Read and answer the questions in the boxes out loud and in English.
The Bible often talks about justice. The questions throughout this text will help you explore topics relating to justice.
Previously we looked at what the Bible means when it says that people were created ‘in the image of God’. This explains why human life is precious. However, the Bible continues on from creation to explain a serious problem. The problem can be seen from this Psalm (song) in the Bible.
The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:2-3)
This says that ‘all’ of us have ‘become corrupt’. Though we were ‘made in the image of God’ something has wrecked this image in all of us. Corruption is shown in a chosen independence from God (‘all have turned aside’ from ‘seeking God’) and also in not doing ‘good’.
1. Talk about a time when something unfair happened to you.How did you feel about it, and how did you deal with it?
2. Do you believe that how you treat others is how they will treat you? Explain why or why not.
3. Where do you think we get our sense of fairness and justice from?
Thinking Elves and Orcs
To understand this, compare orcs and elves from the movie Lord of the Rings. Orcs are ugly and evil. Elves are beautiful and peaceful (see Legolas). But orcs had once been elves that Sauron had corrupted in the past. The original elf image in the orcs had been wrecked. In a similar way the Bible says that people have become corrupted. God had made
elves but we have become orcs.
For example, we know ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ behaviour. But we do not unfailingly live by what we know. It is like a computer virus that damages the proper workings of a computer. Our moral code is there – but a virus has infected it. The Bible starts with people as good and moral, but then also corrupted. This fits with what we observe about ourselves. But it also brings a question: why did God make us this way? We know right and wrong yet are corrupted from it. As the atheist Christopher Hitchens complains:
“… If god really wanted people to be free of such thoughts [i.e., corrupt ones], he should have taken more care to invent a different species.” Christopher Hitchens. 2007. God is not great: How religion spoils everything. p. 100
But he misses something very important, the Bible does not say that God made us this way, but that something terrible happened after we were made. The first humans revolted against God and in their rebellion they changed and were corrupted.
4. Would it be a good thing to have total freedom (no laws and no guidelines)? Why or why not?
5. What are some ways that following the law has made your life more difficult?
6. How do you know that following the law is always a good thing to do? Can you think of one example where following the law would seem like a bad thing to do?
The Fall of Mankind
This is often called The Fall. Adam, the first man, was created by God. There was an agreement between God and Adam, like a marriage contract of faithfulness, and Adam broke it. The Bible records that Adam ate from the ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’ even though they had agreed that he would not eat from that tree. The agreement and the tree itself, gave Adam a free choice to remain faithful to God or not. Adam had been created in the image of God, and placed into friendship with Him. But Adam had no choice regarding his creation, so God allowed him to choose about his friendship with God. Just like the choice to stand is not real if sitting is impossible, the friendship and trust of Adam to God had to be a choice. This choice centered on the command not to eat from that one tree. And Adam chose to rebel. What Adam started with his rebellion has gone non-stop through all generations and continues with us today. We look next at what this means.
Below you can find common English expressions that are used when talking about justice.
“Fair and square” – for something to be fair or equal.
Example: “The supporters for the other team were angry, but we won the game fair and square.”
“To take justice into your own hands” – to decide to correct an unfair situation on your own – without the help of other people whose responsibility it may be to help.
Example: “Laura’s sister was hurt by a bully at school. Instead of going to the teacher, Laura took justice into her own hands hurt the bully back”