Riding a puking bull is a rift off Pastor Wilson’s title, Until the Bull Pukes, which sparked a discussion about justice that spanned a few blogs. So in fairness here, this post is not really about the words he wrote, but rather the fruit of those words, the reaction they sparked.
Citizen Tom does a good post called Government,Love, and Charity in which he addresses a comment by Stephen that says in part, “…the ultimate example of human excellence was a submission and not some Alamo…” That sentence struck a chord in me.
And so we come to “riding puking bulls at the Alamo” and what that all means in terms of social justice. I am frequently caught somewhere between the Christian right and the Christian left, really desiring to figure out what the bible tells us about the kind of world we are supposed to be creating, and what social justice would really look like if we ever got it right. Quite likely this is an exercise in futility, because we can never even get on the same page when it comes to defining “justice,” but I have to amuse myself somehow.
I am forever trying to explain that justice is really about mercy, redemption, and reconciliation. That is the message of the cross. Jesus Christ took our sin upon Himself that we might be reconciled with God. Justice is mercy, healing, restoration, reconnection. Then there is the other side that suggests justice is all about punishment and getting what you deserve. I have to say, this just doesn’t sit well with me. I call it, “grace for me and not for thee.”
Than we have “justice is about equal treatment under the law and fairness.” Excellent, so in the name of fairness and equal treatment I think you should just give me half your stuff. Also, I need a kidney and you have two. It’s only fair you stop hoarding your vital organs.
Justice is not really about “equal” anything, because there is no “equal and fair” anywhere in the natural world. There’s a huge difference between stealing a loaf of bread because your kids are hungry and shop lifting CD’s for the thrill. Same crime but unequal, unfair motivations. It would be a grave injustice to apply equal treatment under the law.
So our bread thief might get a free pass and that is sure to rankle some, because it’s not fair, but also because now we have to ask whose sins are greater, whose heart is more wrong-headed? The man trying to provide bread for his kids or the unjust system that forced him into thievery?
The same is true of expecting someone who is in their 80’s and disabled to work for a living. After all, the bible says if you don’t work, you shouldn’t eat, so children, the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, not my problem. I don’t exaggerate, there are people who actually believe that and quote scripture to back it up. That is called riding a puking bull at the Alamo. It’s all entwined in might makes right and a decided lack of mercy and justice.
I have to ride a puking bull of my own here and simply insist that as Christians we are called to the foot of the cross. There is no valid definition of justice that does not arrive there at some point. The cross, unfair, unequal, unjust. The cross is about not getting what you deserve. The cross is about avoiding the consequences of our own sin because Jesus Christ picked that up on our behalf. Justice is about restoration.
If our justice is only about riding puking bulls at the Alamo, it isn’t justice at all.
Am I sorry for the sexual abuse of children? You betcha. War? Yep. Slavery? Yep. Welfare policies that have wrought destruction on the family? Yep. Poverty? Yep. Am I my brother’s keeper? Yep. My part in creating this fallen world may be slight, but no one’s hands are totally clean. God gave us a perfect garden and we went forth and created something more akin to the 9th circuit of hell. Jesus Christ died for our sins in order to restore us to a right relationship with our Creator.
That is where justice begins and ends, at the foot of the cross.
Speaking of puking bulls at the Alamo however, ashv says to me at Pastor Wilson’s site
justice is actually redemption, reconciliation, and healing.
“You won’t find that in the Bible.”
You will. It’s called the entire message of the gospel.
“Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8