What do you think of when you think of the Greens? One of the first things that comes to mind for me is their commitment to social justice. It is possible I think of their commitment to justice before an image of trees or wilderness pops into my mind. Head over to the Greens website and social justice
is listed as one of their core beliefs.
Well, what do you know... justice seems to be one of the things God is pretty passionate about too. In fact, justice is frequently used of God and the work God does in the world. Check out Bible Gateway
for a whole raft of verses
about justice. Here are a few:
For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice. (Psalm 11:7 NIV)
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. (Psalm 103:6 NIV)
I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. (Psalm 140:12 NIV)
Like I said yesterday, I'm not presenting exegesis here and I don't have time to explore the theme of justice as it is presented in the whole bible. Suffice to say, it is super important. So important that someone who cut all the verses about justice out of their bible wasn't left with very much. Others have done the reverse, highlighting every passage that relates to justice and printing a special Poverty and Justice
edition of the bible.
Looking at Jesus' work in the Gospels is enlightening. He constantly defended and healed the outcasts on the fringe of society - 'unclean' women, lepers, children, prostitutes. He made it clear what he thought of riches (they'll stop you getting in to heaven). Jesus lived and breathed justice in all he did. Isaiah said of him:
He’ll set everything right among the nations.
He won’t call attention to what he does
with loud speeches or gaudy parades.
He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt
and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant,
but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right. (Isaiah 42:3-4 MSG)
Yesterday I mentioned my love of the biblical vision for a transformed world. That vision is wholly tied up with justice. The Old Testament prophets called for it (Amos 5:24 "...let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream!"), Jesus said he was the one who would bring it (Luke 4:16-21), and in the end there won't be people with nasty power running around hurting others (A very loose paraphrase of Isaiah 11:6).
God's love of justice goes beyond God's personal characteristics, Jesus' activities, and the future transformation of the world. It extends to everyone. We are all instructed to act with justice. The bible makes it pretty clear that people who are righteous promote justice, live justice, love justice. Proverbs 29:7 is a quick example: The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. A more well known passage is Micah 6:8,
But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.
The bible is left, right and centre filled with justice. If I want to say I'm following God, living God's way, and working for God in the world... I better be acting justly. I'd better have a heart for the poor and powerless. I'd better not be too greedy. I'd better be doing everything I can to see that justice is done.
It doesn't take much of a critical eye to see that our national conversation is not much coloured by justice. Kick out the boat people, give employers extra power over their employees so they can make more money, reduce the financial support for single mothers, keep pensioners and the unemployed living at the poverty line etc, etc... I'd say both major parties are pretty much tarnished with the same light-on-justice brush. Meanwhile the Greens consider justice one of their four core beliefs. (Wikileaks are also running with a 'justice' platform)
"But they support abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage," I hear you splutter again, and while I hope to write more on those topics later, that argument just doesn't wash with me. If I think of the Greens' policies on these matters, I think even they are motivated by justice. They reach a different place from me, but at the core of the Greens is a desire for people to have freedom and rights, rather than being dictated to by those who have power and status and money. My conclusions on social and moral issues may not fully align with the Greens, however I respect the approach they have taken in making their decisions. Their motive and heart is good. In the grand scheme of things, justice matters to God. It matters so much that it is a major theme of the whole bible, it is the end game we are aiming for at the end of time. Justice should matter to people who follow God. For me, it trumps issues of personal morality.
That's my second reason for voting Green. I'm voting for justice.