The Social Justice Phenomenon

Have you ever stopped to think about what the term “social justice” actually means? I know I haven’t, but I’ve been thinking about it lately in light of the fact of how popular the social justice movement has become in recent years. Being passionate about social justice is increasing becoming the “cool” thing to do. Everyone from Hillary Clinton to Demi Moore to my neighbor next door seems to be passionate about something. Why?

Let’s start with the what. To me, the term “social justice” denotes a measure for a particular standard of living (this includes physical, mental, emotional, etc. standards) that Western societies generally find acceptable. Injustice is anything that falls below that measure. I don’t think that there are any all-encompassing definitions out there per se that tell you exactly what all the social justice issues are; I think it’s more of a societal concept that varies from society to society depending on which issues that particular society is faced with. It just takes one person to identify an issue and develop an infectious passion for combatting that particular issue, and a social justice movement is born.

Now that we’ve got the what down, we can move on to the why. Why are people so passionate about social justice? What’s the driving force behind this passion? In my opinion, and as a Christian, I believe that this passion is a result of a secularized version of a very biblical concept = righteous indignation. The Bible is full of passages talking about how God hates injustice and those who promote it. This hatred isn’t the self-centered concept of hatred that we are familiar with, but rather a hatred that stems from the fact that God is righteous and perfect and that He cannot stand sin. And sin is what injustice arises from. I believe that when God created humanity, He created us with this innate desire to abhor what is evil and unjust and to alternatively cling to what is good and just. It is that innate desire that creates a righteous indignation within us when we see an injustice and that indignation drives us to do something about it.

So that’s my take on social justice in a nutshell; the rushed, poorly articulated version that is. I want to end with this last thought: sometimes, when I look at all of the injustices going on in the world, I start to despair about all that needs to be done, and how incompetent we humans are. I have to always remind myself something though; Justice is coming. When Jesus returns, He will mend all of the injustices we are fighting against. He will redeem every victim and punish every perpetrator; it will be a glorious day. Until then though, I will still strive to do my best to use my passion for social justice to join the movement and make a difference.

“Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17)

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4 thoughts on “The Social Justice Phenomenon

  1. Really enjoyed this post – thank you! I agree that social justice is becoming increasingly popular. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply across the board. I work for a charity in Newcastle Upon Tyne (Action Foundation) that serves, amongst others, refused asylum seekers. As you can imagine, this is a very controversial area of social justice.

    Action Foundation is a Christian charity and we believe that God calls us to care for the marginalised (Matthew 25:40). Because we are all made equal in the image of God, every one has equal worth and deserves care.

    Personally, I find that society often cares for certain ‘popular’ groups of people and is happy to apply social justice ideas to a particular group. However, groups such as refused asylum seekers receive a lot of negative press coverage and treating them fairly and justly doesn’t appear to feature high on the agenda in the UK (and many other countries). All the more reason for Christians to get involved in social justice and social action, especially less popular causes.

    • Wow! Thanks for commenting. Refused asylum seekers is actually an area of social justice I never really thought about. Now that I actually do give it some thought, though I met a girl in East London just a little under a year ago who was in the process of applying to go to university this upcoming August. She was denied asylum in November however, and sent back to her home country. I didn’t know that there were organizations out there such as yourself, committed to helping people like her, but now that I do I will definitely tell more people about the work you are doing. We will also most definitely write a post on the Action Foundation (if that’s okay with you) sometime next month.

  2. Hi, thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. Yes, refused asylum seekers are often overlooked. Much of that is a consequence of negative labelling and stigma, which is very sad. Over the next few months I hope to publish some life stories on our blog of people we serve to help readers connect with a group of refused asylum seekers that are quite different from the way that they are often portrayed by the media.
    We would very much appreciate a post on Action Foundation – please do let me know if you need any further info. Meanwhile, there are two reports you might find interesting – both can be downloaded from our website – http://www.actionfoundation.org.uk/housing.html (‘Destitute and desperate’ and ‘Asylum Matters’ – Institute of Social Justice report)

    Really been enjoying your blog! Thanks for all the hard work!

    • I took a quick glance at the reports, and I think that I will be able to build a post off of them. Thanks for following our blog! I look forward to learning more about your organization and reading some of those life stories in the upcoming weeks.

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