Let us clarify what we mean when we talk about equality. Because conservatism is based on the idea that some deserve and others don’t, that those on top should stay on top and those in the bottom need to stay there, it does a pretty bang-up job of disseminating false information concerning equality – as it does about the word “freedom.” Equality doesn’t mean that each person gets the same stuff. It also doesn’t mean that each person is treated exactly alike. Equality means that each person – and each grouping of people – has the same opportunity and is treated with the dignity of people who have lives, experience, value, and worth that are different than the next person’s. Not less, different*.
So when one claims to not believe in equality, one fights against the idea that all human beings are human beings. The Christian who fights against equality doesn’t accept as doctrinally central the idea that all humans are created in the image of God – male and female. He fights against the idea of a God of impartiality, but rather serves a version of God that is on the side of the status quo – of Rome, of Babylon, of Egypt – over and against the slaves and exiled and oppressed subjects. This is the very first thought that Church of No People brings to mind here (and in his clarification here which, to be honest, I don’t think is all that clarifying) – and is thoroughly reinforced by a bad and quite oppressive interpretation of the Pauline letters. All of which ignore the calls and strains of justice evident within the Bible – from Moses to Samuel and Nathan to Isaiah and Amos and Micah to Jesus and the disciples to John the Revelator, James and – gasp! – Paul.
The very same Paul who told a slave master to accept his slave (read: property) as his own kin. The same Paul who upturned the Greek status quo by equalizing slaves and freeborn, males and females.
In his proof-texting, Matt seems to misunderstand that humility is a route to justice, as it causes those with power and privilege (for example, Jesus) to humble themselves to a point of being allied with the oppressed ( for example, the poor). Rather, in his interpretation of humility, humbling is a weapon against the marginalized and oppressed. Against survivors. Against single mothers. Against the poor. Against trans* people. Matt needs to understand, without apology, that those who have already been humbled by their marginialization do not need to be further humbled.
Furthermore, Matt makes it apparent that the poor, that women, that people of color, that GLBTQ, those with disabilities etc, etc, do not get to have agency. That he gets to define what injustices are for other people and – as with most injustices concerning people in power and their apologists – that the issue at hand will be addressed at the opportune moment. To which Martin Luther King replied, “It is always the right time to do the right thing.”
|“Go home and be humble!” is NOT the Gospel|
Some other issues with this post (and I know I’m only scratching the surface) that I largely tweeted upon first reads:
I’m not sure that every feminist believes in equality. First because feminism is a large label used for many movements – but most believe that women should be treated as fully human and complex people. The idea of equity between men and women (for starters) would probably not fit with a few on the extreme margins of feminism. To be honest, there is much inequity in the center of feminism (where affluent white women’s concerns are brought to bear in affluent white women’s voices as de facto women’s rights), but at least the idea is that men and women should be equally respected in matters of justice. So, while there are several definitions/manifestations of “feminism,” that doesn’t mean you get to claim your own for your own self when it is contrary to the spirit of feminism.
And if you are a male and do not believe in equality, you probably most definitely are NOT a feminist.
If you claim to be a feminist because you “protect” and shelter your wife, your argument is invalid.
Further, if you think that love means putting others on a pedestal, you misunderstood “Love your neighbor AS yourself.”
If you think the good news, the Gospel, is somehow antithetical to the message of equality and justice, then you should learn what it means to love justice and walk humbly with the Lord, dear white male Christian.
Finally, white males don’t get to preach at marginalized, telling them they should “lay down their lives” more than they already are.
I’ll be adding the voices of other bloggers on this issue and in relation to these specific blogs as I find them.
Sarah Moon: On Equality, Humility, and Privilege
Dianna Anderson: Heavy Words and Co-Opted Meanings
*I know that conservative mouthpieces like Limbaugh like to make fun of “liberals” (in whatever way that term is meant, usually pejoratively) for that phrase – but that speaks to the lack of conservative imagination. Conservatism doesn’t want to think of people and cultures as being worthy of respect, so it defames even the notions of such whenever it gets the chance. In conservatism, White, Male and Monied are best – everything else is inferior.)