How to address Oppression and Abuse for Spiritual Benefit.


By Paul Chaloux

(Adapted from Why All People Suffer)



Oppression, defined as one person or group exploiting others for personal gain has been unfortunately part of the human experience since shortly after the Fall of man. It is pure sin, putting the lesser good of one’s personal desires above the greater goods of justice toward the rest of humanity. It is particularly prevalent in our post-modern society with regular reports of sexual abuse scandals, child and sex trafficking, charges of systemic racism and sexism in our government and private institutions, business owners getting wealthy while their employees struggle to make ends meet, and even cyberbullying in our schools. It is a problem that touches most people in one way or another that seemingly lacks an obvious solution.

` Oppression is distinguished from simple crimes because of its continuous nature. It therefore involves a relationship between the parties that must be changed for the oppression to end. Because it is opposed to God’s plan for us and results in a loss of goodness on the part of the oppressed, it causes them to suffer. This suffering in turn, motivates the oppressed to seek to end the oppression. How they go about doing this, as well as their ultimate success in changing the contours of the relationship that will be required to end the oppression, is entirely dependent on their perception of the nature of God and His relationship to all his Children and also how they perceive each other.

Oppression is born from misperceptions of each other and our relative worth in the eyes of God. God is the source of all that is good and he made everyone and everything perfect for the role he has planned for them. Furthermore, since God can make anything from nothing, material goods have no value to him and physical strength is of no consequence. What He values is our happiness and He has designed us in a way that we can ultimately only be satisfied by sharing in his life and his nature, which is to love unconditionally. He gave us suffering, the ability to detect when we deviate from the path that leads us to happiness, not to destroy us but to teach us to love as He does.

Suffering is uncomfortable and persistent in nature and will only end when we heed its message. Some messages, like not to drink or eat too much, are easy to interpret because they are simple feedback loops. Doing so makes us feel ill, so we become more temperate in our intake so as not to suffer again. Interpreting other messages correctly, like how to stop oppression, require us to be aligned with God’s will.

It is our perception of ourselves, others, and God’s plans for us that result in oppression to begin with and limit our ability to resolve it. It is commonly thought that when one group oppresses another that God is at best, showing favor to the oppressors and is punishing the oppressed, or at worst, is disinterested in human activities or doesn’t exist at all. Neither case, of course, makes sense with what God has revealed about Himself in scripture nor is it logical for the Creator of all things to behave in this fashion. In the first case, we are asked to believe that God favors the sinner over the innocent while in the second one, we are asked to believe that God would expend the time and effort to create the universe and then just set it aside. Neither makes sense so we need to consider alternative explanations that are consistent with what we know about God.

So why would the merciful and loving God depicted by Jesus in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32) allow his children to oppress each other? The answer lies in the teaching that God made us to share in His nature, which is to love unconditionally, so we could share in his life of eternal joy (2Peter 1:4). Love must be freely given so God, in his great wisdom and kindness allows us to make our own choices but attaches ramifications to those choices to train us to love. When we deviate from the path of love, we experience the lack of goodness in our choice as suffering. On the other hand, when we make spiritual progress, we feel joy.

God uses suffering to carry out four tasks that bring us from sin to salvation, teaching us sequentially how to love ourselves properly, to love God and to orient our will to His, to unleash our love of neighbor, and ultimately to love as Jesus did, willing to suffer for the benefit of another. At the beginning of the sequence, God uses suffering to ensure that we attend to our most basic needs. We feel hungry when we need food. We feel lonely when we need companionship. When we fulfill these needs at the expense of another, we effectively transfer our suffering to them. In the case of oppression, the exploitation is continuous, denoting a relationship that needs to be changed. Because it is the victim that suffers, it is the victim who must share the message that the relationship is hurtful materially to him and spiritually to the oppressor. This is to truly love one’s enemy as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.

Contrary to secular wisdom that the best way to end oppression is to “blacken the eye of the bully,” the only way to change the course of an exploitive relationship is to let the oppressor see the suffering he or she is causing. The problem with oppressors is that they fail to see those they oppress as sharing the same humanity with them, equally deserving of respect as children of God. Therefore, the oppressed need to show them their vulnerability which everyone understands is an integral part of our humanity. The more innocent and vulnerable the victim, the more obvious the sin is to the oppressor and the more likely he or she is to repent.

