The latest decision handed down by the Supreme Court marks an historic victory for the LGBTQ community and the many who empathize with their cause. The multi-colored hues brandished across social media and the soft colors of rainbows on the White House make a bold declaration, "This is more than a victory for some. This is the advancement of justice for all."
The celebration that thundered across the nation quickly calls to mind an old proverb, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." (Proverbs 13:12) Those less comfortable with Biblical sentiments may equally revel in the maxim, "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
In this national fervor, there is a subtly provocative irony that has yet to be realized. Without question there would have been shouts of joy and the honoring of a just decision had the highest court ruled 5 to 4 the other way. Were such a ruling the case, would that have been just? It is at this point that fools utter, "It's a matter of perspective."
If justice is to be more than a matter of preference, it must also be more than a matter of perspective. Otherwise justice is merely an attribute of strength, hopelessly divorced from right and truth. Justice would merely be the dessert of victors and the privileged alone. Yet the cry for justice is more than a hunger for victory. It's a deep yearning for things as they should be. But the notion of should is a dangerous concept for those who think themselves liberal and free.
If there is a way that things should be, there is a law, an obligation that supersedes individuals. By necessity, it even supersedes societies. If justice is determined by individuals or even a society--justice is always and only what is or what was, never what should be.
- Slavery was just when society deemed it so.
- Slavery is not just because society deems it so.
- Same sex marriage was justly prohibited because society deemed it so.
- Same sex marriage is justly protected because society (at least 9 robed individuals) deems it so.
Conceding that justice is the product of a society would erupt upon the human brain a series of contradictions so absurd any meaningful thought on any meaningful matter would be a certain impossibility. From the same mouth, the same man would have to grant both that protected status for homosexuals and tossing them off towers in Iraq are just, for societies have deemed them so.
The astute keenly observe that this tack is inching ever too closely to some appeal to God. It is here that the naïve interject that justice is the product of reason or logic. Though it sounds pleasant and scholarly, this moronic riff is anything but. After all, logic or reason simply are laws for how to think, not what to think.
Either justice is an illusion foisted upon us as an accident of evolution, or justice is the way things should be. The only explanation for a should is a mind that is both good and desirous for human thriving. Something could only be just as it conforms to that mind, which we commonly refer to as God.
It is God who was the anchor of justice for the greats of human history. Our icon of justice, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote,
How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. (Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963)
This turns our national revelry from a joyous rainbow to a more dissonant light. Justice means more than squaring with the Constitution, it requires harmony with the law of God. To maintain our sense of justice necessitates submitting to life as it should be according to God. Yet, rejecting divine law constrains us to life with neither the reality of nor hope for justice.
Authentic celebration of justice comes with an inescapable submission to a just God. Unless justice is a cheap term and promoted insincerely, for this decision to be just it must conform to what God intends. So, was the Supreme Court decision a just victory or just a victory?