Saturday, May 16, 2009

doing injustice in the name of justice?

Two things define 'justice' in a biblical context.

First, there is no understanding without standing under.

Second, the question is not "What are you standing for?" but "Who are you standing with?"
Leonard Sweet, in a 'meditation' in the book "Justice in the Burbs" by Will and Lisa Samson, p. 94-95

Actually, I can't think of a more sure way to bring to about injustice than by saying it's about "Who are you standing with?"

First, is his claim true? Is this what the Bible teaches? Consider these passages.

Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge you neighbor fairly.
Leviticus 18:17

Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd,

and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit.
Exodus 23:2-3

Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike.
Deuteronomy 1:17a

The Bible does say much about making sure the poor are treated justly, and that's understandable. It's the rich, after all, who are able to bribe and influence in order to have unjust decision made in their favor. Such is human nature.

But as can be seen in the passages above, the Bible most certainly does NOT say that justice is siding with the poor. The poor and the rich are both to be shown justice. It is no more right to favor the poor over the rich then it is to favor the rich over the poor.

So, I think Sweet is dead wrong in what he writes. Justice is about "What are you standing for?" Justice is about treating all justly, with no favoritism and no partiality.

And one can see how Sweet's ideas can only backfire--demonizing the rich as oppressors and exploiters without regards to whether a rich person is that way or not; enforcing taxation policies which are designed to punish those who work and succeed in gaining wealth while rewarding those who did not work for it; spreading poverty by taking away the incentive to better one's life through the reliance on a small but (theoretically) steady stream of welfare funds.

If you think I'm reaching in my logic, consider this.

Obama Sees Supreme Court Justices as Champions of the Weak Over the Strong
For Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, Supreme Court justices should champion the weak against the strong.

Obama outlined his views on justices in the speeches he gave on the Senate floor in opposition to the confirmations of Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

In both speeches, the Illinois Democrat chastised the nominees not for their positions on specific constitutional issues or matters of law but for what he perceived as too often siding with the strong instead of the weak. He chargied Roberts, for example, with being dismissive of claims of racial and gender discrimination and criticized Alito for making a habit out of siding with government and corporations against plaintiffs and workers.

These article is from last year, right before the US made the currently abyssmal decision to put this man into our highest office.

But for the sake of this discussion, focus on what he's saying--that the courts should favor the poor against the rich. How different that is from what the Bible really says, that neither poor nor rich should be favored.

Obama and Sweet are supporting injustice, pure and simple.

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