I was considering the word and concept of justice today so I looked up the definition of “justice.” The search returned a few definitions that stuck to me: “moral rightness,” “the quality of being just,” and “moral principle determining just conduct.” To understand or seek justice then, we need to have an idea of what it means to be “just” or “moral.” We have to have a “moral principle” whereby we can measure “just conduct.”
In America today we have calls for justice. Justice is right and good. Christians especially are called to do justice and love mercy (Micah 6:8). Do the majority of Americans, however, know what “moral principle” we are basing our measurements of “just conduct” on? Do most Americans believe that there is a “moral principle” that guides us? If so, can most Americans articulate where our “moral principle” comes from?
It seems to me if the foundation for “moral principle” has eroded then justice does not have a foundation upon which to stand. Thus, I say this not because I am not for justice, I say this because I am for justice.
Perhaps with our calls for justice in America, we should also consider the foundation of justice: moral principle. Perhaps we should consider if justice can have a steady place on which to perch.
Perhaps we should also hear calls to return to moral principle and the bedrock of truth. Without truth, calls for justice ring empty.
I believe there is a basis for justice. Because I believe there is truth.
Jesus Himself actually said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus is truth made tangible. He lived and walked justice. He is in reality what everyone should be and live.
I believe in justice and that we have a “moral principle determining just conduct” because the LORD has given it to us. Because He is righteous and “He loves righteous deeds” (Psalm 11:7) and “hates the wicked and the one who loves violence” (Psalm 11:5).
“O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; You will strengthen their heart; You will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”(Psalm 10:17-18).
Why do black lives and LGBTQ+ lives matter? This is an important question because some people have views that don’t support the idea of lives mattering. For example, Charles Darwin, the most famous proponent of evolution titled his book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle of Life. And in his book, The Decent of Man, he says,
“The Western nations of Europe… now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors [that they] stand at the summit of civilization…. The civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races through the world.”
Does a strict Darwinian view of the world lead to all lives mattering? It does not appear so. That’s why this question is important. Why do black lives and LGTBQ+ lives matter?
If we cut off our objective moral legs, we have no way to stand. If we say morality doesn’t matter, then it doesn’t matter. We can’t pick and choose. We can’t both say people are the way they are and have the desires they have and it’s fine and say it’s not okay for people to be certain ways and do certain things. That’s the crucial thing we need to consider.
Black lives matter. LGBTQ+ lives matter. White lives matter. Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But why?
That is a super important question and one that sadly isn’t receiving a lot of sustained thought. Why do black lives matter? Why do lives matter at all? Where do we get this concept? Is it true?
Jesus said, black lives matter. Jesus said, LGBTQ+ lives matter. Jesus said, all lives matter.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-38).
But does Jesus matter? And if He doesn’t on what basis then are we saying all these lives matter? This may seem like a stupid question. We just know all types of lives matter, right? But do we?
The common view that many have is Darwinian evolution, that we came from nothing and we are going to nothing; from purposelessness to purposelessness. Where is meaning, morality, and lives mattering to be found? Is there a basis for human rights?
Also, did the Roman culture, in whose hands Jesus was murdered say, all lives matter? Did Joseph Stalin say all lives matter? Did Friedrich Nietzsche? Did Adolf Hitler? Did Mao Zedong? Is it even possible to say all lives matter or any lives matter when the highest maximum is have it your way and do what’s right for you? Could it be that “just as long as no one gets hurt” has been trampled upon and obliterated by “you can do whatever you want”? If God is dead, and we killed him, as Nietzsche said, what follows? Perhaps Nietzsche was right, perhaps that makes all things permissible? Each person doing what is right in their own eyes, whatever that might be. Who is anyone, who or what is God, to restrain? …We are who we are and we want what we want and that’s nobodies business, right?
How or where, then, do we get the concept of lives, any lives, ultimately mattering? The concept of lives mattering would be merely imaginary (a social construct). Perhaps good for America right now but not for all people at all times and places.
We can’t deconstruct everything and still have a basis which to say lives matter or to say that we must love others. We can’t both say we can do whatever we want and you can’t do certain things (like be racist or homophobic).
The world has a moral order. Many are unwilling to concede that truth, however. But the world functions as if that is the case. Let’s take my kid’s classroom as an example.
In my kid’s classroom there is a telos, or goal for which the students gather. There are also specific means that are employed to reach that end.
The whole education system is predicated upon the goals of teaching things that are deemed important for the betterment and healthy functioning of the individual student and society. Various means are employed to best meet those goals. There are subtle disagreements of course. For example, people have disagreements over the best forms of discipline. But there is overarching agreement across America.
Think of the quintessential school. Perhaps for you it’s John Adams High from Boy Meets World or maybe Bayside High School from Saved by the Bell. Regardless, there is a quintessential school. There is something that is aimed for, something that is ideal. Read More…
“The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe. When a man has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil, there is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil which is in man. The communist torturers often said, ‘There is no God, no hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.’ I heard one torturer say, ‘I thank God, in whom I do not believe, that I lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart.’ He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflicted on prisoners.”
Here are a few things I left out of the video…
Thinking and talking about abortion is very difficult but also important. I, therefore, ask that you consider what I say before discounting it. I have strived to consider the subject with compassion and candor. So, out front, I want to say two things: First, I believe abortion is clearly wrong and cannot be morally justified in any circumstance. Second, and very important, there is grace, forgiveness, and hope for those who have had an abortion.
