If you pay any attention to the modern world you’ll notice a buzzword floating around that might be a bit confusing for literalists like me. When I hear a term I pick apart it’s meaning just to be sure it’s being used correctly. Probably the most overused buzzword floating around right now is “social justice.”
Recently there was a meeting headed by John MacArthur to come up with a Christian response to the term. The group came up with a 14 part “Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel”. I plan on combing through it over the next few days and give a good summary of what I agree with and disagree with. From my initial scanning I will say I am not totally sold on it.
The more I research the term the more nebulous it’s meaning. Just like the term “toxic masculinity“, the definition of the term “social justice” seems dependent on one’s political beliefs.
What’s my definition of “social justice”?
The “social” part is not hard to understand and for the most part I think people use it correctly. It’s pretty hard not to. “Social” just refers to people. The term clearly refers to how we treat people.
The “justice” part is much harder to understand.
“Justice” is defined by the Google as: “just behavior or treatment”, “the quality of being fair and reasonable”, “the administration of the law” which is somewhat helpful, if we can define “just”, “fair”, and “reasonable.”
“Just” is defined as “based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair” which seems clear right? It’s also defined as “(of treatment) deserved or appropriate in the circumstances.”
So who decides what is fair? Fairness is a rather subjective thing. “Deserved” is also a relative term, especially in this day and age of entitlement nonsense.
These definitions are pretty cut and dry when speaking in legal terms. When a civil violation or a criminal action takes place fairness and a deserved retribution can usually be pretty easy to parse out. In “Social Justice” however, fairness and deserts can mean just about anything.
That leaves us with “morally right” and “appropriate in the circumstances”.
As a Christian, I have a basis for the moral treatment of others in scripture: “Treat others as I would have them treat me” “Love my neighbor” and “love my enemy”. To be socially just I must take pains to ensure I am loving those around me. Add “appropriate to the circumstances” and this becomes a slightly more difficult task.
Social justice as a Christian requires a great amount of discernment and attention to individuals. We cannot approach the subject as the pagan world does with blanket platitudes and government programs. We have to be involved with individual members of all classes, races, genders, religions, and whatnot.
To be just we must know what our neighbor deserves (love, first and foremost) in their individual circumstances. We must treat our enemies with love, understanding that they may deserve different things than our family or neighbors (again, they deserve love, but tempered with caution).
Social justice is a silly term for Christians to use. We have had the golden rule for millenia, why use such a trendy buzzword?
I’m just going to keep on treating others with love and kindness.
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