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.

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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.

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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.

Biblical Consistency & the Renewed Mind

Yesterday’s post singled out the most foundational problem in the church today—a weak/falsified salvation message. Today, I turn to the problem of the misapplication of the faith, either by lack of knowledge or the adoption of ideologies that contradict Biblical principles. I want to be clear that many of the people I am referring to today may actually be sincere Christians, but uninformed or led astray by ideas that sound good on the surface but are inconsistent with Biblical truth.

When we become Christians, we begin the process of getting our thoughts straightened out. That process doesn’t occur all at once. A key Scriptural passage with respect to this is found in Romans 12:

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

This passage reminds us that we must continually present ourselves for God’s service; it’s not a one-time thing. It then goes on to tell us not to think the way the world does, but to have renewed minds—in other words, we may have to, in certain areas, start again from scratch in our thinking, and make sure it lines up with God’s truth. The word translated “transformed” is the same Greek word used when Jesus is on the Mount of Transfiguration, when the disciples see Him in all His glory for a few moments. That same kind of transformation must take place in our minds, and it’s only by way of this transformation that we’ll have any idea what God’s will may be. If we approach everything from our old way of thinking, we will miss God’s will and adopt practices contrary to what He wants.

Some of the most disturbing examples of this are found in the lives of those who claim the Christian faith yet are barely troubled by the moral trends in our society. For instance, how can a genuine Christian not stand firm against abortion? Yet there are voices in the church world who downplay the significance of this “legal” practice. It’s usually those same voices who see no problem with homosexuality and same-sex marriage. They have been swayed by the world’s logic in these areas; they accept the “discrimination” argument with respect to homosexuality, comparing it to discrimination based on race. They swallow the explanation that some people are just born that way, that God made them to be homosexual, so it cannot be a sin.

By taking these stances, one becomes allied with organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which are militantly anti-Christian. That, by itself, should give pause and lead to some rethinking.

When it comes to abortion, they may say they don’t like it, but that it’s not as important as helping the poor. Their gospel comes dangerously close to a purely social gospel that seeks to take care of material needs while relegating the salvation of the individual to a secondary status. If they have integrated a Marxist worldview into their theology, they see Jesus as more of a liberator in this life than the One who sets us free from our sins.

What I’ve discovered about those who hold to these views is their total lack of understanding of the Biblical principles of governance in civil society. They don’t grasp the importance of the rule of law, which puts everyone on the same plane before the law and guarantees the protection of God-given rights. To them, following documents such as the Constitution seems outmoded; guided more by their emotions than Biblical thinking, they just want the government to do whatever they deem necessary to take care of needs.

They also have little comprehension of the Biblical principles that undergird economics. Moved by emotion once again, they believe the government should just spend lavishly to meet every need and take whatever it needs from its citizens to accomplish the task. I’m not sure the national debt even enters their minds.

To top it off, they are unaware of the utter futility of all this government spending. Trillions upon trillions of dollars have never extinguished poverty; in fact, the only thing this spending orgy will ever achieve is the extension of poverty to millions more. Study after study has shown, over and over, that dependence on government largesse only worsens our problems, creating a culture of dependency and destroying initiative.

The Christian Left, as it is called in the media, is, in the name of Christ, transforming genuine Christianity into a statist ideal that ultimately undermines the very faith they say they believe. Government replaces God and becomes a new idol, to the extent that many of them are not even bothered by the trampling of religious liberty currently underway through Obamacare.

I began this post by asserting that many of the people I’m talking about are sincere Christians who are merely uninformed or misled. However, there is a segment that either have abandoned, or are on the verge of abandoning, the faith altogether. I’m glad God is the final judge of their salvation. Yet I, and all Christians, do have a responsibility to examine the fruit of the lives of those who claim they are Christians; we can make tentative judgments. That is what I have done today.

What do I hope to gain by sharing my concerns? First, I want to embolden those who are undergoing the renewal of the mind. Don’t shrink back. Stand for the truth as God opens it to you. Second, I hope to awaken some who currently consider themselves part of the so-called Christian Left. Please rethink your views. You are leading others into serious error. Don’t be molded by the world’s standards and the guidance it offers. It is deception. And please heed Jesus’ warning:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.