Sunday, January 17, 2010

Equality Among Men

During the sixth creative period, God "created man in [his] own image, in the image of [his] Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them" (Moses 1:27). The Family: A Proclamation to the World confirms, "All human beings-- male and female-- are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny."

It is by virtue of our shared heritage as the creations of God that the Founding Fathers could correctly declare as self-evident, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights". True equality, then, lifts us up to the high station of divine offspring, for "the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;" (Romans 8:16-17).

Modern concepts of equality often disregard the divine nature of our equality. Through an evolutionary process, equality in the public square has adopted a negative connotation. No longer are people equal because they have the same divine nature and therefore great intrinsic worth; rather they are equal because they are no better than you are, their opinions no more valid than our own. Freedoms belonging to humanity are perverted to be freedom to do whatever we want-- because no one view of what people should be allowed to do is better than any other.

Further still, the man who God created and gave dominion over all things is now considered no better than any other animal by radical environmentalist movements, who seek to extend the equality and rights of man to the animal kingdom also. Well did philosopher Phillippe Beneton comment, "But since every right implies a corresponding obligation, it remains to convince cats of the rights of mice, lions of those of gazelles, and leeches of the rights of man." He goes on, "Nature, invoked at the beginning against convention, has itself become a mere convention. The logic, or one logic, of modern equality has done its work in at once inflating and ruining the rights of man. The modern world has lost its way, the victim of a particular version of equality: equality by default" (Equality by Default, 13).

As modern equality flattens the societal structure and trivializes relationships, God's equality demands order and substantive relationships. Clearly, He has established eternal truths that must be honored, despite popular opinions of relevantism or scientism. He "esteemeth all flesh in one" (1 Ne. 17:35) and commands that we should "not esteem one flesh above another" (Mosiah 23:7) on account of our natural, substantive equality, but surely that does not discount the eternal order He has established.

The differences between equality by nature and what Mr. Beneton calls 'equality by default' can be subtle, but their implications are tremendous. We should make an effort to consciously remember our natural equality in our daily actions; to remember that we are all children of God. I have been pleasantly surprised at how drastic the behavioral change can be when we consider others children of God rather than equal because they are no better or worse than myself.

In my daily walk, it helps to change the favorite primary song to say: "They are a child of God and He has sent them here; has given them an earthly home and parents kind and dear. Lead us, guide us, walk beside us, help us find the way. Teach us all that we must do to live with thee someday."

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