We all do wrong. The Bible says everyone is a sinner. But it also thankfully says that whosoever—liar, thief, cheat—goes to Jesus in faith and repentance can receive new life and be saved by the grace of God. All our sins can be washed away. First John 1:9 gives us all hope: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It is vital that we all remember that there is grace, forgiveness, and hope for all!
And here are some statistics about abortion in America that I left out too…
- Since 1973, there have been 59,000,000 reported and legal abortions. That’s more than the total population of California and Virginia.
- There were 908,000 abortions in 2015.
- 1/4 of American women will have an abortion by the time they are forty-five.
- Reasons why women have an abortion:
- 1% listed rape or incest
- 6% listed potential health problems
- 93% listed social reasons:
- Abortion brings several health risks:
- Breast cancer
- Ectopic (tubal) pregnancy
- Bad effects on future pregnancies
- Becoming sterile
- Sexual dysfunction
- Mental health risks
Many decide not to follow the Bible because it is in their opinion morally restrictive. However, we as humans need a definitive source of morality. We need a moral guide and the Bible is…
As we have said, many people struggle with the morality that the Bible presents. D.A. Carson has said, “Many Christians slide away from full confidence in the trustworthiness of Scripture for reasons that are not so much intellectual as broadly cultural.” Many people, for example, do not agree with the Bible’s opposition towards homosexual practice.
I know my experience isn’t as traumatic as many people’s experiences so I have hesitated to share this. However, I want to show support and point out that our system is broken.
So, out of concern and in an attempt to combat the problem in some small way, I add my voice: #metoo
Me too. I have been on the receiving end. I have been affected. As a teenager, a guy sexually groped me and a woman reached into my pants and fondled me. Both of those encounters were unwanted and unexpected.
I only share my experience to further communicate how pervasive the problem is. I also seek to be honest and admit that I have not just been affected by the problem, I have been part of the problem. As a teenager, I got into pornography and at various times failed to treat women with the utmost respect that they deserve.
So, I too have propagated the plague. For me, it started with porn: in the form of Victoria’s Secret magazines. But porn seeks expression. It doesn’t want to just see, it wants to feel. And it won’t stop there if unchecked.
Our current cultural situation, I fear, is the fruit of a larger and deeper problem. I would like to see it destroyed at its root… If not, the plague of sexual harassment will continue for society.
#metoo will continue unless we as a society see the problem with making humans mere sexual objects. Of course, the person who harasses someone else is never excused. No one can say, “Porn made me do it” or “She was asking for it.”
No. We are all morally accountable individuals. It’s not the victim who is responsible for what happened to them. My point, however, is that porn culture creates a culture of sexual harassment.
Dawkins says “justice is a human construct of great importance in human affairs.” And Dawkins believes that there is probably a Darwinian explanation that explains justice. So, our concept of justice is just a convenient Darwinian happenstance. I believe he says “blessed precious mistake” in his book The God Delusion. Of course, Nietzsche would disagree. Nietzsche in On the Genealogy of Morals doesn’t think it’s blessed or precious.
Also, if justice is merely a human construct then the cannibal clan in Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road are not wrong in keeping people locked up in the cellar in order to slaughter and eat.
What do we learn about Onesimus?
Paul calls Onesimus his child, as he often does with converts, especially, it seems, those whom he had a special connection with through discipleship (cf. 1 Cor. 4:14-15; 2 Cor. 6:13; Gal. 4:19; Phil. 2:22; 1 Tim. 1:2).
Onesimus, had a common slave name, his name meant “useful.” Paul makes a pun here. He basically says, Useful was useless to you Philemon but now he is useful to both you and me (v. 11).
So, how was “Useful” previously useless? What did he do that explains the remark from Paul? He ran away from his master Philemon and likely stole money from him to pay for his voyage and new life. He used to be useless but not now, now Paul says, he is indeed useful.
We have already seen that Paul used a term of endearment by saying Onesimus was Paul’s child. However, Paul does not stop there. Paul says, in sending Onesimus back to Philemon, he is sending his very heart (v. 12). Paul has a deep bond with Onesimus, he has been helpful to Paul (the old man!) in prison. As Paul says, “I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel” (v. 13). So, Paul is making the case that Onesimus, though once deemed useless, is indeed useful both to Paul and Philemon.
Onesimus, proves his new usefulness, as we’ve seen, by helping Paul. But not only that, he is repentant. He is willing to go back to Philemon his master, a bold step. In that day, slaves could be branded with the letter “F” for fugitive or “T” for thief (if they had a “gracious” master). Other masters may have their slave executed, perhaps even on a cross. There was a near contemporary of Philemon, a very wealthy slave owner, that was killed by a slave so in order to punish the slave and make an example all of the man’s slaves were killed; all four hundred of them (Hughes, p. 161-62). In fact, in Martin Hengel’s book Crucifixion there is a chapter titled “the ‘slaves’ punishment,” and in this chapter he tells about one occasion after a slave rebellion where there were six thousand slaves crucified (p. 55). Read More…
A few important and relevant things I’ve found to be true through my short tenure on earth:
1. Statistics can be skewed (in all sorts of ways).
2. Money talks, and sometimes money makes people talk about facts that don’t actually exist.
3. “Sound bits” don’t equal sound knowledge.
4. Video doesn’t always equal validation.
I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)