Justice… for its own sake

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Let me start by stating that I believe in justice.  I also believe we live in a broken, unjust, self-gratifying world that doesn’t know how to get out of its own way.  So before a bunch of crazy accusations are flung my way over what follows, a few points need stated right out of the gate.

  • I do NOT believe justice in its full intent will be attained through our own efforts.
  • I also do NOT believe entire groups will find justice without unjustly trampling upon other individuals. This sounds controversial, but the inevitable reality is that groups are made of individuals who may or may not have been unjustly treated.  We may feel as though entire groups have been transgressed, but we know that labels are inherently general and overly definitive.  This is utterly important because much of the cultural movement for social justice seeks to level off outcomes for labeled groups of individuals, many of which may not have been unjustly treated.  As I stated above… handing out “justice” in this fashion is entirely unjust.

HOWEVER… (and this is equally, if not more, important)

  • I DO desire justice for individuals who have been wrongfully devalued, objectified, or stripped of their humanity.
  • And I DO believe we should strive to seek justice in our lifetimes… not for its own sake… rather, for the sake of the value of human life, by which God created it.

BECAUSE…

  • For pure justice to work, humans cannot be the arbiter of other humans’ value (if only this truth bore out in reality).
  • And human justice, if not met at a personal level (and absent the point that follows below), is a breeding ground for replicated or additional injustice to a host of other individuals… which, in and of itself, is entirely UNjust.

ONLY IF…

  • Human value surpasses human convention, and is endowed by a Creator that embodies perfect justice, will we find proper foundations in affirming its place in our existence.

Doesn’t it always come back to that last point?  If human existence only has value because humans say it has value, then any single individual or group of individuals can just as easily DEvalue human existence.  Scary thought… completely legitimate.  It turns out… appealing to justice inherently ASSUMES a creator God who is perfectly loving and perfectly just.  To argue any other way is arbitrary.

In simple terms… No God = No objective value to human life = Justice is a subjective delusion with no meaning beyond a local definition.

Our founding fathers knew the implications of forming a constitution based on concepts of “liberty” and “justice” without a Theistic framework.  This is not an argument saying that America is a “Christian Nation”… it IS an argument that without Christian realities and principles, the entire ideal disintegrates on the shifting sands of group-think and temporary emotional fervor.

Before I drift too far away from my central point…

I need to reiterate that justice is a noble and virtuous ideal.  It is paramount for the flourishing of a society.  However, the pursuit of justice for its own sake is a misplaced effort.  Removing a Theistic, powerful, and just Creator as its cornerstone transforms justice into a selfish, inconsistent, agenda-driven, and baseless enterprise.

If ensuring just outcomes for entire groups of individuals is the only and ultimate ethic… before long, we will find that its thirst will never be quenched… its reach will be ever-extending… and its outcomes will be entirely insufficient.  For by nature of the outcome, there will ALWAYS be more groups who get the short end of the stick.  When the fight for “causes” supersedes our desire to know Him who creates and sustains all that makes the fight for those causes valuable… no amount justice will suffice.  All means become justifiable at the expense of those who do not side with the cause or, even more devastatingly, at the expense of some not even associated with the cause.  Ultimately, and ironically, it oppresses individuals in its endless pursuit to satisfy individuals… and produces more injustice in its wake.

In short, fighting for the sake of causes or group justice – where the cause/group includes both those who have and have not have been transgressed – is an exercise in self-glorification that completely neglects the individuals for which the cause claims to fight.  It provides a neat and tidy moral high ground from which those who disagree can be denounced and denigrated, but is morally bankrupt.  And, even more ironically, it can many times be morally repugnant… as its moral high ground is built upon false claims of victimhood, which treats entire labeled groups as mischaracterized pawns and as means to unjust ends.  To put it another way, these pursuits objectify people by replacing personhood with group labels and stereotypes… and these labels serve as the foundation from which justice is sought.

That sounds harsh… BUT, I know we are all smart enough to realize that at times we have all fought for ends on the basis of premises that were knowingly half-true or completely untrue, yet still convenient for making the case.  It is a despicable and self-serving motive that rides the nobility of justice on the backs of devalued and dehumanized individuals.

So how do we take an intellectually honest approach in seeking justice?  TRUTH.  And that means seeking out why human life is inherently valuable BEFORE fighting for justice.  I think it bears repeating.  Humans do not obtain value purely by virtue of their existence.  For just as easily as I declare value, I can declare the opposite.  Truth does not operate subjectively.

Here’s a decent example…

I invite you to learn about your creator.  Seek to understand that living your life in constant communion and relationship with this creator provides context to your relationships and a foundation upon which you can see others as equally valuable. (Genesis 1-2)

I invite you to learn about the historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth.  Seek to understand that His 3-year ministry on this earth was to reiterate that a relationship with God is a relationship with Himself… and that His teachings reflected a proper perspective of life, liberty, and justice for those who BELIEVE they and others are created valuable. (John 6:25-59)

You see, for those who believe humans are valuable by their very nature, Jesus’ teachings represent strictly earthly musings about political discourse and how humans are to function within that framework.  It’s why His death on a cross, burial, resurrection, and ascension have absolutely no meaning or relevance outside of a relationship with Him.  It’s also why justice has no relevance outside of a relationship with Him.

Finally, I invite you to place your faith in the truth of what Jesus taught… not merely His moral mandates, but His claims of divinity and His sacrifice for YOU… because if God Himself sees you as valuable, then we have no choice but to accept and extend that grace to others.  THAT will clarify the truth and integrity of justice.

Not for its own sake, but for the sake of a humanity tarnished by individuals who devalue creation to prove that creation has value.  Of this, we are ALL guilty.  And it can only be restored through relationship with the one who makes it valuable in the first place.  Ultimate justice, which paid the ultimate price, so true justice could be fully attained. Praise God!

In Christ,

Josh

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