The poor you will always have with you

I’ve commented at EverydayLiturgy:

Some more thoughts following the Emergent podcast on social justice

I’ve become disturbed by the growing trend to define “social justice” or “economic justice” as equality of outcome.  I dispute this, both principially and pragmatically.

Doubtless, there are millions of oppressed people in this world who deserve justice.  But their poverty is the consequence of injustice, not the basis.  There is nothing inherently unjust about some individuals having more than others.  I think of great heroes of Scripture, rulers or mighty men who were called just: David, Solomon, Boaz, to name a few.  These great men did not renounce their wealth as loathsome inequality; they used their power to protect the rights of the widow, orphan and sojourner, and to reward the righteous.  That is true social justice.

As Christians, we are not simply called to have good intentions when it comes to pursuing justice and charity, we are called to act wisely as God’s stewards.  As such, we must take care that we pursue truly helpful policies.  I am often labelled as uncompassionate because I oppose such policies as nationwide universal health insulation, and third-world debt cancellation.  I oppose them because it can be demonstrated that these policies will, at best, not help the people they are intended to help, and at worst, perpetuate and exacerbate the existing problems.

Good intentions are not enough.  I sympathize with the Jim Wallises and Tony Campolos of this world, but I wish they could see the world as it is, rather than how they would like it to be.

About Benj

I’m a native North Jerseyan, transplanted to Pennsylvania...lived and taught in Eastern Europe for six years…Old Testament professor, ordained minister, occasional liturgist…husband to Corrie…father to Daniel and Elizabeth.
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