“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s case” (Isaiah 1:17 ESV).
Many individuals and organizations in our culture today sincerely wanted to help those oppressed by our “systemically racist culture” in America. As a result, many people, corporations, organizations, and even churches have jumped on the social justice bandwagon.
Given recent events, many of us are contemplating what exactly is social justice and what does it accomplish? Why does it suddenly appear that after decades of prosperity for Americans from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, many now can’t seem to find justice?
Consider the following definition of social justice:
Social justice is a political and philosophical theory which asserts that there are dimensions to the concept of justice beyond those embodied in the principles of civil or criminal law, economic supply and demand, or traditional moral frameworks. Social justice tends to focus more on just relations between groups within society as opposed to the justice of individual conduct or justice for individuals.
… In modern practice, social justice revolves around favoring or punishing different groups of the population, regardless of any given individual's choices or actions, ... In economic terms, this often means redistribution of wealth, income, and economic opportunities from groups whom social justice advocates consider to be oppressors to those whom they consider to be the oppressed. Social justice is often associated with identity politics, socialism, and revolutionary communism.[i]
One reason social justice is so troubling is because it’s not interested in solving problems and creating solutions. Rather, it’s about arbitrarily “favoring and punishing different groups of the population, regardless of any given individual’s choices or actions (see quote above).” It’s the opposite of true justice; it subverts the natural order and, as a result, favors the strong while exploiting the weak. It’s anti-justice in essence.
Despite popular opinion, Jesus was not—and would never be—a social justice warrior. One of the most telling passages of scripture debunking the myth that Jesus would favor the redistribution of wealth, opportunities, and justice, can be found in John 12. Mary, the sister of the recently raised-from-the-dead Lazarus, understood that Jesus would soon be led to his death. She made the unpopular decision, according to some of the disciples, to anointed Jesus to prepare him for burial using a very expensive jar of perfume. But this didn’t go over well with Judas, the disciple who would later turn Jesus over to the authorities to be arrested. He objected and said that—instead of wasting the costly perfume on some silly ritual—the jar should be sold, and the profits given to the poor.
In reply, Jesus shut down Judas’s idea by saying, “the poor will always be around, but you won’t always have me.” Jesus understood that Judas’s true interest was NOT in helping the poor. As the treasurer of the discipleship group, Judas held the purse strings. He saw an opportunity to redistribute the wealth to himself.
True justice, as God created in the beginning, looks nothing like social justice. Social justice has no real interest in helping the oppressed. True justice is an action, not a philosophical ideology.
No one cares more for the poor, oppressed, and marginalized than God, the Creator of the universe and Author of mankind. God created social justice—it’s called the natural order. God established justice for our protection.
Scripture is clear about the way to achieve justice: do good, avoid evil, and help the oppressed. Justice in the Bible is not a vaguely defined concept; it’s a measurement, and The Ten Commandments are the measuring stick. Psalms and Proverbs include many references to “just scales” and “true judgements.” Make no mistake, the Lord judges us as individuals. He rewards good behavior and punishes wickedness and perversion. We can’t hide in a group, good or bad.
America is headed down a very dark path if we continue to seek “fundamental change” to the rule of law. There is no peace without safety, and there is no safety without true justice.
“Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever. For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever” (Psalm 37:27–29 ESV).
[i] "Social Justice Definition," 2020, Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/social-justice.asp.