage and allow that sin is not right. Our God is SO loving! Yet we should be respectfully fearful of Him. God made certain roles for men and women and you can find the verses you want that might suggest it’s ok for gays to marry, but it does clearly mention man and woman to marry. And what about the sex? You can get creative for men to do it, but women…? God put so much thought into our bodies, obviously by the way he created us, it truly only fits for men and women to mate. I know I am going to upset some, but understand my own sister is gay and married, I love her and support her as a person, I try to seperate that from supporting her sin. It doesn’t always work out because that sin is a part of her.

    • thanks for taking time to share your perspective, sarah. i always appreciate people taking time to comment. there are so many conflicting views on this and interpretations of scripture and everything in between. holding it all in tension is very tricky.

    • If I can interject for a bit: “And what about the sex?” is actually a really good question. (Because it’s both hard and interesting to answer.)

      Part of the problem with sex-and-sexuality-and-gender-and-sin-and-stuff is that there are shifting standards. When we’re not cis* and hetero*, “sex” includes a LOT of stuff that ISN’T sex – by our standards or Biblical ones – but IS socially transgressive. (“Holding hands in public” is a case in point.)

      I have no doubt that we could sit down and work out a list of things that are off-limits. And working off that, we could come up with a much longer list of things-to-do-that-aren’t-clearly-sex-or-sin. And I also have no doubt that it wouldn’t matter. At all. Scrupulously following that list would still get us as condemned as if we didn’t bother.

      Because it’d still be transgressive. No amount of prooftexting could change that.

      That’s the bigger problem with sex-and-sexuality-and-gender-and-sin-and-stuff is that it’s turned into a new original sin: something that we are ALWAYS guilty of, all the time, even if we’ve done nothing that can be repented for. That’s not “adulteress,” that’s “Amalekite.”

      The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. The bad news is that getting out of where we are is going to take rethinking the entire discourse of sex-and-sexuality-and-gender-and-sin-and-stuff. NOBODY wants to start that. So we’re gonna stay where we are. Necrotizing.

  • I agree that in a culture where we do not discriminate, gay marriage should not be prohibited. You cannot deny civil rights to one group while recognizing and protecting them for others. I think you are right on target there. But when you speak to the issue of the Bible, you may want to rethink. The case against homosexual practice is still a strong one. I have a good friend who is gay, has studied both Greek and Hebrew in seminary (I have too, but as a straight guy, my academic studies don’t count), and yet he freely admits that one cannot make the Bible bless what it clearly prohibits. His response to me was, “I know the interpretive gymnastics that people do to reinterpret those problem verses, but they are just being dishonest. And I understand why they want them to say something else. I do to. But they just don’t.” All of the verses about love and grace do not erase those that prohibit homosexual behavior. And those prohibitions cannot be written off as referring elusively or even primarily to recreational, emotionally detached sexual activity. Even so, this is no reason for Christians to condemn and marginalize LGBT persons or anyone else. We are called to love and honor each other. If we disagree, we should name that and still find a way to speak to each other in love. As one who does not like to marry his politics to his faith (faith always gets corrupted in that deal), I just wanted to make the case for some of us who do hold to an orthodox understanding of Scripture, but would never use that to devalue another human being created in God’s image. We might use it as motivation to call our brothers and sisters to a higher, better way of life as informed by Scripture, and we might disagree on what that is. I’m okay with that disagreement. If that makes me intolerant, then either I, or the one making that charge, do not really understand the meaning of that word. And on that freedom thing, whatever laws we pass, there is no freedom apart form Christ.

    • Hi alan, very astute and interesting comments! This might be best looked at in two ways, as a civil rights issue and as a response to faith. In terms of civil rights, it seems to me to be a no-brainer, unless one is a supporter of some kind of sharia law. In terms of faith, it brings a great opportunity for us to umpack our faith, and seek greater understanding.
      Jesus did not talk about this issue. He did talk a lot about divorce. As a (straight) divorced man, I am more guilty of sin and responsible for being a threat to marriage than any married same-gender couple. And that is from my most sincere biblical understanding.

      • If it were acivil rights issue it woud be a Federal issue-which Obama said it is not

      • Senate candidate Obama said he did not think marriage was a civil right: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_XAVqrqr4j4.

