Against Social Justice: What Real Justice Is, and Why Social Justice Subverts It

This post first appeared on Kineti and is authored by Judah Gabriel Himango, one of Tabernacle of David’s teachers.

Isaiah 30, in which God declares, ki Elohei mishpat Adonai כי אלהי משפט יהוה – For I, Adonai, am a God of justice.

What’s the difference between social justice and justice? I heard the great Jewish luminary Dennis Prager describe it as such:

“A poor man and a rich man go to court. With social justice, the poor man wins. With justice, the one who’s right wins.”

Friends, I’d like to introduce you to my older brother, Jesse, today’s guest author. In this post, Jesse argues that modern social justice is a subversion of actual justice. Where God commands us to do what’s right regardless of class or economic status, social justice perverts this by demanding we favor the oppressed class regardless of individual merit. Given recent world events, this is a timely post.

These last weeks we’ve witnessed great upheaval across the nation. A great many have peacefully protested the injustice of a man killed in police custody. And yet, many of these protests have devolved into rioting, looting, arson, rebellion and insurrection, and even murder. At the time of this writing, 2 black police officers have been murdered by violent protestors.

Worse still, there has been a disturbing trend among believers justifying the rioting and looting in the name of social justice.

The moral confusion of our nation and the church has reached a precipice where, as Yeshua predicted, “even the elect are deceived.” Even so, it is shocking to witness biblically observant people, grounded in the Word, defending wickedness in the name of social justice. From the secular world I expect this – but not from believers.

Satan has come to divide through the guise of racial division, a scheme running counter to God’s sure plan. In Satan’s plan, races and classes are divided and pitted against each other – a stench in God’s nostrils. But in God’s unstoppable plan, our inheritance is people from every tongue and tribe grafted together into the olive tree of Israel.

God Loves Justice

The Bible describes God as a God of justice. God speaks through the Torah, the Psalms, the prophets, giving a clear picture of his character:

For Adonai is a God of justice; happy are all who wait for him!

– Isaiah 30:8 

But Adonai reigns forever. He established His throne for judgment. He judges the world in righteousness and governs the peoples justly.  

– Psalm 9:8-9

But a perversion of true justice has been fomenting in the minds of many, secular and believer alike, produced by a partisan media that seeks to divide us, an education system that is long void of morality, and a society that has discarded godliness. This society — our society, our generation — has produced the lie of social justice.

So, what’s the difference between today’s “social justice” and God’s justice talked about in the Bible you might ask?

The prime difference is that social justice isn’t just; while it bears the name “justice”, it practices nothing of the sort.

Social justice is bound to the relativistic, nebulous, ever-changing moral code of the day. What was moral yesterday is immoral today; what is moral today will be immoral tomorrow. (Great evidence of this is how rioters recently have been tearing down statues of great Western figures, like Winston Churchill, Christopher Columbus, or even slavery abolitionists like Matthias Baldwin.)

God’s justice, on the other hand, is absolute and unchanging. If something is moral, it is because God, the author of all justice and morality, has declared it so.

The two cannot abide together. 

Consider the contrast:

 Justice  Social Justice
Blind, both in defining the crime and convicting the criminal, regardless of belief or background.  Takes into consideration, race, gender, sexual deviation, economics, and historical oppression before judging. 
Produces reward or punishment what you deserve without special favor. Produces a reward or punishment based on who is favored by the crowd.
 Demands that all are equal under the law. Demands that all be equal economically and socially.
 Asks, “Who committed the crime?” and prosecutes the perpetrators. Asks, “Why was the crime committed?”, excusing criminal behavior.

Justice should be about truth, not promoting the weak over the strong, the poor over the rich, female over male, brown over white.

A “justice” that does not hold the individual accountable because of group membership is devoid of any true justice

Consider the Torah’s warnings against this:

Do not be unjust in judging — show neither partiality to the poor nor deference to the mighty, but with justice judge your neighbor.
-Leviticus 19:15
You must not show partiality in judgment—you must hear the small and the great alike. Fear no man, for the judgment is God’s. The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me and I will hear it.’
-Deuteronomy 1:17

Gods shows us in His word that Messiah himself is the destroyer of class-based separatism. As Paul writes,

For you are all sons of God through trusting in Messiah Yeshua. For all of you who were immersed in Messiah have clothed yourselves with Messiah. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua. And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed—heirs according to the promise. 

