To Free the Oppressed
One of the more appealing statements that Jesus made comes from Luke 4:18-19 where he quoted Isaiah 61:1-2. He claimed the Spirit of the Lord anointed him to “. . . proclaim release to the captives,” and “. . . to set free the oppressed.” Humanity has responded with a resounding yes to the appeal of freedom from oppression. From Mary’s words about scattering the proud (Luke 1:51) to Zechariah’s praise about being rescued from enemies (Luke 1:74), Jesus fulfilled their longings.
Unfortunately, like so many of God’s good things, people have co-opted the language to suit their own desires. Separated from the Spirit of God, social and political movements have adopted the paradigm of freeing us from oppression, but once disconnected from Jesus’ message the paradigm becomes misguided, hypocritical, and dangerous.
From teens who want to be freed from parental control to employees who chafe under the rules of an employer to individuals who seek freedom from any and all limitations, the language is usually about removing allegedly unjust restrictions. The language veils itself with legitimate sounding words, but the causes are often faulty. The oppressor/oppressed paradigm is ubiquitous among the alleged social justice warriors.
The Paradigm in the Service of Rebellion
A recent article described a new cult that has co-opted the paradigm (Salvo, Spring 2020, p. 11).1 The author notes that this new cult (TST: The Satanic Temple) identifies with “Satan as a symbolic embodiment of rebellion against tyranny.” In Satan’s view the tyrant, of course, is God, but the appeal of freedom from oppression still sounds like a good thing even if the object of that alleged oppression happens to be God. The appeal to rebel and throw off the limits of freedom can be a powerful tool no matter who uses it.
Another article (Salvo, Winter 2020, p. 29)1 exposed the same paradigm in Black Lives Matter. Although scrubbed from their original “What We Believe” page, their statements have been recovered: “We do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege,” and “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure,” and again, “We foster a queer-affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking.” The language of dismantling, disrupting, and freeing reflects the paradigm, and what they want to dismantle, disrupt and free themselves from (family structure, heteronormative thinking) exposes their true intent. Let the BLM buyer beware! (2)
According to a recent book, The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and Why the Church Was Right All Along, Jennifer Roback Morse demonstrates how freeing sex from the alleged restrictions of monogamy and child-rearing has destroyed lives rather than freed them. The “Sexual Revolution” promised freedom from the constraints of traditional morality only to imprison and destroy countless lives – think abortion, family breakdown, and pornography.
Some of today’s worst oppressors are big tech companies who suppress free speech and corporations that demand employees adhere to current social issues. Sometimes oppression becomes intimidation: last year South Dakota sought to pass a law forbidding biological males from competing against females in sports. Amazon threatened to pull out of the state.
The list goes on: government-ordered restrictions on making the right cake, on counseling people confused about their sexual desires, on religious organizations who refuse to support abortion procedures. In Canada, psychologist and professor Jordan Peterson sees his government’s compelled speech codes as a form of totalitarianism; essentially, use the right words or else. (Borrow the film, The Rise of Jordan Peterson, through your local library.)**
Of course, Satan is the one behind all forms of oppression, and we know Christ has already freed us from the sin and death that Satan has used to hold us captive. Yet the paradigm of oppression works its mischievous magic upon the unsuspecting and naïve. True freedom comes only by Christ’s death and resurrection, but only when we submit to rather than rebel against Christian morality. Don’t be fooled by false promises of freedom or by the illegitimate users of the oppressor/oppressed paradigm.
1 I’m not sure if you can access these articles without a subscription, but it seemed right to make sure you knew that I haven’t made these things up.
2 Since I wrote this article, several stories have surfaced about some BLM leaders who’ve defected because they didn’t feel the organization lived up to its principles and because it appears that its founder may have misused funds to purchase several expensive houses. The following article describes one woman’s critique of the movement: “Parents of Murdered Children Deserve Answers from BLM Founders.”
**The film will help you see how the rise of certain movements is creating more oppression than they claim to dispel.