        Should someone who is not a veteran receive veterans benefits? Should someone who is not disabled receive disability?

        If marriage is defined as an exclusive union between a man and a woman, then someone trying to form a union between two men or two women is not forming a marriage. There is not discrimination based on sexual preference, the desired union does not meet the definition of marriage.

        If a homosexual man wanted to marry a woman, and the marriage was denied because of his sexuality, then that would be discrimination based on sexuality.

        If marriage is not defined as an exclusive union between one man and one woman, then what is the definition of marriage? What are the restrictions (family, etc.)?

        As followers of Yeshua, we are definitely called to love with a love that includes homosexuals. As a follower of Yeshua, I am not convinced that loving homosexuals requires supporting “gay marriage.”

        As a proponent of limited government, I believe that many of the benefits (transfer of property, etc.) that supporters of “gay marriage” desire could also be accomplished by limiting the scope of government.

    • hi alan, thanks so much for sharing. when i wrote the piece “it’s easy to be against equal rights when you have them” that is my point, really. when it comes to legal right, it’s silly that regardless of scriptural interpretation, they should be granted. we don’t have to agree, but it’s unjust not to give them to all. when it comes to scriptural interpretation, that is always the tricky one because i, too, have studied the scriptures and land in a different place than maybe you do. that feels really important in this conversation–allowing our differences in interpretation and honoring each other in love. i appreciate the spirit of your comment, thank you!

    • Alan – great thoughts and very well articulated. I think you might have summarized exactly how I currently think about this issue.

      “You cannot deny civil rights to one group while recognizing and protecting them for others….I just wanted to make the case for some of us who do hold to an orthodox understanding of Scripture, but would never use that to devalue another human being created in God’s image. We might use it as motivation to call our brothers and sisters to a higher, better way of life as informed by Scripture, and we might disagree on what that is.”

      • I, too, want to weigh in here. Kathy, I get what you’re saying and agree that all people are created in God’s image and deserving of His love, and ours.

        But…I think you misinterpreted Galatians 5 and used it out of context to suit the message of your post. Paul is speaking to the Jews, who Christ FREED from the Law (and the power of sin). He is saying we have freedom from following the regulations of the law. “But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh”…(v.13)
        In Romans 1, Paul writes about homosexuality as “dishonorable passions,” “unnatural,” “shameless acts”…

        Out of our great love for people, we want to see everyone called into the holiness (the “freedom”) Christ desires for each and everyone one of us. That involves recognizing sin (homosexuality, according to Scripture, but also when I lose my temper and yell at my children, and a thousand other acts that are not of the Spirit). We turn from sin, toward Christ and community. We don’t want to do as Romans 1:32 warns: “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

        • thanks for sharing your perspective, cheryl. i think it’s interesting how often this ends up being the direction a bible conversation goes–“you take that verse out of context, but here’s what God really says…” and then take other verses and apply them the same way. we need to become more honest that these things we say about the bible are our interpretations of it. i don’t mind at all differences in scriptural interpretation but the trouble i have is the idea of certainty that your view is for sure exactly God’s. i know plenty of people who love & value & have studied the scriptures yet see it differently than you. peace.

    • scale of life, when i get comments like this in this tone, i am not really anxious to engage. the spirit of this post has little to do with politics and everything to do with life together in the kingdom of God with our friends.

      • My apologies. I am not sure what tone you perceived in my comment. I attempted to keep it as straight forward and “toneless” as possible to gauge how serious you are about some of the things you wrote. Many of the statements are bold statements, and, though you indicated the post has little to do with politics, some are clearly political or have political implications.

        Based on some of the other comments, you post clearly appealed to so people them emotionally. That is understandable. A large percentage, and likely a majority, of the population believe in some idea of freedom, equality, and rights. However, when you begin to get into the details and start defining freedom, equality, and rights, people’s beliefs and opinions often diverge.

        I will begin with one of the comments in bold at the beginning of your post: “christians should be leading the way on equality in absolutely every area.”

        When I read this, I had lots of questions:
        1) On whose authority?/Is this Biblical? Upon my reading of the Bible, God is a god of love and a god of freedom, but I do not see equality as a general theme. Even a casual reading of the Bible indicates that in this life, and even in the next, there will be inequality.
        2) What do you mean by equality in every area? Income? Health? Education?
        3) If you do mean “equality in absolutely every area” how do you reconcile that with “unless we’re all free, none of us are free.” (As soon as people are truly free, there will be inequality.)

