Defining Social Justice

Good words and phrases sometimes get hijacked. I think “social justice” is one of those. Justice is synonymous with righteousness; the concept comes straight from the heart of God. Justice in social relations, justice in society at large, should be what we all aim for.

What, though, qualifies as justice in a society? Here are my ideas.

image-of-godFirst, social justice should mean we recognize the inherent image of God in each person and treat one another accordingly. It should begin with the most vulnerable and innocent—the pre-born. True social justice will do all that is possible to protect our future generation by abolishing abortion.

Second, social justice will recognize the commonality of mankind as one race. Lately, it has become unacceptable in some circles to say there is only one race: human. Yet, as we’re told in Scripture via the apostle Paul,

He [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.

That should wipe out animosity toward one another based on ethnic differences. We all descended from one human father and mother. God likes variety.

marriageThird, social justice will want to encourage a loving environment in which to raise children. That means support for the one man-one woman arrangement called marriage as established by God. It’s right on its face, but beyond that, studies show that children raised in a stable traditional family will feel more loved and will have a better future.

Single-parent situations, especially for single mothers, engender instability and increase the number of children who will live in poverty. Those children also will be more likely to follow the same pattern in their lives. That’s not social justice.

Fourth, social justice is achieved more often through a vibrant free-market, private-enterprise system that allows people to advance according to their merit, removing stumbling blocks for success that are often placed in their way by the government. If we really want to help people out of poverty, we will support this kind of economic liberty.

churchill-private-enterprise-quote

Think of our racial divisions at the moment and the poverty that is endemic in inner-city neighborhoods. What else do we find there? High abortion rates; 70% of children living in single-parent homes; government “help” that only creates greater dependence and makes people think they have no options in the free-market, private-enterprise system that works all around them.

ferguson-riotsThose factors are then magnified by inflammatory rhetoric that increases bitterness toward those who are successful and disdain for a society that has offered the greatest advantages the world has ever seen.

This is where the Christian faith steps in to point us all in the right direction. Those who are embittered need to understand that sin is sin, no matter how justified one might feel in that bitterness. Repentance from bitterness and racial rage is imperative.

Those who have material success also must understand that the Christian mandate is to reach out to those who are in need and use the prosperity God has granted to help others. It’s that personal connection—showing the love of Christ to those who think God’s love is missing—that leads them to the Truth.

As with the phrase “there is only one race—human,” so the comment “all lives matter” has come under attack. Supposedly, to use that phrase marks one as racist. Yet I see the opposite in Scripture.

I think of the most well-known verse, in which Jesus states,

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

There’s also this reminder in 2 Peter, which states that the Lord is patient toward us, “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

Both of those verses make clear to me that all lives matter to God.

lives-matter

There’s also this in the book of Colossians, in which the apostle Paul writes of a spiritual renewal through Christ “in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.”

Ethnic distinctions mean nothing to God when it comes to relationship with Him. They should mean nothing to us as well with respect to our relationships with one another.

This passage from the book of Ephesians should be our guide:

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

If we do that, social justice will be achieved.

Bush's Decisions

Over Christmas, I took the opportunity to read former President Bush’s new book Decision Points. I did so for two reasons: first, I really wanted to “hear” what he had to say; second, as an American historian, I need to be up to speed on how this former president defends his actions.

Let me begin with what I consider to be its strengths.

The first strength is Bush’s informal writing style. You get the impression this is exactly how he would express himself if you were sitting across the table from him, asking him questions. There is a personableness in the writing that is attractive. You connect with the man.

Second, I appreciate his unapologetic appeal to his Christian faith as his motivation for not only his policies but for all of his life. He does not artificially separate faith from action, personal or governmental.

Third, I highly recommend his chapters dealing with the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent War on Terror. He takes the reader through that awful day in American history as seen through the eyes of the one most responsible for an American response. One understands how difficult it was for him to know what he should do next, yet he explains clearly why he came to his decisions on how to deal with terrorism. The title of the book is appropriate. He does focus on key decisions.

