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)