        One of the clearly political statements was this: this week was a historic week in our country in the movement toward marriage equality.

        Again, I had some questions.
        1) How do you define marriage?
        2) What is the purpose of marriage?/Why is government interested in marriage to begin with?
        3) What do you mean by marriage equality?
        4) Should anyone be able to get married? Brothers and Sisters? First cousins? Minors?

        The point is that if government is going to recognize “marriage,” it is going to have to define marriage and likely it is going to put some limits on it (close relatives, minors, etc.). If the definition of marriage is not limited to a man and a woman, on what basis would the government make the decision to limit it to 2 people? Assuming for arguments sake that the government did decide to limit it to only 2 people regardless of gender, would not the government be denying “freedom” or “rights” or privileges to polygamists that others have (from above i always say it’s easy to be against equal rights when we have the ones we want.)?

        EricW asks some excellent questions in one of the comments below. Your reply was “i also think we have to go with a bit of reality and i do not believe that the government will be able to untangle itself from laws related to marriage anytime soon.”

        When I read your post above, it seems to indicate that this fight will require boldness, but is worth it (we’ll lose our reputations, jobs, respect, friends, appearances of theological credibility, and a whole-bunch-of-other-things-that-are-worth-losing-on-behalf-of-doing-what’s-right.)

        If you believe that “unless we’re all free, none of us are free,” why not apply the same boldness to getting the government to untangle itself from laws related to marriage (and countless other aspects of our daily lives)?

        • Lots of questions. I have one for you- what have you done to help someone lately? What have you done for another in response to the love cultivated in your life from following the ways of Jesus?
          I think Kathy answered you perfectly well in her response. To re-frame an old adage and with a nod to C.S. Lewis- “If you can’t take the fuzzy, get out of the wardrobe”.

        • Sage,
          For some reason the site was not allowing a reply to your comment. I am not sure how you think that my questions were answered, so to demonstrate a direct answer to answer to a question, I will answer yours.

          I worked with a racially, religiously, and politically diverse group of people to create a community garden in a low income neighborhood plagued with poverty, drug dealing, and prostitution. Local people working together to solve local problems.

          I also sent a several thousand dollar check to the federal government to fund the bloated monstrosity created by supposedly well intentioned people (of both major parties) over the last century.

        • Thanks Scale of life,
          It is really good to hear of your community garden project. That is good in so many ways! I know because I am working on the same thing in my community- it is rich work indeed.
          I know that this isn’t the best place to hash out our perspectives on government, which for me is a conflicted and complicated thought (and Kathy’s post is not about politics, per-se). I will say that I hear resentment from you about govenment, and resentment can lead to hatred. If you consider them to be the enemy, and you feel persecuted, then your job is harder than mine. That means you are called by Christ to love them, and pray for them.
          Thanks for answering, and I wish you well.

        • scale of life, my boldness related to freedom is not centered on the government although i do believe in equal rights for all when it comes to our country’s laws. my hope is that the church would be a place that best reflected equality because in Jesus the kingdom of God is available now. we will always have inequality this side of heaven, but the truth is that God’s reflection here on earth–the body of Christ–is sorely lacking in equality and my hope is that we’d humbly and boldly participate in shifting that.

  • What is equality if I have my little pile and you have your little pile? We still feel there isn’t enough to go around. But there is ALWAYS ENOUGH. We just have to die to get it! Die to the Ego, our own popularity, power, things we are convinced of and let transformation win. Unless we fight for the freedoms of all, the freedom we have isn’t worth much at all.
    You keep inspiring me! Thanks!

    • “and let transformation win…” amen, sister. love you and the reminder that there’s always enough in the kingdom of God.

  • Amazing Post!!!

    I actually had the same thought the other day. Shouldn’t Christians be leading the way to fight for freedom for everyone. Since most Christians consider themselves part of a minority and are sensitive to persecution should they not demand a non-restrictive culture for all minorities?

    • thanks aaron. it is an interesting phenomenon, what we are known for…

  • Once again, a beautifully written article. Reading this, gives me faith that some people can be christian and are also able to love without judgement. I am so tired of reading this week “love the sinner, hate the sin”… who are we to judge that?

