There can be no peace without justice.



paris5At the beginning of Boondock Saints, two young men are praying in church.  During the service they walk the middle aisle to kiss the feet of the crucified Jesus’ statue.  The Catholic priest tells the story of Kitty Genovese who, in 1964, was stabbed to death as neighbors stood by doing nothing as she called for help. As the two Irishmen leave the auditorium, the Catholic priest is heard to say, “There is another kind of evil we should fear most and that is the indifference of good men.”  As they exit the building one says to the other, “I do believe the monsignor gets it.”

ParisHow should we think about the terrorist attack in Paris? Peace is what we desire but peace does not come out of mid-air. There is no justice without a standard, that is, righteousness.  Justice then forms the basis for peace and finally peace establishes hope.

We look for justice in life, knowing as Christians that ethics will be judged in the afterlife.  While we’re concerned for what happens “now,” we rest in the fact that ultimate justice will not take place until “then” (Psalm 73).


paris4But for now, Proverbs 28 and 29 give instruction on ruling with justice and what happens when unjust authorities thrive.  

  • Proverbs 28:3 “A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.”

  • Proverbs 28:12 “When the righteous triumph, there is great elation; but when the wicked rise to power, men go into hiding.”

  • Proverbs 28:28 “When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.”

  • Proverbs 29:4 “By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down.”

  • Proverbs 29:7 “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”

  • Proverbs 29:12 “If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked.”

  • Proverbs 29:14 “If a king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will always be secure.”

  • Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.”

  • Proverbs 29:26 “Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the Lord That man gets justice.”

paris3So we stand with France’s president Francois Hollande who said this week France would “strike back without mercy.” 

“France is at war. But we’re not engaged in a war of civilizations, because these assassins do not represent any. We are in a war against jihadist terrorism which is threatening the whole world.”

I would personally love to live in a world of peace “now” but I know I will need to wait until “then” for true peace. Until “then” there must be justice “now.” No desire for peace, no peaceable spirit, no peace marches, no peace signs will stop evil men.

Evil men will only be stopped when good men do something.

Dr. Mark Eckel. Much of the text above appears in what I wrote in 2006 for the teen curriculum “Rewired” in collaboration with Chuck Colson and Wilberforce Institute (Lesson #7 “Payback”).


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  1. I agreed with everything UNTIL the “so we stand with France…” paragraph. Actually, it is hard to figure how you went from the proverbs verses to France striking back without mercy. Maybe I missed something, but in my opinion, it is too simplistic and naive to accept France bombarding Syrian territory as a solution for justice. The fact of France executing aerial military actions on places with civilian population only proves they are not any better than the terrorists that attacked them in the first place. Everybody knows that ISIS has taken control on some Syrian cities but not everybody got to run away… there are still civilian people there whose only blame is staying in the hot zone.

    Moreover, I still think that any nation who takes justice in their own hands without the international consent (UN) should be sanctioned. If this is so on the individual level (denouncing a criminal to the authorities instead of vigilante actions) why not on a international level?

  2. This is a helpful reminder that peace, like war, is measurable in its justification, and people too often think of it as something that defines itself without any context. Peace, like war, is defined within a spectrum of justification. Like we have “just war theory” that attempts to quantify and qualify violence so that it is calibrated away from an evil and selfish application in favor of a good and selfless application, we need to have a “just peace theory” that defines true peace from false peace.

    Well done.

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