What Is Biblical Fairness? [Excerpts]
To oppose fairness is like opposing goodness itself, many Americans say. Money is made, contracts are negotiated and government legislation is approved, while using the “fairness argument”. Teachers complain that it’s not fair for some children to live in the poor side of town, while others live in the rich side of town. Others site equal pay for equal work as fair. The federal government has created new laws that require employers to pay a minimum wage due to their views of fairness. However, closer examination of man’s ideas of fairness reveals a deceptive, destructive attack on the biblical views of justice and mercy.
The word “fairness” is a good word with a right usage; but our society has distorted the true meaning of fairness and is effectively communicating false ideas through a trusted word. That is why I have put quotations around the word “fairness” throughout this article.
True fairness must be based on biblical justice; however, fairness legislation in America has quietly replaced laws of justice, and the tragic results of this change have been more astonishing than anyone could have imagined. For example, in five states children may now sue their parents for allowing them to be born. In another state, the Attorney General has determined that a doctor could be sued for bungling a murder.
The fairness doctrine has crept into books and counseling on marriage and divorce. An unprecedented flood of broken marriages and families has resulted as “every man does what is right (fair) in his own eyes” (Judges 21-25).
In Job 1: 13-2:10, we can see a classic illustration of the contrast between biblical justice and “fairness”. And in these verses, we learn that Job was a just man. However, his wife appeared to be more concerned about “fairness” than justice.
One day a messenger came to Job that all of his oxen and donkeys had been stolen and all of those attending them were killed. Soon afterwards, another runner told Job that a fire had burned up all of his 7,000 sheep and that all of the shepherds died also. Then a third messenger explained to Job how a band of robbers had stolen all of Job’s 3,000 camels and killed all those that were protecting them.
In addition to all of these calamities, another report came to Job saying that all seven of his sons and three daughters were killed when a tornado destroyed the house in which they were celebrating.
In the face of all of these misfortunes, Job was able to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1: 21). Job’s wife, however, was focused on “fairness”. Her reaction was, “Dost thou still retain thou integrity? Curse God and die.” (Job:2:9) Job responded to her from a position of God’s justice, “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive ‘good’ at the hand of God and shall we not receive evil? In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job:2:10).
In effect, Job understood that God did not owe him or his wife anything, but rather that he was already the recipient of God’s underserved mercy and grace.