    Thank you for your courage of standing up to the evangelicals who keep claiming sin, sin, sin over and over and forgetting the message of love, love, love.

  • Why is government interested in marriage to begin with? Some people believe that marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman not 2 people. If marriage is not limited to 1 man and 1 woman, what is the basis for limiting it to 2? Why not 3 or 4, or as many as the group in the marriage want?

  • Kathy you have opened up a can of worms talking about politics and homosexuality. Ha!

    Personally I don’t think that President Obama was acting out of bravery. I think that he was acting out of a desperate need (or desire) to stay in power. His statements did nothing and will do nothing to change the rights of homosexuals. He said (paraphrased) I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to be married regardless of sexual orientation but there is nothing I can do about it, its up to the states.

    To me, it was actually cowardly. “I believe this…but someone else needs to take care of it because I can’t…” Makes it easy to place blame on someone else if the “belief” turns unpopular.

    As far as homosexuality and freedom goes, I think it is CRAZY complicated. My brother is gay and I have had quite a few conversations with him about homosexuality. Although my opinions on “the why” have morphed and changed over the years, the expectation of me to simply change my beliefs to make him (or other homosexuals) feel comfortable (or feel free) are, to me, absolutely absurd.

    My experience with the homosexual community has been largely negative. What I find interesting is I am expected to allow them the freedom to do (or think) whatever they want, but I am not given the same freedom in return. I have been told many times what I need to say and believe in order for me to truly accept my brother. Otherwise he wants nothing to do with me.

    As far as the rights of married people being granted to homosexual couples I really could care less…a lot of these things do not really affect me.

    Do I believe that if my brother were in the hospital that his partner should be able to see him during family visiting time? Yes. Do I believe that my brother should be able to make funeral arrangements for his partner? Sure. Do I believe that my brother and his partner should be able to file taxes jointly? Sure. Do I believe that my brother and his boyfriend have the right to enter into a prenuptial agreement? Yep.

    Do I believe that homosexuality is the way God intended people to live? No. Do I have any understanding of what it is like to be gay? And say things like “I would never choose to be gay, its miserable.” No.

    See how it gets really messy really quick?

    What has been desperately difficult for me is to do my best to show love to my brother, invite him and his boyfriend to my home for dinner, peruse a relationship with him and his boyfriend, visit them when I am near where he lives, yet have it all thrown back in my face because I struggle with the idea that living a homosexual lifestyle is the best way to live. Would you allow your brother and his boyfriend to sleep in the same bed in your house? Just for the sake of making them feel welcome or loved? Is that REALLY showing love? Giving people what they want? Is that really freedom?

    I want to be clear about one thing. The venom and hatred comes from both sides. Its the christians and its the homosexual community. Obviously this is not a blanket rule and there can be civility on all sides of this topic.

    Simply stated. For me this conversation is tough. I can’t say I agree with everything you said Kathy, but thanks for continuing this really hard, complicated conversation.

    • Reverend Wright said best “Obama is a politician, he has to do what he has to do’>

    • thanks so much for your thoughtful response, josh. i really appreciate it and oh there are all kinds of different perspectives on obama’s move. you bring up so much and the reality that it is, indeed, messy. i think each of us needs to wrestle with what God is stirring up in us. it’s not easy. for us, we have radically shifted over the years and so yes, i do remember the days when we would never let anyone who wasn’t married sleep in our house together. and i know what it felt like when we let it go and didn’t feel the need to put in our two cents and how much better it felt, not because it was “easy” (i am one of the most conservative people you will meet about premarital sex) but because it is so judgmental. i’ve got a big enough forest in my own eye already that needs my attention, why do i always have to be worrying about others’. i think in this argument that is a place i do, indeed, get frustrated scripturally. how come we don’t advocate passionately for so many other passages in the Bible that call us to not throw stones or judge and to stay on our own side of the street. i have also observed that when there is so much damage from so many others related to the homosexuality issue, there’s no question in my mind that the only way is love. unconditional, radical love, the kind that doesn’t go “i love you but not your sin” but the kind that goes “i love you for being you.” so glad you are here and thank you for engaging in this oh-so-messy conversation.