-Galatians 3:27-29
In God’s morality and justice, personal responsibility is paramount. Each person is responsible for his or her own actions:

Suppose a father is violent, quick to shed blood, and acts wickedly to his brother. He has eaten with idols, lived in sexual sin, wronged the poor and needy, robbed others, broke his oaths, lifted up his eyes to idolatry, loaned with interest and taken unjust gain. Will he then live? He will not live! He has done all these detestable things. He will surely be put to death and his blood will be on him.

Now behold, suppose he fathers a son who sees all his father’s sins that he committed, and observing, does not do likewise. He does not eat with idols, doesn’t live sexually immoral, doesn’t wrong anyone, doesn’t commit robbery, but he gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, doesn’t mistreat the poor, doesn’t loan with interest, practices My laws and walks in My statutes—he will not die for the iniquity of his father, he will surely live.

-Ezekiel 18:10-17
If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
-2 Thessalonians 3:10

It doesn’t say, “Unless you belong to this group or that group.” But rather, the Bible places responsibility for your actions on yourself. Not your class, race, oppressors, or circumstances. Rather, “You will reap what you sow.” 

God’s justice requires that each person give an account for his own works, not that of his class or race or ancestors: 

And I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened; and another book was opened, the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 
– Revelation 20:12
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah, so that each one may receive what is due for the things he did while in the body—whether good or bad. 
– 2 Corinthians 5:10 
Notice God does not say, “You will be judged according to your actions, unless you belong to some ingroup.” Ancient Israel didn’t receive special pardon for their sins; in fact, most of the Tenakh is devoted to rebuking Israel for its sins and calling each individual to return in repentance. 

What about injustice today?

Turning our focus to today’s upheaval, we must acknowledge that justice sometimes fails. The killing of a man in police custody, whether deliberate murder or inadvertent manslaughter, remains an injustice. To speak out against such injustice is the duty of believers everywhere.

The answer to injustice, however, is not more injustice. 
There are wicked and corrupt policemen and policewomen, yes. Undoubtedly, as with every human endeavor, people are the problem and some use their badge to carry out their own racism or prejudice, some abuse their power, some use their badge to hide their own abuse. 
The existence of fallen and sinful men in the police force – does that give anyone or any group the right to riot, loot, steal, kill and destroy? No!

We must speak against both the injustice carried out by this particular policeman and the rioting and looting.  We cannot abide by the world’s voice which excuses the rioting and looting as acceptable-under-the-circumstances. 

We cannot allow “social justice” to interfere with true justice. As God dictates in the Torah, 

“A curse on anyone who interferes with justice for the foreigner, orphan or widow.’ All the people are to say, ‘Amen!’ 
– Deuteronomy 27:19
Even Messiah’s commandment to “turn the other cheek” was combatting Sadducean permitted-under-the-circumstances personal vengeance. In Messiah’s Torah, personal vengeance is not permitted:
“You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you not to stand up against someone who does you wrong. On the contrary, if someone hits you on the right cheek, let him hit you on the left cheek too! 
– Matthew 5:38-39 
This was combatting an extra-Biblical interpretation of the Torah’s command. In the Book of Decrees (Sefer Gezerata), the Boethusians (Sadducees) had interpreted the Torah’s “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” in this way: “If a man had knocked out the tooth of his fellow, let him knock out his tooth. If he had blinded the eye of his fellow, let him blind his eye. Let them be equal to each other. “And they shall spread the sheet out before the elders of the city”, the words as they are written. “And she should spit before him”, that she should spit in his face.”

The Torah tells us to not take revenge, but instead to go to the courts and obtain a just ruling that would place a value on the injury or injustice. If the perpetrator is found guilty, restitution is demanded by the court, not by the individual.

