What Justice is Not {Justice Series}


Justice. Social justice. Biblical justice.

This idea goes by a lot of names, and the terms are often used interchangeably, but what do we mean by them?

Perhaps, first we should ask–what do we not mean by them?

I have sensed that some Christians are hesitant to proclaim justice for the poor–not because they don’t care about the poor, but because the term has taken on a political connotation. Perhaps because this language and the significance of God’s concern for the poor have not been emphasized in many churches in recent history, the term justice has been drawn into the political arena.

So there’s confusion. There’s ambiguity. One person says justice and what another person hears is politics. Some say it’s socialism, and some have warned Christians to leave their church if they start hearing about social justice because they are “code words.”

Although people may disagree about the role of the government in seeking the best way to help the poor, I believe that the term social justice itself is not equivalent to aligning yourself with a particular political party. It is not inherently political, it is not a code word, and it does not make you a socialist or a Democrat. Ken Wystma (who started The Justice Conference) put forth the idea that as a church, we need to redeem the word justice because “…justice is part of the fabric of the gospel.” Justice is not about politics–it’s at the core of the story of God at work in this world. {More on that later.}


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I don’t think it’s sufficient to simply say “Justice is not about politics,” and leave it at that. If it’s not about politics, what is it about?

Throughout this month, I’ll be sharing some more thoughts about my perspective on what justice is in this Justice Series, so I hope you’ll come back. I promise that I’ll be going deeper into some of the thoughts shared here, and I hope that it will bring some clarity for all of us to the idea of justice.

Feel free to join in the discussion in the comments below (if you don’t have an account with Disqus, you can use your Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail account to share a comment). I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Have you sensed a political connotation in conversations about justice?
Do you agree or disagree that we shouldn’t define it as political?
What questions or thoughts do you have when it comes to these terms? 

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  • I love that you are writing about this! I absolutely agree that justice has been viewed as political in the recent past, and in some circles continues to be. At one time, Christians were the primary group concerned with these issues, but as social justice has become more mainstream/secular, it has become associated with liberalism. Sadly, many Christians would rather disassociate themselves from justice issues than recognize a commonality with “the liberal agenda.” In reality, social justice provides an excellent opportunity to cross political and religions lines.

  • I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’m excited to share a few more posts this month, too. And yes, the history of this topic (although I know just a tiny bit of it) is quite interesting. We recently did a “justice series” at our church that I helped coordinate with a couple other women…our pastor was the one sort of walking the line, talking about it in front of the church. He did a really great job being direct but amicable when talking about how it’s not all about politics, and that we can disagree on the politics side but that all of us as Christians are called to do justice. Anyway, I love talking about this topic, so I’m glad you’re enjoying reading it!

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