      • Thanks for your response! Thanks for responding to everyone actually! That is a lot of work! I would love to chat more with you sometime about this topic. It has put a huge strain on my entire family and that might always be there. Who knows. Hopefully not. Probably shouldn’t talk about it on a blog though. 😉 Perhaps we could set up a Skype conversation sometime with our spouses? I think my wife is following you on Twitter – her name is Alana. Let me know!

        • hey josh, it is tough stuff, that is for sure and i am glad that we’re all wrestling with it in different ways. you guys can email me at kathy @ therefugeonline.org and maybe we can figure out a plan to connect. peace to both of you.

  • I owed you a comment anyway, but this just made me want to shout from the rooftops! There is a sea change going on right now, one that has been long in coming. Thanks for adding your voice to the rising tide of support for equality! I love your heart, seriously.

    • thanks mollye, you are awesome and i am so glad that we were able to connect briefly on monday and glad for facebook and kindred spirits. here’s to more and more courage.

  • Here is another thought. If we go back to the garden. The original creation. Does the Bible say anything about marriage? Doesn’t it go something like God didn’t like that Adam was alone so he created Eve. Pretty sure it doesn’t say that they had rights for this or that. They were partners meant to take care of the earth and fill it up with little Adam’s and Eve’s.

    Is the idea of marriage simply a cultural idea and really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things? Hmmmm got myself thinking here. ha!

    Weren’t there kings that God appointed that were seen as “a man after Gods own heart” that had tons of wives?

    In our culture that is illegal! Therefore God must not be okay with it. Does CULTURE = GOD?

    WAIT! Would the Bible say that someone was “a man after God own heart” if he was shacking up with a bunch of ladies all at the same time?

    Im giving my self an aneurism. Time to go get some lunch. 🙂

    • Yeah, the intensity of the conversation reveals (I think) the importance of starting to talk about lots of things we have avoided talking about for far too long! Where does God’s authority reside? How do we weigh the words and actions of Jesus in the bible, up against all the other words and actions in the bible? Do we accept Jesus’ promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit to be present for us? What does that really mean? Is the story of Christ, of redemption, a living truth that changes history? If so, can we accept the notion of change? How much are we caught up in cultural relativism, whether it is from “the world”, or from within our own flawed Christian history, which is always itself guilty of relativism to it’s own culture?
      Let’s keep talking!

  • The questions I posed about this issue on Facebook today – because I don’t think the necessary questions have been addressed or discussed by many persons on either side:

    Questions: Can we adequately and properly argue either for or against legalizing gay marriage or defining marriage to include legally recognized and honored committed relationships between members of the same sex without first discussing the intended purpose(s) for marriage and the reasons laws or tax or other codes should or should not recognize or support “marriage” or differentiate between married and non-married individuals?

    In other words, don’t we first have to address and answer the questions: “Why marriage?” [for anybody] and “[Why] Should the State or Federal Government and their laws and codes support marriage or have a say re: marriage?”

    Is a reason for disagreement on this issue the fact or possibility that there is not common agreement or understanding between the two sides (or possibly even among persons on the same side) on the answers to these questions?

    Also: Does the Establishment Clause of the Constitution
    invalidate solely or largely religious arguments as a basis for not extending marriage to include gay unions?

    • Eric, your posted link is broken. Here’s one-
      Yes, I think it does prohibit marriage discrimination based upon religious grounds. I think that the gov’t should get out of the business of marriage, simplify the tax code, and leave weddings in the hands of churches.

      • Thanks, Sage H!! I’ll double-check the one I put on Facebook. 🙂

    • thanks eric, i hear you and of course it is a question worth asking on the front-end, but i also think we have to go with a bit of reality and i do not believe that the government will be able to untangle itself from laws related to marriage anytime soon.

  • Yet another reason why i’m honored to call you friend. This week, I took the opportunity in a Facebook status to “out myself” as being in favor of equality as a human rights issue. It was my very first time having the courage to say so. I will absolutely experience losing “appearance of theological credibility” and people will say that I approve of any and all kinds of sexual sin. That’s not what I said. (it’s not what you said either, and yet some comments have already accused you of that.) But that’s what they will hear. And I will live with that, because the cost is worth it.

