The Theology and Politics of Equality

Politically and theologically “equality” may be the most powerful, and also the most dangerous word in our modern language.

The concept of equality in the Bible is used in the context of judgment before the law of God.  The law of God defines right and wrong, not the Supreme Court or some professor at a secular university.  All men are equal before the law of God.  Judgment must show no favoritism: “You must not pervert justice; you must not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the rich; you are to judge your neighbor fairly” (Lev. 19:15). 

 

The word “equality” has become one of those buzz-words that everyone uses but nobody defines.  It is used in both the church and in politics.  Politically and theologically it may be the most powerful, and also the most dangerous word in our modern language.

“Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity” was the cry of the French Revolution.  History demonstrates that this mantra was a fable because in the end some people were more equal than others.  The result was not equality, but on the contrary, the rise of a tyrant in Napoleon.  Marxism promised to deliver equality to the downtrodden classes, but it failed. It only delivered death to millions of gullible victims.

Most Americans recognize the mention of equality in the Declaration of Independence where it says that “all men are created equal.”  In this context our forefathers believed in a Creator who endowed us with the equality of opportunity.  Traditionally, we have believed that all men have equal rights to seek life, liberty, and happiness.  Here the word, no doubt in the minds of the writers, reflected a bad experience with the impenetrable social hierarchy of England.  However, most sadly, it also manifested the hypocrisy of our founders because of their toleration of black slavery in the colonies.

The equality of opportunity is actually a myth because such things as God-given gifts, position, and wealth continue to make men unequal.  For example, I could never play basketball in college.  I lacked the talent.  I did not have that opportunity.  Good homes give some children an advantage in life.  People of material means send their children to the best schools. Not all men are created with equal opportunity. It is not as easy to break out of the ghetto as it is to climb out of the middle class.

The concept of the diversity of gifts (which makes us all unequal) is belittled in our society, unless of course, someone needs a surgeon or a dentist.  In children’s sports, everyone now gets a trophy.  In some schools they no longer recognize a valedictorian on graduation day.

Another popular use of the word equality is now associated with equality of outcome.  We are taught to think that the civil government has the responsibility to guarantee the equality of outcome for all Americans.  This is especially popular in the socialist wing of the Democratic Party.

The concept of equal outcome was also the spring-board of outcome-based education (OBE). Similarly, it is also common today to hear of the need for the equality of income. Again, the radical socialists are pushing for the equality of income through the redistribution of wealth.  Americans will be taxed and taxed until there is equality in all things. This has become the purpose of civil government.

A revolution is occurring in our nation based on an unbiblical definition of equality, yet few Christian leaders give any thought to such issues.  Christians therefore in general are in the dark, and therefore are easily captured by unbiblical uses of the term.  They are easy prey.

In the Bible, the concept of equality is used in the context of two separate spheres.  First, it is used in the sense that the sincere offer of the gospel was to be preached to all equally.  The inequality in the Old Covenant was voided, and God now makes no distinctions between “Jew nor Greek, slave nor free man, male nor female” (Gal. 3:28).  In Christ, we are all equal and all of us have equal access to the throne of grace regardless of race, position in society, or gender.

Secondly, the concept of equality in the Bible is used in the context of judgment before the law of God.  The law of God defines right and wrong, not the Supreme Court or some professor at a secular university.  All men are equal before the law of God.  Judgment must show no favoritism: “You must not pervert justice; you must not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the rich; you are to judge your neighbor fairly” (Lev. 19:15).  Lady Justice with the blindfold over her eyes does symbolize biblical justice.

Don’t be fooled.  A nation that esteems equality also kills babies in the womb. There is something wrong with the American notion of equality.  A nation that esteems equality will not tolerate us who consider homosexuality as sinful.  We no longer have equal rights to believe the things we do.  There is something wrong with the American notion of equality.  Remember that our enemies are not interested in toleration, but in domination.

Christians need to start analyzing modern political and theological theory according to the Bible.  If we do not, then we will be swept into a tidal wave of godless morality. We will be misled and betrayed.  Our children will pay a heavy price for our negligence and ignorance.  Only the gospel can bring men out of their sin to stand equal before God, and at the same time esteem our God-given diversity.

Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tennessee.