"when people are the casualty of belief"

I was in a conversation last week with some amazing brave and wise friends, talking about Faith Shift stuff. One of them said something that has stuck with me ever since and has been rolling around in my head and heart.

The problem that a lot of us have as we grow in passion for justice and equality and change in the world as part of our shifting faith is “when people are the casualty of belief.”

When people are the casualty of belief.

Yes, there are a lot of people right now who are the casualty of belief.

Flesh and blood and dreams and glory and hearts and souls and stories–people!

These are people, people!

Casualties of belief.

Being talked about in blog after blog, book after book, sermon after sermon, conference after conference.

This isn’t just the LGBQT community but all those who are somehow on the other side of what many systems say is required to believe to belong.

To count.

To be a real Christian.

To be an insider.

To be able to minister.

Goodness gracious, it’s so sad and so wrong to me.

And unfortunately the place and time we are living in now.

All the talk about “them.”

All the talk about “the what about’s…”

All the talk about “but the scriptures say…”

The fighting, the splitting, the on-and-on-and-on-and-on conversations.

Honestly, I think it’s all a great distraction.

The forces of evil are smiling.

The world is crying out for hope and we’re talking about theology.

So many are outraged about doctrinal issues when there are people in desperate need of housing, food, education, community, God’s love, dignity, and hope.

Oh, it’s time to keep making our tables bigger, to pull in more chairs.

Our theology more spacious (thanks, Ben Edwards).

Our hearts more open.

The kingdom of God is not small (and oh how Jesus warned the religious leaders against making it impossible for people to enter).

And it certainly not marked by fear and separation and self-protection.

Today my heart is reminded that while the wider church is fighting and spending gobs of energy in all kinds of weird and sad directions, the good that is emerging is freedom.

That’s the stirring these days.

That’s what people are fighting for, calling for, longing for.

Freedom. 

Freedom across race & gender & identity & class.

And that’s a beautiful thing. As hard as these times are right now, it’s also pointing to what I think is a holy stirring, a desire for something far better than ever before.

A refusal to live in fear and shame anymore.

A desire to live out a life of justice and mercy.

A life-guiding-no-exceptions passion for equality.

But oh, it will be so messy getting there.

Freedom always has a cost.

And I just am so sad at the amount of casualties along the way.

But I do know we can each play a part in picking up people from the side of the road, the casualties of belief.

We can help tend wounds, walk with, restore dignity, listen, advocate, create safe & brave spaces, and remind each other–you are so much more than a belief.

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.

6 Comments

  • Kathy, I say Amen! Amen! Amen! You said it so well. We must learn to trust and be open to the reality that the Spirit connects us with all people and all of Creation. The Spirit wants to unite us in love and justice! I believe the Spirit wants to celebrate diversity. You are a breath of fresh air…. Thank you and Blessings Roland Legge

    Reply
  • Yes, we know many “casualties of belief.” A young adult acquaintance of ours, whose very religiously conservative family recently discovered that he is gay is suffering an onslaught of accusations, Bible verses and “theology” from those who supposedly love(d) him most. They claim to be rescuing him from sin, but in reality are doing their best to destroy his faith.

    We have many LGBTQ friends, many of whom are over forty years old. Among this group, especially among the oldest, many/most of them have had their faith destroyed by similar tactics.

    We regularly also see a similar phenomenon when we are on the street visiting our homeless friends. They are often besieged by people who want to convert them, who sincerely believe that everyone who is homeless is by definition hopelessly “lost,” and cannot be a Christian. Such ignorance! At the same time, none of these hordes of religious people trying to rescue these “sinners” have any time to help my wife and I sort and deliver clothing to those living on the street. We totally understand when our homeless friends tell us they have no interest in those who are “selling religion, but we know they don’t really care about us.”

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    • oh my heart always hurts when i hear stories like that…too many casualties of belief, that’s for sure. grateful for you!

      Reply
  • No surprise, there were tears in my eyes – and heart. WIthout hope, there is NOTHING. So grateful for your continued voice that comes alongside us, to journey with us as we wrestle how to love well in the midst of our faith. So glad to not be alone!

    Reply

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