Without the call for justice there would be no biblical ethics. Justice flows from the gospel story of God putting the world to rights and restoring us into right relationship with Him and each other. We hear God’s demand for justice again and again in the law and the prophets and it is this mission statement that Jesus adopts and fulfils. The first Christians then followed Jesus’ teaching and example of compassion for those in need.
Evangelical Christians have always sought to live up to this legacy. They established hospitals and schools. They worked to abolish the slave trade. They reformed prisons and factories. Through this work they laid the foundations for provisions that we take for granted today. And they did so because of their deep evangelical convictions.
While some debate what perfect justice would look like, it has always been easier for us to identify injustice – injustice occurs when human beings are not treated with the dignity they deserve as beings made in the image of God. Such injustice may occur in all sorts of different areas: from access to education, economic opportunity, or institutions of justice, to instances of racial prejudice and discrimination. Injustice can also occur in local, national or global contexts.
What does it mean to seek justice in all these circumstances? Often it means paying greatest attention to groups with the smallest voice. In the Old Testament, such groups were highlighted: widows, orphans, strangers and the poor. Today these groups may include both minorities and majorities, including deprived communities, refugees, the disabled, the homeless or the unborn. God calls us to hear them, speak for them, and to consider them when we vote. Justice is not restricted to just-us.
Despite what some Twitter feeds might suggest, an election is not usually a choice between one just candidate and their unjust rivals. For Christians it is a prayerful choice between competing visions and plans to establish justice, at home and on the world stage. So the simple commitment to justice should not be the end of the debate, but its beginning. We should welcome this opportunity to debate what justice will look like in our society.
Questions to ask your candidates
- Poverty – how will candidates protect the dignity and independence of all those in society who have insufficient resources to meet basic human needs?
- Access to justice – how will candidates ensure that the most vulnerable in society have access to our legal institutions, in particular regarding family law and welfare assessments?
- The persecuted Church – how will candidates support Christians and those of other faiths around the world who are persecuted for their beliefs?
- Beginning of life – will candidates advocate for support services that help every woman and unborn child in the situation of crisis pregnancy?
Justice in action
A focus area for Gweini has been resourcing the church to respond to violence against women. A small but growing range of charities and organisations have been providing training, facilitating conferences, publishing resources and campaigning to end violence against women.
Serve Scotland launched in 2015 and is forming church networks in Glasgow and Dundee. They recently hosted an exciting event in the Scottish Parliament showcasing the transformational work Christians are doing in communities across Scotland.