• A member of the original wondercafe, Punkins has passed away. There's a thread in the In Memoriam section
  • Our new header image is our own private beach. See Council News & Business for more.

Justice, biblical justice, social justice – what do we mean by justice?

Seeler

Well-Known Member
Messages
6,697
Reaction score
4,917
In a recent thread (actually, in many threads) I find the word ‘justice’ used in connection with judgment, reward and punishment. This puzzles me, particularly when speaking about biblical justice.

My understanding is that justice is more connected with doing what is right. The prophet Micah answers the question ‘what does the Lord require of you?’ With ‘do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God'. It is my understanding in this case 'justice' means to treat people justly, to give everyone a fair share, to look after the disadvantaged {widows, orphans, strangers, and the sick and elderly). And 'mercy' means to feel compassion and oneness with others (love your neighbour as yourself). Walking humbly may mean by that God is the Lord of all, we are merely caretakers.

I googled ‘justice’ and ’biblical justice’ this morning. I found many definitions and explanations, but the main one seems to be ‘to make right’ and to refer to living in right relationship with God, with one another, and with creation. In many cases justice seems to be the equivalent of righteousness. ‘Let justice flow down like a river, and righteousness like a river flowing stream ‘ {from memory}

Google also spoke of four different types of justice but different articles contained different lists. Reading several, I found words like: cumulative, distributive, legal, social, restorative, retributive, and others.

I think of Pierre Trudeau’s ‘just society’. I think of What is legal, what is fair, what is right?

Some of the definitions seem to contradict others. How do we know which is meant when we quote from the Bible?
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
Messages
40,367
Reaction score
3,609
Social structures are anti socialistic ... and thus can't be a concern of justice! Some romantic noodler ...

May have been Thomas Doo Leigh ... like production of BS as histrionic! Karl Jung on when the crap flies ...
 

Mendalla

Eastern Lowland Gorilla
Messages
25,961
Reaction score
14,464
Based on experience and other discussions I have been in, I seems to me that there are a couple concepts in most people's sense of justice: order and levelling the playing field. Raising up those at a disadvantage and making sure those at some kind of an advantage (economic, physical, or whatever) can't exploit that advantage to the detriment of others.

Justice is about maintaining some kind of order and balance in society, ensuring a level playing field. The different forms of justice really represent different conceptions of how to achieve that.

Retributive justice is arguably the more primitive (in the sense of lacking in nuance in complexity). Someone harms you, you bring them down by harming them. They rob you, you take away their hand or a few years of their life. They murder someone, you murder them. And so on. You see the balancing clearly, even if it is often not as "levelling" as it seems.

Social justice is more about how to organize society to create that level playing field. Make sure that things like birth family, physical condition, and so on don't prejudice society for or against a person. It's much more nuanced and much harder to define and achieve, but is likely going to end up closer to some resembling "Justice" as most people conceive of it.

And so on. I won't go through all the options right now.

The problem, of course, is that one person's conception of justice, of what makes the playing field "level" may not match another's. The rich person may think it is just that they get to lord their success over their less well-off employees. The strong man may think it's just that they can beat up the weak. And so on. Getting everyone to recognize the same (or at least similar) ideas of what constitutes justice is the first battle in getting there.
 

ninjafaery

I just Am
Messages
1,241
Reaction score
404
It was from having had the pleasure of hearing/meeting this remarkable woman that I learned how retributive justice demoralizes the lives of the people hoping for relief from grief, also that rejecting the death penalty is more about who we are as a culture.....what it tells the world. In the sense of "making things right", justice works on many levels here. How to make things as right as possible for all.

 
Last edited:

BetteTheRed

Resident Heretic
Messages
14,196
Reaction score
7,968
Another of my personal heroes. Cannot respect her and her work more. I find Canadians really complacent on this issue. Many don't remember the 1976 decision. It was close enough that I said that if the ban didn't pass, I'd emigrate back to the U.K., which choice I could have made at that time.

You got to meet her, ninja? What a privilege/experience!
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
Messages
40,367
Reaction score
3,609
Some are obsessed with the idea that justice is only for the privileged class and not for the ignorant ... thus due cause to keep the bulk of society stupefied ... an impractical form of naivete? This is said in sacred spots ... as Dick and Jane watch how it runs and drips, in dribbles ...
 

JRT

Me on the left.
Messages
135
Reaction score
190
Justice is getting exactly what you deserve, mercy is not getting what you deserve and grace is getting what you don't deserve. The devil is in the details.
 

ninjafaery

I just Am
Messages
1,241
Reaction score
404
Another of my personal heroes. Cannot respect her and her work more. I find Canadians really complacent on this issue. Many don't remember the 1976 decision. It was close enough that I said that if the ban didn't pass, I'd emigrate back to the U.K., which choice I could have made at that time.

