I’ve been thinking about something that popped into my head after today’s class while on the way to lunch. In the US, there are basically two political worldviews.
One view says that the government should stay out of personal morality but should be heavily involved in social justice. They contend that the government shouldn’t be involved in your decisions regarding sexuality or gambling — as these, if they are crimes at all — are victimless crimes. However, the government should make certain that the poor are well cared for through welfare, government-provided healthcare.
The second view says that the government should stay out of social justice but should be heavily involved in personal morality. They contend that the government should ban homosexual sex between consenting adults, gambling, and maybe even alcohol, but the government has no business providing nationalized healthcare or, some say, most other forms of welfare.
Now, those who support the first view argue that social justice is the business of the church, and the government does a very poor job of it. Of course, their churches rarely actually take care of the needs, but in theory their churches could, they argue.
Those who support the second view argue that personal morality is the business of the church, and the government does a very poor job of it. Of course, their churches rarely actually make a difference in the morality of those in their communities, but in theory, their church could, they argue.
You see, the Democrats lately have argued for legalized but rare abortions. In the healthcare debate, however, they argue for government funded abortions.
The Republicans, of course, lately have argued against national healthcare. But I don’t see any churches providing comprehensive healthcare.
Now, the fact is that they are both right and they are both wrong. Obviously.
Care for the poor is just as much a moral issue as homsexuality.
(Isa 1:10-18) Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah!
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices– what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. 12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations– I cannot bear your evil assemblies. 14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; 16 wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, 17 learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
Whom does Isaiah compare to Sodom and Gomorrah — so famously homosexual that “sodomy” gets its name from Sodom? Well, those who deny justice to the oppressed, the fatherless, and the widow.
(Ezek 16:46-49) Your older sister was Samaria, who lived to the north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you with her daughters, was Sodom. 47 You not only walked in their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they. 48 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done.
49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”
To whom does Ezekiel compare Sodom? Judah. Why? Because although Judah was wealthy, Judah did not help the poor and needy. This Ezekiel calls a “detestable practice,” which translates the same word sometimes translated “an abomination” — the word used to describe homosexual sex in the Law of Moses (Lev 18:22).
Plainly, the prophets considered economic injustice just as sinful — indeed, more sinful — than sexual immorality.
Meanwhile, Glen Beck has said,
“I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church website. If you find it, run as fast as you can! Social justice and economic justice, they are code words… Am I advising people to leave their church? Yes. If I am going to Jeremiah Wright’s church – Yes! Leave your church. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, ‘Excuse me – are you down with this whole social justice thing?’ I don’t care what the church is – If it is my church, I’m alerting the church authorities, ‘Excuse me, what’s this social justice thing?’ And if they say, ‘Yea, we’re all in that social justice thing,’ I’m in the wrong place.”
Well, Ezekiel and Isaiah disagree. So do many others.
Economic and social justice are at the core of the scriptures —
(Deu 10:17-19) For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that as a Christian I should agree with the social justice theories of either political party. Indeed, it’s pretty clear that both parties have little in common with God’s will. But sometimes one or the other happens to be right. But we decide that based on the scriptures, NOT based on our party affiliation, preference for FoxNews vs. CNN, or denomination.
And we begin by confessing that our attitudes are deeply worldly, and we need to hear God’s instructions from the words of God — and from no one else.