Get ready, kids. This one is gonna be fun.
Let us consider me: I am a middle class white suburbanite. I had an excellent childhood with a loving family, was raised in a Catholic home, and went to a Catholic high school and college, where I took orthodox theology classes with brilliant teachers. I considered very briefly the Priesthood at one point, but not seriously enough to pursue the matter. If I commit to any vocation, it will almost certainly be marriage. My “reach”, to coin a phrase, will ultimately end up being rather modest (the reason we see more unmarried than married Saints is actually quite simple – those who are married need to be concerned with their own families, but the clergy have much broader responsibilities).
Let us consider an African orphan child. He has only the vaguest concept of Christianity and knows very little about it. Frankly, his future vocation doesn’t really concern him so much as not starving to death. His “reach” is going to be small as is, and in regards to inspiring people to follow Christ, almost non-existent.
Let’s consider Pope Francis, the head of the universal Church, vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome, Monarch of the Vatican. To this day the preeminent world religious leader. Millions, perhaps billions, look to him daily for spiritual guidance. His reach is enormous, his responsibility tremendous.
All three of us die on the same day, struck by lightning. Does God cast down the exact same judgment on all three of us, accounting for all of our sins in exactly the same way?
I certainly hope not. I hope God judges all three of us *very* unequally.
The Indian caste system is the example I see most often for a society that does not believe all men are equal before God, because of the “Untouchable” caste and the historically horrible treatment they have been confronted with throughout history. But this actually has nothing to do with equality before God. It has to do with two things:
- Bad logic. There is of course no good reason for us to believe that the untouchables deserve their terrible lot. To think they do is sheer ignorance (which nowadays is often confused with “bigotry” and “racism”. They’re not the same thing, though ignorance in some ways is the most harmful). It’s simply wrong.
- Not giving them the dignity due to all men. As human beings, they are indeed created in the image of God, and thus deserve to be treated as such. We shall call this the standard baseline for treatment of human beings – a level of respect and care due to all mankind, no matter what.
The problem with the Untouchables, then, has nothing to do with them not being equal, either before the throne of God or politically. It has to do with the much more fundamental issue of them not being treated like humans at all, but like animals.
There is a lot more to say – indeed, I started to say it, then started backspacing – but I’ll leave this here to chew on for now.
Related Reading: How the “good kind” of equality leads to mass murder.