Oppression Through a Theological Lens: Beliefs that Constrain
You should not let the things that you cannot control, control you.
Oppression is any system of actions and beliefs that directly contrasts or cuts you off from the love and truth of God.
This article will contain how certain belief systems, most notably beliefs in traditional Christianity and communism oppresses rather than liberates. The liberation of humanity does not happen without God and how we perceive God is extremely important.
#1 The Bible is the Word of God.
He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God.
John 1: 1–4
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.
Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.
The Word of God is a person of God that has provided man with guidance, truth, and love ever since the creation of man. While this is represented in the Bible, by no means are the acts of the Word fully captured in the life of Jesus or Judaism and Christianity. God loves all humans, and his works can be seen and experienced in every culture. But by ignoring the spiritual facts that God has already established, Christianity could not have developed into the “Absolute Truth” it claims to be.
#2 Any conception of God different than the one we teach is heresy
God cannot be controlled by man. What He shows me will be different than what He shows you. As humans our understanding and ability to communicate to each other are relatively limited compared to what God could do for us. We are going to come out with different conceptions of God shaped by our personal relationships and understandings; we are going to have our individual theologies and that is something we have to accept rather than conform people to “Absolute Truth”. We are unique individuals and how we keep the commandments of God will be different.
#3 Original Sin
It would be unfair for God to judge you on something that your ancestors did as you have no control over it. That is why he doesn’t.
Ezekiel 18: 14–18
Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise: he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.
By claiming that every person has inherited this “original sin” churches make themselves mandatory and an arbitrator between God and man, though we know that the Word of God is the arbitrator between God and man. Original Sin was actually conceived as a justification for infant baptism.
No, God does not blame you for anything that Adam and Eve has done that may or may not have been an affront to God.
#4 Substitutional Atonement
There’s this pervasive belief amongst Christians that they are broken and God would not accept them unless He saw Jesus rather than themselves. God restores. Your soul is by its nature, good, because God created your soul. Though you have believed in lies and committed sins, that’s part of the learning process; it’s a by-product of your free will. When there is love in your heart for Him and you aspire to be like His Word by entering into a personal relationship with Him, is there any more on this Earth that you need to achieve?
Genesis 5 1–3
When God created man, He made them in the likeness of God. Male and female He created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.
God did not require sacrifices for Him to forgive you. In fact, He states he would rather see you do the right thing rather than go through the motions of giving an offering. If you asked God for forgiveness and the spirit of repentance is in you, your sins are forgiven. Jesus did not have to die on the cross for God to forgive you for your sins, it is in His nature to forgive. All you had to do was ask.
Isaiah 1 13- 20
Bring your worthless offerings no more;
your incense is detestable to Me —
your New Moons, Sabbaths, and convocations.
I cannot endure iniquity in a solemn assembly.
I hate your New Moons and your appointed feasts.
They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide My eyes from you;
even though you multiply your prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.
Wash and cleanse yourselves.
Remove your evil deeds from My sight.
Stop doing evil!
Learn to do right; seek justice and correct the oppressor.
Defend the fatherless and plead the case of the widow.”
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow;
though they are as red as crimson, they will become like wool.
If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best of the land.
But if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.”
Original sin and substitutional atonement degrade the inherent worth of man and makes it hard for you to unconditionally love each other as God unconditionally loves you. “If you are not Jesus, you are not accepted” is a ridiculous hyperbole. God blesses all humans, we resemble His likeness and we are the only ones responsible for being any less than good. At the end of the day, no matter what you say or how you act, only God knows for certain whether He is in your heart. These fundamental teachings in Christianity limit your ability to walk in God’s light. People have been driven away from Christianity because of centuries of dogma and lies that are taught as Absolute Truth. Thankfully, the Bible acts as a reference to keep us in check.
I recommend all people to read the Bible before equating Christianity as Absolute Truth. But beyond the Bible, the Word of God has taught much more, it is a worthy investment in your time to learn the eternal truth in His works outside of Judaism and Christianity.
#1 The oppressor and oppressed are distinct categories.
The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes
In dehumanizing others, the oppressors dehumanize themselves. In making other humans less, they make themselves less. In allowing oppressors to subjugate their will, the oppressed justifies the act by somehow admiring or even aspiring to be like the people that are oppressing them. That is why the oppressed becomes the oppressors. The USSR and the CCP are prime examples. Communism and socialism, along with its atheistic tendencies has been practiced. Too many lives have been lost. To learn more about the process of liberation, read Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Moreover, the first commandments frees humanity. Loyalty to God, along with a right view of Him, pushes you to stop oppressively actions as well as find opportunities to free others of their burdens.
