We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine


Unfairness Doctrine

Would you believe it if I told you that a woman’s amputated hand and a muzzled ox are important clues to one of the most obscure chapters in the Bible? The text is found in Deuteronomy 25. At first glance it appears that there are six unrelated stories.

The first is a legal dispute where the guilty party is to be punished, but within protected limits, lest he be humiliated.

Next we have the protection of an ox while it is treading out the grain.

Then there is the humiliation of an unfair brother-in-law. By law, if a brother refused to marry his widowed sister-in-law, then he had to face public humiliation. She was to meet him before the elders of the city, take his shoe off, and spit in his face. This legal procedure was a protection for women and a strong communal pressure to influence men to fulfill their responsibilities at home.

Next, we encounter the humiliation of a woman who fights unfairly. As she sees her husband losing a fight with another man, she steps in and aids her husband unethically. Her penalty is a severed hand and public humiliation for life.

Then there is promised long life for honest business owners who use fair weights and measures.

In the last account, we have the harshest judgment–that of annihilation–which serves as a reminder that God will judge those who take advantage of the weak.

Although these six stories appear unrelated, they are all connected by a common theme. Fairness, especially toward those who are weak and unprotected, is important to God. As such, we need to place a premium on fairness in our businesses, relationships, judgments, and dealings toward the weak and unprotected. Unfairness, on the other hand (no pun intended), needs to be dealt with swiftly and firmly.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

Published in: on December 20, 2010 at 4:46 am  Leave a Comment  

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