Repay no one evil for evil but try to do what everyone regards as good. If possible, and to the extent that it depends on you, live in peace with all people. Never seek revenge, my friends; instead, leave that to Elohim’s anger; for in the Tanakh it is written, “Adonai says, ‘Vengeance is my responsibility; I will repay.’ ” On the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For by doing this, you will heap fiery coals [of shame] on his head.” Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.
– Romans 12:17-21
Ultimately, God is the final arbiter of justice, and vengeance for injustices cannot be meted out by either vigilante individuals or a mob:
”Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,’ says Adonai”
– Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19
An upright nation and Godly people must come against the injustice of the killing of George Floyd and the injustice of rioting and looting. We simply cannot condone either. These is no good reason to justify or downplay either of them. Only partisan politics instruct us otherwise.
God’s people should understand that the Lord himself has final, cosmic justice:

When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.
– John 16:8
His justice is perfect. Human justice is not.

“For I will proclaim the name of Adonai. Come, declare the greatness of our God! The Rock! His work is perfect, for all his ways are just. A trustworthy God who does no wrong, he is righteous and straight. “He is not corrupt; the defect is in his children, a crooked and perverted generation. You foolish people, so lacking in wisdom, is this how you repay Adonai? He is your father, who made you his! It was he who formed and prepared you!

This is truly a wicked generation that has discarded biblical justice and Judeo-Christian values for social justice, ultimately looking for an excuse to do their own desires. 

But God’s calling for us is higher:

Justice, justice you must pursue, so that you may live and possess the land that Adonai your God is giving you. 
– Deuteronomy 16:20

The Action of Justice

How does one pursue justice? If our response should include taking a stand against injustice, how do we do that?

From the beginning of Scripture onward, justice is an action:

For I have made myself known to him (Abraham) so that he will command his sons and his household after him to keep the way of Adonai by doing righteousness and justice, so that Adonai may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” Then Adonai said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great indeed, and their sin is very grievous indeed. I want to go down now, and see if they deserve destruction, as its outcry has come to Me. And if not, I will know.” Then the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham was still standing before Adonai. Abraham drew near and said, “Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you really sweep away and not spare the place for the sake of fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing—to cause the righteous to die with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked share the same fate! Far be it from You! Shall the Judge of the whole world not exercise justice?” 
– Genesis 18:19-25
In the story of Abraham negotiating with God about whether to judge or spare a wicked city, Abraham frames his argument: “Surely the righteous and the wicked won’t share the same fate; surely the Judge will do justice?”
The word being used here in Hebrew is  מִשְׁפָּט mishpat. Strong’s Concordance defines this word as,

A verdict (favorable or unfavorable) pronounced judicially, especially a sentence or formal decree (human or (particularly) divine law, individual or collectively), including the act, the place, the suit, the crime, and the penalty; abstractly justice, including a particular right, or privilege (statutory or customary), or even a style: – + adversary, ceremony, charge, X crime, custom, desert, determination, discretion, disposing, due, fashion, form, to be judged, judgment, just (-ice, -ly), (manner of) law (-ful), manner, measure, (due) order, ordinance, right, sentence.

If this is what justice from God entails, our generation must again renew our devotion to it. God’s Word gives us concrete actions for us to take:
  • Our pursuit of justice must be blind and impartial. Not following popular whims of the day. Not taking sides based on race, class, or status of any kind.

    Do not to spread a false report. Do not join hands with the wicked by becoming a malicious witness. “Do not follow a crowd to do evil. Nor are you to testify in a case, to follow a crowd and pervert justice. On the other hand, nor should you take sides with a poor man in his case. 

    – Exodus 23:1-3 

  • Our pursuit of justice must place a value on the damage or loss.

    “If people quarrel, and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and the other does not die but lies in bed, if he rises again and walks around on his staff, then the one that struck him he will be cleared. But he must pay for the loss of his time and help him to be thoroughly healed. 

    – Exodus 21:18-19

  • Our pursuit of justice must include capital punishment for capital offenses; life for life.

    Whoever strikes a man so that he dies must surely be put to death. But if he did not hunt him down, yet God caused it to happen, then I will appoint for you a place where he may run. If a man presumes to kill his neighbor with craftiness, you are to take him from My altar and put him to death. 

