You might have thought that Jesus was not exactly interested in social justice when you read Luke’s account of Christ’s interaction with the Capernaum centurion:
After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” 6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well. (Luke 7)
Sure, the officer’s faith was impressive, but doesn’t it sound like the centurion was a guy, sort of like a modern business man, who approached life transactionally. He gets things done merely by saying the word. Surely, Jesus is that kind of leader, one who simply barks an order and underlings jump.
And what about those orders? Jesus did not seem to object to the hierarchy in the Roman military, or that a centurion could own slaves. And let’s not forget that often the Roman military was nasty and harsh, and that was partly responsible for its success. Then there’s imperialism, a system of oppression by today’s standards if there ever was one. Yet, Jesus overlooked those blemishes, recognized the authenticity of the centurion’s faith, and healed his slave.
On the other hand, what if the centurion had a same-sex relationship with the slave?
When the identity of the slave in the Gospel narrative of “The Healing of the Centurion’s Slave” is studied through historical-critical research, the written and earlier oral traditions of the story indicate that the miraculous act is true to the historical Jesus. Also, by exploring the slave’s identity as a slave, same-sex love interest, and military recruit—and the 1st century C.E. implications thereof—the author concludes that the historical Jesus understood the sexual relationship between the centurion and his slave, and healed the latter based on the faith of the former. Jesus never spoke negatively about homosexuality and never offered sociological or theological discourse pertaining thereto.
(When was the last time you saw “thereto” in a defense of homosexuality?)
Maybe Jesus really was woke.