Just How Equal Are We in Our Society?

I live in a theoretically egalitarian society.

I say theoretically because, although the Declaration of Independence which we, in my country, purport to honor, accept, and abide by (along with the Constitution of the United States) avers that “all men are created equal,” there’s difficulty in the very wording at the beginning:

Evening Waltz inspirational original oil painting of young couple dancing on ocean beach by Steve Henderson licensed prints at Framed Canvas Art and amazon.com

Life is a dance, and we do it most gracefully when we honor all those who dance it with us. Evening Waltz, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed prints at Framed Canvas Art and Amazon.

Even Thomas Jefferson, in his forthright way, didn’t accept that women, or people of color, or non-land-owners fit into this “equal status.” Nowadays, of course, we hem and haw and say how things have changed and congratulate ourselves on being so much more advanced in a societally evolutionary state, but we, too, operate under our own set of peculiar standards and filter people through a sieve of our own making.

Every day, no matter how culturally sensitive we assure ourselves of being, we look at others and make judgments on how hard they work, by what kind of car they drive; or how intelligent they are, by the title of their job; or how worthy they are of existing at all, by whether or not they happen to reside inside a woman’s womb.

One way or another, we have a lamentable tendency of categorizing other human beings, assigning a mental value number to their lives, and justifying, all to frequently, a subtly different way of treating them based upon their income, education, appearance, or groups to which they belong.

“Well of course the President of the United States, or a Congressman, deserves our respect!” we are told.

Of course they do — and so does the woman who waitresses their table, or the man who mows their lawn, but for some reason we’re not expected to snap to attention when either one of those people walk into the room.

“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism,” James says in the book by his name, 2:1. He goes on to explain:

“Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there” or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

You bet we have, and we do it all the time. But such is the way of the world, and that is the point: in the world of men, the value of a man — or a woman, or a child, born or unborn — is significantly related to how much money he makes, how much power she holds, and how readily one recognizes his or her name, and for those who score high in these three areas, there is much glory and honor to be received from other men.

“But you are not to be like that,” Christ tells his disciples — us — in Luke 22:26. “Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.”

Our value, as humans, is not what we do, how much we make doing it, or whom we know, but rather, in who we are. And who we are, when we are Christians, are sons and daughters of God. There is no higher title than this.

God, unlike man, shows no favoritism, something Christians really need to get through our heads because there is a pervasive, and perverse, tendency to believe that we quite reasonably have what we have because we are so righteous, and thereby blessed by God. (Have you ever heard that tiresome dictum, “The U.S. has been blessed by God because it is a Christian nation?”)

While it is true that there are many promises blessing the man or woman who fears the Lord, and prosperity advocates point loudly to verses like Psalm 112:3 — “Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever,”

we would do well to remember that truth is three-dimensional, and as Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount addresses in Matthew 5, God’s ideas of blessings do not incontrovertibly include money. Jesus singles out the poor in spirit, mourners, the meek, those who seek God, the merciful, the pure in heart, peacemakers and the persecuted and He calls them blessed.

Quite frankly, these blessed people do not resemble  the smug, self-satisfied, opulent “successful” people who attribute their lifestyle to their superior sense of Christianity. Some of these people have had the effrontery to look down upon their brothers and sisters of more humble station, and attribute that poverty to laziness, sleeping in too late, watching the wrong movies, and just a general sense of being “wrong.”

“If they were truly following God,” they sniff, “they would be where I am.”

I’m not sure that’s such a good place to be.

Where we are, and where we find our value as human beings, is in our position as God’s children, no longer slaves (or undervalued employees), but sons or daughters; and within that position, heirs with our Eldest Brother, Jesus Christ. (Galatians 4:7)

To read more on this topic, please follow the link to my Commonsense Christianity article at BeliefNet, Are You Ashamed of Your Job Title?

The Misfit Christian Book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Live Happily on Less book by Carolyn Henderson at amazon.com Grammar Despair paperback and digital book at Amazon.com by Carolyn Henderson Step by Step Watercolor Success digital DVD workshop by Steve Henderson at Amazon.com

This article is linked to Imparting Grace, I Choose Joy, Misadventures, Woman to Woman, Soul Survival, Wholehearted Home, Intention, My Joy Filled Life, Shine, A Little R and R, Give Me Grace, Growing in Grace, The Life of Jennifer Dawn, Moms the Word, Homemaking. Time Warp Wife, Wise Woman, Roses of Inspiration, Wednesday Link, So Much at Home, Homeacre Hop, Thriving on Thursdays, Homemaking Art, Embracing, Christian Mom Blogger, Look at the Book, Simple Moments, Missional Woman, Rebecca, Arabah Joy, Friendship Friday, Sincerely Paula



About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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10 Responses to Just How Equal Are We in Our Society?

