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.

Man’s Anger & God’s Righteousness

James 1:20—For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

That Scripture came to mind this morning as I reflect on the state of our nation and the political developments in recent years.

Proverbs 29Anger over sin is not a sin in itself, but whenever anger becomes the driving force for what one does, we go off the rails spiritually.

There are legitimate reasons for anger:

  • Over 57 million babies aborted since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973;
  • The ongoing destruction of Biblical morality in the area of sexual relations and marriage;
  • The assault on religious liberty, particularly for conservative Christians;
  • The trend toward the government as the solution for all problems;
  • The arrogance and increasing corruption of political leaders;
  • The overthrowing of the rule of law in general.

Those are the ones that come readily to mind, but there are others.

How has the Christian community responded? Some have taken a bold stand against this cultural and political devolution; others have caved to the spirit of the age and have tailored their “Christianity” to fit the new trends.

Politically, starting in 2009, a movement arose—and many in the movement were Christians—that sought to reverse some of these trends. Anger helped begin that movement, but it also was focused on a return to basics, both spiritually and constitutionally.

DSC00018For that reason, I was pleased to participate in it. It was given a name: the Tea Party. I have spoken to a number of such groups since their inception, and have done my best to help this movement stay on track by pointing to the principles we need to follow.

What I’m about to say is not an indictment of the movement as a whole because I know enough sincere, honest people who are part of it. However, what I’ve witnessed over time is a tendency to allow anger over what is occurring in the nation to overwhelm the more positive aspects of the movement.

Whenever we let anger dictate our responses, we lose. When we drift away from concentrating on the positive message of restoration and humility before God, seeking His mercy, we lose.

Instead, we latch onto a charismatic figure who only fans the flames of the anger we naturally feel. We overlook his character, his past, and even the things he says that are completely inconsistent with what we claim are our principles.

In the heat of our anger, we lose our souls.

I am just sad this morning. I am now a political outsider. I often feel like one of those lonely voices in the wilderness. It’s not a comfortable place to be.

Yet I am willing to be what God has called me to be. I am willing to continue to speak and write what I believe to be true. And because I also believe that God is a God of mercy as well as discipline and judgment, I continue to hope for the best.

LamentationsIn the face of God’s judgment over His people Israel in the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah stated this in the book of Lamentations:

This I recall to my mind; therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.

Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul. “Therefore I have hope in Him.”

That’s the only safe place for our hope to reside: in Him. There is no political savior. We will survive the results of this coming election only because there is hope in Him.

Lay aside the anger as your primary motivation. Look to Him instead.

James 1:20—For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Stand for Righteousness

As a Christian I believe that salvation is offered to all who will acknowledge the sin in their lives, sincerely repent of it, and put their faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross. I believe, as Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, that we are then obliged to “go and sin no more.”

Further, I believe that no sin is outside the circle of God’s forgiveness. The sin of homosexuality is no exception. And the admonition to go and sin no more applies as well because sin is a choice—there is no homosexual gene, regardless of what you may have heard.

It isn’t the Christians, though, who have made homosexuality such an issue in our society. As a historian, I could go back and trace all the antecedents that have led us to where we are today, but the short version is to say that the cultural revolution started in earnest in the 1960s and 1970s.

Prop 8 Protest IThis revolution had many facets but sexual “liberation” was a key. The push for legalized abortion and homosexual “rights” began simultaneously. Both are the outward manifestation of the rejection of Biblical truth and the substitution of the cult of self-centeredness and licentious behavior.

Christians always have reached out to those trapped in sin. After all, that’s why God has us in this world, to be His voice, arms, and legs. I would never have a problem sitting down with individuals caught in any sinful lifestyle and helping them see the true liberation that comes through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What has happened in the past few decades, though, and that has now accelerated beyond anyone’s expectation, is the demand by those in sinful lifestyles—particularly homosexuality—that the society not just tolerate their sinfulness but that we embrace it.

