What Does the Bible Say About Equity and Equality?

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We hear a lot of talk about equity in our society with political leaders making it part of their agenda, but equity differs from equality in important ways. Here is a look at what the Bible says about both.

What the Bible says about equality

“For God shows no partiality.”

– Romans 2:11

The message of Jesus Christ was one of equality. Christ made the point that, while the Jews had a special favor with God – he was the God of all. Christ was sent to bring redemption for all of humankind.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

–Galatians 3:28

Christ also instructed humankind that we must treat each other with more than equality – that we should put others first.

“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

– Mark 12:31(a)

Does the Bible support equity?

While the Bible states that God views all equally, Scripture never presents the idea that everyone will be equal or will receive equitable shares on earth.

Jesus said: “The poor you will always have with you…” (Matthew 26:11). Scripture says: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves” (Hebrews 13:17).

Scripture tells us not to be jealous or envy the prosperity of others (Psalm 73:3) and that the desires of the world are passing away (1 John 2:17). All of these are materialistic things that do not matter to God.

All who can are expected to work

“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.”

2 Thessalonians 3:7-8

The Bible clearly states that people are expected to work and work hard. Nothing in life is free. Things don’t happen of their own accord. Those who are able to work are expected to do so.

“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

–2 Thessalonians 3:10

Sharing with others

At the same time, Scripture makes clear that those whose labor produces more should help the poor, ill, widows, weak and less fortunate.

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

– Acts 20:35

“The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all.”

–Proverbs 22:2

The difference between equity and equality

Equality means that everyone should have equal rights and opportunities. Equity means that everyone should be treated fairly and impartially.

However, today, many argue that the concept of equity has been corrupted for social justice and political objectives. They argue that they are trying to force the notion of equity by taking from one group and giving to another. Some say such actions, are not equity, but may instead be a type of reverse bias, discrimination, and inequity in itself.

Is the pursuit of modern equity materialism?

One problem with the redefined modern equity is that it seeks to take from one and give to another, based not on work, but on perceived social or racial notions. Such an approach comes from a materialistic viewpoint that is anathema to a biblical worldview.

Is equity simply a battle of the haves versus the have-nots? Some say some people are using the concept of inequity for a transfer of wealth and power. In other words, is this form of equity actually rooted in materialism?

Christ denounced materialism

Jesus viewed the pursuit of money as something that takes us away from loving, revering and serving God.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

– Matthew 6:24

Jesus saw the pursuit of wealth and material goods as meaningless at the end of one’s life. After all, you can’t take it with you. Jesus said:

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

–Matthew 16:26

Jesus saw material possessions as essentially worthless.

“Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

–Luke 12:33-34

The equality and equity of judgment

“Before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.”

– Psalm 98:9

The one manner in which there will be both equality and equity is when God judges each human being for their sins. Each person will reap what they sow and receive what they deserve.

Jesus said:

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

-Matthew 12:36-37