Social Justice

The Bible doesn’t fit in today’s category of social justice. Last time, we talked about systemic oppression. Social justice is the natural outcome of thinking you are oppressed, which is what we are talking about today. There have been two reactions within the Church that have been disappointing.

One response is to “just preach the gospel.” Don’t get involved in all that social justice work. Don’t help people. Just preach at them. The problem is that the gospel we preach has results, you could call this indicatives and imperatives. The fact is that “through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). The implication is that “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (verse 19).

James illustrates this as he talks about what faith is. There’s no way to show your faith if it is never active. Its fair to assume that a Christian who never helps the needy has a dead faith (read James 2).

The other response is to assume that social justice is biblical justice. (That’s the mistake I made when I shot my first video on socialism.) To be clear, it’s always necessary to define our terms. Social justice is the story of Robbin Hood, where everyone who is rich is bad, ergo we need to reallocate the wealth to those who have less. That’s stealing. Biblical justice is restitution; pay back what you damaged or stole.

Just for fun, let’s look at some of these laws:

  • If a man has sex with a virgin, he must marry her (22:16-17)
  • Liars must die (22:19)
  • You must die if you have sex with an animal (22:19)
  • You must die if you sacrifice to another god (22:20)
  • Do not discriminate against a foreigner (22:21)
  • Don’t mistreat widows and orphans (22:22)
  • Don’t charge interest when you lend money (22:25)
  • Return the items you took in a pledge (22:26; c.f. Genesis 38)
  • Do not disrespect God or the person he appointed to govern you (22:28)
  • Don’t spread a false report or gang up on someone in court (23:1)
  • Don’t favor or bully the poor (23:3, 6)
  • Help your neighbor (23:4, 5)
  • Don’t kill the innocent or the righteous (23:7)

So, what’s the point behind all these laws? Love each other!

In the words of Paul:

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

Let’s Talk About Black Forgiveness by John Stapleton

Let’s Talk About “Systemic Oppression” by John Stapleton

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