Christian hip-hop Artists Have a Divine Obligation to Speak on Social Justice Issues
In today’s society, it is almost impossible to avoid the term ‘social justice’. While many Christian hip-hop artists may see this word, few understand what it means, and even fewer feel inclined to discuss these issues. The term ‘social justice’ or ‘social justice warrior’ has become a political label and an insult to those wanting an equal playing field, to break that stigma, here is a brief and easy definition of what social justice is:
“The fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion, etc., are to be treated equally and without prejudice.”
Although important, this article will not be a discussion of the multiple injustices, intricate definitions, and social issues that face society. Rather, it will be a dialogue on whether Christian hip-hop artists have an obligation to speak up and advocate for justice in society.
As humans, we deeply want justice to prevail and are usually outraged when it does not. We scream life is unfair, throw tantrums, and feel hopeless. Yet the Book of Revelation reveals in detail the nature of Gods justice and that his just deeds will be revealed. God’s righteous judgment will one day be on display and will rule forever more. This should give us hope. However, having hope for the future does not eliminate current day problems and sufferings. As scripture tells us we clearly serve a God of justice (Deuteronomy 32:4), who loves justice (Isaiah 61:8), commands us to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and to defend the rights of the poor (Proverbs 31:8–9), and views injustice and dishonesty as an abomination (Proverbs 11:1.) Jesus tells us that when we feed the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, and help those who hurt we are indeed doing these acts for Him. As found in Matthew 25:37–40:
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
If CHH artists are actively seeking God, and are in constant communication with Him and his word, it would be hard to find a reason not to speak up about injustice in society and advocating the for equal treatment of humans. Not only do they have large platforms and a large following, which is a gift from God, they are also required to do more than your average person, as found in Luke 12:48, “from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Christians artists and anyone who is involved with CHH and its culture has an obligation to speak up on societal issues, not just because they have a huge platform, mass amounts of followers, or are wealthy — but because they are followers of Jesus Christ and servants of the Lord. This goes for all Christians; many have become enamored with the “feel good Jesus” and have completely forgotten that Jesus came to earth, not to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34.) This is not hyperbole, he came with such a different message that he tipped everything Old Testament Jewish Law taught on its head. He came to establish a new standard, one only he could help us achieve, one that was rejected by many. Jesus stomped on the oppressors and the false religious leaders in the Bible; yet we want to feel good in the pew, we want to feel good while listening to music that fits perfectly with our own little world — that’s not what God wants. That’s the lukewarmness Revelation 3:16 warns will get us spit out of the mouth of Jesus. Get on fire for injustice, because Jesus was.
As stated at the start of this article, “social justice” has somehow become a negative connotation. As Stephen Mattson said in his article, Social Justice Is a Christian Tradition — Not A Liberal Agenda:
Many Christians are wary of participating in social justice because of a deep-rooted fear of being labeled ‘liberal,’ ‘progressive,’ or ‘secular.’ They don’t want to be associated with ‘secular’ movements, and are uncomfortable delving into issues that go beyond their cultural comfort zones.
Those who have been saved by grace and spared the pain of God’s wrath — which is perfectly just — should be the very first people to understand the concept of what justice looks like. However, many have still not come to grips with the fact that they have a moral obligation; or better yet, a divine obligation to speak out against injustice. Speaking out presents itself in many ways. For many artists, it could be a donation of their time, resources, or money. It could mean rallying in the streets and protesting. For others, it could be as simple as mentioning these topics in songs, freestyles, and interviews. Mattson again hits the nail on the head by saying:
Participating in social justice is a Christian tradition inspired by Jesus, not liberal causes, populist agendas, media platforms, lawmakers, or mainstream fads. It’s a deeply spiritual practice. Instead of being motivated by political affiliations, financial gain, power, pride, control, or our own secular motivations, we should be active participants for the sake of following Jesus — for the purpose of glorifying God by through acts of justice, empowerment, and love.
There is no other option available and to be effective and help initiate change, it begins with listening to those who are different to you, hearing them out, having a will to learn, and self-educating. Yes, it may be uncomfortable and the conversations may be hard but if you feel uncomfortable doing that — simply study and mimic the life of Jesus. Because by doing that you will be serving the Lord and be advocating for your brothers and sisters who are impacted by social justice issues.