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21.01.2022

Number 10, New York, and Novak

‘One rule for them, another for us.’

So said the many placards waved by angry Australians, outraged that an unvaccinated tennis player was potentially being allowed into a country that has endured more lockdowns than most places on earth.

You’d hear the same accusation in Westminster, where revelations of lockdown parties have become a nightmare from which Boris Johnson can’t wake up. Those who govern seemingly refusing to follow the same laws as those who are governed.

And, most severe of all, you might also hear it outside the New York courthouse where Prince Andrew faces sexual assault charges. A powerful man with royal status allegedly abusing a 17-year-old woman before trying, and failing, to avoid trial.

The fury aroused by all three stories comes from the same underlying principle: no-one, no matter how rich, powerful, or talented, should be above the law. Instead, people in positions of influence should set an example for, even serve, the rest of us.

But where does this idea – this gut-level intuition about what’s fair and just – come from?

Well, first of all, it’s embedded in the Old Testament law. In a command that would seem ludicrous to other rulers of neighbouring nations at the time, God requires the Israelite king to follow the law, ‘and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites’ (Deuteronomy 17:20). Even the universal ruler, King Jesus, didn’t exploit his divine nature but rather chose to serve (Philippians 2:6–7).

We can hope that, at least in these cases, the powerful may be held to account. Whatever the outcomes of lawsuits and inquiries, we can celebrate where justice is done, where wrongful actions have consequences.

And what about the rest of us, on our frontlines? As well as pointing our angry neighbour to the biblical root of their rage, we can choose to use our power to serve others. Because as much as we lament selfish or wicked actions, we also praise examples of selfless sacrifice and integrity. Just think of the contrast between the party on 16 April and the Queen, choosing to sit alone at her husband’s funeral a day later.

As much as we want to lambast those who flaunt rules, and celebrate when justice floods a situation, perhaps this is also an opportunity to reflect on our daily choices. Following our King’s example, how might we serve with love and empathy on our frontlines this week?

Matt Jolley 
Editor, Connecting with Culture

Andrew Image – Flickr, Novak Image – Twitter/@DjokerNole

Comments

  1. Thanks Matt for this timely and provocative piece.

    To cut off some issues at the pass, and as I reply in the comments on LICC’s facebook page, note that the article nowhere presumes Boris’s, Andrew’s, and Novak’s guilt – ‘We can hope that, at least in these cases, the powerful may be held to account. Whatever the outcomes of lawsuits and inquiries, we can celebrate where justice is done, where wrongful actions have consequences.’

    What it *does* say is that the fury/outrage is over the *perceived* double-standard that has led to accusation, and if they’re found guilty, for which they’re rightly seen as hypocrites.

    The main point is that this *sense* of justice, and outcry against injustice, is novel in history, and emerges from a biblical worldview where the law (lex) equally applies to all and sits over any given ruler (rex), irrespective of power and privilege and position. This novelty principally is seen in the life of Christ, which – historically downstream of his countercultural leveraging of power to serve the least – is now often ignored, presuming equal rule of law for all is just ‘normal’.

    For more on this, see Tom Holland’s excellent book, ‘Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind’ particularly chapter XXI on how ‘WOKE’ emerges from this same sense of justice, however distorted this sense may have become in the modern world (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dominion-Making-Western-Tom-Holland-ebook/dp/B010RGSEC2/).

    By Dr Dave Benson, LICC Director of Culture and Discipleship  -  21 Jan 2022
  2. Valuable piece, Matt, thks, & added info pointing to ‘Dominion’ helpful too, Dave…

    By Julia Bicknell  -  28 Jan 2022

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