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The Freedom of Coming Out

On National Coming Out Day when we celebrate those who are summoning their courage to speak their truth, I am a solid ally. My entire life has been attempting to be unapologetically female and authentically sexual on my own terms in spite of huge pressure by church and culture that devalues the feminine and coercively offers a narrow range of sexual options.

Freedom is a big deal. There is no question that keeping things private and personal oftentimes has a huge payoff if we want to keep a job, please our mother, buy a house, inherit a deceased partner’s estate, or to avoid harassment on the streets. On the other hand, we should not have to stay in the closet about our personal lives on things over which they have no control (like who we are sexually attracted to), or are decisions between consenting adults (like having an open relationship that does not demand sexual exclusivity of either partner) or decisions of one’s personal beliefs and principles (like choosing agnosticism over religious dogma or an abortion over enforced pregnancy.)

The question before us is whether or not there is room for personal freedom in our culture? And, before you mindlessly say, “Duh!” let us consider what erotica you have access to, whether an adult club is welcome in your town, what books never make it into the local public library, and what facts of history get intentionally omitted from school textbooks about US government atrocities in other countries. We dare not forget in our exuberant patriotic naïveté that it was less than forty years ago, in 1975, that US women were given the freedom to apply for a loan or open a line of credit without her husband’s permission. And it was 21 years ago, in 1981, that women were given the freedom to stop a husband from selling her home without her permission. Freedom is a wonderful thing. And it is freedom, not repression, that is at the core of Christianity.

It began in the second creation story when the first humans were given a choice about what to eat and not eat in the garden. God had a preference but we got to choose. Freedom is at the heart of Jesus' story of the prodigal son. In that story we learn that having freedom can lead to bad choices but never is the choice criticized. And the Apostle Paul waxed eloquently to the Galatians about the freeing aspects of God’s grace in one of the earliest letters in the Bible. It  was this understanding of freedom found in God's love that led Protestant Reformer Martin Luther to proclaim we are to "Sin boldly!"

While fearful Christians have through the centuries preached repression of a wide variety of thoughts and states of being, it is clear from Genesis' story of the Garden of Eden through all the Christian scriptures we are set free to enjoy our lives, preferably righteously, in this abundant creation and therein, to seek and find God in our midst, in our flesh in fact.

Closets cannot promise freedom, only safety. Come out and be who God made you to be, and let us all do so unapologetically.



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