Fairness - a Red Herring in the Church

What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
— Micah 6:8

It may be an argument in semantics, but I believe there is a difference in fairness and justice and too often we in the Church are content with fairness to the detriment of justice. 

What is the difference? Fairness is a subjective call. Take a look at some of the ways we use the word fairness in our lexicon:

"That is not fair"

"It was called fair"

"That sounds fair"

"fair enough"

Notice that all of these come from the point of view of the individual. Everyone feels their actions are fair and it is the other person(s) who is not fair. We know that fairness is partial and from our perspective so we have to put qualifiers to describe that we are talking not just personal fairness. This is why there are phrases like "fair and impartial" and "fair and balanced". On some level we all know that fairness is in the eye of the beholder.

The thing about fairness is that is looks and sounds like a good thing. So we set up systems built on the pursuit of what is fair. But because fairness is in the eye of the beholder, there will always be an argument on what is fair. That is to say, there will always be the argument that there are people who work harder than others and should then get more while those who are lazy are freeloading jerks. There will always be the childish conversation about what is fair, but these are just sophisticated arguments for us to each get what we want without real concern about others. As long as we get what we want, we will no longer pursue fairness.

Black Friday shopping is built on the idea of fairness. If you get in line first then you get the best deals. If you fight the people in line you can wrestle the item away from the others. That is fair.

Perhaps you are thinking, "No, that is not fair" or perhaps "Jason you are not being fair to the goodness of the ideal of fairness." If so, this actually proves my point. How one feels about what is fair is exactly why fairness is a red herring in the Church. It distracts us from seeking justice.

The Church is not built on seeking fairness. The Church is in pursuit of justice. But because justice is more difficult to obtain, we settle for seeking fairness.

Justice is impartial. Justice has no favorites. Justice sometimes requires a greater sacrifice for some and no sacrifice for others. Justice is something that is not comfortable for us rich folk and we are more comfortable with fairness.