Which Side is Right? a Jesus-girl's journey between republican & democrat, conservative & liberal...

I am the girl who went to the 2018 Women’s March in D.C. this year; and, I am also the girl who was published just a few short years ago in one of the oldest and most ultra-right-wing conservative magazines to exist. To give you context, Rush Limbaugh mentioned one of my articles on his lunchtime radio show. I thought I had arrived. 

As the pendulum swings from right to left, here I am blown away by the air that moves it. Feeling that gust so fiercely that it brings me to my knees searching for answers in this land of grey, covered in the mist of ambiguity, and shrouded in my own selfish opinions. Here I am, on my knees, praying for clarity and strength. I am somewhere in the in-between, and that’s okay. In fact, that’s exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Please bear with me on this journey; I want to share it with you –  this time – specifically through my experience at the Women’s March. I pray every person reading this listens with their heart. It’s not as clear cut as it might seem. It’s not as black and white as I used to think. You may come to that conclusion, too; or you may walk away from your phone, computer, iPad with the same opinion you had when you sat down. That’s okay. Listening, reading, empathizing – those are a part of everyone’s journey to self-awareness, even if we don’t change our minds.

From social media to the news, words veritably flood our minds with biased truths. It’s there we make decisions, form opinions, decide what supports our beliefs. The Women’s March has been portrayed on the media as a group of Trump-bashing man-haters with pink hats. If you watched clips in video-style news, you’ll see that we shouted together in collective angst, aggrandizing our hate for the President and men in general. I even saw an article saying that the women and men at the marches littered the streets with protest signs. It’s unfortunate, but it seems like regardless of the story, media finds the worst moments to highlight, and it depends on which media outlet we watch, which side we see.

If I had formed my opinion on media coverage of the inaugural Woman’s March in 2017, I certainly wouldn’t have attended in 2018; but, I did. With my friend and one of the best therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers on the planet, Adele Martelle, and my amazing 19-year-old daughter, Katelyn Sutherland. From three beautifully diverse perspectives, we soaked in every ounce of the day and all found ourselves emotionally moved at some point during it. Call us bleeding-heart-liberals all you want, but this article isn’t about names or sides; it’s about who Jesus was when He walked the earth and who He still is today.

As we walked toward the rally that began the March, we saw the celebration of diversity. Older ladies with moxie, young ladies with boldness, every color skin in the rainbow, and the bold men who decided to take a stand, too. Adele, Katie, and I glanced at each other with an acknowledging smile and a united nod.

The surprises really started for me when the rally began with a Hallelujah choir. They sang handed-down slave songs that I recognized from my Nana singing in her kitchen here in Southern Virginia. The choir sang out from a place of oppression and visions of hope. Then they found their ‘Hallelujah’ praising the Creator and crying out for freedom much like David did in the Book of Psalms. I’d bet you didn’t hear or see that on the news. I felt Holy Spirit presence in the crowd and in the moment, and I wouldn’t be afraid to say that Adele and Katie did, too.

We couldn’t help but notice the outcasts and misfits represented throughout the crowd, the abuse survivors, the forgotten disabled, the broken refugee, the tan-skinned woman wearing a hijab, LGBTQ+ persons, the Dreamers, and so many more including us. We were there experiencing, hurting for and with, learning and loving above everything else. Personal experience reveals so much more than media does.

Throughout the rally, there were speakers that not only asserted that “Women’s rights are human rights,” there were dreamers who spoke for immigrants and refugees. There were speakers who rallied us to the cause of disability rights and others who galvanized our position against racial injustice. We were awoken by the outing of sexual assault in the #MeToo movement, and it was a thread throughout the march, standing up for victims even when they can’t. This rally, this Women’s March, was not the poignant hate for the presidency like it has been presented to the masses. It was about love over hate; it was about the human rights endowed to us by our Creator. 

No matter how hard I try to see both sides, I just can not reconcile Christianity with a disregard for human rights. Every Christian should be compelled to stand for the oppressed. We should not be able to keep our mouth shut or sit still in the middle of hate directed at people or a people group.

