6 reasons the Biblical Law is fair.

Reason 1 — It is proportional.

The penalty for theft was to pay back twice what was stolen. You steal a £1 loaf of bread, you are fined £2. That’s £1 to pay back the loaf and you are out of by £1 which is the cost of hat you stole. But if a bank employee takes £1 million that’s £2 million to pay back, and £1 million out of pocket. That’s fairness for you. Exodus 22:7

With livestock (the Law was written to an agricultural community) it is different. If you steal a cow or sheep and when you are caught then it is the same, two cattle or two sheep as the fine. If the animals were killed by you after you stole them, then you have to pay back either 5 had of cattle or 4 sheep. The penalty has increased because the loss has increased, because the loss is greater: A farmer cannot breed from a dead cow. In principle, the punishment never exceeds the crime.

Reason 2 — It sets limits

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, if taken as a compulsory sentence end up with everyone blind and eating soup. But it is the same principle as with property theft, the law restricts the punishment to no more than that of the crime. It restricts it further, if someone kills several people you cannot execute the same number of his family, only the perpetrator can be sentenced.

Reason 3 — It protects the innocent.

There is protection for the innocent, even if they are the criminal’s family members. Moving on from the above if someone kills your son you cannot kill their son to get back. It is never about vengeance. God says that vengeance belongs to him, If you think that God is vengeful, it is time to think again.

You cannot force another person to pay a fine. There is nothing to stop you paying someone else’s fine, or writing people’s debt off. Jesus used the cancellation of debts in his parables. But it finds its ultimate expression not on what Jesus said, but on what he did. Taking on the sin of the world and paying its price on the cross is a demonstration that not only adheres to the justice of Gods law, but is also the greatest demonstration of God’s love.

Reason 4 — It is about relationships

I just mentioned the justice of God. The idea of justice and peace are tied up together in the Jewish word shalom. Justice in everyday life and righteousness in religion and spirituality are all covered by the meaning of shalom. God cares about justice in every area of our lives, the cross was not just about reconciliation in our relationship with God, although that aspect must never be diminished, but also shows a way to be reconciled with each other.

American theologian Jim Wallis puts it like this:

So justice, most simply, means putting things right again — fixing, repairing, and restoring broken relationships. And doing justice restores our relationship with God and makes our worship of God authentic.

That should be our justice lens for viewing any society — looking at what’s wrong and figuring out how to make it right. Justice is as basic as that. And acting for justice shows that we love and worship the God of the Bible, who is a God of justice.

See the bit at the bottom for the whole blog I plagiarised for this part.

Reason 5 — It includes everybody

That’s right, everybody. Foreigners are not excluded from God’s justice. Foreigners visiting and living in the land are required to obey the same rules. More importantly they are given the same protection. There must be no xenophobia or racism. The New Testament is even stronger: St Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Reason 6 — There is a bias to the poor

This is where I might be accused of being hypocritical. If you are trying to be fair then you should have no bias. How can God be biased to the poor.

The Christian Socialists who like the heading are not going to like the next bit: It is not about Socialism. You will find no mention of the workers owning the means of production or of the nationalisation of companies in the bible, and not just because it in anachronistic.  Ownership is important in the Bible. Every 49 0r 50 years there was to be a year of Jubilee, people too poor to survive that they sold themselves into slavery were set free, land that had been sold was to be returned to the original families. That way you would not be penalised for your great-grandfathers poor management skills. The ownership of family land by the family was important in these Bronze Age times. State ownership? No thanks.

The land was divided up and the families owned it. But there were conditions, firstly gleaning was allowed. This is gleaning — Anyone could reap a bit of wheat or whatever from the corners of the fields. The field owners were not allowed to reap there. This protected the poor or travellers who could not get home from starvation.

The rich can do what they like and have access to power. The poor do not have access to power. Standing up for the poor, the disenfranchised, the asylum seeker, the migrant worker levels the playing field. Not having a bias accepts the status quo. If you want to be fair to all and the status quo is unfair, then you have to have a bias to those with a less than equal share. It isn’t socialism, but it is social.


The link to Jim Wallis

How the Bible Understands Justice


2 thoughts on “6 reasons the Biblical Law is fair.

  1. Socialism isn’t the same thing as communism. According to Wikipedia, I’m an ‘ethical socialist’ since I feel that, while its fine that some people are wealthier than others, the greater an individual’s wealth, the greater their moral responsibility to ensure that no-one really suffers in poverty. So the person with a mansion has a greater responsibility to ensure that no-one is homeless than the person living in a 2-bed terraced ex-miner’s house, and so on. On that basis I am socialist, but I wouldn’t dream of saying the sort of stuff you say ‘socialists’ would be disappointed to find lacking here. I find my socialism and the Bible to be pretty well aligned.

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