    What got me finally convinced to speak up was that my research showed that the last time North Carolina amended their constitution, it was to forbid interracial marriage. That was repealed in 1967, and only because the US Supreme Court got involved. The first interracial marriage took place in NC in1971 … I was 14 years old. My daughter, husband, and granddaughter would have been considered “illegitimate” during my lifetime. That put me over the top, and I knew I needed to not stay silent

    No person is “illegitimate.”. Every person has dignity and worth. .

    I now believe this is a human rights issue, and a civil rights issue. Therefore, I must speak.

    The quote at the top talks about the “demands of the oppressed.”. I think it is also powerful when the non oppressed, favored group, like me, a married heterosexual Christian female, age 58, finally say “enough. This is not OK.”

    • powerful stuff, mar. thank you for sharing and yes, it is brave to “out yourself” and glad you are finding freedom in that. i also agree with you, and think that’s what’s happening right now in the wider culture that is very encouraging, is that there are many of us who aren’t oppressed when it comes to this particular issue and are using voices, time, passion on behalf of change. it’s time.

  • As a radical kid, still acclimating to this whole faith thing, still getting over the toxic behaviorist headspace I was in before, still *very* leery about mingling my God-talk and my politics again… thank you for saying what I can’t.

    One day I hope I’ll be able to speak with bravest fire, and not have my words be vain… but in the meantime thank you, so much, for showing how it’s done.

    • thanks edo for sharing. i’m not crazy about mixing God & politics, either, really. i try to avoid it as much as possible because of huge distaste for it. the “toxic behaviorist headspace” phrase, whoa, that’s a powerful description. it has taken me a long, long time to gain the courage to just share my opinion. that’s all it is. my opinion. not saying it’s right or that everyone should listen to it or follow it but trying to learn what it means to say “this is where i am at.” it’s hard but healing! meanwhile, just help me out a little when i get slaughtered for my opinions, ha ha.

  • Kathy, if there’s one thing that gets “good Christian folks” more riled up than the issue of womens’ roles, it would be LGBT issues, as the responses to this and the previous post seem to show.

    Equal rights for LGBTs will happen. It is a matter of simple demographics. The younger segment of the population strongly strongly supports this. I think that Obama’s approach, and that of the federal government, is to phase in the recognition of those rights incrementally in order to subdue social unrest and avoid political suicide.

    The question with which we are faced is how we as followers of Jesus will respond to what is happening. For some of us, there will be no change. We already fully love and accept our LGBT friends and family, as we do everyone. I find the idea that loving and accepting our neighbors thereby encourages them in their “sin”, whatever we suppose that may be, a bizarre misunderstanding and repudiation of Jesus’ command and example.

    • Your comment assumes that a Christian could not fully love and accept LGBT friends and family and still oppose “gay marriage.”

      How do you define rights? How do you define marriage?

      • I didn’t address that issue. What I am saying is that the legal rights and protections afforded American citizens are not equally afforded to all, but that is changing. That is the direction our society is rapidly moving. How do we as Christians respond to that, whether we agree or not, is the question.

        Your stance on gay marriage is your personal decision. If that is a topic of interest and concern for you, did you see today’s news regarding the leaked insiders’ memo from Jan van Lohuizen, pollster and founder of Voter Consumer Research, on the topic? If not, you can find it at: http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/05/bush-pollster-change-in-attitudes-on-gay-marriage-123235.html

  • I love that quote from Cornel West: “Justice is what love looks like in public”. I think it captures beautifully the meaning of ekklesia, that we are not “called out” to huddle in exclusion, but to publicly display the loving freedom that the Kingdom of God brings. Such a prophetic witness challenges purveyors of oppression while simultaneously inviting them to lay down their privilege and experience deep freedom. Truly, “unless we’re all free, none of us are free”. Thank you for reminding us, Kathy.

    • thanks ramon, for taking time to share. yes, i love that “we are not called out to huddle in exclusion but to publicly display the loving freedom that the kingdom of God brings.” yes!

  • our freedom is all tangled up together. our dignity is all tangled up together. our hope is all tangled up together

    We are all branches on the tangled up vine. And the fruit we bear is as sweet as the tender hugs of our embracing curled up and snuggling tendrils.

  • but (even in California) the marriage amendments have been voted in favor of traditional marriage by the people of their respective states … people can’t point the finger at Christians and say we are the problem because there are plenty of nonChristians, too, that have voted in favor of traditional marriage. the values of the states that have voted have spoken.

