The Doctrine of Christ is Social Justice

Historical Jesus was a champion for those living on the margins of society. For me, the doctrine of Christ is best understood through the lens of liberation theology. The Mormonism of my childhood didn't naturally create space for liberation theology and yet I found it, and my eyes were opened, and light and truth poured in.

Liberation theology is essentially understanding the gospel through the eyes of the poor and oppressed. When I first encountered liberation theology a few years ago I went back through the gospels and began to study the life of Christ. It was there again and again from the Canaanite woman, to the lepers, each story of Jesus (independent of who authored it) told the story of a Christ who sought to lift and bless the poor, outcast, sick, and downtrodden. "The least of these" were his primary concern.

Jesus the rebel with a cause; that cause being social justice. It can be difficult to believe that your name is written on the palm of Christ if you don't believe he lived and died for you. The gospel of Jesus Christ is often delivered in a package of white imperialist capitalistic patriarchy. However it doesn't take sophisticated analysis to see how that interpretation is a deviation from the narrative. Based on the information we have about the life and work of Christ it is easy to see the metaphorical names of the gentile, refugee, and immigrant were written on his palms.

There is an energy in the air today around issues of social justice. From police brutality and the #blacklivesmatter campaign, to immigration reform, to the refugee crisis, to the LGBT community; issues of social justice are the topics being covered by the media and discussed all over the country today. Each and every time I have a discussion around one of these topics, I think about Christ. Jesus was not white so the systemic oppression of people of color would be a concern of his. Jesus was economically disadvantaged (a poor carpenter). Jesus was an "illegal immigrant" he was sneaked out of the country of his birth and into foreign territory. Jesus (as far as we have record) did not create his own "traditional family" his family was mainly comprised of friends. Jesus spent time with sinners, criminals and common folk.

How are people who claim to believe in and follow Christ not a concern for the causes he would be affected by? Liberation theology teaches that Christ came for the oppressed because he was the oppressed. So when I see young brown activists gathering in the streets demanding justice and equity for their people I picture Christ leading them toward their liberation. Some have asked me why this issue or that issue is a religious one, why should my church be involved? My answer is simply because Christ would be. These are his sheep and his church and its' members are charged with continuing the work he started. I can't claim the title Christian or Mormon if I fail to serve, mourn, house, clothe, and comfort my brothers and sisters. I certainly am not perfect, but I try and do a bit better each day.