Proverbs 31:8-9 (CEB) Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable. Speak out in order to judge with righteousness and to defend the needy and the poor.
Advocating for the Silenced
Summary: God asks us to advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves.
I find it significant that June celebrates two communities often discriminated against. June is both LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Plus = all the gender identities that words cannot describe) awareness month and also Juneteenth. Juneteenth, June 19th, is the United States federal holiday commemoration of the freeing of enslaved people after the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation. In the United States these two people groups have been harassed, discriminated against, abused, and killed because they belong to their group. Their backs become targets that people aim their hostility.
But for Christians, Christ has declared that labels do not belong in God’s kingdom. Galatians 3:28 says “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In Christ, we are all one family of God, and we all belong to each other. Singling people out based upon our hatred of their demographic is not a Christ-like act. God asks us to love all people as our brothers and sisters.
However, just ceasing hostility is not enough. God also asks that we advocate for people who are vulnerable. The Bible clearly calls us to advocate for those in need. In addition to verses that talk about advocating for those in need, there are also stories of advocacy throughout Scripture.
For instance, the book of Esther is all about advocacy.
In the story of Esther, Esther is a young Jewish woman living in the Persian diaspora. She finds favor with the King of Persia and becomes his queen. After Esther becomes queen, her adopted father, Mordecai, becomes involved in a power struggle with the grand vizier Haman. When Mordecai does not subjugate himself to Haman, Haman decides to kill Mordecai and all of Mordecai’s people, the Jewish people living under Persian rule.
When Esther learns about Haman’s scheme to kill her people, insecurity overwhelms her. With Mordecai’s encouragement, she eventaully decides to advocate for her people. However, she knows that the king has ultimate power and so she must strategically approach the king. If she displeases the king, he has the power to execute her. Still afraid, she resolves to act even if it costs her life.
A new courageous Esther decides to appear unsummoned before the king. During this conversation, Esther invites the king and his advisor to a dinner party. After a successful evening of eating and drinking, she asks the king and Hamon to another dinner party. At that party, she reveals the plot to kill her people, the Jews. And she names Haman as the plot master. The king is furious with Haman and has him executed. The book ends with Mordecai elevated to the office of grand vizier and the Jewish people safe.
This is one story of one person advocating for people without a voice. We are asked to use our power to give power to others. God calls us to use our influence to help those who need an advocate. We are asked to fight the prejudice, injustice, poverty, and conflict we see. One voice can be powerful. One voice can change a life. One voice can change the world. Like Mordecai says to Esther when she is contemplating helping the Jewish people, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
May you speak for those without a voice,