Probably the most significant decision for his presidency was whether to go forward into Iraq. This chapter is a step-by-step analysis of all the twists and turns of the diplomatic thrust to avoid war, and then the rationale for finally giving the go-ahead. Bush is particularly effective in detailing the actions of Saddam and the manner in which he thumbed his nose at international law and his manifold violations of the conditions he had agreed to at the end of the Gulf War.

Bush also clearly explains why he thought WMDs existed within Iraq. He goes to great pains to document the intelligence regarding WMDs, and just as great pains to show that nearly all congressional Democrats at the time agreed with this conclusion. He includes vote tallies on the congressional resolutions that gave him permission to use the military and identifies key Democrats who favored this action—the very ones who later accused him of lying.

So, as a primer on the rationale for how to conduct a War on Terror, this book is invaluable. I highly recommend these chapters. Even some of Bush’s most vociferous critics have had to come to grips with the necessity of his policies.

It’s on the domestic side of his decisions where I have more fundamental disagreements. He does a fine job of explaining the need for tax cuts and often advocates the vitality of the free market. Yet he then goes on to offer an apologetic for why he had to interfere with the market, especially with the big bailout at the end of his presidency. He says he did it to save the market ultimately, but I don’t find his logic persuasive. I believe he allowed some of his advisors to pull him away from fundamental principles.

Neither does Bush have a great appreciation or commitment to federalism. He sees a need and wants to get the federal goverment involved to solve the problem: No Child Left Behind and the prescription drug bill added onto Medicare are two of the most egregious examples. While I’m sure he is fond of the Constitution, I wish he had been more devoted to following it.

So, yes, I do have criticisms of some of his decisions. Yet one can’t read this book without coming away with a sense of the basic decency of the man. That comes across repeatedly.

George Bush is coming to my university this March as part of our National Leadership Forum. I plan to be there to hear him speak, along with his former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. I will do so with sincere gratitude for his prosecution of a war on terror that is essential to the future of this nation. I will also do so out of respect for a Christian brother who tried to do his best in a very trying time.

Worldview Does Matter

A person’s worldview does affect how he sees everything. I’ve commented often on what I believe Obama’s worldview is: non-Christian, anti-Western, and heavily influenced by Marxist philosophy. Take a hypothetical classroom where economist Adam Smith and Karl Marx might be under the tutelage of Prof. Obama:

There are ramifications to the rejection of free markets and the adoption of government control of the economy:

President Obama, though, refuses to take any responsibility for any of our economic woes. He continues to deflect criticism and blame others—one person in particular:

I’ve ordered George Bush’s book; I hope I never have to order the other one.

The Leftist Economic Mindset

In a townhall Obama held the other day, he made a strong statement when he said he would not allow the tax cuts for the “rich” to be extended. The mantra from the Left is always “We can’t afford to give tax cuts.” Think about this mindset for a moment.

What it indicates is that the Left side of the political spectrum believes that your money really isn’t yours. They consider it all to be the government’s, and they can then decide how much to distribute to you. This is a fundamental disagreement with the concept that what you earn belongs to you.

And of course the idea that the “rich” shouldn’t benefit reveals an antagonism toward those who succeed.

Obama also made fun of the free market, declaring that giving people back their money will not magically make things better. Well, I agree to a point: there is no magic involved; it’s simply an understanding of how economics works. When people get to keep more of what they earn, they can use it in creative ways, some investing, others developing new ideas and products, others again setting up scholarship funds for those in need, etc.

There are numerous historical precedents to show that freeing up money—removing it from the grasp of the government and letting individuals use it instead—leads to prosperity. There are also numerous historical precedents to show that the Obama approach never has worked. But then I’m not really expecting him to learn from his mistakes.

We rarely learn from history, but I’m going to continue teaching it regardless.

I’ve also mentioned in previous posts that this administration seems to be living in a fantasy world of sorts:

Here’s the reality:

The hope is that the people of the country will learn from what has occurred these past few years and change course this November. Our future really is at stake.