Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Perversion of Justice

The Bible establishes the meaning of justice through the usage of the word, related words, and then an explanation of a justice system laid out by God for Israel.  The American system of justice is based upon what the Old Testament teaches.  It's been called a Judeo-Christian ethic, ethic being a representation of what's right.  Others have argued for the same meaning from a position of natural law, asserting justice from Newton's law:  for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  They argued that they could justify an identical position of justice from nature, separate from the Bible, yet compatible.

A right understanding of justice buttresses the gospel.  God is just.  He defines justice.  God gives the laws for His creation.  The just, the right, is found in God's laws, and He requires their adherence, because of His nature.  He expects justice of His created beings.  He alone is righteous.  His laws are right and God is lawgiver and judge.  His nature also demands justice for the breaking of His laws.

God's justice requires punishment for sin.  The penalty of sin is death.  Jesus paid that penalty.  He died for us.  Everyone deserves the penalty, because all have sinned.

Justice is represented by scales in scripture and people have understood the scales of justice, which is a balance beam sitting on an apex.  Very often doctor's scales still operate on this principle.  In the idea of justice is equality.  The penalty matches the crime:  life for a life, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.  The punishment on one side of the scale equals the violation on the other side of the scale.  People can be cheated in commerce in an unjust trade by tricking the scale.

You have heard the description of putting a thumb on the scale.  This is to make things not equal and, therefore, not just.  In scripture, this brings in the idea of weights and balances.  "A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight" (Proverbs 11:1).  Justice requires just compensation.  Someone gets what he worked for and receives what he paid for.

Within the definition of justice in the Bible is impartiality.  Partiality means unequal treatment, which is injustice.  Impartiality is a principle of justice, because partiality is an origin or source of wrong judgment.  Scripture presents varied motivations for partiality, but the biggest is economic.  Race is another.  Very often race and economics are related and a mixture of evil partiality.  The motivations are sources of bias or prejudice, leading to injustice.  Rich people might have the resources to bribe the judge, affecting his partiality. The blindfold was the component of lady justice to portray impartiality and hence the motto, justice is blind.


What I'm writing here is the truth about justice, but just like different views about everything have arisen in a sin-cursed world, so have wrong ones about justice.  If someone wanted to attack or break down the plan and will of God, toward the top of his list he might corrupt the right thinking about justice.  God opposes this through the Bible and history and calls for repentance of perversion of justice.

The biggest corruption of biblical justice foisted upon humanity by ungodly men, which brings with it multiple varied destructive results, focuses on equal consequences and reparation, the assertion that everyone deserves the same outcome.  This says in essence, don't judge.  In this false thinking, which veers from scripture, differing outcomes assume injustice done, resolved by redistribution as a form of reparation.  The poor are presumed victims of a crime perpetrated by a class of people.  Someone gets a job, a school enrollment, or pay based upon a class to which he or she belongs.

When the aim of justice are victims and the solution restoration, who pays?  Who is guilty of the mistreatment?  Justice isn't done here, because a whole class of people is judged as guilty in direct violation of scriptural impartiality.  The Bible refutes this premise.

The blind man wasn't blind because of his parents (John 9:3).  The children's teeth are not set on edge because their parents ate sour grapes (Jeremiah 31:29).  The curse of one generation of people are not carried on to their children (Exodus 20:5-6), even as seen in the children of the Israelites who left Egypt entered the land, when their parents did not.  God argued in the last verse of Jonah (4:11) that the children of the Ninevites were not guilty of their crimes and they deserved sparing.

The soul that sinneth, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:20-24).  Soul, singular.  Justice is individual, not by class.  Individuals will stand before God alone and each judged for his own sins, not those of a country, class, or clan.

As examples, all whites are guilty for slavery.  All men are guilty for sexual assault.  All white men are guilty of about everything that is wrong.

When justice is based upon equal outcomes for everyone, then what is right is also what is judged to have the best consequences for everyone.  This justifies taking something from someone to give it to someone else.  Poverty proceeds from the advantage of one group or class over another.  That class is punished as a group by taking from it and giving it to another.


Scripture teaches equality.  Everyone is made in the image of God.  The founding fathers of the United States believed in it.  However, when they said that "all men are created equal," they didn't think that everyone was equal physically, intellectually, or in other abilities.  They advocated scriptural equality, that is, men were equal in intrinsic value.  Men were all worth the same.

The view of equality I'm describing is a necessity for justice.  If an individual doesn't work, he still has equal inherent value with those who do work.  However, he deserves a different outcome or consequences for not working than those who do not work.  He's not a victim. It would be unjust to take from those who have worked and give to the one who hasn't worked to create an equal outcome.

Justice doesn't guarantee equal outcomes.  It doesn't even guarantee equal opportunity.  Justice does guarantee certain rights, ones ordained by God.  Someone can grow up in a just society and have less opportunity than someone who does in another just society.  Again, America's founding fathers proposed the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  They didn't include property, but one could assume that property rights were found in liberty and pursuit of happiness, which could be expressed in free enterprise, the right to keep what you earn.  If everyone is treated of equal value, that is sufficient equality of opportunity.

Justice requires the same rules for everyone, a principle enshrined in English justice since the Magna Carta.  It also expects impartial and equal enactment of justice, justice done in a just manner.  It requires witness or corroboration of an accusation of a violation of the law.  Someone cannot be convicted and punished without proof.

The terminology "kangaroo court" traces to the idea of jumping to a conclusion without proper evidence, making a large leap like a kangaroo.  Convicting someone without sufficient evidence and without the presumption of innocence (impartiality) is unjust.  This practice very often proceeds from the perversion of equal outcomes.

A woman is right because she's a woman.  A man is guilty because he's a man.  A person of a particular race is innocent because he's of that particular race.  Instead of individuals being judged for individual wrong, entire classes are judged, which is by nature partiality.  This is not justice.  It is a perversion of justice.  It only gets worse from there.


Justice doesn't deal with outcome.  It deals with the act.  Someone pays for something he's done wrong and justice is done.  Whether he changes or not, he deserves a penalty for his sin.  When people are punished for doing wrong, it helps them understand the justice of God.  They see they aren't right with God, that He will judge them for their sins, and that they need a Savior.  Consequences in the next life, the eternal, are much greater than those in the present.

When I preach the gospel, I always talk about justice.  Until someone sees he is guilty of crimes against God and deserving of punishment, he won't see his need of a Savior.  The gospel is good news.  The good news is that he can be saved from the penalty of sin.  Someone has paid the penalty for his sin and he can be saved.

Each person is responsible for his own sins.  He won't be punished for those of his parents or for the hypothetical sins of a class to which he belongs.  His own understanding of his own salvation depends on his having a right, true, and accurate comprehension of justice.  The perversion of justice muddles the knowledge necessary for someone to be saved.


Jeff Voegtlin said...

One clear example of the perversion of justice is the punishment someone could receive for not baking a cake. Oh, the horror! Fine him hundreds of thousands of $$$.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I agree Jeff, and how does this happen? It seems it is this distributive, not retributive idea of justice. It goes further than that, because justice relates to righteousness, which proceeds from God. The baker sees homosexuality as evil, and he has the right to do so. He believes it would be unrighteous to bake the cake. It's worth considering from where this injustice arises, think about it. In the end, it is disconnecting justice from a Creator. You take away the lawgiver and the punishment, and you move into these odd bases for judgment based on egalitarianism.