We have gone far beyond a call for tolerance into the realm of government force to make us bow to the new immorality. Christian businesses such as bakeries and photographers are fined if they won’t participate in homosexual weddings. Some have had to close their businesses over this.

Christian educational institutions are threatened with loss of accreditation if they don’t change their stance on homosexuality. The latest such threat comes from the California legislature.

The drive for normalization of what used to be considered by nearly everyone as unacceptable has now led to public shaming for those who refuse to submit to the idea that there should be no gender distinctions in bathrooms and locker rooms.

Keep Govt Out

One could easily say that plain old common sense is disappearing in the onslaught of a political correctness that is in the process of destroying what remains of our society’s Biblical basis.

This is a new militancy that already is sprouting the seeds of totalitarianism. Yet, ironically, it is those who are simply holding their ground on decency and traditional morality who are being stigmatized as the narrow-minded, the bigots, the haters.

How to respond? It’s easy to become indignant and angry over the false accusations. It’s easy to want to lash out at the foolishness and sin that is destroying us.

The Scripture says that God is angry with sin and with those who promote it. His judgment looms. Yet we also know, from that same source, that He seeks to save even those who may seem beyond saving. His mercy is everlasting. That doesn’t mean judgment won’t come, but until it does, He will continue to draw people to Himself.

We need the same outlook. Yes, be angry over the sin that is sending people into both a personal hell and a literal one. Yes, strive to replace government officials who promote a sinful agenda; there is a political side to this.

TruthBut, more than anything else, do whatever we can to showcase truth and reverse the dominant worldview that has led to this. Politics and government are not our savior; neither are they the source of the problem—they only reflect who we are as a people.

Changed minds and changed hearts provide the only solution. That’s where our primary focus must be, and there are many avenues through which we can achieve this. Wherever God has placed you, you are now His voice, His conscience, His heart.

Renewal of the mind happens one person at a time. Work within the sphere of influence you already have. Give God every opportunity to work through you to salvage a nation on the path to devastation and ruin.

Stand for righteousness and then stand back and see what the Lord will do.

Cruz: “Have We Gone Stark Raving Nuts?”

Donald Trump 4Donald Trump can’t help himself, apparently. That’s because his true self keeps showing up. And what shows up certainly is not Republican.

Yesterday, he Trumpeted two more of his beliefs. First, he said the Republican platform should be altered to soften the statement that the rights of the unborn should always be protected. Second, he weighed in on the North Carolina restroom battle on the side of the transgendered.

Abortion first: Trump believes the Republican platform is too harsh with that statement, that it doesn’t include exceptions. He thinks it ought to specifically state that abortions should be allowed for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

I know that many Republicans feel the need to add those exceptions. I don’t. The child is still the innocent party here. Take the life of an innocent child when the conception came about through rape or incest? Why? What did the child do that should allow society to murder him or her? As for the life of the mother, what mother would say about a born child, “I want to save my own life; take the life of my child instead”? Jesus told us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another.

Transgender restroom issue: North Carolina wisely declared that no man claiming to be a woman should be allowed to use a woman’s restroom. Permission to do so opens the door (so to speak) to perverted men who make the claim for the sole reason of wanting to be near their victims. Frankly, this is insane.

What Trump said about this is rather hard to decipher because he doesn’t speak intelligently enough to complete his sentences. His thoughts keep jumping around in a confused manner. If you take the time to try to piece together his disjointed comments, though, it’s clear he comes out on the side of those who want those restrooms to be available to self-proclaimed transgendered persons.

Ted Cruz 3To his credit, Ted Cruz immediately pounced on this, not merely for political advantage—although he ought to receive quite a bit for responding to Trump’s outrageousness—but because he firmly and deeply believes in what he is saying. He began with a comment that all rational people are at least thinking:

“Let me ask you, have we gone stark raving nuts?”

But he didn’t simply stop with that soundbite. He explained further:

Grown adult men, strangers should not be alone in a bathroom with little girls. And that’s not conservative or liberal, that’s not Republican or Democrat, that’s basic common sense. But you know a few months ago, Donald told us he could be the most politically correct person on Earth, and I guess he’s showing us what that looks like. I am waiting with anticipation for the new baseball caps: “Make PC Great Again.”

