I grew up watching Gunsmoke, which was a Western set in Dodge City, Kansas, in the 1890s. The “good guys” and the “bad guys” were clearly delineated, and every week justice was meted out by Marshall Matt Dillon and his deputies. As a boy, certainly to some degree because of this show, I grew up with a strong sense of justice–and frankly, a strong desire for it as well.
In my early teens, I spent a good portion of my summers detasseling corn in Iowa; many others and I would gather at the town square/park in Pella, Iowa, and wait for the bus to pick us up and take us out to the fields. Two guys that I got to know were Don and Jerry, who were brothers. Jerry stuttered and got made fun of because of it, especially by a bully who was much bigger than he was. Jerry’s brother Don would always defend him, basically telling him to knock it off. One day, things reached a boiling point, and Don challenged the bully to a fight after work at the town square. Don was strong; however, he was no match for the bully, who was bigger and clearly getting the best of the fight. Like Superman coming to the rescue, our foreman, Steve, saw what was happening and quickly stepped in; he grabbed the bully by the collar and literally shook him from head to toe while saying things like, “Why don’t you pick on somebody your own size!” And then, to top it off, Steve gave one last shake and said to the bully, “You’re fired, and I’d better not see you here again!” Some in the crowd cheered; I did, too, but not loudly because I didn’t want to become the bully’s next target. This incident also instilled in me a strong sense of justice.
I suppose if such an incident happened now, the bully would sue Steve, but thankfully, things were simpler back then. As I read about various events in the news, I do so to a significant degree through the lens of justice. Here are a few stories, some of them ongoing, that have caught my attention.
- Jose Alba, a New York City bodega employee, is attacked by Austin Simon because his girlfriend’s EBT card was rejected. Alba manages to grab a knife and kill Simon, whose girlfriend then attacks Alba with a knife as well. Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg does not charge the girlfriend with anything, but he charges Alba with second-degree murder; Alba is sent to the notorious Rikers Island jail. Eighteen days after Simon’s death, the murder charge against Alba is dropped after a huge public outcry; it seemed like an obvious case of self-defense to everyone except the DA.
- Unspeakable things continue to happen to women and children at our open southern border; Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas continues to claim that the border is secure even as Border Patrol agents have continued to deal with more than 200,000 migrant encounters a month since March. In connection with this, you may have seen video of the “whipgate” incident last fall, in which a Border Patrol agent supposedly whipped a migrant; an investigation revealed, however, that the supposed “whip” was a rein and that it did not hit the migrant, who had fallen backward into the river. In spite of this, the Biden administration is still threatening action against the agent.
- Two turnstile jumpers in New York City are told to leave the subway station by police officers. A verbal argument ensues, and then the “jumpers” attack the officers; the male jumper is the one most clearly seen in the video. The jumpers are arrested but are quickly freed under New York’s bail reform law; the male jumper had previously been arrested two other times but also been released.
- Riley Gaines, University of Kentucky swimmer, has had the courage to speak out against the NCAA, which has allowed Lia Thomas, a trans woman, to compete as a woman. Thomas has “broken records” and eventually tied with Gaines for a national title. Thomas has also been nominated for a “woman of the year” award. Gaines has also spoken out against Thomas’s being allowed to use the women’s locker room: “That’s not something we were forewarned about, which I don’t think is right in any means, changing in a locker room with someone who has different parts.”
Thankfully, in the case of Jose Alba, justice was served, even though it was delayed for a couple weeks. It appeared that in the infamous “whipgate” case, justice had been served, but not so, or at best, only partially. And of course there has been no justice for the ravaged women and children at the border. In the five-day-old case of the turnstile jumpers, a foolish bail reform law has made crime more attractive; if you are so inclined, why not commit the crime, since you’ll be released anyway? Finally, one would hope that sports would be a venue where justice could be done, and for the most part, it still is. However, the NCAA doesn’t have enough courage to prohibit biological men from competing as women if that is how they identify, including sharing a locker room with them; notice the part of the quote above where Gaines refers to Thomas’s “different parts.” That tells you all you need to know about Thomas’s true gender.
In Habakkuk 1:3-4, the prophet cries out to the Lord: “Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” The context is the wicked people in Israel; the Lord’s answer to Habakkuk is that the wicked Israelites will be punished by the Babylonians. Then Habakkuk cries out to the Lord again, this time asking about the Babylonians and their wickedness; the Lord assures him that the wicked Babylonians will be punished as well.
There are various Psalms, as well, where the Psalmist calls on the Lord to punish the wicked. Psalm 73 is an example; verse 3 says, “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” However, later in the Psalm, the Psalmist enters the sanctuary of God and realizes what will eventually happen to the wicked in verses 18-19: “Surely, you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!”
How are we to apply these Scriptures to our own lives? Should we, for example, pray against those who are evil? Or should we pray for them? I have sometimes done both, praying that a person will turn from their evil and to faith in Christ, but that in the meantime they will have no peace in their heart; in other words, the lack of inner peace may very well be what turns them to the Lord. Sometimes I have just prayed that they will turn from evil, knowing that if they don’t, the Lord will deal with them. Ultimately, I know that the Lord’s justice will prevail in eternity, regardless of what may happen in this life; those who have trusted and obeyed the Lord will spend eternity with Him in heaven, while those who have not will be apart from Him forever in hell. My prayer for anyone reading this who does not yet know Jesus as your Savior and Lord, is that you will turn to Him in saving faith today.