    • thank you for taking time to share your perspective. it is true, this is not only a christian issue but it’s pretty clear statistically that we are leading the fight against it. we are not known for leading the war on poverty or education of our children or safety in our neighborhoods or violence against women or stable housing or a whole host of other big problems in this nation; we are known for vehemently opposing homosexuality and abortion. that’s sad.

  • Hi Kathy. happy mothers’ day.
    my mom’s birthday is today she would have been 94 but she passed away in my arms several years ago. she was a great jewish mom not perfect but wonderful
    it was not easy putting jesus ahead of her and dad, tradition, history and man made rules. but i did by his grace
    i had the opportunity of telling a room full of fellow jews, parents, teens, religious leaders why i believe jesus is the messiah, many years ago; i had to put him first above jobs, and money, and other jewish believers who would have loved to put me back under the law in their heartfelt devotion as believers though i felt they were off scripturally. i have wondered why gentile believers wished they were jewish when they possessed a birthright greater than gold, yet they didn’t know it. my wife and i were deeply hurt by a pastor who offered me a place in leadership at his church only to deny it in front of his elders; my wife was verbally abused by another pastor who thought he was spiritual. there is more but that is enough. yes Josh it is a mess but i believe jesus will still have a beautiful bride for himself when he returns. by the way how is your aneurism?
    one sunday i told my church ( i am a former pastor ) that they had to obey those in authority over them and waited for a response. i chuckled inside. they knew what i was like and did not need to fear me. i was there to serve them! but my point of the sermon was that they needed to know from the Lord what this meant. i knew when they discovered the truth that they would be free from fear of despots in church leadership. if we walk in the light then we have fellowship with each other. the light creates the community not the other way around.
    why am i saying all of this? one day jesus’ disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy those that rejected their master. jesus rebuked them and told them that they did not know what spirit there were of. he came to save not destroy. judgement day would come just not then, not now. let us seek jesus and his courage to discover more of his light, walk in it and avoid the wrong spirit. jesus told his followers that they would be killed by those who thought they were serving God. please Lord keep us from sins of presumption.
    here in canada same sex marriage is legal. so is the killing of babies. what does this tell you? the kingdom of God does not come from government. the kingdom is not of this world otherwise we could use military might to defend it. so let us walk with God, be persuaded in our own minds what we have received from Him and trust the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth who is a person not a religion, church, denomination, customs, culture, community, political bent or economic status. He has come to glorify the real Jesus. Please God let Him loose!!!!!!!!

    • thank you so much for sharing, lawrence, about your mom, too. yes, my point is centered on the body of Christ being the best reflection of equality & freedom & hope & love & mercy & kindness & humility here on earth. and that has nothing to do with the government. we should be leading the way, reflecting a better way, a way that people are drawn to not repelled against. when God’s let loose, as you say, oh such beautiful things can happen!

  • Kathy, thank you for writing this. I’ve been seriously considering taking myself offline, going underground, and hiding what I think and believe from public view. As you said, standing up for what we believe is right has a cost. Being criticized and judged is exhausting. I needed this encouragement to keep going. It may need to look different at different points in our lives, but we all need to keep going. Thank you.

    • thanks joy, oh trust me, i think about that all of the time. some day i might end up doing that but for now i decided to just be honest out here and trust that somehow i’ll be okay. it is tough, though, and it’s really easy to hear a voice inside that says “tame it down, don’t say too much, keep everyone happy” but one thing i’m more clear on than ever–it’s impossible to keep everyone happy and it’s also why things have stayed the same for so long. i never speak to those who strongly disagree to try to change their mind, that’s an impossible and i never even think about them when i say anything. but i am always keeping in mind those friends who know somewhere inside that things are jacked up but don’t believe there are other options. there most definitely are. they are just riskier ones! much peace and courage to you. so glad you’re here.

  • Sage/Kathy
    Again, for some reason, the site is not allowing replies directly to your messages. I do not resent government, however, I do think our current federal is too large to be manageable. I also find it humorous that we look to the government to solve problems that it has either created or made worse (health care, housing bubble, etc.).

