Equality, Differences and Levelling
People are different. Males and females are different. If you don’t believe that then you need someone to take you on one side so that they can talk to you about the ‘birds and the bees’. I have recently been engaged in writing about male and female relationships from a male point of view and one of the cornerstones of this discussion was that males and females are different. In the process of discussing this writing with friends and acquaintances I was quickly made aware by many females that men and women are equal. Right there, I see a problem right away. These females, (and many feminists) consider that when someone talks about male/female differences, then they are talking about inequality. They assume that in talking about male / female differences the person is promoting the idea that males are superior and that females are inferior. But that is a mistake – it is confusion on their part. They confuse, conflate and merge the terms ‘difference’ and ‘inequality’ as if they mean the same thing. As soon as I suggest that males and females are different, such feminists become indignant and start to insist on feminine equality, or more likely, they actually start to put males down – to criticize, disparage and demean males as being inferior. (So much for equality!)
There are of course lots of differences in society. There are differences between the wealthy and the poor. There are differences between employers and employees; between slave owners and their slaves and between monarchs and their subjects. There are differences between those who live in free, democratic societies of one sort or another and those who live somewhat enslaved in closed, dictatorial, totalitarian regimes. There are differences between Jews and non-Jews or Gentiles – some of which will emerge in the various posts placed here. But none of these differences implies an inherent inequality in terms of human nature, or in terms of an in individual’s standing before God. When it comes to roles and responsibilities, if a female does the same job as a male, then she is surely entitled to the same pay and conditions. Despite the differences between males and females, both men and women should have the same employment rights, benefits and rewards. They should have the same human rights. I know that this is not simple and straightforward and although much of this involves legal and political themes, this is not essentially a political site. So I am not going to be distracted by such detailed discussions or by party politics. I am simply concerned to point out that ‘equality’ does not mean ‘sameness’ or ‘lack of difference’ and that in the same way, ‘difference’ does not mean ‘inequality’.
There is no difference – levelling
‘Ah but!’ I hear you say, ‘Concerning the gospel there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free!’ And that of course is quite correct. Entrance into the Kingdom of God is not guaranteed by wealth, status, race or gender. The rich do possess advantages and privileges that give them a ‘fast track’ into the Kingdom. Those people who have power and influence do not have an automatic right or ‘free pass’ into God’s Kingdom. When it comes to the gospel everyone is reduced to equal status. In the present gospel age no one has an advantage when it comes to the good news regarding the Kingdom of God – in this respect there is indeed no difference. Males do not have advantages over females. The wealthy do not have an advantage over the poor. There are differences, of course there are – but ultimately no one has an advantage. What does the Apostle Paul say about the Jews? At first, the Jews do indeed seem to have an advantage: ‘What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God’ (Romans 3 v 1). But there is a problem – there is a leveller – and that leveller is the power of sin – the inherent principle within our physical bodies, the ‘drives’ and impulses within our very physical constitution – the inclination within us towards transgression or disobedience against God: ‘What shall we conclude then? Do we (Jews) have any advantage? Not at all! Because we have already made the accusation that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin’ (Romans 3 v 9). It is the power of sin that is the great leveller, it is the power of sin that, despite all the differences of gender, situation, ability, circumstance and so on between us, renders us all equal before God when it comes to the gospel and entrance into the Kingdom.
The Kingdom of God will become more established on earth, (it has been secured and inaugurated but it is not yet fully completed), and as we move on to different stages of the Kingdom, there will be more levelling that will take place. Ungodly rulers, monarchs and leaders well be brought low. Powerful, influential people will have their power and influence reduced. Rich and powerful magnates will have the ‘economic rug’ pulled from under their feet as God establishes a different kind of power and rule on earth in a Kingdom that will function on quite different principles from the worldly ones that are in effect at this present time.
Jews and Gentiles are different
Equality between Jews and Gentiles, (Greeks or non-Jews), in terms of the gospel and entrance to membership of the Kingdom does not mean that Jews and Gentiles are therefore the same. They are different. They are each coming to God from different places. I will point out some of these differences in posts to come, but the purpose of this post is to point out that although there is no difference between Jew and Gentile in terms of the offer of the gospel, there are nevertheless very real differences between Jews and Gentiles at this present time. These differences do not mean that Jews are ‘superior’ to Gentiles, or that Gentiles are ‘superior’ to Jews because the power of sin levels out these two groups to a position of equality in terms of the gospel. Nevertheless, whether you are a Gentile Christian or a Hebrew Christian, these differences are important and they have an effect or they ‘work out’ into your daily Christian life. The main differences between Jews and Gentiles are in terms of the Covenants that God has entered into. One of the main Covenants that we are all familiar with is the Covenant of Law – the Sinaitic Covenant – where we find the Law of God and particularly the Ten Commandments. There are important differences with regard to Jews and Gentiles with regard to this (and related) Covenants that have real, practical implications in daily Christian living. I will look at some these in future posts. It is enough to say now that if you are a Gentile Christian, then these differences have a profound affect on your approach to and understanding of God’s Law.