By Julie Roys
In a brief two-year period in the nineties, sales of Reisling wine more than tripled. This wasn’t due to any significant change in the wine itself. Rather, the Reisling company simply changed the bottle that housed the wine to an eye-catching cobalt blue.
A similar re-packaging is occurring today in the field of politics. Very few Americans would embrace Marxism. The failures of the former Soviet bloc countries are too fresh in our memories. But, repackage Marxism as social justice, and just about everyone jumps on the bandwagon.
When the United States first was taking shape, social justice meant opposing political absolutism. Our Founding Fathers believed justice could be achieved only after limits were placed on the government. That’s why they barred government from seizing property, arresting citizens arbitrarily, and limiting the free expression of speech or religion. Today, however, social justice means something different entirely.
Proponents of social justice view the world through a Marxist lens that places people into two categories – that of being either the oppressed or the oppressor. Because of slavery, gender inequalities, and the antipathy toward the Judeo-Christian view of the family, the oppressed generally are believed to be minorities, women, and homosexuals. The oppressors, then, are white, heterosexual Christian men.
Also borrowing from Marxism, social justice proponents view oppression in economic terms. The oppressed proletariat are those in low income brackets; the oppressing bourgeoisie are those in the upper income brackets. Society will achieve utopia only when the government seizes all the goods of the rich and redistributes them equally among the poor.
Though it may sound appealing, this brand of justice presents numerous problems, biblically and practically. Practically, it wrests money and power from the people and puts it in hands of government. As our Founding Fathers warned and the former Soviet Union displayed, this does not increase justice, but decreases it.
Biblically, however, there is no support for re-hashing injustices and stirring up strife between races, economic classes, or gender. The Apostle Paul said that in Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.” Neither does Scripture support the have-nots demanding goods from the haves. In fact, James says, “the brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position.”
Scripture, however, does speak repeatedly about personal responsibility. Second Thessalonians 3:10 says, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” Similarly, in the parable of the talents, the master gives the man with five talents five more; and, he takes the only talent from one man and gives it to the man with 10. Why? Because the man with 10 talents was faithful, but the man with one talent was not.
Justice should never be confused with uniformity or Marxism. Justice is getting what one deserves. Uniformity is ensuring that everyone has the same amount, regardless of what each deserves. And Marxism is the government seizing control of everyone’s finances so it can impose uniformity on an entire society. Should Christians fight for justice? Absolutely. But, let’s not confuse justice with Marxism – even if it goes by the same name.