“One More Word about Divine Laws (Commands) about Justice and the Social Justice Debate”
Social Justice from the biblical perspective is not only the church’s action for caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, or treating illegal immigrants with fairness and dignity. Biblical justice for the social order calls for a radical reevaluation of our justice and legal systems, and moral values.
Biblical laws about justice are divine demands, not suggestions about how followers of Christ and the christian church should engage in the public sphere and contribute meaningfully to a transformative order of society. Divine justice communicated through “justice laws” have tremendous consequences for the social order, cultural habits, and the sociopolitical systems. For example, in the context of the contemporary American society, biblical justice laws challenge the contemporary Christian church to revisit the laws regulating our prison system, abortion and the life of the unborn, the population that is largely incarcerated; public policies concerning our welfare system and the treatment of the economically-disadvantaged population; and laws regarding illegal immigrants, race relations, safety and community policing, and systems of labor. These are just some obvious examples.
Followers of Christ and the contemporary church should be curious enough to ponder upon these questions:
1. Are the laws orienting our current prison system fair and equal to all racial groups and different social and economic classes in our society?
2. Are the public policies guiding our welfare system treat the poor and the rich equally and with equity?
3. Are the laws upholding our immigration system and foreign policies ethical and moral?
4. Are the laws upholding community policing (i.e. relationship between Police officers and community) treating all racial groups and economic classes equally and fairly? Is there any partiality?
5. Are our overall justice system and judicial system contributing to a better American society and human flourishing?
Followers of Christ should not undermine secular social justice principles that affirm God’s passion for holistic justice for our society and the world nor should they be reluctant to embrace social justice ethics that support biblical notion of integrative justice and moral values. The church should consider both divine commands about (social) justice and secular wisdom about social justice in evaluating and responding to the questions outlined above.
As we continue this conversation about how we should think biblically, theologically, and morally about the relationship between the Bible and Social justice, followers of Jesus and the contemporary Christian church should always remember that the spiritual transformation of the human heart (biblical conversion) prioritizes all earthly pursuits and benefits. Nonetheless, the Gospel that transforms the wretched soul has significant consequences for the social order and contemporary world. The ultimate goal of God is cosmic redemption and transformation.