Equality vs Equity
- Definition of equality: the quality or state of being treated equal (sameness of treatment). This does NOT mean everyone should get the same amount but it does mean that all people should be treated fairly and without prejudice.
- Definition of equity: justice according to natural law or freedom from bias (proportional fairness). This does NOT mean we all end up at the same place but it does mean that people should be treated by the same “rules and regulations”.
Equal rights have been a major theme in Western culture for the last century. Because this idea of human equality is so deeply ingrained in modern societal thinking, we often assume that the Bible fully supports it as well.
God established the equal value of all human beings with these words: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). By creating human beings in His own image, God set our value based upon our likeness to Him.
Every human being has a naturally occurring equality with every other human being because no one has been created more or less like God than any other. When God sent His only-begotten Son into the world to take the punishment for our sin (John 3:16–18), He forever confirmed our value (2 Corinthians 5:21). For this reason alone, every human being has infinite and equal value in the sight of God.
And even though beggars were commonplace in Jesus’ day, He did not lead a political crusade to redistribute the wealth. So God is fully aware of the imbalances in human experience; yet the Bible rarely addresses these inequalities as subjects of divine concern, but as opportunities for His people to develop empathy and compassion.
Inequalities in abilities or resources are occasions for us to practice loving our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18; Romans 13:9; Mark 12:31). God often uses those very inequalities to teach and develop the character of Christ in us and in those we serve (John 9:1–3; Philippians 4:17; Luke 6:38).
In the Acts 2 church, the people were giving to each other out of their own good will to those who had a need, and they were giving freely, without regulation of how much they were to give. In other words, they shared what they had out of a shared love for one another and a common goal—living for Christ and glorifying God.
In a communist society, people give because a system of government forces them to give. They don’t have a choice in the matter as to how much they give or to whom they give. This, therefore, does not reflect on who they are; it says nothing about their identity or character. Under communism, the cheerful, generous giver and the stingy man are both required to give exactly the same amount – namely, everything they earn.
Unlike what we see in failed experiments in socialism, the Bible honors work and teaches that individuals are responsible to support themselves: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The redistribution of wealth foundational to socialism destroys accountability and the biblical work ethic. Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25:14–30 clearly teaches our responsibility to serve God with our (private) resources.
In short, the Bible promotes freedom and personal responsibility, and neither of those concepts lasts long under socialism. Those that try to redefine what equality and equity mean do so at their own peril.
At least, when opening up a print dictionary, regardless of how thick it is, you’ll have equal access to the pages and the definitions will be written in a manner that is equitable.