The Roots of Social Justice…
By: Maddie Jomolca
We’re hearing a lot these days about human rights and social justice—particularly among younger evangelicals, but also among secularists. While it’s certainly a good thing that there is a growing concern for the poor and the oppressed around the world there is equal concern when the younger generation approaches people like me and tells us that we need to be working for “social justice”.
My response remains: “We are already and have been striving for just that… In fact, I believe it’s the single greatest apologetic of the Christian Church.”
But what makes us different from the secularists, however, is our worldview—especially in our belief in a fundamental truth that goes right to the heart of who we are. We know all human rights and social justice are grounded in the imago Dei—the fact that we are created in the image of God.
I cannot emphasize that enough. The secularists want social justice, but at the same time, they want to turn right around and deny the very thing that makes social justice possible. It doesn’t work.
In his magnificent sermon called “In the Image of God.”, Dr. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, makes this point powerfully. With great eloquence, Keller talked about what it means to be created in God’s image and its implications for the way we live.
Because we are created in the image of God, human life is sacred. We have value, worth, and dignity. Science by itself doesn’t give us any basis for that view. So when a society loses its belief in God, it starts to believe that humans are only valuable based upon their “capacities”—and then you get views like those of Dr. Peter Singer of Princeton, who believes that some human lives have no value and deserve no protection. Sadly, Singer is not alone in his pompous estimation.
Despite claims to the contrary, the whole civil rights movement sprang from a biblical worldview. It’s not just a tradition in Western thought. “Aristotle said some races are born to be slaves.” But the Bible tells us in Genesis that humans are accountable for each other’s lives, precisely because God created us in His image. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders took their views directly from this way of thinking about God and humanity. Dr. King even talked about the “Imago Dei” in his sermon “The American Dream.”
And this is exactly why you and I can’t make a distinction between being pro-life and fighting for human rights. There is clearly a proven, unbroken connection between human life in the womb and human life in all other stages and circumstances.
“When we believe in the image of God,” “the circle of protected life expands. But to the contrary . . . the circle will continually contract.”