February 3, 2020
Several years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling which preserved the rights of a “religious organization” (Christian schools included) to select those who are employed in their organization based on their particular religious beliefs. According to Chief Justice Roberts, the First Amendment gives “special solicitude to the rights of religious organizations.” He rejected as “remarkable” the government’s argument “that the religion clauses have nothing to say about a religious organization’s freedom to select its own ministers.” I believe that one of the blessings of our Christian school is that we do have the freedom to select those who teach and minister to our students and assure our parents that they will reinforce the Christian principles so important to their family. Although this Court decision was a preservation of a right that we consider so fundamental to how religious organizations operate, there are still many battles ahead that will need to be fought to preserve this right.
The “enlightened” society that we live in continues to challenge the traditional function of our school in many ways. For instance, the rules and policies that we have here at FCS assume that everyone involved in the school process has a fundamental understanding of the order of authority and respect for those who hold positions of authority. We are now experiencing, almost on a daily basis, a change in the view of justice, rights, and submission to authority. This change has been shaped by a culture in which individual rights trump chain of command. As a result, our school, and every organization in which there are interpersonal relationships, has had to carefully analyze the process by which discipline, and disputes, are resolved. In our society today, any confrontation between an authority figure or institution, and an individual, requires a close assessment and accounting, not only of the rule breaker or the violator, but also of the authority itself, and the agent who administers that authority. In 21st Century society, which seeks tolerance for all belief systems, all of this is theoretically done in the spirit of finding justice, but it raises the question, how do we find true justice in such a diverse culture? More specifically in our school, can “traditional” discipline administrated by teachers and administrators, supported by the parents trust in the school, remain an accepted process within our school, or any other school for that matter?
God’s standard for justice certainly predates our country’s constitutional law which emphasizes liberty and justice. I believe America’s laws were originally configured based on God’s standard that everyone be treated fairly and with dignity, because the God of the Bible and our founding fathers, is just. As believers we would agree that the roots of justice are found in God’s character and in His commands. God requires justice. Throughout the Bible, God is portrayed as the perfect judge. Deuteronomy 32:3-4, “I will proclaim the name of the Lord, Oh praise the greatness of our God. He is the rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just, a faithful God who is faithful and upright, an just is He.” In Micah 6:8 God tells his people what he requires of them, “…to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” In other words, God requires His people to act with the same kind of fairness which God acts with. Our society and culture continue to redefine justice and institute law that will allow every person to independently determine their own definition of what justice is for them. Our responsibility as believers, and as a Christian school, is to model Biblical justice which is part of the character of God.
Unfortunately, many Christians today are portrayed as the opposite of God’s character as it pertains to justice. A true test of how we really want justice is how we deal with people who are weak, poor and undesirable. In our society these are the people who lack influence and who have been “disenfranchised.” In the New Testament, James stated that true religion was found in how we deal with this type of person. Our challenge every day, right here on this campus is to behave justly. To behave justly is to behave in a godly way. We must treat everyone with respect, we must seek to be fair in everything we do, and we must always, in the name of Jesus, champion the needs of those who don’t speak out for themselves or who can’t for some reason. The truth is, that our society may continue to change, and the definitions may continue to reflect our society, but God’s people must remain true to our Biblical example, because it reflects the true author of justice, the God of the Bible. Someone once said, “All that is necessary for evil and injustice to triumph is for good people to do and say nothing.” Thank God for Christian educators, who are teaching and modeling true justice in a world which cannot seem to find justice anywhere. May God preserve our right to teach and proclaim the truths of His Word in this changing society in which we live, and may we embrace God’s Word as the true basis of “justice for all.”