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Does the Bible speak of ‘social justice’?

Credit: J. Stephen Conn/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: J. Stephen Conn/Flickr/Creative Commons

“Social justice” is a favorite term of the left, and recently I have been finding the phrase creeping its way into Evangelical Churches.

The concept is defined this way:

  1. Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.
    “individuality gives way to the struggle for social justice”

“Social justice” involves a redistribution of wealth and notice in the last line that the rights of the individual are set aside in favor of the rights of the collective or group. This is nothing more than cultural Marxism pervading our society similar to the political Marxism found in the old Soviet Union or Maoist China.

“Social justice” is made up of an adjective “social” and the noun “justice.”

By definition an adjective is added to a noun to either “modify or describe it.”

Since one of the intents of an adjective is to “modify” or change, it can literally be used to redefine a word.

So when you add the adjective “social” to “justice,” you no longer have justice, but some form of hybrid.

In a nutshell “social justice” is an attempt by those primarily on the left to redistribute wealth — taking money from those they perceive to be rich and giving it to the poor.

It is a blatant attempt to favor the poor.

The Bible speaks often of justice, but no where does it speak of “social” justice.

Provided a person has gained their money lawfully, the Bible does not have a problem with wealth. It exhorts the rich to be generous to the poor, not under compulsion, but willingly.

The Bible is also very clear that we are not to show favoritism to the rich. There is a natural tendency in human nature to favor the rich and famous, perhaps hoping some of their wealth will spill on us.

James addressed this issue when he criticized churches who gave special seating to the wealthy, while the poor were told to sit on the floor:

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” (James 2:1-3 NASV)

God does not show favoritism and neither should the church (Romans 2:11).

But curiously, the Bible also says that we are not to favor the poor:

You shall not follow the masses in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute. (Exodus 23:2-3 NASV)

The command is repeated again in Leviticus, but includes an admonition not to show partiality to the rich as well as the poor:

15 ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. (Leviticus 19:15 NASV)

It is easy to feel sorry for poor people and make judgements in their favor, even if they are not deserving, because the other person is so rich he wouldn’t miss a few bucks.

But in doing so you are actually perverting justice. In fact, the verse in Leviticus describes favoring the poor in such disputes as injustice.

The left have a curious theory that money will solve everything.

When a woman was pouring expensive perfume over Jesus’s head, Judas indignantly stated the perfume could have been sold and given to the poor (Matthew 26:6-13). He was openly criticizing the woman’s right to do what she wanted with her wealth. In Judas’s mind the rights of the group overruled the individual freedoms of this woman.

Jesus asked why Judas was bothering (trying to guilt) this woman suggesting she had obviously heard his condemning comment. Then Christ adds this controversial statement that “the poor will always be with us.”

Was Christ suggesting we will always have an unjust society where the rich take advantage of the poor as Marxists’ claim or was He referring to something else?

Now it is true that some people have a tough lot in life and given a hand up they could turn their life around and be successful.

But many times their poverty has nothing to do with a lack of money but rather lifestyle choices. And no matter how much money people receive, they will end up back in poverty and I suspect this is what Jesus was referring to.

For evidence you only have to look at the list of multi-million dollar lottery winners who are bankrupt within a few years of winning their prize. An article entitled From Rags to Riches to Rags Again: 21 Lottery Winners Who Lost Everything cited a few of these cases:

  • A 19-year-old English man won the equivalent US$14.4 million in 2002 and by 2012 he was living off unemployment benefits.
  • A Canadian man won $10 million lottery in 1998 and having spent all the money hung himself in his garage seven years later.
  • An US woman won a lottery worth $18 million in 1993. She declared bankruptcy in 2001. Reports indicated she was spending $300,000 a year on gambling.
  • Another US man who worked at Home Depot won $31 million and two years later, broke, he committed suicide.

An article in the National Post told of a Canadian man who won $5 million through a winning lottery ticket in 2006. Spending $20,000 a week, within three years he had spent nearly half the money and by 2016 he was broke and heading to jail for trafficking in crack.

In his article, Joseph Brean explains why this happened:

“One view, held by Richard Tunney, a professor of psychology at the University of Nottingham, is that the people who go wild and squander their jackpots are basically the sort who would have behaved irresponsibly anyway, whether rich or poor.”

These people are lifestyle poor and no matter how much money you give them, nothing changes.

There are also examples of people who won millions and actually bettered their lives, but oddly they are in the minority. Some estimates suggest that within seven years nearly 70% of the lottery winners are broke.

Many times money is not the answer to people’s problems and “social justice” is not “justice.”


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