High on the hit list of those who are protesting the current economic system is the spectre of inequality. Capitalism, it is argued, leads to inequality. One of the gurus of the current movement, Michael Moore, declares in his 2009 movie Capitalism: A Love Story that “capitalism has benefitted the rich and condemned millions to poverty”. His first assertion is undeniable, but his second is questionable, and as we have seen does not necessarily follow from the first. But while many of the poor are in fact better off as a result of the growth of the global economy, he is clearly accurate in his concern that the gap between rich and poor is growing.
The great evil of our age has become inequality. “God hates inequality”, declares American preacher Jim Wallis (God’s Politics, p.263). Such a sentiment has become a given in most people’s minds. But is there something fundamentally evil about inequality? Is not inequality actually a characteristic of the entire created order which God declared to be good?
From the beginning there were greater and lesser lights, and no protests were offered. There were bigger and smaller creatures, more sophisticated and much simpler organisms. And people have always had more or less intelligence, greater or lesser stature, more skills or less influence. This is part of the rich mosaic of life. A fallen world has added pain to our experience in such inequalities, but we cannot argue that inequality is of itself evil without attributing evil to God as Creator.
No! We cannot say that God hates inequality. As we have argued in an earlier blog, the Bible says that God hates iniquity, not inequity. The injustices perpetrated by the rich in exploiting the poor are evil and must be punished; but the evil is not in the fact that they have more wealth or power, but in what they do with their wealth and power.
Where inequalities are the result of injustice they must be dealt with. But it is the injustice, rather than the inequality, which must be our enemy. And that injustice is defined in the Bible in terms of violations of God’s perfect righteousness, not an arbitrary dream of the kind of world we would have created had we been God. Nowhere does the Bible suggest that God is fair – nor would we want it to, for grace implies God gives us far more than we ever deserve. But even if God’s not fair, he is always right.