We have recently been exposed to the shortcomings of Apple and their subcontractor’s treatment of labor. And I am a little surprised that I have seen no commentary from my “social justice” friends (who mostly use Apple products.) So I will let loose on this aspect of “justice” and our situation in the world. Now these revelations are nothing new nor is the situation by any means limited to Apple. It is pervasive. At nearly all levels of production. In this real world no one gets their “stuff” without someone being abused.
We are all inextricably enmeshed in the banal evil of the world, even if we do not kill, steal or commit adultery we remain fundamentally complicit in maintaining oppression, slavery, wholesale murder. By living in the world we unavoidably participate in the systemic sin of the world. If we as Christians do not find this intolerable it is because we have consumed the opiate of religion.
Some will object: If this is true, how then did Jesus ever avoid sinning in his lifetime? This is not an attempt to avoid addressing the sin of this world and what we might do about it, but really question about what is and is not sin. It cannot be "a sin" to unavoidably participate in the systemic sin of the world. Our specific actions have to be sinful, or not, but we cannot be systemically guilty of sin in this way without also indicting our Saviour.
To this I would ask: to what extent did Jesus bear our humanity, to what extent was he one of us, to what extent then are we now in him? To the extent that Jesus was a Jew, he was under sin (Rom. 3:9), to the extent that Jesus was part of everyone he was under sin (Gal. 3:22, yet, nevertheless he is God's redemption from that sin) and more pointedly, 2Cor. 5:21 "God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God." This is not in my mind a conclusive refutation of this concern, rather an observation of a greater complexity at work. The issue remains problematic on many levels. However I do not have this concern. I do not necessarily have a problem with Jesus implicitly participating in a form of sin common to all humanity yet fully obedient to the Father and furthermore declared righteous by the Father and in so doing opening redemption to all of humanity that too is found under sin. I do not depend on getting all of Jesus' "A's" imputed to my report card, rather I hold to the righteousness declared over me by the Father on the basis of Jesus' obedient faithfulness.
Others may question whether we really are inextricably enmeshed in the banal evil of the world.
This is the banality of evil that I mean. I am no Marxist but the capitalist reduction of humans to units of production and consumption is hardly righteous. The purchase of corn or soy products empowers economic and environmental oppression. The purchase of gasoline supports evil regimes and bio-fuels have more than doubled the price of food globally leading to starvation. The vast majority of cotton, chocolate, coffee comes on the back of slavery. The purchase of any commodity that has exploitation in one of it’s production regions supports that exploitation. Our taxes support not only the good of our governments but also the evil.
The situation is much more complex and interesting when you remember that making money, trading food, using gas, etc... all also help people prosper and are significant means with which to treat each other with kindness. We work to be good while unavoidably participating in evil.
Here is Part 2