I began to suspect something amiss with the American definition of justice when a friend with whom I was discussing the topic over coffee started talking about pre-marital sex.
This friend is extremely well read and speaks Greek, German, and Kierkegaard, so I don’t take what she says lightly. Though the connection between justice and pre-marital sex escaped me, I knew we were headed somewhere significant.
My friend had recently attended the first two classes in a series of pre-marital group sessions at church. The elementary level of the material presented was disappointing for her. She’d assumed that in a class of self-professing Christians, the subject matter would move beyond basic foundations of the faith.
Only when the pastor later told her that the vast majority of couples in the room were already living together did my friend realize how wrong her assumption was.
Though I believe the now common practices of pre-marital sex and cohabitation have few positive outcomes and no biblical support, I considered it common knowledge that many Christians participate in this cultural norm. I also assumed consensual pre-marital sex and other matters of personal morality had nothing to do with justice.
I had no idea how wrong I was.
My friend pulled out her smart phone to verify the moral connotation of the word justice. Turns out the Greek word dikaiosune, translated justice, also means righteousness.
We discussed how the word may have morphed over time and agreed a word study on the Hebrew concept of justice would reveal further surprises.
Thus began my search into the biblical meaning of justice.