Let’s be honest here: There is only one person in the race right now who can realistically be called a genuine Republican; only one person who is truly conservative across the board in his beliefs. Cruz is consistent. He deserves our support.

A couple of days ago, Trump misspoke when referring to 9/11. He called that fateful day 7/11. Did I miss the media uproar over that? What if Ted Cruz had made that mistake? What do you think would have happened? It seems our media will let Trump get away with anything.

7-11

As I said in a previous post, I’m getting tired of having to point out the dangers of Trump all the time. I would much rather be clear about why Cruz is the best nominee, not only among those left in this bizarre race, but why, from the start, when there were seventeen candidates, he always was the best choice. I plan to expand on that in a more positive post next week.

Planned Parenthood’s Pure Evil

If you are looking for examples of pure evil in our society, look no farther than Planned Parenthood. What could be more evil than killing innocent children in the womb and then selling the body parts for profit? It’s not wise to invoke the Hitler comparison too often as it should be used only for the most vile practices. In this case, however, the comparison is appropriate.

So when an undercover camera crew entices Planned Parenthood officials to admit to their horrific practices, and we are given undeniable proof of their depravity, what comes of it? The major news networks do their best to ignore the videos and the organization that carries out the exposé, the Center for Medical Progress, is the one having to pay the legal penalty. That’s what has happened in Harris County, Texas, which includes the city of Houston.

Judicial Target Range

The county’s investigation of the videos led to no indictments for Planned Parenthood officials; instead, the prosecutors decided to indict those who made the perfidy of Planned Parenthood public.

David DaleidenDaniel Daleiden, from the Center for Medical Progress, now faces charges for using a fake driver’s license and attempting to solicit the purchase of baby parts.

I understand the legal issue of using a fake driver’s license, and perhaps he ought to answer for that, but let’s keep some things in perspective here. What is worse, using a fake license to uncover the horrid truth about Planned Parenthood or the horrid truth itself?

And being indicted for soliciting the purchase of body parts? Does anyone really think Daleiden was actually going to do so? Why was he singled out and not the organization that does the selling?

Daleiden says he will not do any kind of plea bargain. He believes he should be exonerated for bringing to light the true nature of Planned Parenthood. I agree. The next investigation needs to be of the Harris County prosecutor’s office.

Planned Parenthood is a blight on America. Not only does its flow of federal funding need to be stopped immediately, but steps should be taken to shut down every Planned Parenthood facility in the country. That would be the first step in atoning for the atrocity of abortion that we continue to allow.

Obama & the Constitution . . . Again

Tonight is President Obama’s final State of the Union Address. Finally.

I expect the viewing audience will be comprised of his eager followers and those who are political junkies only. I won’t be one of them. That may surprise some of you who think I live and breathe politics. I don’t. I love the Biblical approach to governing but am just as turned off by politics-as-usual as the majority of our citizens.

I have a deep devotion to the rule of law and the Constitution that established it in our nation. That’s one reason why I have ceased being interested in what our president has to say—he has no such respect for those concepts:

Kind of an Expert

He never tires of reminding us that he taught constitutional law. Unfortunately, teaching constitutional law is no indication that the teacher has any knowledge of how it is supposed to work. Well, perhaps he does know how it’s supposed to work; he just doesn’t like that approach. He’s far more comfortable being a law unto himself:

Shot Constitution

Why bother with that document when one has, as he has stated, a different way of governing?

Assaul Weapon

His latest foray into government-by-executive-only is his attempt to curb the Second Amendment, Constitution notwithstanding:

Ain't Big Enough

He has a different worldview, to say the least:

Kind of Suspicious

Why is he so concerned about guns? Watch his tears and you will be informed that it stems from a deep, abiding love for the safety of children:

Never Mind

Right. And that’s another reason why I won’t be wasting my time this evening watching the State of the Union Address. I will see plenty of excerpts later; meanwhile, I can use my time far more productively.

