"Oppression." It's a Marxist word and a left-wing myth, right? But if I spoke instead about "abuse of power" by government, or "intimidation" by union thugs, or "enslavement" of young runaways by urban pimps, I would have your attention. But it's the same thing.
The Bible condemns "oppression" and calls on governments and everyone to come to the defense of the oppressed. The Lord “gives justice to the oppressed” (Job 36:6 NKJV). He is a “refuge” for them (Psalm 9:9). Shouldn’t godly government have the same concern? To all His people in their various spheres of life He says, “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6)?
This is the subject of my Worldmag.com column this week, "Conservatives for the Oppressed." I give a definition of oppression and indicate some of the variety of ways people can be oppressed.
Oppression is the inhuman use or cruel treatment of the weak and helpless by the stronger and more secure. It’s the little guy getting mugged in some way by the powerful and well-connected. The left associates oppression with capitalism and with corporations in particular. Evangelicals have become active in fighting the oppression that comes from drug traffickers and sex traffickers. Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission has mobilized a generation of young evangelicals against the beastly evil of human trafficking. But cruelty and injustice may also come from a local employer, a labor union, or a government agency.
Charles Colson has done good work in coming alongside the downcast and downtrodden through many of the works that Prison Fellowship has undertaken. Mind you, not everyone who is suffering and in need of Christian love is oppressed. Marvin Olasky has also done, encouraged, and highlighted Christian work on behalf of oppressed people here and around the world.
One Facebook friend found that this column brought to mind this speech from David Cameron rebuking the Labour Party for smugly thinking that only they, certainly not the Tories, could care for the poor, even though the poor were much worse as a result of Labour's stewardship of many years.
For a strikingly leftist view of oppression, see this post from Jim Wallis that he issued the very next day (no relation, I'm sure) at Sojourners, What is Biblical Politics?".