Dismantling Egalitarianism

Egalitarianism rules the day. The idea that all people are equal in ability and deserve equal opportunities dominates not only the secular academy, but it has also infiltrated the church. 

Wait, are you saying all people are not equal? Yes—and that should be obvious. However, this has nothing to do with a person’s worth or value before God. There is a big difference between equality in worth and equality in function.

Christianity has always affirmed equality in worth. All humans—male and female—are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28). God designed humans to rule over the earth and have cultural dominion, serving as God’s vice-regents. Every person is an image-bearer of God.

However, equality in worth does not entail equality in function. Humans are different, and they have different roles (which is a good thing to be embraced). Men are different from women. Children are different from adults. And individuals have different talents and roles in life. Observation alone should establish the fact that equality in function is absurd.

The Failure of Feminism

Yet the secular left has adopted this absurdity. This is most clearly seen in feminism, which asserts that women can and should have the same role as men. Of course, feminism is fighting against biology and has thus failed to convince everyone of this assertion. It is hard to ignore the fact that, unlike a man, a woman’s body is designed to bear and nurse children. Though feminism has been successful in bringing social change, most of its changes have been failures. Feminism has championed promiscuous sexual ethics, abortion, and the destruction of the family. Feminism has undermined marriage—the cornerstone of civilization. This has made both men and women less happy than in previous generations.

But feminism has failed in another sense. Though it has brought change, feminism has failed to overcome male hierarchy. Feminism has not done what it has sought to do. Men still occupy the majority of positions of leadership in the world, and men still lead in their homes—whether they recognize it or not.

There are two reasons men are still leaders. First, women have babies. Though many women use birth control and even abort their children, most women still have babies at some point in their lives. This is part of their biological nature, and this changes the way they live. Babies get in the way of careers. While feminists love to cry "discrimination!" in regards to men occupying positions of leadership, it is actually their biology that discriminates. 

The second reason that men are still leaders is that God has designed men as the leaders of their families. Some men and women fight against this reality, but their resistance is futile. As go the men, so go the women and children. Men are naturally leaders. God has given every man a natural authority over his wife and children. This is a great responsibility to protect and provide for them. A husband is the head of his wife, and a wife is to submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22-24). This is not to be a domineering or abusive leadership, but rather a man is to lead in love, just as “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

Feminism is a form of egalitarianism that seeks to make men and women function the same. But this is rebellion against God’s design for men and women. In other words, feminism is rebellion against nature. It is therefore in tension with nature, and it cannot succeed.

The Failure of Socialism and Socialized Education

However, feminism is not the only expression of egalitarianism. This spirit of rebellion has extended to other spheres as well. Socialism is another form of egalitarianism. It is a denial of the differences in skills and abilities of humans, and it is a denial of the fact that greater production deserves greater reward. Why should a man who does poor work for his employer be paid the same as the man who does better work (or produces more) for the employer?

Not all people have the same intellectual ability or work ethic. It therefore follows that not all people are going to acquire the same amount of wealth throughout life. Why do you want to steal from him and give to the less gifted and less driven?

This absurd logic has also been extended to children. Some people actually bemoan the fact that some children are born to better parents and are therefore raised in better environments with better opportunities. Instead of wanting the worse parental environments to improve, they want to take the children from better environments away from their parents because they are “privileged.” This is the driving force behind compulsory state education, as its advocates want a leveled playing field for all. But really what this means is that they want to bring everybody down to the lowest level.

Socialism and state education (which is socialized education) are both driven by jealousy. Some people are better at things than others, and this makes them jealous. They want what the rich man has, but they cannot legally rob him at gunpoint. So instead they plunder him through heavy taxation and redistribute it to the poor. (And as long as enough people vote for it, it is considered "legal.") Then they seek to force everyone to go to the same schools, knowing that privatized education does not provide equal opportunity to all.

Egalitarian socialism has brought us the modern welfare state. Western governments now plunder the upper and middle classes and redistribute the money to the lower classes. Not only does this hurt those paying the large amount of taxes, but it also weakens the lower classes by making them dependent on the state. The welfare state is dehumanizing.

The modern welfare state seeks to level all humans. But as R.L. Dabney pointed out, this desire to level all people is “anti-Christian,” as the Bible inculcates “contentment with our sphere” (p. 247). According to Dabney, “It is utterly false that every American boy may aspire to the higher stations of life,” for such positions can only be reached by a few. The state should not disadvantage anyone through legislation. As Dabney states:

Providence, social laws, and parental virtues and efforts, do inevitably legislate in favor of some classes of boys in their start in that race, and if the State undertakes to countervail that legislation of nature by levelling action, the attempt is wicked, mischievous, and futile (p. 248).

Modern egalitarianism insists that the state counter the influences of providence, social laws, and parents through legislation (e.g. affirmative action, public schools, welfare programs, etc.). However, as Dabney says, such legislation is not only wicked but “futile.” The state is unable to level such differences. The state cannot overcome the influence of children’s parents or the difference in natural abilities.

The Failure of Egalitarianism

Egalitarianism is a giant failure. It is a denial of nature, and one does not even need to turn to the explicit teachings of the Bible to see this. Feminism and socialism do not work because egalitarianism does not work. Unfortunately, the push for egalitarianism in America has destroyed marriage and the family (feminism) and brought us the destructive welfare state (socialism).

For some reason leftists in America want more egalitarianism. But this pursuit is really an abandonment of the American tradition in favor of the French tradition and their radical revolution. The American view, stemming from the British, was that “all men are created equal” in the sense of equality before the law. It was the French—the Jacobins in the French Revolution—that viewed equality as mechanical and functional.

The Jacobin view of equality fails because it is fighting against nature. The world is hierarchical, and people are different. That is how God designed things, and to fight against God’s design is to bring frustration. But it is also a way to bring judgment on oneself and one’s society.

Robert L. Dabney, “Dr. Dabney Again” in Discussions, Volume 3 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1982), pp. 247-253.