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Social Justice Is no Justice at All

Part of my calling as a Christian is to share the good news about Jesus Christ with those I come into contact with. This doesn’t always mean literally preaching the gospel to them in spoken form but also living in such a way as to bring glory to God rather than myself. I’ll leave it up to God as the ultimate judge of how well I’ve accomplished that. Anyway, another part of that calling is also to help the poor and downtrodden.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Mat 25:34-40)

This is a high calling and one which much of the church has not fulfilled. I believe much of the reason for that, at least here in the U.S.A., is that we are so self-sufficient. We want, as the saying goes, to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and tough it out when times are rough. That can be a good thing but, if one isn’t careful, it can also lead to a lack of compassion for those that can’t or aren’t, for some reason, doing the same.

On the other hand, I believe that some have also gone too far in the other direction. This is where the term “social justice” comes in. It sounds like a benign term. After all, why wouldn’t you want social justice? Shouldn’t everyone be on equal footing? The problem with that line of thinking is that it typically means a forced type of justice, a justice that neither helps the poor and downtrodden in the end nor creates an atmosphere of kindness and mercy. It’s a type of justice that only creates a sense of resentment and mistrust of the government and its programs that were created to achieve those ends in the first place.

The best example of this type of justice in recent times is the whole healthcare reform debate that has been going on here and magnified over the last year or so. Supporters of “healthcare for all” claim that there is an inherent human right to healthcare. While it sounds like a noble thing, let’s think about the repercussions of this thought process.

The Constitution gives us the basic inherent rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What happens if we make a commodity like healthcare on the same level as these? In order to achieve something like that, don’t you have to, by the force of government, remove liberty from those who have it and give it to those who don’t? If that sounds like a dichotomy, I think you’re right because the logical end is that both parties end up losing freedom to some degree. In my opinion and as the old saying goes, the poor don’t need a handout, they need a hand up.

The force of government doesn’t produce a more charitable attitude amongst those from whom freedom is taken. It also doesn’t produce a grateful attitude amongst those to whom it is supposedly given. The results are that society as a whole is negatively effected. Just look at the results of what has happened to countries who’ve attempted to go down this primrose path.

As I stated earlier, I’m not opposed to helping the poor or needy, orphans or widows, etc. Those are good things and things in which I’ve been involved in. However, Jesus never said nor indicated that social justice be enacted by the force of government. Instead he said to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). It’s our responsibility as individual citizens and/or members of the church to do our part to help those who need it, not because we’re enslaved by the powers of government to do so. In the end, social justice is no justice at all but just an empty vessel fit for serving no one.


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