29 Nov Social Justice
Universities pride themselves on being centers of ideas and for being on the cutting edge of change for the advancement of societies. Often you will find that emerging trends, ideas, or movements are first accepted at universities before any other institution. If you are a university student living in a metropolis, you can probably relate to this or see how your school is spearheading sociological discussions and change.
As a student at a well-known University in Bangalore, I witnessed some new progressive ideas surfaced through academic courses and co-curricular programs; Most of them leaning towards making the world a more equal and just place. I was, as many of you reading this are, exposed to secularism, tolerance, gender equality, women’s rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, etc in the classroom, through a lens that was different from how I’d seen it. These movements have been gaining momentum and especially now, campuses are increasingly participating in activism and seeing themselves as defenders of these ideas.
When I started university , I understood little about these movements, but I did at the surface agree that I certainly stood for equality and justice and didn’t actively seek injustice upon any group. Many of you may be here right now. Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to dig a little deeper into the worldview behind social justice movements – and I’ve come to discover the atheistic worldview these movements are based on.
For young Christian students trying to find their identity as an adult, the fear of rejection from peers can be daunting. Social justice movements, at their surface, do not seem to pose a threat to the Christian belief, so it feels comfortable (and even right) to stand for these causes in the same way the secular culture does.
However, there are some fundamental differences between social justice – as seen in our campuses and biblical justice – the kind that is intended by God for the truly oppressed and downcast. Here are 2 fundamental differences between modern social justice and biblical justice.
Social justice is about systems and power distribution between groups:
Modern social justice assumes that society is made up of systems and groups, with some groups having more power than other groups. The groups with more power use their power for evil and the groups that have lesser power are the victims of injustices perpetrated by powerful groups. Men, corporations, religious organizations (especially the church), and other groups are considered to have more power and therefore are inherently evil.
The bible does not make any such distinction. There are no “more evil” groups than others. Romans 3:23 says, “. . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’’ and later in 1 Timothy 1:15 the apostle Paul writes, “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom Iam the foremost.” It’s clear from this that it’s not just a few groups that are responsible for the evils in the fallen world – it’s everyone. Classifying people into victim groups and abuser groups by nature of their religion, sex, race, etc is not founded in the scriptures.
If we are truly in pursuit of equality or creating a more just world, it is important to start from how God sees us all – fallen and needing endless grace.
Social Justice is about self-redemption, not a true pursuit to serving victims of injustice:
Social justice in universities is of an atheistic worldview, where you are your god. People all over the world and across time (including atheists) have recognized that we are sinners in need of absolution. World religions use works to absolve themselves of their sin. Social justice seeks to do just this, by creating a standard for good and striving to get there through human efforts.
Politically correct speech, honoring only the lived experience of minority groups, verbal and physical violence against the oppressors are all ways to rack up karma points against one’s name and feel less guilty about who we are at our root.
This is why you will find that all the activism in universities is often fueled by spite towards the oppressor groups and people who are viewed as allies to those groups. Violence in the name of “equality” is accepted and even encouraged. The Jews under Roman rule were hoping for a king to come and overthrow the Roman empire and set them free. However, Jesus came to establish His kingdom that was founded not on power, but love. He lived this out when he prayed for the forgiveness of his prosecutors, at the cross.
While this article cannot go into all aspects on how to seek biblical justice, the idea is to point out that the emerging trends in universities could be, in fact, in direct contradiction to the Bible and the Christian faith. If you are interested in reading more about what the Bible says about justice, you can read the book Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth by Thaddeus J. Williams. So, when it comes to supporting or taking a stand on trends seen on our campuses, one needs to weigh the how it is impacting us at a deeper level, contemplating what the Bible has to say on a subject and communicate our stand wisely and articulately. If we can do this thoughtfully, it enables us to live out the third aim of UESI on our campuses – “To raise a testimony in the colleges to the truths of the Historic Christian faith and to present its message for the whole of life and problems of mankind”
Steve Jensen Mahind is an alumnus of Christ University in Bangalore where he was involved with UESI. After pursuing his MBA in Canada, he currently serves as a Digital Marketing Strategist at Rely Digital, Richmond, Vancouver