Equality is today perhaps the biggest and most visible god in the progressive pantheon. Invoking this god is an argument winner today, with few prepared to stand up and question it. Very beguiling and virtue-bestowing it is, too.
Politically-inclined C of E bishops rush to worship this god. The Christian, on the other hand, knows a real equality, at the most fundamental level, which is beyond the grasp of the atheist. This is to be found in the first chapter of the first book in the bible. “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them ..” As we meditate on this astonishing verse we stop to fuss about whether we are a bit poorer than the person to our left, or a bit superior to the person to our right – we are amazed at the undeserved privilege of being made a bit like God. The talented, beautiful celebrity and the disabled child are both in His image, so what’s the fuss about equality? With ultimate equality secured, we can move on to celebrate our God-given uniqueness and put to work our diverse talents. We do not have to, and should not, fret about our material standing, relative to others, in this world.
Unrealistic, destructive Equality v practical Christianity
The response of the Christian to the progressive worship of Equality should be to reject the idolatry and assert the irrelevance of equality in the context of God’s eternal kingdom. We also need to be wise to the epic destruction wrought on humanity when we obsess about equality.
The sheer practicality of Christian realism on material inequality is impossible to exaggerate. It is key to understanding why Christianity has been so remarkably successful in building harmonious societies. In contrast, the systems derived from Marxist materialism, the power-centred ideologies of Socialism, Fascism and Progressivism, encourage us to envy others and promise a humanly-designed utopia but end up delivering dystopia.
On the rare occasion that you can get an atheist, against his nature, to think deeply about our human creation you will find his faith is in evolution and “natural selection”. This latter force is the cruelest and most unequal force imaginable. The weak go to the wall and die and the strong inherit the earth. With this dark thought in the foundation of his worldview it is not surprising the atheist needs to summon up the god “Aequitas” to ease his conscience. And the result? Our uniqueness is denied, we obsess about materialism and status, and the excellent is pulled down to the level of the mundane or the profane as we have recently witnessed in our Government’s equality-driven redefinition of marriage.
For all the worship of Equality, Progressivist righteousness is less egalitarian than Christian, as God seeks those with a good heart, not a clever brain. Anyone can come to Christ in humility and gratitude. There may well be more African villagers in heaven than investment bankers and media executives.
Christianity enables us to live harmoniously in a world that is not equal and never will be. Marx saw religion as an obstacle to getting the workers to embrace their self-interest in overthrowing capitalism. [ box religion is the opiate of the people ] The Marxist quest for equality has been observed to fail in practice wherever it is tried, with the creation of new highly privileged bureaucratic elites, to say nothing of the eradication of freedom and normalisation of mass violence. Yet so many Christian clergy, despite being armed with a belief system that is at once more realistic, more human, and proven to succeed over centuries, fall for the Marxist interpretation.
Christians depart from the gospel in two important ways when they become allies of Progressivism. First, they adopt a materialist viewpoint, in clear departure from Jesus’ teaching to put God first and not to run after material things. Second, they accept the Progressivist goal of Equality, not understanding that Equality has been made so sacred that it is now a god. We live in a modern world that used, until recently, to view Christianity as a sentimental departure from rationality, when rationality was still seen as a virtue. The blind worship of material equality however, in defiance of rationality and experience, has so impressed some gullible Christians, desperate to be in step with the world, that they join Progressivists in making Equality their god before God.
Marx v Pareto or Equality v Reality
Writer and priest Gavin Ashendon has written an illuminating piece comparing Marx with another Nineteenth Century economist, Pareto. Equality-obsessed Marxism has been tried many times with catastrophic results and millions of deaths, yet its grip on the educated and elites grows ever stronger. By contrast, Pareto’s findings, sombre though they may seem to the egalitarian, are inescapable. His 80 20 rule highlights the truth that we have a minority of people to thank for progress. That is how the world is, and always will be. Instead of fighting it, let us be grateful for high-achievers and not hinder them as they make the world better for all of us through their innovations, entrepreneurialism and creativity.
Equality of Opportunity or Outcome
Aware of the destructiveness of Equality as a first principle, many commentators have sought to distinguish equality of opportunity as the desirable form of equality, as distinct from the unrealisable equality of outcome. There should be no legal or institutional restrictions of what people can achieve, the reasoning goes, but an authoritarian attempt to impose equal outcomes is destined to fail, while removing our freedom. This is a more reasonable, liberal and realistic approach to equality. The battle for truth and freedom then moves, however, to defending our inherited traditions, family loyalties and social structure from authoritarian egalitarians demanding to control us so that we all start the race, defined on their terms, with equal opportunities.
I recently had a plumber round to fix a radiator in my house. A young man, in his late twenties, with his own business, he told me how he had followed his father and his grandfather into the trade. Now, some on the Left would think it a shame he had left school to do a skilled manual job and how much better it would be if he had focused on academic achievement, gone to Oxford and graduated to become a teacher or librarian. At £90 per hour, however, he is probably earning twice as much as a 28 year old librarian. He is captain of his own ship as he gets out and about driving his van to his own customers, encountering and solving different challenges to which he brings his skills and experience, earning the gratitude of his customers and a good living for himself. His choice of calling was heavily influenced, but not dictated, by his family. That is a good thing. We are shaped by our upbringing and our culture and conservatives realise this is natural, healthy and inevitable. The chance of your following your parents’ profession is much higher than the statistical average. How often do we read that a young actor making a name for himself is actually the son of actors?
Family is the smallest unit of government in any society. It is the closest institution to us, it is the least institutional, the least remote, the most governed by love and it is the most under attack by those who worship Equality as god as it obstructs their ordering us according to their utopian principles.
If you extend the definition of something regarded as highly special and unique, by removing key requirements, you have weakened that category. You may argue there are good reasons why you need the redefinition, but you should be honest in recognizing and debating the trade-off. In same sex marriage, hailed as yet another great step forward in the cause of Progressivism, the blind worship of Equality over-ruled thoughtful consideration of the downside, the weakening of family. The lobbying of activists promoted the privileged minority of homosexuals (just 1.4% of the population – ONS) and not even all homosexuals, as many of them were wisely content with the law as it was and did not want to infringe aggressively on the key heterosexual institution of marriage. The interests of the much large number of children were ignored, in weakening an institution that is designed for their creation, protection and nurturing. Complementarity and procreation have always been seen as essential to marriage. So has monogamy: we promise to remain faithful to our spouse. Yet monogamy is very rare in male homosexual couples. One study, by homosexual researchers, following 156 male homosexual couples in the US found none of them remained monogamous over five years [ McWhirter, M.D. and Andre Mattison, PhD The Male Couple ] . Equal Marriage turns out to be very unequal and not marriage.
Equality – the unquestioned, all-conquering god – in whom no one actually believes!
Can equality really be our base principal of belief, or “god?” Do we actually follow equality in the decisions that really matter?
How many BBC presenters have put the equality worship that they preach into practice by begging their employer to put them on the national average minimum wage?
Does the proposal of a progressive man to his future wife go like this: “My dear, you are so equal to other women. You are so average. Will you marry me?” Or are we looking not for equality but for the excellent in our choice of spouse?
When we think about it, equality cannot occupy the god-seat that Progressivism grants it. Humans are wonderfully different and diverse. Equality-worship denies our humanity and hinders the expression of individual talent, to the detriment of us all.