    Though the intent of this post may not have been political, there was certainly political content, and some replies other than mine relate to the politics of the post. Unless I am misreading, the post supports “gay marriage.” (from above: this week was a historic week in our country in the movement toward marriage equality).

    I believe that many of my views of what is expected of Christians and the church are similar to Kathy’s as well as others who post here even if our political views differ.

    My political views are basically libertarian (lower case ‘l’ referring to libertarian philosophy, not the ‘L’ political party) – limited government and personal responsibility. I believe that individuals should not look to institutions (religious or political) to accomplish what individuals (either independently or in cooperation) can achieve. I believe that religious and political institutions have roles in society, but I believe that there is very little, if any, overlap in those roles.

    Looking back at the the last century, much of the major legislation (income tax, social security, etc.) is littered with broken promises or “unexpected” consequences. Prior to advocating or making major changes to our current laws, I think it is worth taking the time to try to evaluate the consequences (intended and unintended) of those changes. With regards to the “gay marriage” debate, I believe that there are a lot of questions. I think those questions should start with “what is the definition of marriage?”

    Assuming that “same sex marriage” was legal, could three gay men get married? If so, would that be one marriage of three people or 3 marriages of two people? Again, I think that there are a lot of questions worth asking and discussing. I also believe that much of the “same sex marriage” debate is the result of government legislation or entitlements. I personally believe in a government small enough that homosexuals are able to form whatever civil/legal contracts or religious/spiritual union that they desire. However, I also believe in a government with such a limited role that there would essentially be few, if any, government benefits or entitlements to such unions. Much of the debate around homosexual unions is the result of too much government, not a lack of “rights.” (One hundred years ago, there was no income tax and no social security, federal government spending was less than 10% GDP, and there was no debt. If it is true that “unless we’re all free, none of us are free,” it seems to be a battle worth fighting is reducing the current burden of the federal government on all of us.)

    I typically ignore most posts on “same sex marriage” both for and against. I chose to reply to this one because of some direct statements about what Christians should be doing with regards to equality as well as the statements regarding freedom. From a political perspective, I believe that within the framework of government we should value freedom above equality while guaranteeing equal treatment before the law. As Christians, we should then use that freedom to live as disciples obeying the commands of Yeshua/Jesus.

    However, as citizens and Christians, we have to recognize that political freedom means that there will not be equality and that people will have the right to make decisions that we do not agree with.

  • It looks like some has attempted to address the (IMO) necessary questions I posed on Facebook. I came across this December 2010 paper by Robert P. George, Ryan T. Anderson and Sherif Girgis entitled “What is Marriage”? It’s 43 pages long, but worth reading and thinking about:

    Kenji Yoshino critiqued their paper in Slate:

    The authors responded here:

    And Yoshino responded back here:

    I felt that Yoshino’s critique of “What is Marriage?” was lacking, but his follow-up response was better.

    While Yoshino has criticized what he perceives to be flaws and weaknesses in their case, he has not in his critique and response actually set forth a counter-argument for same-sex marriage that is comparable to the ways “What is Marriage?” argues for and defends their favored “conjugal view.” Such an argument may be out there, but I haven’t come across it yet, including one that also convincingly argues against similarly legitimizing polyamorous unions (a point “What is Marriage?” says needs to be done by same-sex marriage proponents).

    • In 2004, Illinois Senate candidate Obama defined marriage as between a man and a woman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vhaThnPWB0A.
      (His 2004 opponent provides his argument here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMYBl2uzXEw&feature=related?)

      Now that President Obama supports “gay marriage,” how does he now define marriage? Does he now define it as a union of any two people? And if so, why does he limit it to two? Will his position/definition evolve further to include more than two people?

      It seems necessary to begin with a definition, and ideally some basis other than opinion for the definition, in order to arrive at appropriate legislation with as few unintended consequences as possible.

  • Hi Kathy, wow! As a homosexual Christian I am often faced with many closed doors, and minds. But reading your words I am finding both love and light in your thoughts. And for the first time in a very long time, I have been able to look at the ‘cost’ of following Him without as much pain, hurt, disappointment and anger. Today you reminded me that it is for freedom that we stand… Thank you

    • nick, i am so glad you are here & thanks for taking time to share. our freedom is all tangled up together, i believe that with my whole heart. here’s to more open doors & more open minds over time. hope & peace & courage from colorado.


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