From Jim O'Brien
August 12, 2016

Hi Friend,

Equality Under the Law

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." When Abraham Lincoln stood on a battlefield in Pennsylvania uttering these words he defined why more blood had been spilt in this war than any in American history. This nation was built on the concept that "all men are created equal."

This idea of universal equality has a religious foundation. The Declaration of Independence states, "they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..." These rights transcend national borders. They are rooted in natural law that declares "these truths are self-evident." That is, it is obvious to any thinking man that God created the world to operate this way.

Yet nothing is clearer, on the surface, than that all men are NOT equal. There is a manifest inequality between any two people. So, how should we understand the sense that we are all equal? Well, the equality in question is not a physical equality. It has nothing do to with strength, appearance, athletic prowess or even comparable intelligence.

We are all equal in being fit for the "rule of law." In America the symbol for justice is a blindfolded lady holding a set of scales. It means the law applies equally to everyone. It does not apply different penalties to citizens because of wealth, political affiliation, height, sex, race or religious beliefs.

Where did the founding fathers get this idea? Well, prepare yourself-it came right out of the New Testament. Remember the uproar in the Book of Acts? In the words of Luke "there was no small disputation." (Acts 15:2) What were they arguing about? It all came about because Peter had baptized Cornelius and his family. Cornelius was a Gentile. On that occasion Peter uttered a profound truth that echoed into the America system of ethics, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons." (Acts 10:34)

The repercussions of this are far reaching. For one thing, it means that both Jews and Gentiles are equal under the law. But, of course, that means Gentiles are in every way as much subject to the law as Jews. Will any man claim that Gentiles were given an inferior spirit that renders them incapable of understanding right and wrong? The Apostle Paul declared that before God "There is neither Jew not Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) If a man is looking for a New Testament command for Gentiles to obey His law, he need look no further.

What does all this mean for us today? The same thing it meant for men 2,000 years ago. Men are equal in so far as they can understand what is right or wrong. And in so far as they exercise the will to conform to right. A child, because of insufficient age, may lack enough understanding to keep from running in the street, so he must be kept inside the fence. Or an adult may have mental deficiencies so he must be confined. Homes for the elderly are one of the few places that allow people to enter from the outside but are locked to keep occupants from leaving.

Our traffic laws don't say that females can only drive 55 but males can drive 65. You aren't judged guilty for being 5'2" and innocent if you're 6'1". Or if you have blue eyes rather than green. We are judged on our ability to comprehend right and wrong. This system of justice recognizes a spirit given by God that is common to all men.

But Christians have another gift. After Jesus was resurrected members of the church were gathered in Jerusalem for the Day of Pentecost when tongues of fire descended and "sat upon each of them." The hierarchy was flattened. Each person received the Spirit of God.

And that has made all the difference!

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien