A little exercise: I went through the book Amos and wrote the letters “RSJ” next to every time God described real social justice or rebuked real social injustice.
I figured God was a more reliable source of information on justice than Huffington Post or PBS or a Rolling Stone article.
Here are a few insights from God’s book:
*Note: I chose Amos because that particular prophet was especially used by God to condemn large scale oppression and social harms and to proclaim interpersonal righteousness. It isn’t that the rest of the Bible doesn’t speak to social justice. Just that there is a particular emphasis on it in Amos.
“The Lord says: I will not relent from punishing Edom for three crimes, even four, because he pursued his brother with the sword. He stifled his compassion, his anger tore at them continually, and he harbored his rage incessantly.” 1:11
Helpful reminder #1: Real justice involves punishment when there is an injustice. And every injustice will be punished perfectly either in Hell or on the Cross.
“The Lord says: I will not relent from punishing Tyre for three crimes, even four, because they handed over a whole community of exiles to Edom
and broke a treaty of brotherhood.” 1:9
Helpful reminder #2: Real interpersonal, social justice involves keeping promises and covenants we’ve made that are Godly.
“The Lord says: I will not relent from punishing the Ammonites for three crimes, even four, because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their territory.” 1:13
Helpful reminder #3: Real social justice is opposed to ripping open pregnant women for greed. And yes, I am unashamedly looking at you, Planned Parenthood.
“The Lord says: I will not relent from punishing Israel for three crimes, even four, because they sell a righteous person for silver and a needy person for a pair of sandals. They trample the heads of the poor on the dust of the ground and block the path of the needy. A man and his father have sexual relations with the same girl, profaning My holy Name.” 2:6-7
Helpful reminder #4: Real social justice knows what “righteous” is.
Helpful reminder #5: It cares for the poor and does not abuse them.
Helpful reminder #6: Real justice between human beings involves them being sexually pure before God and to one another.
“The people are incapable of doing right—this is the Lord’s declaration—those who store up violence and destruction in their citadels.” 3:10
Helpful reminder #7: To be truly socially just is to be free of greedy violence.
“They drink wine by the bowlful and anoint themselves with the finest oils but do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. Therefore, they will now go into exile as the first of the captives, and the feasting of those who sprawl out will come to an end.” 6:5-7
Helpful reminder #8: Truly socially just people mourn over sin.
Helpful reminder #9: They are not personally materially greedy. It’s always easy to be generous with someone else’s money. If you want to know whether someone is dominated by love of money or possessions, look at where their money goes. Not what tax plan they support.
Okay, there’s a few insights into real justice. Nothing new, but then again good and true things are very old.