  1. Thank you Father for humility. Thank you for your grace. We are sons and daughters of You and no longer slaves. Thank you for making us heirs with Christ. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

  2. Helene says:

    The “equality” we have in America is good but not good enough. Nothing begins to match the true equality we have in Jesus Christ where we are neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free!

    • I agree. Our equality is one we bleat loudly about within our society, but turn our eyes from in reality. True equality would mean that, at the Presidential Easter prayer breakfast, more ordinary people would be there than the voices of the religious establishment, and the “important” people sitting around the policy table would listen, politely and respectfully, to their table mates, conducting a conversation as if they truly believed the people they were talking to were their equals.

      As that isn’t going to happen in the world of politics, business, education, entertainment and even — and especially — in religion, even that which calls itself Christian — anytime soon, it is up to us, the sons and daughters of our Father, to live that equality among all our human brothers and sisters. (This means that we do not look at a believer of another faith as “lesser” than us somehow, or “hardened of heart” and therefore unable to see the truth. Born again means just that — that we were born into a different way of thinking and believing, and we have been rebirthed to our position as holy priests for God. And as holy priests for God, our job is to show those who do not know or understand Him — a group which can and does include many who attend church each week and are comfortable with their status as Christian — what, exactly, that love looks like when it’s lived out, in real time.)

  3. Stephanie says:

    Wow, what a fantastic post, dear Carolyn! Like you said, “God, unlike man, shows no favoritism…” This was such a gentle and much needed reminder! May we allow the Lord to reign fully in our lives and may we {just like Christ} show no favortisim.

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful article with Roses of Inspiration. I hope you’re able to join us again sometime soon. Blessings!

    • Stephanie — as time goes by, I am increasingly aware of a very valuable demographic of society that is overlooked, eclipsed, and disparaged — and that is the women who stay at home to take care of their kids — whether they’re running a business on the side, or even, working outside the home in a complicated dance with their spouse to make sure that someone is home with the kids who cares about them. Many women who have to work full time, not because they’re wildly independent sorts but because the breakdown of our society and economic system sends them into a work force that pays them as little as it can and extracts as much of their soul from them as it can, work very hard and very creatively to protect and nurture their children.

      And what many of these women are doing is blogging — they’re blogging about healthy, affordable food to feed families, and when mass media says, “It costs too much to eat healthy,” they say to themselves, “Really? We can’t afford to take out family of 7 out to a fast food restaurant, but I can make two or three meals at home for the cost of what I’d pay at a fast food restaurant.” And then they blog about it.

      They’re blogging about family life — normal, beautiful, independent family life, and they are researching issues: unsatisfied with non-answers from the medical establishment, they research why some of their kids are having chronic problems and what can be done about it — and they’re blogging about it. And while the experts don’t listen to them, other parents with families do, and they interact back and forth in a dialogue that is happening under the radar of public policy.

      And they’re blogging about the effect that mass media is having on them and their kids, and when they look at “reality” shows purporting to show “family” life, they say, “That doesn’t look like healthy, real, family life to me,” and they’re blogging about it.

      My prayer is that those who are Christians will turn the same critical eye upon the message they get from church that they turn on to the food, educational, and entertainment industries, and if they blog about spirituality, they will NOT simply reword what they heard in the pulpit that Sunday, but will start reading, thinking, analyzing, and writing for themselves, with intelligent thoughts stemming from the same type of thoughtful research they do in the other areas.

      These women are experts not because they have letters after their names and a series of university classes in their transcript to prove that they put in the hours sitting in class. They are experts because they live what they know, 24 hours a day.

  4. Jennifer @ A Divine Encounter says:

    Very thought-provoking! How I long for Christ’s perfect Kingdom to come! Until that time, Christ-followers must be ever vigilant about our attitudes towards all people. You used some excellent Scripture references, and John 7:24 also came to mind, where Jesus states that we ought to stop judging by appearances. Thank you for linking up with us at Grace & Truth!

    • Thank you, Jennifer. “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.” It’s a good reminder in a day and age that cries out, “Foul!” anytime we judge anything, and yet we are judged upon everything. So it is wise to look for that judgment, upon the right basis.

      Quite recently, I ran into a Bible translation (Aramaic version) that transcribed Genesis 2:20 “And out of them, there was not found a helper like Adam,” which gives a much stronger sense of the equality of Eve with Adam than that wretched word, “helpmeet.” That has always sounded to me like the domestic help, somehow, something we encourage in assuring women that no man could ever clean a toilet or wipe a child’s nose, since that is her especial province in creation. In 33 years in living with my husband, co-raising OUR children, and running a business together, I (and so does he, incidentally) take definite umbrage at being referred to as a “helpmeet.” “Partner” is better, especially in its sense before it became bowdlerdized.

      We as Christians can take the lead in showing the world what true equality between a man and woman looks like, but to do so, we will have to move beyond prescriptions and limitations that we have willingly boxed ourselves in with.

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