Why Social Justice?
I am back from vacation! It was wonderful. I hit the ground running this week by speaking at the MORE2 Clergy Caucus gathering yesterday. I was asked to answer the question: Why does my faith make social justice work a priority? I am sharing the text of what I said at that event, in case it is informative or inspiring for you.
“Why does my faith make social justice work a priority?
The answer is simple: because the spirit of God lives in my body, and the spirit of God lives in your body. This simple truth means that we all deserve safe homes, nourishing food, quality healthcare, comprehensive education, affirming relationships and beloved community. We all deserve to be liberated from the systems of oppression that keep us from fully loving one another, that keep us trapped in cycles of competition and violence.
I live in a white, queer, neurotypical body. I’m in an inter religious marriage with a person living with Autism and ADHD. Imprinted on my body’s DNA are the complexities of Christian history.
1200 years ago, my European ancestors were labeled 'Pagans' and forced to convert to Christianity by Charlemagne. They were given the choice of baptism or death. A few hundred years later, my European ancestors were labeled 'Witches' and were tortured and killed by the church. My American ancestors used Christian teaching to justify their ownership of enslaved African people and fought on both sides of the Civil War.
Being a White Christian today means reconciling this complicated history with the teachings of Jesus - the King of Kings who chose teaching and healing instead of violence and war. The Lord of Lords who showed us what empathy and radical solidarity could look like. This tension resides in my DNA.
Being a queer woman today means reconciling my experience of God with the absence of women’s wisdom in my tradition. I teach from a text that does not include a single story from a woman’s perspective. I grieve that I will never know how Sarah felt being pregnant in her twilight years. How did she prepare for birth? I will never know how Mary felt as her son hung on a cross. What did she think and feel? I will never know. This grief is now part of my DNA.
There are people in this world, possibly in this room, who believe that my ministry, my marriage, and my family don’t have the right to exist. I have been called an abomination. I’ve been told that because I bleed for seven days and live, I can’t be trusted. Make no mistake, I am the granddaughter of those witches the church couldn’t burn. I own the ways I am different. I stand tall in the glorious diversity of the human experience. This trauma and courage are imprinted in my DNA.
I work to dismantle systems of oppression not only because it is what Jesus would do, but because my humanity and your humanity are bound together by the spirit of the living God who falls afresh on us.
How a person could feel the love of divine presence, experience its transformation, and be content with the status quo is beyond me. I do this work because the love in my heart and the empathy in my body require me to. It is as necessary as the breath in my lungs and the beating of my heart.
What motivates this work for me? The promise that the work we do today means that the generations who follow have empathy, courage, and the freedom to love fully imprinted on their DNA. That they will look back and say, ‘My ancestors were the ones who liberated themselves and each other from the systems of oppression that kept them from fully loving each other, who broke the cycles of competition and violence.’
I don’t just do this work for me. I do it for you, and I do it for them. Thank you.”
If you feel passionate about social justice, but aren’t sure where to start or how to get involved, let me know! I’m happy to help you get connected to any number of grassroots community organizing efforts in Kansas City.