I recently read an article where the author asked if evangelical pastors were ready and willing to call economic inequality and inequality of opportunity a sin? (Here is a link to that article.) The writer of this article stated, “…the Bible does not promote equality of income or wealth. When laziness and other forms of sin result in less income, inequality is appropriate. When parents rightly pass on an inheritance of skill and wealth to children, some inequality is proper…When the economic rewards of work create incentives for creativity and diligence, some inequality is desirable.”
So far so good, right?
He then writes, “On the other hand… (Don’t you just hate that phrase? You know something disturbing is about to come.) “…I believe the Bible suggests at least two limits on inequality. For one, the biblical principle of justice demands that each person and family has access to productive resources so that if they act responsibly, they can earn a decent living and be dignified members of society…”
Yep, and when a person or family does not have access to productive resources, that type of intentional or unintentional inequality which is usually created by power, greed, racism, classism, and/or discrimination is a sin.
“The second limitation on inequality,” he continues, “flows from the biblical understanding of sin and power. In our broken world, whenever one group of people acquires excessive unbalanced power, they will almost always use it for their own selfish advantage.”
In other words, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. A sin as well.
In our present situation, when you see how inequality is getting worse and how inequality keeps people, despite their best efforts, from resources and from getting opportunities to better themselves, then that is a problem and it does need to be addressed from a biblical perspective.
Consider the following uncomfortable realities of present life in the U.S.; some are from the article, others I have picked up along the way from various sources:
I don’t fault or envy anyone for how much money they make or don’t make or how much wealth they have accumulated or not accumulated. I am a capitalist and I am not advocating socialism or some sort of class warfare or redistribution of wealth. (I would like nothing more than my blogs to become so well publicized I could start charging for advertising.) I am simply asking you to open your eyes and see how the inequality of wealth and income perpetuate the inequality of resources and opportunity and thereby keeps people in poverty in poverty and people in power in power.
Take health as an example. Studies have long concluded that the more wealth you have the more healthy you are and the more healthy you are the better you do in school and the better you do in school they better opportunities you have for higher income occupations. Contrary to popular belief, those in poverty have less access to healthcare, not more.