I first published this post over a year ago. Given the current climate I believe it is good to republish with some edits.
The common view of justice is one of punishment. Someone does wrong and they receive a ‘just reward’ for their wrong deeds. This is, at best, an incomplete and warped view of justice compared to the biblical view.
Justice is: make something wrong, right. It is making something bent or crooked straight again. As all injustice and evil is a perversion of the just and good.
Punishment in and of itself does nothing to correct the root causes of pain and suffering. Punishment that focuses on restitution and correction of wrongs brings justice to its fullness in the area of law and government. However, in the social sphere, we must also look at the root cause in the human condition.
The human heart which is shaped by the environment needs healing beyond punishment. Individuals need a relationship with someone who will mentor them, guide them, and show them goodness. From a relationship, individuals can really begin to change. More on the dichotomy of individual and civil justice later.
Next, justice as “making wrong right” expands justice to include active good. Some things in life are just broken. People will lose their jobs. Parents will fail. People die. Although facts of life they are also ills, like getting a cold. True justice reaches out and attempts to heal the sickness.
Justice feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, is a father to the fatherless, and a husband to the widows. It does the good that fills the void left by brokenness.
We are just when we assist a woman who is abuse in escaping that abuse. The abuse is part of our broken world. It is a wrong in this world and is evil. It must be made right.
We make her life more ‘right’ when we remove the abuse. Counseling can help make her internal world more right. For the right world is the one with goodness, gentleness, kindness, love, joy and all such good things.
The same can be said for feeding the hungry, providing shelter for those who have lost homes, consoling a loved one and any other action that causes a move towards what is right, good, and beautiful. A shattered ceramic in Japan is repaired with silver and gold along the cracks. The one that is made right is not without marks, but it has been made right again for its intended purpose and is beautiful.