N.T. Wright on Homosexuality and Justice, with an Extra Thought about Economics Thrown in for Free

I once saw a video clip of N.T. Wright discussing why he has never (to this point) written a book on homosexuality.  He said, basically, that such a project would be so demanding that he has not yet had the opportunity to put the necessary time and energy into it.  I hope the Lord grants him the time, energy, and motivation to write that book.  I have little doubt that it would become the definitive work on the subject. 

Read his recent article on the Episcopal Church’s defiance of the Anglican Communion on this issue in the Times Online.  Note this particular argument:

The appeal to justice as a way of cutting the ethical knot in favour of including active homosexuals in Christian ministry simply begs the question. Nobody has a right to be ordained: it is always a gift of sheer and unmerited grace. The appeal also seriously misrepresents the notion of justice itself, not just in the Christian tradition of Augustine, Aquinas and others, but in the wider philosophical discussion from Aristotle to John Rawls. Justice never means “treating everybody the same way”, but “treating people appropriately”, which involves making distinctions between different people and situations. Justice has never meant “the right to give active expression to any and every sexual desire”.

I contend that this argument has ramifications for more than just sexual “orientation” and behavior.  Take economics, for example.  The theory of economic justice that dominates the corridors and offices of the building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue right now is a theory that involves the redistribution of wealth for the purpose of equalizing, in some measure, economic outcomes.  I think this is the economic version of “treating everyone the same,” that is, seeking equity in the distribution of wealth.  Of course, this is really anything but treating everyone the same, because it actually involves taking money from one group and giving it to another. 

But true economic justice is not equality of outcomes for all.  It is, rather, appropriate outcomes for all.  If the equality of outcomes is assured, then our own behavior means nothing.  Achievement is ruled out from the start, as is failure.  Those who innovate, risk, and pour their energy into economic achievement are in no way distinguished from those who put forth no effort.  The redistribution of wealth is the economic equivalent of a criminal justice system that ignores behavior and claims that all people have an inalienable right to freedom.  In other words, it represents the abolishment of justice.


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