What’s all this about social justice?

By Paul Smith - Posted at The Evangelical Times:

Morality is back. Once again, moral absolutes are not just possible but popular. The #metoo movement has demanded universal standards of sexual morality. People are talking about social justice and the need to liberate the oppressed.

This all gives tremendous gospel opportunities, because it invites the question: on what basis can universal moral standards be asserted? It also brings tremendous challenges, because acceptance of the new morality is required to have a voice in society. So, should Christians embrace social justice?

Social justice seems, at first glance, to fit with biblical standards. After all, did not the prophets urge rulers to treat people, especially the poor, with justice and mercy? The problem is that the dominant narrative in current conceptions of social justice is not right and wrong but a power struggle between oppressors and oppressed. And oppression is taken to be anything that hinders individual self-expression.

That means God’s law is oppressive, along with anything or anyone who promotes any part of it. To suggest the Ten Commandments form the bedrock of society is thus unjust and immoral. People are rejecting Christianity not because faith in God is intellectually impossible but because the God of the Bible is morally repugnant.

Social justice warriors (SJWs) take great pride in their morality. Student activists, liberal journalists and progressive politicians see themselves as crusaders against oppression. So sure are they of the righteousness of their cause, that words like ‘bigot’ or ‘Nazi’ trip off their tongues whenever anyone opposes them.

Their invective can take us by surprise. Why, Christians think, are we so hated? Because perpetuating traditional morality makes Christians an enemy in the battle against oppression. Fighting oppression means smashing oppressive power structures, silencing oppressors and standing as an advocate for the oppressed. We will look at each part of the battle strategy in turn.

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