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Justice Woman vs. A World of Inequality

On March 24, 2006

So Peter Parker has his spidey-sense. Trust me—even the Webslinger is envious of my superpower. I have a finely-calibrated justice meter.

My mom will confirm that I was born with this ability. As a kid, I wanted to be a judge so I could right all the wrongs of the world, from teenage drug abuse to nepotism in the workplace to sandwiches cut into unequal “halves.” Once I realized that going to law school wouldn’t necessarily keep my brother from getting a bigger helping of lasagna, I decided to open up my career options. Got a theology degree instead. (Which didn’t solve the portion problem either, but after gaining the freshman fifteen, I didn’t care so much about that anymore. And theology turned out to be pretty useful in learning how to use my superpower for good.)

So the only gavel I’ve ever had is the one that reverberates in my brain every time I come across an injustice in my daily experience. It happens so often that if I was the star of a Marvel comic, there would always be a ((BONG!!)) scrawled above my head.

But lack of legal clout doesn’t mean I am powerless to work for justice and equality and influence those around me to do the same. When I think about it, I get to engage my superpower quite often, in fact.

When someone close to me was struggling with infertility and how that impacted her self-identity, I was able to remind her that God calls women to multiple forms of kingdom service and to encourage her to seek direction from him instead of those who— without warrant—view her situation as an act of divine judgment.

When the organizer of a conservative conference told me he didn’t invite any women speakers because he doesn’t know of any qualified ones, I swallowed my outrage and recommended several articulate women who were experts on the conference theme.

When I became the editor of a seminary alumni publication that had previously featured mostly male graduates, I sought out several outstanding women to write articles about their current ministries.

When the male elders at my church invited about 20 women to discuss how our women’s ministry might be improved, I listened respectfully to their comments and responded honestly about how they might better avoid stereotyping the needs and gifts of women in our congregation.

When a co-worker made a comment about men being from Mars and women being from Venus, I laughed good-naturedly at his joke and then told him I didn’t believe that nonsense, and when he saw that I was serious I took the brief opportunity to explain my convictions about personhood.

The gavel in my head goes off so often I’m surprised I’m not bedridden with severe migraines. We all know that there are a lot of injustices out there. And the truth is that my alter ego is not quite so mild-mannered as those of my famous colleagues. Superpowers are not necessarily infallible; I admit that sometimes mine goes off without serious provocation. I’m still learning to control it, like the young mutants training with Professor X.

But Peter Parker responds quickly and accurately to each spine tingle, and I, too, am trying to use my justice meter for good. Every time it goes off (and after I’ve checked to make sure that it wasn’t an overreaction), I have the opportunity to respond in some way other than just outrage—with a word of gentle rebuke, a hand to uplift the oppressed, a check to support a group action. Sometimes the only appropriate response is a silent prayer that God will change the perpetrator’s heart to truly love and respect his or her fellow human beings as Christ calls us to do.

And it’s not just negative situations that spur me to action. When I became aware of the excellent work of CBE and other international justice organizations, for example, I pledged to support them financially and prayerfully and spread the word of their efforts to my friends. When someone asks me to recommend a book (OK, even sometimes when they don’t!), I give him or her a list of writers with worldviews of biblical equality.

So I do what I can, but I know I’m just one crime-fighter responsible for protecting a relatively small district. There are lots of heroes in the League of Justice fighting evils of varying degrees. At the end of the day, I have to trust that the God who installed and calibrates my justice meter will see his will accomplished in the hearts of his people—starting with me.

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