How did we get here? How did social justice even become an issue? How is it possible that there are those who rage against the establishment of programs and policies that promote equality, fairness, respect, and shared freedom?
The answer has direct ties to an event that took place a long time ago.
Motivated by the devil’s words, “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4, NKJV), Adam and Eve transferred their allegiance from one supernatural power to another. They handed the keys of their kingdom to Satan and chose to live by his rules and be guided by his vision for society.
What was that vision? Look around you. That’s where society goes when walking in lockstep with the devil.
It’s interesting to note the polar-opposite emphasis that the two powers vying for the hearts and minds of earth’s first human inhabitants offered. God spoke about how their presence could benefit the earth and the creatures who roamed it. They were invited to make many more humans, to tend gardens, even to name the animals. Their focus was directed outward toward nature, the environment, and others.
Satan’s emphasis was very different. Countering what God had said, the devil redirected Eve’s thoughts to a new and exciting dynamic. “’You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Genesis 3:4-5, NIV).
“You will not die. Your eyes will be opened. You will be like God.” For the first time in earth’s short history, its human inhabitants were being invited to think inwardly instead of outwardly. They were being asked to place themselves and their needs above everything else. “What do I want? How will this make me feel? How will this benefit me?” became the new normal.
Their response opened the door to social injustice that continues to this day. The hoarding of resources, the protection of jobs, the separation of tribes, the caste system, racism, slavery, white supremacy can trace their roots back to that decision in the garden when Adam and Eve chose to think of themselves first and others second. Sin is all about inward thinking. It’s all about me against you. It’s all about selfishness.
We should not be surprised by where this selfishness has taken us as a society. We were warned.
The long laundry list of curses that the Creator lowered on the serpent, Adam, and Eve because of their choices perfectly reflects where we are today as a society. Read them in Genesis 3:14-19.
Curses aren’t judgments
We need to keep in mind that these curses aren’t judgments from God. They are simply conditions that inward thinking creates naturally. It’s what happens when God’s presence, power, and protection are rejected. Like an astronaut stepping out into space without a spacesuit, Adam and Eve—and we—must live life in an environment far removed from what God had in mind when He created this world. Inward thinking forms a deadly void around us.
The good news is that there’s hope, and God’s ideal for society can still be constructed, even in the atmosphere of sin. You and I can provide a place where people can find safety and comfort. We can think outwardly, embracing those whom inward thinking people reject. We can, with our voice and actions, reestablish social justice, offering those in need and those not like us equal opportunities for happiness and freedom.
The devil may have distorted and corrupted God’s original plan, but we can turn the tables on him by changing our allegiance and thinking outwardly in love.
Charles Mills is the author of more than 50 published books and over 300 articles. Mills began his career at Faith for Today and the Adventist Media Center in Newbury Park, California. For the past 35 years, he has been an independent media producer, writer, and radio/television host.