Oppression and True Justice

Finding justice is a valid concern when dealing with bullying and its harmful effects. With many situational variables and differing ideas on justice, sometimes it seems that only more questions are raised. Doesn’t the natural world teach us that might makes right and that survival is for the fittest? But if nature’s answer falls short, who will see that justice is served? Can we call it justice when the weak rise up and take matters into their own hands against a bully? Interestingly, the Bible discusses all of these related questions and gives us sound advice on bullies, bullying and justice.

Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother [i.e., fellow human being]” (Zechariah 7:10).

Not only is oppression of those who may be weaker or less fortunate an offense, it is an affront against God Himself: “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy” (Proverbs 14:31).

Who will take up the cause of the weak and other potential targets of bullying? “You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child [i.e., anyone who is defenseless]. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot . . .” (Exodus 22:22–24).

True justice means taking a stand to support the weak, help the less fortunate, and defend those who have no one else to defend them. Depending on the situation, support can be offered by an individual, a group or a recognized authority. However, this doesn’t mean that the Bible advocates victims taking matters into their own hands: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:19–21, English Standard Version).

A firm but caring hand is needed for both the victim and the bully. This is the type of justice the Bible advocates.