    – Exodus 21:12-14

  • Our pursuit of justice must seek a 120% repayment on damages and wrongdoing. 

    That person is to confess the sin he has committed, make full restitution for his wrong, add one fifth to it and give it to the one he wronged. 

    – Numbers 5:7

  • Our pursuit of justice must seek a 200% repayment on theft.

    If the item is found in his hand alive—whether ox, donkey or sheep—he is to pay double. 

    – Exodus 22:3

  • Our pursuit of justice must seek individual responsibility.

    Suppose a man is just and does what is lawful and right: He has not eaten at mountain shrines or lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel. He has not defiled his neighbor’s wife or come near to a woman during niddah. He does not wrong anyone, returns his pledge for a debt, does not commit robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment. He does not loan with interest or take unjust gain. He keeps his hand from iniquity, executes true justice between people, walks in My laws and keeps My statutes, behaving honestly. Such a person is just—he will surely live.” It is a declaration of Adonai. 

    – Ezekiel 18:5-9

  • Our pursuit of justice must not punish generations for the crimes of individuals.

    Fathers are not to be put to death for children, and children are not to be put to death for fathers—each one is to be put to death for his own sin. 

    – Deuteronomy 24:16

  • Our pursuit of justice must seek to punish the guilty only, not ascribing guilt to race, class, or other status.

    Far be it from You to do such a thing—to cause the righteous to die with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked share the same fate! Far be it from You! Shall the Judge of the whole world not exercise justice?” 

    – Genesis 18:25

  • Our pursuit of justice must seek mercy and judgment in proper order.

    So speak and act as those who will be judged according to a Torah that gives freedom. For judgment is merciless to the one who does not show mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. 

    – James 2:12-13

    Who is a God like You pardoning iniquity, overlooking transgression, for the remnant of His heritage? He will not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us. He will subdue our iniquities, and You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will extend truth to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, that You swore to our ancestors from the days of old. Because judgment and punishment is meant for us to turn from our sins. 

    – Micah 7:18-20

  • Our pursuit of justice must seek restoration to God.

    But you, O man—judging those practicing such things yet doing the same—do you suppose that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you belittle the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience—not realizing that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?

    – Romans 2:3-4

Social Justice, a religion opposed to God 

What is keeping us from pursuing Biblical justice? One such barrier is the faux justice of social justice, which metes out judgement not based on individual wrongdoing, but on membership of class, race, or oppressed status.

Unlike God’s justice, social justice welcomes sinful behavior; there are no introspective calls to repent among its faithful. Instead, the damning finger is pointed at “other” — other races, other classes, other generations. 
Contrary to Scripture, social justice shows favoritism based on class or race. 
Guilt is conferred to non-guilty parties, “all white people are racist.”
It excuses sin like looting and arson in the name of race and class warfare.
It exists at the behest of a mob.
It guilts the non-guilty for abuses in past generations.
It demonizes entire professions, races, classes for perceived injustices, failing to call for individual responsibility, and instead 
It is vengeful and vicious: enforced through deliberately damaging the personal lives, professions, and property of those who oppose it. 
It is censorious: deplatforming and cancelling those who hold the “wrong” opinions.
It condemns righteous men of past generations for violations of today’s ever-changing modern morality, failing to judge men by their generation. 
Social justice is not God’s justice.
In the gospels, a rich man had to peel away at the things that were holding him back from entering God’s Kingdom. Might we be held back too? What’s holding us back from His kingdom?

  • Have we fallen in love with this age? Its mores, its justice, its mobs, its emotionalism?
  • Have we been fooled and deceived by social justice, thinking ourselves righteous while practicing unrighteousness?
  • Have we been taken in with politics, hating a brother along party lines? 
  • Have we fallen prey to racism, tricked into an us-vs-them mentality that divides God’s global people and runs contrary to God’s ultimate plan of unity?
  • Have we been blinded by patriotism, placing love of our nation above love for God’s Kingdom?

Consider these things, friends, and pursue justice.

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