We are family: Thoughts on the Kin-dom of God
In her work, “Kin-dom of God: A Mujerista Proposal,” Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz challenges the traditional interpretation of the scriptural view of a Kingdom of God as a metaphor for a coming world order. Conceding the imagery is clearly located in scriptural passages, Isasi-Diaz interprets this idea as reflective of the dominant, often oppressive cultural experience of societies during Biblical times. According to the author, the historical view of Kingdom suggested a form of inclusion in which groups of people lived together with same beliefs and culture, contrary to the current understanding of kingdom.
To offer a more modern perspective, Isasi-Diaz proposes a view based on Mujerista Liberation theology in which the fullness of life and liberation of families and communities cannot be attained through oppression of others. Emphasizing the importance of family in Latina culture, she uses the metaphor of “Kin-dom,” grounding the concept in the hopes and dreams of family and relationship as a sustaining foundation for all societal and spiritual experience. In this, and many other cultures, the shared experience of life forms the basis for how people survive and flourish. Intrinsically linked to the honor of family, this framework is a multi-generational union of voices and experiences in which there is room for all.
While for many Kin-dom offers connection and hope, for others there are deep gaps within relationships, socially and familially. So, what happens when we do not have kin in our Kin-dom? If we have broken places within ourselves and our family, how does this view of scripture offer hope where there has been much harm? Isasi-Diaz writes that family means we do not face the world alone, yet how does this translate when standing with your family means you are facing the world alone?
For some, the questions become whether we can live within access to only parts of our family, without goodness and unity as a whole. Can we accept a relationship that is disappointing or harmful for whatever connection it may offer, or do we only lean on family when it is healthy and life-giving? Is family be good or bad, or can we live within the hazy middle space?
Within this, we further lean into Jesus’ question: who is my family?
Growing up in Alaska, my own concept of family was unique in that the majority of the people in our community had moved to the state on their own. As such, few had any extended family within 2,000 miles. Because of this, our neighbors, co-workers, and mail-persons became family. We ate meals together, celebrated holidays together, shared food, warmth, homes, and life. While this was partly due to the need for connection, this was also the only way we could survive the cold and isolation we would all succumb to on our own.
This inclusion and creation of a new family mirrors Jesus’ descriptions of his disciples as his new kin. Providing an impetus for reconstituting family not as authoritarian or patriarchal but one offering warmth, protection, and provision for lasting relationships, Kin-dom offers a communally-oriented foundation for mutuality, justice, and the restoration of faith and society.