There’s a country song that says: “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to go now.” In other words, heaven is the ideal but nobody wants the ideal badly enough to go through what you must in order to achieve it – in this case, death.
With regard to “justice,” our society has the same kind of dissonance. Everybody wants justice, but few want to do what’s necessary to achieve it.
The first requirement for justice is a standard. Apart from an unchangeable, objective standard, justice is a nonsensical concept. You can’t call something “just” or “unjust” apart from a standard with which to compare it. Therefore, a society that has embraced relativism cannot rationally call for justice. Seeking justice while denying that absolute truth exists is a fool’s errand.
Secondly, justice requires adherence, not just to any standard, but to the correct standard (Proverbs 28:5). If justice exists then by definition a correct standard must also exist. Apart from that, again, justice is a nonsensical concept. Neither an individual nor a culture can serve two masters. Justice based on the standards of Islam looks very different than justice based on the standards of secular humanism which looks different than justice based on the standards of the Bible. If the Lord is God, follow him, if Baal, then follow him – but we can’t try to do both and call it justice. (I Kings 18:21).
Finally, even when you admit a standard exists and even when you correctly identify that standard, it’s still not justice if that standard is not fully, and universally, applied. In fact, not to apply the standard universally is the very definition of injustice (Deuteronomy 16:19). God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), therefore, God’s standard of justice is not a smorgasbord. We don’t get to pick the parts we like and leave the parts we don’t like on the table. If we love what God’s word says about caring for widows and orphans but hate what it says about marriage and sexuality, we’re not pursuing justice we’re pursuing our agenda (Matthew 23:23).
Similarly, we don’t get to pick the people to whom it applies and give others a pass. Justice means applying all of God’s standards to all people. So, if racism is wrong, it’s wrong when black people exhibit it as well as when white people exhibit it. If stealing is wrong, it’s wrong when rich people do it as well as when poor people do it (Exodus 23:2-3). If adultery is wrong, it’s wrong when the Republican does it as well as when the Democrat does it. And, if murder is wrong it is wrong when committed against the born as well as the unborn. Justice can never be achieved for one group of people by subjecting another group of people to injustice.
Sadly, for much of our culture the idea there’s a standard to which all people are accountable is anathema. They may not be willing to die to go to heaven but they often would rather die than submit to the Lord (or to anybody). They want a house of justice built without any framing. As C.S. Lewis wrote:
In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.
And no matter how much we want them to, those geldings never produce offspring. No standard, no justice.
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