Our world is spending a lot of time lately talking about equity. Many see it as the foundational issue of our race relations, even the rationale for reparations to the disenfranchised. If you look in a dictionary published in 1947, you will find equity defined as the quality of being fair or impartial. Today, however, Merriam-Webster1https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equity defines equity as justice according to natural law or a human right.
To understand equity, we must recognize that the newer, contemporary definition links equity directly to bias and favoritism as requirements to fix past inequities. Equity has become the opposite of equality. It is all about making exceptions and giving different levels of support or assistance to people based on their circumstances that may require different treatment to achieve equality. Equity is meant to make up for past deficiencies so the disadvantaged can reach an equal status, a level playing field with those who are perceived to be “advantaged.” For example, lowering academic standards for one group is seen as removing a barrier for disenfranchised youth. Equity is NOT about giving everyone the same thing. That is equality. Equality is providing the same resources or opportunities to everyone, equally, regardless of their needs or abilities. Unlike equity, equality treats everyone the same. Nowhere, however, does either equity or equality assure the same outcomes.
What happens when we search God’s Word for guidance? Is there more clarity? The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia defines the word equity as “uprightness.” Uprightness means moral integrity; honesty in principle or practice; conformity to righteousness and justice. On the surface, everything seems copasetic. However, equity is more complex than it may seem so we will walk up on our understanding using the Bible.
(Ecclesiastes 2:21)2NIV New International Version Translations – “For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune.”
Solomon points out in the verse above, that when an individual uses discernment, gains knowledge (wisdom), and works to obtain skills, success will generally follow them. However, if one just inherits (is undeservingly given) what another’s success has created, there is no lasting benefit, and the gain is meaningless in God’s eyes. If someone or some groups were purposely deprived of what others could fairly get, it might make sense to try to come up with “an equitable solution.” An equitable solution, however, is one where all parties know the cause of the disparities and agree to the necessity for giving unequal benefits. Remember, the test for any God’s equitable solution is the “Fairness” test.
Equity, as it is used today, is to provide different resources to achieve equality. Nothing, however, is said about equal results. The missing component seems to be a person’s initiative, pride, effort, skill, and willingness to work hard. Solomon is just pointing out that you cannot give someone enough money, and resources or lower the standards sufficiently to solve all the equality problems in our world. Whether we treat people equally or equitably, everyone must do their work to achieve success. To attempt to force solutions on one group at the expense of another group as some type of declaration of success, only creates more division and hatred, especially if the inequity was caused by humanity’s sinful nature in the first place. The bottom line then is that unless God becomes part of the equation, true equality cannot ever be achieved.
(Proverbs 17:26) – “If imposing a fine on the innocent is not good, surely to flog honest officials is not right.”
To be equitable, there must always be a sense of fairness in its actions. Not just fair for one group but for all groups. As we see in Proverbs, we cannot treat one group differently. That, by God’s wisdom, is unfair. Equity that takes opportunities from one group and gives them to another does not fit the first of God’s guidelines either. Making one group pay for opportunities afforded to another only creates more hatred and division. Letting one group have access to resources due to a systemic bias is not fair to those who have worked for those same resources but were not the source of any bias. The question should always be, where is the “Fairness”?
(Isaiah 59:14) – “So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter.”
When something is unfair, God says that justice cannot be served. This counters the goal we are after. The entire reason for today’s equity is to use bias to obtain equality. Yet God says unfairness is a roadblock to His Truth. At the time Isaiah the prophet said these words above, he was trying to get a sinful nation to turn back to God. There is a lot of sin to be found whenever there is unfairness present. Neither definition of equity, old or new, considers humankind’s sinfulness. When justice is driven by the bias of humanity, those with power set the agenda, determining who has been harmed, the harm, and who should pay for restitution. The justice we should be concerned about is the justice that will be administered by God! Today’s example might be the lack of enforcement on crimes based on race, or social status. This just doesn’t make sense if we look at God’s Laws! God’s commandments forbid murder, theft, and many other societal sins for everyone equally.
(Malachi 2:6) – “True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness and turned many from sin.”
In Malachi, we gain additional insight into God’s version of equity. The objective we are searching for is to reach the elusive goal of equality. This requires the practice of truthfulness. And when God’s kind of equity and equality is present, there is peace and an obvious lack of sinfulness.
The problem with perfect equality is that not everybody’s starting from the same place. While we are created equal, our circumstances, family, nationality, and even DNA send us all down separate paths in our lives. Our travels take us to different places providing completely different sets of experiences. A child growing up in a crime-ridden inner city may never achieve social equality with a child raised on a farm in a rural community. What about God? Was either child exposed to Godly parenting? In our prior example of dropping college entrance requirements, the entire purpose of those exams was always to offer some indication of an individual’s propensity to succeed. Those standards were to be part of life’s roadmap to success. Lowering standards is counterproductive. It would be more beneficial to all parties to raise the skill levels of the students and demand more from them!
(Matthew 26:11) – “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”
God never intended for anyone to be poor or disadvantaged. However, God knew there would be poor because of sin in our world. Jesus’ statement that the poor will always be with us is intended to remind us that they are poor only because we have failed them. Jesus never intended to justify tolerance for the poor. It is our problem, and we should constantly strive for equitable solutions.
Unfortunately, we only look at our nation’s equity issues through the lens of money and color. COVID-19, technological change, uncontrolled migration of unskilled people, burgeoning national debt, and poor government policies are just some of the problems that have created income and wealth inequality. At the same time, our educational systems are failing to graduate students with the critical skills necessary to earn a decent living. Drugs are being legalized. Trust me on this one but no one can show how our nation’s drug problems will fix any of the equality problems that exist today. Our legal systems are busy perverting justice, removing the requirements for accountability and restitution. What we need is restorative justice! To make matters worse, a corrupt society is driving our children and families away from God. Today’s definition of equity does not serve our nation well!
Equality should mean that everyone has equal rights and opportunities. Equity should mean that everyone is treated fairly and impartially. Our world is busy corrupting the very understanding of these two biblical concepts for social justice and political objectives. Simply said:
(Romans 2:11) – “For God does not show favoritism.”
There is no way a nation can hope to achieve equality among its people without God being part of the process. No amount of equity (allocating resources or opportunities based on individual needs) can fix a sinful world without repentance and revival! Our world has become a place where God’s Truth is no longer celebrated. Deceit and corruption are paving the way for a hopelessly divided nation, not one nation under God anymore, but a nation deceived and separated by its sinfulness. Our founding documents remind us that we were all created by God as equals in His eyes. Our nation’s constitution was meant to assure that all our citizens had equal access to opportunities, and our constitution was never meant to secure equal results for everyone.
- Satan uses our language and changes our understanding of its words from generation to generation. How does this weaken our ability to communicate?
- Ideas to Explore: We hear each other but have been taught a biased interpretation. How do we protect ourselves and our children against this trend?
- Why are changed definitions of our language a barrier to peace?
- Ideas to Explore: Is not a principle of communication, a common language? How might replacing the concept of “fairness” with “bias” hurt our nation’s future?
- How would you assure that “fairness” is always maintained when dealing with issues of equity?
- Ideas to Explore: How do you define fairness? How would you compensate for the past sins of a nation? Does one sin ever fix another sin?
- How does a society assure that Solomon’s concerns of creating a work ethic are taught to our younger generations?
- Ideas to Explore: Involve them in service programs for those in need. Start children at an early age in understanding the concept of work. How would you reward the hard worker? Should everyone get the same as everyone else, or different rewards, based on what type of criteria?
- 2NIV New International Version Translations