Principle & Compromise: Not Always at Odds

I’ve called this blog Pondering Principles because I’m dedicated to laying a principled foundation for whatever subject I scrutinize. I also want to see principles—Biblical principles—become the basis for all public policy. Those of us oriented toward principles have a natural aversion to compromise; we have a tendency to see all compromise as a step backward. I would like to argue that is not the case.

Let’s start historically and work our way to present-day issues.

At the Constitutional Convention, a major disagreement erupted between states with lesser populations and those with greater. The less-populated states desired representation in the Congress to be based on equality; they wanted an equal vote for all states. Their concern was they would be outvoted on everything if population became the cornerstone of representation. Larger states naturally felt the opposite: since they had the most people, they should have a greater say in legislation. Who was correct? I think both had valid points. Their concerns were genuine and needed to be addressed. The convention came up with a compromise that divided the Congress into two houses, one based on population, the other on equality.

That is an example of an excellent compromise because it didn’t sacrifice principle on either side. Without that compromise, there would have been no Constitution. The nation might have split into three or four warring factions, with all the misery that would have been connected with such a division.

Then there’s the example of New York state during the governorship of John Jay at the turn of the nineteenth century. Jay, an evangelical Christian, had often worked for the abolition of slavery in his state. Now, as governor, he had the opportunity to sign into law a gradual emancipation bill. This bill did not free all slaves immediately; rather, it laid out a plan that would eventually eliminate slavery in the next generation. As someone who believed slavery was contrary to God’s purposes, should Jay have signed such a bill? He had no hesitation in doing so. Why? Because it set slavery on the course of extinction in New York. Long before the Civil War decided that issue nationally, New York had resolved it gradually.

Was Jay disobeying God in signing that bill? I believe just the opposite. His was a principled position. The compromise of gradual abolition achieved the long-term goal of his principle—getting rid of slavery once and for all. The new law made a step in the right direction. Therefore, I consider his action to have been consistent with his principles. Not to have signed it meant the perpetuation of the slavery institution, not its demise.

Now let’s bring this up to date. Let me offer two more examples.

First, let’s look at the issue of abortion. I firmly believe that the taking of an innocent human life is immoral. It is opposed to God’s moral law. My principled position is that all abortions should be outlawed. What if, as a legislator, I were faced with a decision on a particular bill that would eliminate 95% of all abortions in America? Should I vote for it? If I were president, should I sign it into law?

There are some who would say no. Why? They consider it a compromise of principle. Any law that doesn’t eliminate all abortions is less than what God requires. Consequently, support for a proposed law that would take care of “only” 95% of them would be a sin.

Again, I disagree—vehemently. If I have the opportunity to save 95% [or even 50% or 10%] of all babies who would otherwise have their lives snuffed out arbitrarily, I must take that opportunity. I would be advancing the principle in which I believe. By supporting such a measure, I am moving my society closer to God’s purposes. If we take an all-or-nothing approach, I believe we are deceiving ourselves in believing we are standing on principle. I would call it stubborn foolishness instead.

Congress is going to be dealing with raising the debt ceiling again soon. I am opposed to doing so. I am opposed to raising taxes in any way that will harm those who provide jobs for others. I wholeheartedly seek spending cuts. Now, do I hold out for everything I want or is there a way to advance what I believe is principled even while compromising temporarily?

One thing that all principled conservatives have to recognize is that in politics you don’t always get everything you want immediately. We can, though, push for as much as may be possible.

If an agreement is reached, for instance, that raises the debt ceiling, yet also includes “real” spending cuts, a cap on future spending, no increase in taxes, and at least a vote on a balanced budget amendment, why would I not support this? Enacting measures like these would lead us further on the path toward a principled and sane tax-and-spend framework.

Here’s how I summarize it: a compromised principle leads to unrighteousness, but a principled compromise is a step closer to the principle’s ideal.

I wish I could convince everyone of the wisdom of this perspective, but I’ll settle for whoever has ears to hear.