Why emphasis on social justice has not led to spiritual revival in contemporary society
What could be wrong with fighting against social injustice? Particularly for a modern evangelical. After all, the first pioneers of social justice were born from the ranks of Christianity, and even further back from the champions of the Torah. Moses was the first person in history to legislate for the rights of slaves. And just as importantly, for the rights of the unborn.
In England, the great champions of banning the African slave trade came from the ranks Quakers and Baptists, but some of the most effective were men like Wilberforce, a dyed in the wool, hard-nosed evangelical, back when that meant a straight forward commitment to Scripture. Wilberforce also started the first “prevention to the cruelty of animals society”. Lord Shaftesbury, who house-churched with Wilberforce, started the first YMCA. It was originally a place for overworked youth to go for respite from their harsh lives and jobs. He also championed some of the early child labor laws.
Teddy Roosevelt, despite Glen Becks chunking him together with the likes of Woodrow Wilson, was indeed a social activist in the same line of Wilberforce and Shaftesbury. He was the earliest advocate of conservation and in providing some kind of health care for the poor. He also was a stout and outspoken critic of what he recognized in Margaret Sanger and her early planned parenthood and eugenics movement, as a coming holocaust on the unborn.
And I don’t use the word “holocaust” lightly. Even the worse kind of profiling of Mexican illegals, as long as they are not shot in masse, shoved in ovens, and deprived of everything they own, could compare with what the Jews suffered at the hands of the Nazis in Germany.
But the early Christian and Jewish fighters for justice were also fighters for Biblical righteousness, and their stances on the issues were based on their unswerving acceptance of Biblical values. The American church today seems more eager to avoid the unpopular biblical values of the day and appease an increasingly anti biblical culture. In my opinion, and it may be only my opinion, the modern evangelical is pushing the Bible (or the parts which he finds a hard sale) away, at the same time he is trying to embrace the modern culture. Yet Scripture says that friendship with the world is enmity with God. You just can’t have it both ways.
I’m all in favor of social justice, where it is clearly and sanely based on Scripture. Not just a blind acceptance that the government is capable of taking care of it for you. Righteousness and justice always start at home. Blindly sending more and more welfare into the ghetto, while perhaps securing votes, has not secured the welfare or dignity of the people, it has instead destroyed the family unit and sense of self-worth.
Casting off all boundaries to illegal immigration, while in many ways good for America, may not ultimately help the Mexican people. Hard as that may be for some of you to believe. Not all problems can be solved with money, or with great displays of emotion. If you want to be a social activist, I certainly don’t want to discourage you, but by all means first steep yourself in Scripture, unless you build the house in vain. Ps 127:1