The Old Testament (OT) prophets & Jesus did not sit still. They were downright controversial…and weird; they stood for love, challenged authority, and cried out for those who had neither. Jory Micah, preacher and published author, broke it down in her latest Twitter thread this way:

The OT prophets & Jesus weren’t just eccentric; many were grumpy, some suicidal & all were shocking, weird & considered controversial. We’d likely institutionalize them today. Look to the outliers for today’s prophetic voices. They ain’t nice & rarely get mainstream speaking gigs. The prophets didn’t only voice God’s message; they physically demonstrated it in VERY strange, humiliating, scary & painful ways; using their own bodies & souls as props. The message consumed them…

  • Christians, why are we not veritably CONSUMED with the message?
  • Why is the universal Church not rending her garments and screaming aloud against sexual assault that has happened within her own virtual walls?
  • Where are the senior pastors crying out for justice? I have specifically looked for them on social media throughout the #Dreamers immigration discussion, the #MeToo movement, the #ChurchToo movement, and throughout the Women’s March discussions; I simply can NOT find them.
  • Why are leading, academic, evangelical pastors writing articles discrediting the ability of women to teach and speak, instead of raising up ALL the people in their purview of authority?

I am just at this point, on my knees, in the in-between, this shrouded grey space, feeling my way through the fog of past experience and belief systems, trying to acquiesce a worldview where it all makes sense. I simply can no longer reconcile any version of Christianity that does not include the equitable treatment for every. single. son and daughter. of. God. We can not continue to discuss racism, misogyny, and sexual assault as abstract theoretical problems. We can not speak in “racial reconciliation”, “we must forgive the abuser,” philosophical nuance. Every traumatic, oppressive event affects real people, real humans – psychologically, bodily, emotionally, economically, and spiritually. Until we address those problems specifically, they will remain problems. Further, we can no longer stand on stages and pulpits, or sit behind social media platforms, books, and positions in silence. I, for one, simply do not know how to do that. My very soul is scorched with a fire for love and for justice. May be it’s just a piece of who I am – a fighter, a challenger… but, the Jesus I know flipped tables. He always turned culture on its head.

Today, “Christian” leaders speak on the inadequacy of women and girls to lead and teach, yet Christianity – itself  – is based on the fantastical claims of an unwed, pregnant, teenage girl with the unbelievable proclamation that she carried the immaculately-concepted Christ-child. It is paradoxical that Elizabeth was the first to identify Jesus as Savior while He was still in Mary’s womb. The Samaritan woman at the well – the whore, the misfit – was who Jesus chose specifically to reveal His identity as the Messiah – making her the first evangelist. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James who discovered the resurrection; and, in perhaps the most ironic of ironies – the disciples didn’t believe them. (It seems that the present is not the first time that men have discounted women.) These simple, counterculture decisions (and too many others to mention here) reveal the heart of Jesus. He does not align with a patriarchal theology or any type of misogyny. He elevated women. He championed the downtrodden. He loved people who didn’t look like Him. He embraced outcast. He celebrates the diversity of His Creation.

Jesus would not stand on the side of judgment but into embrace with those who hurt. No, Jesus does not align with a party-line or one side of the aisle or another, but He would never push people away from Him. He created us all as uniquely loved, individually forgiven, and called to so much greater than we can even dream; it doesn’t matter where we come from, what we look like, or how we identify. Truth has always cried out from the fringes, and Love meets her there in the arms of Jesus. 

Here I am, on the perimeter, gazing in from the outskirts, determined to affect social change, even if just for one person… not to be served, but to serve. The gust of the pendulum swing feels an awful lot like Holy Spirit breathing life into parched, desiccated bones. Here I come alive, not on a gospel preached to me from any man or for the approval of any man, but as Paul told the church in Galatia, from the revelation that is Jesus Christ. I’m on my knees in all the grey areas, feeling my way through, just like everyone else. I am on no side except for the side of love. You can come hang out with me. Everyone is welcome here.

 

Dawn Sutherland

misfit-writer-speaker & social-justice-wannabe. I wander, but I'm not lost. I love Jesus not religion. My heart's cry is for every person to feel an empowered sense that they belong, and that we get to face the world wild and equipped with the love and hope of Jesus. I live in Suffolk, Virginia with my amazing husband, Louis and have four awesome kids: Katie, Ronnie, Selah, and Sami. I am also a passionate fitness instructor at the Suffolk YMCA. Subscribe to the blog, and stay tuned in for the book YOU BELONG to be published soon, which will talk about our desire as women to "fit in" and how we can harness that to change the world!