“The Gospel and Social Justice in Public”
This brief note is intended for some of my Evangelical friends who separate the Gospel and justice issues; it is also beneficial for many American evangelicals who do not believe that the Gospel is intrinsically connected with social justice and human rights issues, especially the rights and freedom of women in society.
Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege is a new recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his tremendous work in healing rape victims and defending the dignity of women in his native land, the Republic of Congo. He is a “Christian” and a medical doctor. It is impossible to divorce the biblical understanding of justice and love for one’s neighbor from the heart of the Gospel or Christianity itself–that is to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, to do justice, show mercy, and love God and love your neighbor. This is exactly what this Christian doctor has done for the oppressed women and the poor in his country;these Congolese women have been raped, abused, exploited, killed, and tortured. Dr. Mukwege showed them what love and justice look like in public. He defended their cause and their right to live with dignity as bearers of God’s image.
The gospel is not only the exposition of the Word one hears on Sunday morning or Wednesday night Bible study; it is both word and action, and is about how we love and care for our neighbor, and how we intentionally pursue their interests in matters of social justice–such as feeding the hungry, healing the sick, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoner, defending the rights of the oppressed and the poor, providing hospitality to the unknown such as the undocumented immigrant.
There is no valid biblical reason why a committed christian or a serious Christian congregation cannot and should not work towards both ends: the faithful proclamation of the Gospel and the public acts and demonstrations of the Gospel in deeds. This is not “social gospel,” but a Christianity that willingly engages the culture and the people responsibly, ethically, and morally by working together to alleviate the social concerns and ills of our society, and to heal the wound and oppression of the people. A lot of people in our society are hurting spiritually and existentially. They need the spiritual food; they also need food for their body; they need shelter, hospitals and clinics, healthcare; they need educational and literary programs; they also need jobs; they also need to live in peace in their homeland. Similarly, women need to feel safe in their homes and workplaces without having to worry about the threat and act of sexual abuse and violence from men.
As the doctor asks these pivotal questions in his speech:
How can we have communal peace without respect for human life and rights?
How can we have peace without justice and reparations?
How can we have peace without truth and reconciliation?
There is no sustaining peace without justice, truth, reconciliation, and reparations.
I wish there was an English translation available of Dr. Mukwege’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, which he delivered in French.
Sometimes this week, I posted a detailed article about his work on restoring women’s dignity in his country.
Here’s Dr. Denis Mukwege’s Nobel Prize Speech with English Entitles.