WESTERN CULTURE IS SHAKING. It is a time of significant social instability. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police unleashed a torrent of rage. Large segments of our society have demonstrated, even rioted, for something enigmatically called Social Justice! (SJ). I say “enigmatic” because the phrase means different things to different people. 

Those demonstrating for Social Justice are working to free the oppressed through structural change and wealth redistribution. Most are sincere. They want a better future. They want a more just society, and all true evangelicals share the same ultimate goals. 

But is Social Justice really just? Is the “justice” that it seeks compatible with Christianity? Those are the questions. The answer starts with one’s definition of justice. 

Justice: Biblical or Social?

Both Christians and Social Justice Warriors (SJW) agree that “justice” is profoundly important, but for the biblically minded, justice has a radically different definition. Let’s examine three important differences. There are more.

The Standard?

Justice is the distribution of punishment and reward based upon an ethical standard. But, except for our mutual abhorrence of racism, the standards used by Christians and social justice warriors are miles apart. The Black Lives Matters website describes their standards. Besides ending racism, it lists the termination of the nuclear family, the abolishment of patriarchy, the uplifting of black trans-women, the end of capitalism, and the redistribution of wealth.[1]

With the exception of racism, none of these are God’s standards. Consider material inequality. It is not a sin. God creates each of us with a different capacity for wealth generation. Although in a biblical economy, operating under the rule of law, wealth is sometimes gained through oppression, that is not the rule. Some will always be wealthier than others, and as long as that wealth is not gained sinfully, it is not a biblical problem. 

That is not how SJWs understand economics. They assume that wealth inequality is inherently oppressive and always wrong. If you have more, you are by definition an Oppressor. You deserve to have your wealth taken and given to others. 

In addition, they oppose patriarchy—male leadership of the family. They even oppose the nuclear family itself. Needless to say, these are also not God’s goals. 

God’s standard, by which we will all be judged, is his law. It reflects the beauty of his moral holiness, and he will judge everyone, black, brown, red and white, by that standard. “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,” wrote the great apostle, “that everyone may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10). On that Day, God’s law, expressing his holiness, will be the “measuring line” by which divine, eternal justice will be measured out to everyone—no exceptions. 

Unlike the standards of the SJWs, God’s standards are immutable. They cannot be changed. They are transcendent and eternal. This matters because without an unchanging, transcendent standard, justice is a moving target. It differs depending upon the time and place, and ultimately, this means the collapse of the concept of justice. 

The Subject? 

Second, because culture is downstream of the individual human hearts that comprise it, the individual is the subject of God’s justice. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Therefore, it is the individual heart, not social structures, that interest God. Culture and its structures only change as the individual hearts that make up that culture change. “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds” (Jeremiah 17:10). 

Therefore, all social change starts with me not others. I can’t blame my sins and failings on oppressive social structures external to myself. I can’t change oppressive cultural structures by rioting or pillaging. Only God can change human hearts, and he changes them one heart at a time—through the miracle of regeneration. 

God will judge everyone, black, brown, red and white, by the same standard.

Social Justice couldn’t be more different. It assumes that the individual is innocent and that society’s structures—racism, sexism, homophobia, capitalism, patriarchy, nuclear family, etc.—are the problem. It doesn’t look inward. It doesn’t start with self. It arrogantly starts with others. If I assume that I am innocent, and the people around me are the problem, change never takes place. 

This delusion (moral innocence),  has a long history. It began when the Serpent whispered to Eve, “You shall be like God” (Genesis 3:5). The philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78), amplified it when he taught that man is born innocent, but that the structures of civilization corrupt him. Tragically, Rousseau’s assumptions, not the Bible’s, are foundational to modern SJ.

Partial or Impartial? 

Third, God’s Justice is impartial. It is blind. “If you call on him who judges impartially according to your deeds, conduct yourself with fear” (1 Peter 1:17). Your race, education, sexual orientation, poverty, wealth, or political status will not influence God on The Day of Final Judgment. God measures everyone by the same impartial moral standard. 

But impartiality is not a goal of social justice. There is one standard straight, white males (very strict), and another for blacks, women, and homosexuals (lenient). Because their vision of a social utopia justifies the means—burning, looting, lying, and rebellion against authority—a SJW can do these things, but a straight, white male would be strictly punished for the same behavior. 

In summary, God’s justice is distributive. The standard by which God distributes reward and punishment is his internal holiness, expressed by his law. The subjects of his justice are individuals not social structures. God’s justice is impartial, inflexible, and perfect. 

History Matters

Although the goals of the social justice movement are idealistic and in often well-intended, historical attempts to apply them have terminated in massive suffering. There are no exceptions. The French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and the Marxist revolutions in Cuba and North Korea, Cambodia, and North Vietnam, etc. were all led by men who shared the assumptions of today’s SJWs. But these revolutions all terminated in the enslavement, death, or impoverishment of millions. 80 million died in China. 30 million in Russia, 2.5 million in Cambodia. Although these are not the goals of most Social Justice Warriors, if they get their way, this is where it will end. Tragically, our youth have not been taught the lessons of history.

The subjects of his justice are individuals not social structures. God’s justice is impartial, inflexible, and perfect. 

The bottom line is this. The further we move away from biblical principles; the less real justice Western culture will experience. The opposite will be our experience—massive culture destroying injustice. 

Proclaiming Justice 

The SJWs are right. Justice is important. But ultimately, God’s justice is the only justice that matters. It is eternal and unchanging. It is color blind, and we are all on a collision course with it. 

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done (Revelation 20:11–13). 

This justice is at the heart of the gospel. In fact, the cross is a demonstration of God’s passion for justice. That is one reason that Jesus died—to satisfy God’s justice for all who believe. 

The cross teaches a second crucial truth. There are only two kinds of people—those who believe the gospel and let God’s Son take the justice that they deserve, and those who reject the gospel  and get they justice they deserve—eternal, conscious, torment—in the world to come. 

Since this is the only “justice” that matters, it is the “justice” that should preoccupy the church. It is the justice we should preach, especially to our SJW friends 

[1] Since writing this essay, and due to their inflammatory nature, BLM had removed these goals from their website.