I overheard one of my colleagues say the following sentence the other day: “I'm really into social justice right now.” To which her friend responded: “Yeah, me too.” Now, I understand the progressive Christian impulse to see Jesus' care for the marginalized as central to their tradition as opposed to biblical inerrancy or substitutionary atonement, and I count myself among those who highly value justice as a Christian practice. But I find it difficult to understand just how someone can be “into” social justice, as they might be into badminton, Pinot Noir or terriers.
It seems that social justice now exists as a hugely broad category for all things ethically and morally right in the world. And that it has been divorced from the concrete practices that move toward a more just society. When asked what professional role they'd like to fill once graduating from Seminary, I've heard several fellow classmates respond: “I'd really like to do social justice.” I very much identify with this sentiment but I'm amused to think about how it might be practically applied. I find it funny that we've turned justice into a trend that one can be interested in, rather than engaged with; that could be listed at the end of a resume along with literature and foreign language films. It seems to me that a more Christ-like proclamation would be: “I'm really into lepers right now.” Perhaps we need to do a bit of rethinking about how we live out our faith, rather than just think about it. Unless we're willing to list lepers on our next resume.