For Larry, Nathan, and Nebraska

One of the slogans that, until recently, would trip me up and sprawl me back down into false liberal modes thought was “equality before the law”. This is because it had been explained to me by well-meaning people who loved me that the Bible teaches us “God is no respecter of persons” , and that as Christians–imitators of Christ–we ought to do the same, and therefore such verses were support for the ideal of equality before the law. I’ve wrongly repeated the same myself.

It is true that there are at least nineteen warnings and condemnations of partiality throughout the Bible. Here is one in the middle:

These also are sayings of the wise.

Partiality in judging is not good.
Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,”
    will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations,
but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight,
    and a good blessing will come upon them.
Whoever gives an honest answer
    kisses the lips.

What is not true is that words “You shall not show partiality” mean the same thing as “equality before the law”. The former is a command to a judge (including each of us, as circumstances demand) on how to judge. The latter is a statement about those under judgment. “Equality before the law” is literally a prejudiced statement. It’s also false because at least one of the people before a judge has been wronged! In truth it is the job of a good and proper judge to discover as best he can the inequalities of those under his judgment–especially as they concern the law–and then judge them impartially; as if he had no part–no gain or loss–in the matter.

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10 thoughts on “For Larry, Nathan, and Nebraska

  1. To receive the core rights to justice is to be treated unequally. Murderers go to prison. The innocent go home. That is entirely just and unequal.

  2. A most excellent observation.
    Equality in the context simply means legal, government, state, (or even to an extent private) IMPARTIALITY.
    Justice means treating things as they deserve to be treated, not how we want things to be. You can’t have things like charity or mercy until you first do Justice.

  3. “In truth it is the job of a good and proper judge to discover as best he can the inequalities of those under his judgment–especially as they concern the law.”

    And He does this impartially, according to His Law. It doesn’t matter who you are. That kind of sounds like equality under the law to me. Its easy to see how someone could get messed up by this stuff, huh?

    +Nathan

  4. “25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?

    26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.

    27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.

    28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

    29 Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?”
    From Ezekiel 18 (KJV)
    Hear Ezekiel the prophet, speaking on behalf of God, assures Israel that they are being judged on an “equal” basis. Specifically, Ezekiel tells the people that the punishment they suffer is for their own sins, and not those of their fathers. The prophet emphasizes the justice of God repeatedly by stating that His ways are “equal”, as opposed to the “unequal” ways of Israel. The conversation is repeated in Ezekiel 33 with parallel, and nearly identical, language. Hence I cannot read this passage without believing that God required equality before the law as a principle of justice.

  5. “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.” Col 4:1, KJV
    Here Paul teaches that equal justice is a demand of God to those whom He has placed in authority. The servant occupies a lower rung in the Divine hierarchy, yet he is still entitled to just and equal treatment when judged by his master. We see here that equality before judgement is a principle found in the New Testament as well as the Old.

  6. I know that Vox has been on a tear against equality, especially as mentioned in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence, of late; yet although Jefferson was obviously hypocritical in his personal life I believe what he wrote was correct. Moreover, as I read the passages above, I am convinced that what Jefferson wrote was based on Scripture.
    Now perhaps Jefferson might have worded things a bit differently. Rather than saying “all men are created equal” he might have said “all men are created in the image of God”. Had he done so, the necessary conclusion that all men have certain unalienable rights on the basis of their paternity would still stand. The most destitute slave is still created in God’s own image, and is still entitled to equal justice and righteous rule. Believing that those of lower station here on earth are unequal to ourselves is a delusion rooted in pride. We would all do well to remember that though God has indeed established a hierarchy on this earth to which we must adhere there is a hierarchy in Heaven as well, and those beneath us here may well be above us there, should we be blessed enough to enter that land.

  7. “To receive the core rights to justice is to be treated unequally. Murderers go to prison. The innocent go home. That is entirely just and unequal.”

    You’re conflating equality before the law with equality in outcomes. The outcome of of a murderer being sent to prison can be arrived at when the law is applied impartially (equally) to them as it would to anyone else.

  8. Equality cannot be applied equally.

    There is equality of process and equality of outcome. Given inequal inputs, only one of those can result.

    Equality before the law can be just if it means the process is applied impartially, and equal judgments are given for equally inequal actions.

    But unjust equality is a form of partiality.

  9. I read the scriptures quoted by Okra, and would like to point out that there’s a drastic difference in translation from the KJV to any Catholic translation, where there isn’t a built in belief system to erase hierarchy. Equality isn’t used in any of the verses. If I recall correctly each of the Ezekiel verses says each will be judged according to their ways. I can’t remember what the epistle wording was, and break is up, but it too didn’t use equality

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