#2 Your problems exist because of this group of people
To Marx, this was the bourgeois.
The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers. The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.
To Republicans, it’s the Democrats. For Gen Z, it’s the old white men. It is easy to pin all of your problems on a certain group of people rather than doing an honest assessment of yourself as a person. In making someone else responsible for all of your misgivings, you give up your own power in making change. “If everyone thought like me, all of the world’s problems would be solved” is a common trope. Freedom of thought and different perspectives are key ingredients to a society that makes progress.
Not to say that there isn’t a group of people with an agenda that disproportionately benefits from major world events. But almost invariably, if you have good relationships and good perceptions of people, you would be better at creating opportunities and making connections that would lead to a richer life. God asks you to love all people. Having hatred and animosity in your heart comes with a cost, it is a burden in itself. Dialogue, understanding, and better solutions come when we see others as human equals.
#3 Your problems go away when we are in charge
Leaders create an environment where the right things are encouraged to happen. But what is right for someone may be completely wrong for someone else. The problems we face are complex and there will always be an information differential between the individual and the policy maker. So the best option would be to educate the individual well so that they can make the right choices on their terms. Forcing people to do things for what you consider to be their own good is not leadership, it is oppression.
The end of leftism is the establishment of a class of people that forces their definition of “equality” on everyone while justifying their own lives of luxury. Capitalism would work perfectly if the money went to the right places. There are some financial realities that do not reflect a just system, for example loans that enslaves certain swaths of the population and inflation, but are you, on an individual basis, managing and tracking cash flows responsibly and effectively? If people mindfully put money into the right causes and spend money on activities that support better practices, capitalism would work fine. Unfortunately, it appears we are quite a ways from doing so.
What does this mean for you?
We control our relationship with God. It will not be a system of government that will save you. It will not be the elimination of a group of people that will be the answer. It will be when you let God enter into your life to become your salvation. When we put what we want ahead of what He wants, we end up with a lesser version of ourselves. It is completely our choice on whether or not to accept His truth and love. But if the love in our lives is anything other than His perfect Love, a longing for more, in the form of deviant behaviors and misguided pursuits often manifest. If the truth in our lives is anything other than His Truth, we become unable to draw on His eternal wisdom in times of need and we lose our ability to be rational and objective.
As humanity, we face several existential conflicts. Climate change, human exploitation, addiction to the pursuit of material wealth, etc. . When this message of, “you need to be someone else”, “you need to do these things to have worth”, repeatedly plays over your mind, you know you are oppressed and probably hold beliefs that are either irrational or untrue. Know that until you have peace in your heart and clarity in your understanding, you are not in a position to bring peace to others.
The most consistent source of that peace, in my view, is the acceptance of the love of God. But it is hard or nearly impossible to do this when Christian dogma places this rift between you and Him. Ultimately, it is people that determine how near or far God is in their lives. This is with the exception of divine intervention, in which God steps in to save you. There are many stories like this where God steps in to stop someone from killing themselves.
The truth that no politician will tell you is that we all have to make sacrifices, voluntarily choose a lower standard of living, and radically re-structure our systems so that humans no longer prioritize materialistic pursuits and gaining wealth above the welfare of our fellow humans. Where my success means your success and his success. A system of codependency and cooperation over a system of competition.
Self-sacrifice is a human ideal. It is true that God wants to see the hungry fed, the unclothed clothed, the poor taken care of, however He asks us to do that on an individual basis. So we should not demand that the “system” provide these things, but rather, that the system facilitates us to do these things. Christ did not ask someone else to do God’s will, he had himself do God’s will. So we have to ask, what can we ask of the system so that we are incentivized to do good, intrinsically valuable things?
The ownership class need to become stewards rather than opportunists that increase their wealth based on the suffering of others. Making money solely due to “owning” something is a pipe dream for many and a reality for some. Value gained should be service performed and value added. However, values are subjective and so are their methods of appraisal.
We need all voices from all backgrounds to participate in how a more humane system emerges. But most importantly, we need to hone in on the voice of God and let Him be our moral compass and set our agendas. To do this, we have to drop our expectations, preconceptions, and prior ideation of who He is. Rather, we let Him show us who He is in our own lives through the Word of God and His countless acts of service born through His unconditional love.
It can all begin with a prayer:
“Lord, I’ve been lost, I’ve been broken, and there is a lingering emptiness that haunts me. I’ve sinned, I made bad choices, and I’ve given in to immoral desires. Please reveal to me who you truly are, and make your desires for me my desires for myself. I want to walk in Your Light. I want to learn how to receive Your Love, not just for my sake, but those in my own life.
In your Holy Name, Amen”