Ironically, this solution is hampered by the victims’ inability to see the humanity of their oppressors. Yet, they too are children of God who have been misled and who can be saved if their consciences are properly engaged. It is the absolute pinnacle of love to actually love your oppressors enough to show them your vulnerability and trust in their in their innate goodness as children of God that they will respond to love with love. To love others enough to suffer for their salvation is to truly love as Jesus did and those that share in his suffering will also share in his glory (Romans 8:17).

Mahatma Gandhi, whose efforts toppled British colonialism in India and Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr, who led the fight against racism in the United States, both understood and embraced this concept that emanates from Jesus’ charge to love your enemies (Mt 5:44).

Gandhi explains:

A Satyagrahi (supporter of passive resistance) bids goodbye to fear. He is therefore never afraid of trusting the opponent. Even if the opponent plays him false twenty times, the Satyagrahi is ready to trust him for the twenty-first time for an implicit trust in human nature is the very essence of his creed. Satyagraha is based on self-help, self-sacrifice and faith in God.[1]

King adds that:

We will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul-force. .|.|. We will soon wear you down by our capacity to suffer and in winning our freedom we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process.[2]


[1] Gandhi, The Essential Gandhi, 81. [2] Commins, “Is Suffering Redemptive?” 62. [3] M. B. Riddle, trans., The Didache, from Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 7., ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886). Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0714.htm. How to address Oppression

