The Problem With Social Justice is That It Always Involves Changing Someone Else

Anne Kennedy makes an interesting observation in her piece “What is Really the Problem?”:

Second, human people are wicked. All people. ALL have sinned and fallen well and catastrophically short of the glory of God. All of the cries about white supremacy, white evangelicalism, patriarchy, and racism all illumine the very false and foolish idea that if you or I were able to fix “other” people, and the systems they inhabit, that all the bad things would not any longer happen.

I recently illustrated the social justice thread in the 1928 and 2019 Books of Common Prayer.  But the whole idea of “social justice” has bugged me since the 1960’s for various reasons.  I think that Anne has put her finger on the problem: social justice involves changing someone else rather than yourself.  For someone who came to a religion where the change was personal first, that’s never set well.

One of the things that evangelicals have always said about everyone else who claims the name of Christ is that they are basically cultural Christians who have never made a personal commitment to the Lord Jesus.  Although these churches are good at producing people like that, it’s not universally true.  Growing up as an Episcopalian, I internalised many things from the New Testament, especially the Sermon on the Mount, and found that others had done the same.  Evangelicals in this country tend to ignore the Sermon on the Mount and concentrate on things like the Great Commission and the moral requirements of the faith.  The two trade insults along these lines; both are right and wrong at the same time.

With social justice warriors, it’s always the same: someone else is doing wrong, or is just inherently wrong.  Someone else is bigoted, homophobic, transphobic, the wrong race, the wrong religion, whatever, and must be beaten into submission, cancelled, or thrust into the outer void at the first opportunity.  There’s no real requirement for the warriors to be paragons of virtue at all: as long as they shove their righteousness down everyone else’s throat, they’re fine in their own eyes.

Some of the problem is that we have democratic process.  To get anything done, for better or worse, we must create a bandwagon effect, coupled with bribery at the right places, to achieve our purpose.  If our self-righteous elites would be honest with themselves and the rest of us, stop touting democracy as the ideal and rule in their self-righteous confidence by decree, the dynamic would be different.  But things like that are why our society is fundamentally duplicitous.

Evidently we have conveniently forgotten the following:

And why do you look at the straw in your brother’s eye, while you pay no attention at all to the beam in your own? How can you say to your brother ‘Brother, let me take out the straw in your eye,’ while you yourself do not see the beam in your own? Hypocrite! Take out the beam from your own eye first, and then you will see clearly how to take out the straw in your brother’s. (Luke 6:41-42 TCNT)

But in our post-Christian society, self-righteousness is no longer a sin, but a virtue.  Why Christians of all types blindly go along with this is beyond me.

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