Wednesday, July 20, 2011

One Standard

“For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the Lord. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you.” (Numbers 15:15-16)
In our egalitarian culture we are constantly hammered with the need for equality. Men and women must be equal in every sense possible, the distinctions between rich and poor must at all costs be erased, “equal opportunity” must be required of employers, and the list goes on.

But is this kind of “equality” desirable? More importantly, is it Biblical?

Here we must tread dangerous ground — dangerous because our culture is so blindly insistent on their version of “equality,” and we have been conditioned to think about these issues using their standard.

Right now I’m not going to address the specific implications of this subject — i.e. marriage, wealth, employment, etc. — but rather, will deal with the overarching Biblical principles, without which application is impossible.

Egalitarian Equality vs. Christian Equality
“You and the sojourner shall be alike before the Lord. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you.” (Num. 15:15a-16)
The egalitarian idea of quality is “sameness” and equality of outcome. Under this model, if women are to achieve true equality with men, they must be allowed and encouraged to do all the things men do. They must go to war, be able to vote, run for office, and pursue an independent income or they can never be truly equal!*

The important thing here is to recognize that sameness of outcome requires differences in the standards. When women are unable to perform at the same level as men (in the military, for instance), the standard must be adapted. In many cases, legal intervention is the agent used to ensure “equality.”

The Biblical concept of equality, however, emphasizes justice and equity. “You and the sojourner shall be alike before the Lord.” (Num. 15:15a) In the Biblical system, there is only one standard, dictated by God. Since men and women are created differently, the standard will affect them differently, resulting in (*gasp*) different outcomes.

When Biblical justice and equity reign, this is true equality.

In Closing
A just balance and scales are the Lord's;
all the weights in the bag are his work.
(Prov. 16:11)
Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord,
and false scales are not good.
(Prov. 20:23)
You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit. (Exodus 23:2-3, emphasis added)
You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit. (Ex. 23:6)
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are joint heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
*Remember, I’m dealing with the principle, not the applications. It may be legitimate for a woman to hold a job outside the home, but it should not be a “given” like our culture believes.

I owe the majority of these thoughts to Doug Wilson’s excellent sermon series on marriage, available from CanonPress.

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