By Paul Chaloux

(Adapted from Why All People Suffer)



```Oppression, defined as one person or group exploiting others for personal gain has been unfortunately part of the human experience since shortly after the Fall of man. It is pure sin, putting the lesser good of one’s personal desires above the greater goods of justice toward the rest of humanity. It is particularly prevalent in our post-modern society with regular reports of sexual abuse scandals, child and sex trafficking, charges of systemic racism and sexism in our government and private institutions, business owners getting wealthy while their employees struggle to make ends meet, and even cyberbullying in our schools. It is a problem that touches most people in one way or another that seemingly lacks an obvious solution.


Oppression is distinguished from simple crimes because of its continuous nature. It therefore involves a relationship between the parties that must be changed for the oppression to end. Because it is opposed to God’s plan for us and results in a loss of goodness on the part of the oppressed, it causes them to suffer. This suffering in turn, motivates the oppressed to seek to end the oppression. How they go about doing this, as well as their ultimate success in changing the contours of the relationship that will be required to end the oppression, is entirely dependent on their perception of the nature of God and His relationship to all his Children and also how they perceive each other.

Oppression is born from misperceptions of each other and our relative worth in the eyes of God. God is the source of all that is good and he made everyone and everything perfect for the role he has planned for them. Furthermore, since God can make anything from nothing, material goods have no value to him and physical strength is of no consequence. What He values is our happiness and He has designed us in a way that we can ultimately only be satisfied by sharing in his life and his nature, which is to love unconditionally. He gave us suffering, the ability to detect when we deviate from the path that leads us to happiness, not to destroy us but to teach us to love as He does.

Suffering is uncomfortable and persistent in nature and will only end when we heed its message. Some messages, like not to drink or eat too much, are easy to interpret because they are simple feedback loops. Doing so makes us feel ill, so we become more temperate in our intake so as not to suffer again. Interpreting other messages correctly, like how to stop oppression, require us to be aligned with God’s will.

It is our perception of ourselves, others, and God’s plans for us that result in oppression to begin with and limit our ability to resolve it. It is commonly thought that when one group oppresses another that God is at best, showing favor to the oppressors and is punishing the oppressed, or at worst, is disinterested in human activities or doesn’t exist at all. Neither case, of course, makes sense with what God has revealed about Himself in scripture nor is it logical for the Creator of all things to behave in this fashion. In the first case, we are asked to believe that God favors the sinner over the innocent while in the second one, we are asked to believe that God would expend the time and effort to create the universe and then just set it aside. Neither makes sense so we need to consider alternative explanations that are consistent with what we know about God.

So why would the merciful and loving God depicted by Jesus in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32) allow his children to oppress each other? The answer lies in the teaching that God made us to share in His nature, which is to love unconditionally, so we could share in his life of eternal joy (2Peter 1:4). Love must be freely given so God, in his great wisdom and kindness allows us to make our own choices but attaches ramifications to those choices to train us to love. When we deviate from the path of love, we experience the lack of goodness in our choice as suffering. On the other hand, when we make spiritual progress, we feel joy.

God uses suffering to carry out four tasks that bring us from sin to salvation, teaching us sequentially how to love ourselves properly, to love God and to orient our will to His, to unleash our love of neighbor, and ultimately to love as Jesus did, willing to suffer for the benefit of another. At the beginning of the sequence, God uses suffering to ensure that we attend to our most basic needs. We feel hungry when we need food. We feel lonely when we need companionship. When we fulfill these needs at the expense of another, we effectively transfer our suffering to them. In the case of oppression, the exploitation is continuous, denoting a relationship that needs to be changed. Because it is the victim that suffers, it is the victim who must share the message that the relationship is hurtful materially to him and spiritually to the oppressor. This is to truly love one’s enemy as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.

Contrary to secular wisdom that the best way to end oppression is to “blacken the eye of the bully,” the only way to change the course of an exploitive relationship is to let the oppressor see the suffering he or she is causing. The problem with oppressors is that they fail to see those they oppress as sharing the same humanity with them, equally deserving of respect as children of God. Therefore, the oppressed need to show them their vulnerability which everyone understands is an integral part of our humanity. The more innocent and vulnerable the victim, the more obvious the sin is to the oppressor and the more likely he or she is to repent.

Ironically, this solution is hampered by the victims’ inability to see the humanity of their oppressors. Yet, they too are children of God who have been misled and who can be saved if their consciences are properly engaged. It is the absolute pinnacle of love to actually love your oppressors enough to show them your vulnerability and trust in their in their innate goodness as children of God that they will respond to love with love. To love others enough to suffer for their salvation is to truly love as Jesus did and those that share in his suffering will also share in his glory (Romans 8:17).

Mahatma Gandhi, whose efforts toppled British colonialism in India and Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr, who led the fight against racism in the United States, both understood and embraced this concept that emanates from Jesus’ charge to love your enemies (Mt 5:44).

Gandhi explains:

A Satyagrahi (supporter of passive resistance) bids goodbye to fear. He is therefore never afraid of trusting the opponent. Even if the opponent plays him false twenty times, the Satyagrahi is ready to trust him for the twenty-first time for an implicit trust in human nature is the very essence of his creed. Satyagraha is based on self-help, self-sacrifice and faith in God.[1]

King adds that:

We will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul-force. .|.|. We will soon wear you down by our capacity to suffer and in winning our freedom we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process.[2]

These 20th century luminaries changed the world because they understood that oppression results from a lack of love in a relationship and that love cannot be gained through force, but must be engendered with our own love. This is a message that transcends time.We stop oppression, not by tearing down the oppressors might (which is difficult to do since that is what allows them to oppress others to begin with), but by making them aware of the results of their actions and relying on their consciences to guide them the right way.When we fail to trust them, we fail to trust in the God that made us both and we fail to recognize that they too want to be good.If we expose our vulnerability, our oppressors can see us as we really are while also seeing themselves as they really are. Because no sane person wants to be evil, this can’t help but change the relationship going forward and as Dr. King says “win them over.” This is what Jesus calls for when He said in the Sermon on the Mount, “love your enemies.” Ironically, if you oppress someone, you tie your spiritual future to that person. As hard as it may be to accept, the oppressed have an opportunity to demonstrate redeeming love by allowing their oppressor to see their pain and as The Didache, a first century catechism, succinctly puts it, “love those who hate you, and you shall not have an enemy. ”[3]If the oppressed cannot forgive, they cannot be saved either in this life or the next, and it would be unlikely that the oppressor in such a position would be motivated to stop the oppression, which would doom him as well

[1] Gandhi, The Essential Gandhi, 81. [2] Commins, “Is Suffering Redemptive?” 62. [3] M. B. Riddle, trans., The Didache, from Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 7., ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886). Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0714.htm.

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