I think it’s safe to say that the current national scene is a bit disconcerting, thanks to all the rioting that’s been going on for over a month now. I’m quite certain that I’m not the only one who feels that violence could break out near me at any moment, without warning. While there are certainly precedents for this kind of violence throughout history, I think it’s profitable for us to look at what brought us to this point.
The violent marauders that have descended on the streets of Kenosha, and so many other cities across the nation, are operating under the banner of Black Lives Matter. The BLM movement claims to be striving for justice, but at this point it’s pretty apparent that there’s something more afoot; after all, most people realize that burning down a car dealership because the police shot a man who was actively resisting arrest and going for a weapon isn’t justice. It’s something else. Now, BLM has a lot of problems and no Christian has any business supporting them, as explained by Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker of the Just Thinking podcast in their latest episode, which is definitely worth a listen. Of the many, many problems with the BLM organisation, I want to focus on the one that seems to have the most traction in the church: social justice.
If you do a Google search for ‘what is social justice’ here’s the definition that comes up:
“Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.”
At first glance, it sounds fine; Christians like justice, and we certainly don’t want our neighbors to be impoverished or victimized. The problem comes out on a closer examination of the definition. Social justice is about how wealth opportunity and privileges are distributed, not whether or not someone has actually done anything wrong. In other words, social justice is about what you have, not how you got it. Under the rubric of social justice, the one who has better-than-average standard of living because he earned it through hard work is unjust, while the one who reaches an average standard of living by theft and extortion has committed no injustice; in fact, he has righted an injustice if those he stole from were wealthy.
I know this sounds ludicrous, but it’s actually happening. BLM activists have already claimed that the looting is a form of reparations for slavery. They’re demanding that people who did nothing to them give up their homes. They’re extorting from businesses in the name of social justice.
This is not the way God defines justice, indeed, it is the very opposite. God’s justice, which is the only real justice, is about whether or not you violated His law, not how much wealth, opportunity, or privilege you have. Leviticus 19:15 sums it up succinctly:
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.
God’s justice isn’t about what you have, it’s about what you do. What you earn belongs to you, and no one else has a claim on it, no matter how poor they are. God never treats disparities as a sin, indeed Jesus Himself said in Mark 14:7 “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.” He says nothing about doing justice for the poor, but rather doing good. From the context, we know that He was responding to His disciples indignation over a woman anointing His feet when, to their minds, the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Therefore, the good that Jesus speaks of here isn’t some campaign for equal outcomes, but simply giving charity to the poor.
This idea of justice based on actions used to be widely understood in the church, but many are starting to embrace social justice and are doing their best to twist, mangle, and pervert scripture to force social justice into the church. This is the same idea that groups like BLM embrace, and we can see the end results of their embrace of social justice ideology.
The violence and hatred unleashed in these riots should not come as a surprise. These people have imbibed the idea that they are owed stuff simply because of their skin color and economic condition. They believe that they are owed for past injustices to people centuries ago, and because they’re not wealthy. Ultimately, it boils down to covetousness. They want nicer stuff, and they’ll use even the flimsiest excuse to take what they want. For the wealthy elites who push the same ideas without violence, the gain is power, instead of wealth. They don’t need to go out and loot; they have much more to gain, in the form of power, from siding with the thugs and justifying their actions.
This is the natural outcome of a worldview that fosters covetousness. Scripture lays out this progression in James 4:2-3:
You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
The result of embracing social justice ideology is the destruction of churches through internal strife and hatred. What we see playing out now will happen, albeit less violently (I hope), in the church as woke church members become more and more hateful towards conservatives, unless we all reject social justice.
Ideas have consequences. We’re seeing the consequences of social justice playing out on the streets of Kenosha, Seattle, Portland, and other cities where riots are taking place. By fostering covetousness, social justice ultimately leads to hatred and violence. The church must reject the notion of social justice, or we risk strife and schism among the saints.