Patrick Chen, on Christ the Liberator

When Jesus began his teaching ministry in the Temple, he chose as his text the passage from Isaiah,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed

This can be viewed, in modern political jargon, as his “keynote address” – and it is about liberating the oppressed, not about imposing narrow religious rules on sexual activities. For all queer Christians, who so often feel we are on the receiving end of supposedly religion-based attacks for our transgression of the rules, it is important that we remember this.

The theologian Patrick Chen elaborates on Christ as liberator in the third part of his Christological reflection on sin and grace for LGBT Christians:

This model is rooted in the liberation theologies of Latin American and Black theologians such as Gustavo Gutiérrez and James Cone.  In other words, Jesus Christ is understood as the One who frees all those who are enslaved to systematic oppressions, including heterosexism and homophobia.

Indeed, Jesus Christ announces at the beginning of his ministry that his mission is to set the oppressed free.  By reading from the Book of Isaiah, Jesus proclaims that he has been anointed by God to “bring good news to the poor,” to “proclaim release to the captives,” and to “let the oppressed go free.”  The work of the Liberator Christ is reinforced by the parable of sheep and goats in Matthew 25, in which Jesus declares that whoever ministers to those who are hungry, thirsty, outsider, naked, sick, and/or imprisoned has actually ministered to him.

Like the Exodus event in which the ancient Israelites were set free from their bondage to their Egyptians slaveholders, the Christ event liberates LGBT people from the bondage of heterosexism and homophobia.  For example, Robert E. Shore-Goss, a gay former Jesuit priest and current Metropolitan Community Church minister, has written in his book Jesus Acted Up: A Gay and Lesbian Manifesto
about the importance of deconstructing traditional christologies.  For Shore-Goss, LGBT people are called to move from the erotophobic and sex-negative “Christ the Oppressor” to the LGBT-empowering “Jesus the Liberator.”

Read the full post at Jesus in Love blog, where you can also follow the full series:

1) Erotic Christ (sin as exploitation; grace as mutuality)
2) Out Christ (sin as the closet; grace as coming out)
3) Liberator Christ (sin as apathy; grace as activism)
4) Transgressive Christ (sin as conformity; grace as deviance)
5) Hybrid Christ – not yet published (as of Dec 10th)

Notes:
Cheng, theology professor at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, adapted the series for the Jesus in Love Blog based on his essay in the new book “Sexuality and the Sacred: Sources for Theological Reflection,” edited by Marvin M. Ellison and Kelly Brown Douglas. However, at Jesus in Love, Kittredge Cherry notes that this particular segment is a late addition to Cheng’s Christological thinking, which does not appear in the published manuscript.
Kittredge writes of the image she chose for this segment of Cheng’s article,
The image for this post, “Jesus Rises” shows Jesus setting prisoners free on Easter morning. It comes from “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision” by F. Douglas Blanchard, which presents Jesus as a contemporary gay man. “Jesus Rises” and other selections from the Gay Passion series appear in my book “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More.”
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2 Responses to “Patrick Chen, on Christ the Liberator”

  1. Paul Robert Says:

    The picture is glorious!

    • Terence Says:

      Glad you like it, Paul – but it’s not mine. Why not follow the link to

      Jesus in Love blog, and say so directly to Kittredge, who specializes in finding superb queer themed religious art?


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