Does American society and culture favor men or women in 2017? In the race of life, who has the lead? How do we decide?
Prior to the inauguration of Donald Trump, a controversial man and president, my oldest daughter sent me an interesting New York Times article entitled “Republican Men Say It’s a Better Time to Be a Woman Than a Man”. The article was interesting, albeit leftward-biased in a typical NY Times fashion. Following is one father’s response to the age-old question, “Who has it better?”
Thank you for the article. I understand how all parties would feel the way that they do. Many women feel that men have the advantages, and many men feel the opposite. The same goes for races, religions, etc. Everyone thinks that everyone else has some unjust advantage. They want this situation fixed and they want it fixed now. So, people and groups talk, argue, fight, and even kill; all in the name of their version of justice.
The underlying question to “who has it better?” is “better for what?” What is the goal? Some may say that equal opportunity is the goal, others would say that equal outcomes are the goal, but we must ask “what opportunities or outcomes are we talking about?”
1. If our target is adequate food, housing, work, and health, then we are faced with the difficulty of defining “adequate”. Most people, however, would agree that adequate food, housing, and the like, are valid goals for individuals and societies.
2. If our target is fame, money, and power, then some people have greater opportunities, and greater outcomes, than others.
3. If our target is the chance to serve God fully in the way that He wants to be served, then all mankind has equal opportunity already. That we do not have equal outcomes in this area is our own fault.
Target 1 is a valid goal. Christians should not let others starve or freeze. No one should die forgotten and alone. A social safety net, woven as a public-private partnership at all levels, is imperative. Laws should provide a level playing field the people to get the basics of life. Men and women with the same job, experience, qualifications, etc. should receive the same pay. In fact, that is already the law. Government should treat all people justly, including all races, sexes, religions, etc. More to the point, government is composed of people, and people should treat all people justly.
Target 3 is a current reality. God is love, yet He is utterly sovereign. He provides each person exactly what he or she needs at all times to serve Him fully. The richest man and the poorest child are equally able to serve God, to love Him and glorify Him fully. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control have no social or economic prerequisites. The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is as true today as the day that Jesus told it (Luke 16:19-31). No matter how delinquent the haves are in helping the have-nots, or the have-nots in helping themselves, God ensures that everyone has an equal opportunity to glorify Him.
Target 2 is the issue. As much as we trumpet diversity, we don’t really like it to be more than “skin deep”. We may enjoy food, clothes, and music from a wide variety of cultures, but we fear people who believe, think and act differently than we do. Understanding others’ views and lifestyles, is hard, and a little scary. What if they are right and we are wrong? What if we are right, but they get mad at us? What if their beliefs directly oppose ours; are any beliefs worth fighting for?
We want 50% of CEOs, doctors, scientists, and lawyers to be women, and 50% of nurses, secretaries, day care workers, and stay at home parents to be men. We want all jobs, all neighborhoods, all schools, and all positions to be assigned in perfectly equal proportions to race, sex, religion, and whatever population breakdown seems right. We care less about competence, character, or even individual freedom than about society fitting our vision of what it should be.
But the problem is deeper. Humans are not really interested in equal opportunity, or even equal outcome. What we want is supremacy; to be better than everyone else. If our real goal was equality, people and nations of roughly equal wealth, population, power, and other factors, would never fight, or even compete, at least not unfairly. US cyclist Lance Armstrong wouldn’t have taken steroids to win the Tour de France, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wouldn’t have lied about Ted Stevens to win the Senate and keep his post. Britain and Germany would not have fought against each other in World War I, nor China and India in 1962. Humans are wicked, and what we really want is lordship. Ultimately and in their own way, each person wants to be god.
The World sees a faithful stay-at-home-mom as wasting her life and contributing to the oppression of women by men. God sees a faithful stay-at-home-mom who is loving and serving Him as a treasure. In His eyes, she has far more value than an unfaithful king. God’s standard is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, while man’s standard is money, fame, and power. The World believes that suffering and death are the greatest evil. God understands that sin is the big problem, because suffering and death destroy a temporal life, but sin destroys an eternal soul.
We deny original sin and believe that social ills are structural rather than residing in the human heart. We have a non-Biblical understanding of what it means to be “worse off than somebody else”. Many, or even most, people are practical atheists, not really believing that God will make everything work out perfectly. Most people are not interested at all in His glory.
The issue of timing is important. British Prime Minister William Gladstone said “Justice delayed is justice denied.” That sentiment was prevalent in the US Civil Rights Movement. However, Gladstone’s quote is only partly true. The whole Old Testament is a story of justice delayed – Israel and the other nations sinned and God delayed judgment. While the Ninevites saw God’s forgiveness as mercy, Jonah saw it as justice delayed, and therefore denied (Jonah 4). Everyone wants “justice” and wants it now, but not if it means judgment on themselves, now or ever. We want justice now if someone steals our $500 camera, but justice never, or at least later, if we save $500 by lying on our taxes.
In conclusion, we have identified three outcomes to which we can apply the question, “Who has it better?” The first outcome, that every person on earth should have enough food, water, shelter, work, and health to live a “normal” life, is valid, though hard to define and execute. Followers of Christ across the globe are commanded to feed the hungry, heal the sick, protect widows and orphans, and give freely, thereby practically demonstrating Jesus’ love. The third outcome, that every person on earth should be able to fully serve God, is reality. It always has been and always will be.
The second outcome, that every person on earth should have equal opportunity, if not equal outcome, to obtain money, fame, and power, is dangerous. Our Lord wants people to glorify and enjoy Him forever. He wants Christ-like character (Galatians 5:22-23). God has no interest in these goals of the world; money, fame, and power often lead to the downfall of otherwise godly men (2 Chronicles 26).
Who has it better? The man or woman who loves and fears the Lord, no matter his or her economic or social state, has it best of all.