THE REV. HOLLY MCKISSICK, pastor, Peace Christian Church UCC: In our blended family, we have four kids ages 18-21 — years when freedom expands and limits are increasingly the kids’ to navigate. It’s not easy. Sociologists keep increasing the age for attaining adulthood, but the journey is lifelong.
Same goes for faith. One does not “become” a Christian once and for all. One is always “becoming,” trying to make the world more just and peaceful than the day before.
In my progressive faith tradition, personal freedom is not a central concern (except when preachers and politicians threaten the right to vote, the right to choose or the right to marry); rather it is balancing personal freedom with the common good. How does freedom — a gift from God and a privilege of citizenship — compel us to work for the freedom of others? How do we transform a country that imprisons people at such a high rate? How do we work to heal our broken world?
My daughter is 21 and some days you’d think the freedom to legally drink is her crowning achievement. Of course, it’s not. She will graduate this spring, and her dream is to be a community organizer in her Rust Belt college town. Her latest passion is a farmers market for the left out and the left behind.
Ask me in a few years when her salary is still less than a year of tuition, but for now I’m thankful for who she is becoming and happy to see her so free.
THE REV. JUSTIN HOYE, pastor, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Kansas City, North: No, you will not lose your personal freedom. To the contrary, you will experience it fully for the first time.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church attests that God wants his creation to be free (CCC 1730-1748). As revealed in sacred Scripture, mankind was created with the freedom to accept God’s vision for itself. Humanity refused, and in this initial rejection humanity deceived itself into believing it could create the conditions that would satisfy the human heart. Every one of us since this first rejection comes into a world oriented away from God and enslaved to passions and burdens that keep us from being who we are envisioned to be by our creator.
After we became unable to unfetter ourselves from choices that only confine the human spirit, God entered our world in the divine person of Jesus Christ, taking to himself our human nature. Through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, our human nature now has the potential to be liberated from that which truly encroaches on our freedom: sin. When a person is immersed into Jesus’ life — the life of one who lived in perfect harmony with his father’s will — he or she receives the graces needed to live in accord with God’s vision.
This vision is our unique life, detached from sin and lived at its fullest potential. God desires we choose this best life for ourselves, yet never forces us to accept it. God wants us to be free, and through the life of Jesus Christ, such freedom is now ours.
The Voices of Faith column is edited by The Kansas City Star. To ask a question or comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.