You got to meet her, ninja? What a privilege/experience!
She was a speaker at the university locally....long time ago....'90's. It was amazing. I was with a friend who was very familiar with her work. I just stood there like a great lummock while they talked. Can't for the life of me recall what she said. She took questions too. I can't remember if I asked a question or not, but I went away feeling like I learned a lot. Lovely, warm, humble woman....energetic and a sense of humour.
 
Last edited:

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
Messages
40,367
Reaction score
3,609
Justice is getting exactly what you deserve, mercy is not getting what you deserve and grace is getting what you don't deserve. The devil is in the details.
It is a rare thing ... as corrupted in places of power ... it is thought to be against some laws to speak about the corrupt as they speak greatest about thou's elf as a god! Thus the alternate as advocate to say what we don;t have the heart fore ... rst well ... it'll pass too!
 

Seeler

Well-Known Member
Messages
6,697
Reaction score
4,917
Justice is getting exactly what you deserve, mercy is not getting what you deserve and grace is getting what you don't deserve. The devil is in the details.
Oversimplified

the devil is in the details:
We are right back where we started - definitions.

We have to identify what we mean by 'deserve'.

It seems to me that this presumes that we all have equal abilities and opportunities – that we were born the same and what we deserve depends on those abilities and opportunities – that we have choices. That we can make the right choices for the wrong choices. That if we make the right choices we get what we deserve, a reward. If we make the wrong choices we are punished. And grace only happens when we get more than we deserve of good things, or avoid punishment when we do wrong.
It presumes that we have free will.
It doesn't recognize that sometimes some people are forced to decide between two wrongs.
Where does forgiveness come in?
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
Messages
40,367
Reaction score
3,609
Oversimplified

the devil is in the details:
We are right back where we started - definitions.

We have to identify what we mean by 'deserve'.

It seems to me that this presumes that we all have equal abilities and opportunities – that we were born the same and what we deserve depends on those abilities and opportunities – that we have choices. That we can make the right choices for the wrong choices. That if we make the right choices we get what we deserve, a reward. If we make the wrong choices we are punished. And grace only happens when we get more than we deserve of good things, or avoid punishment when we do wrong.
It presumes that we have free will.
It doesn't recognize that sometimes some people are forced to decide between two wrongs.
Where does forgiveness come in?
Yet there is this script that says we are all wonderfully and individually made and few has appreciation for the responsibility for the care required for the ID! Tis a broad study in polytechnic ... so much to learn when told to be simple. Maybe being simple was just to act stunned so as to be KISS deh? Has such Deh's/Deis passed with loss of the appreciation for linguistics and wider understanding of vast pools of word ... somewhat foggy and misty phonetics past, present and future potentials? I can't understand Twitter ... it is like Hitchcock ... for the birds!
 

revjohn

Well-Known Member
Messages
7,066
Reaction score
5,579
Seeler said:
Some of the definitions seem to contradict others. How do we know which is meant when we quote from the Bible?
Justice is an umbrella term and can outline processes which are restorative, punitive or compensatory. The context in which justice is discussed helps us to get a better idea about which facet is being examined.

Justice, as a whole withon the bounds of scripture is about right relationships and concerns itself with loving action/behaviour in respect to God and others.

Micah calls us first to love mercy and then to act justly while walking humbly. Which suggests restoration/redemption are higher ideals than punishment.
 

Seeler

Well-Known Member
Messages
6,697
Reaction score
4,917
Justice is an umbrella term and can outline processes which are restorative, punitive or compensatory. The context in which justice is discussed helps us to get a better idea about which facet is being examined.

Justice, as a whole withon the bounds of scripture is about right relationships and concerns itself with loving action/behaviour in respect to God and others.

Micah calls us first to love mercy and then to act justly while walking humbly. Which suggests restoration/redemption are higher ideals than punishment.

I was about to agree with RevJohn before I noticed that he left out distributed justice. I would put it first. It seems to me that if it was practised, we wouldn't need as much restoration or compensation and I would put punishment last. Working towards the restoration of relationships and compensating for harm done would take the place of punishment in many cases.
 

revjohn

Well-Known Member
Messages
7,066
Reaction score
5,579
Seeler said:
I was about to agree with RevJohn before I noticed that he left out distributed justice.
Distributive justice is not necessarily a big emphasis within the scriptures. Especially when the scriptures claim that the earth is the Lord's. Distribution is more of a mercy type action. Consider the rules around celebrating the Passover, one lamb