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Inequality and envy

Ugly motives stand behind the push for equality of results

Inequality and envy

(Krieg Barrie)

If Mom bakes a rectangular cake and Dad comes along and cuts a rectangular piece out of it willy-nilly—not from the corner or even necessarily parallel to the edges, which would be less annoying—how can Mom divvy up the remainder of the cake into the two promised equal amounts for her children? (Answers at the end of this column.)

Now for a completely different brainteaser: What do you get if you scratch the equality movement in America? Answer: envy.

Ask the mother of the baby that King Solomon feigned slicing in half whether she is good with equality for equality’s sake. Ask the prostitute, whose baby it wasn’t, why she would have been fine with the cleanly split infant. The prostitute is happy with the dead child because she was never really interested in equality as a virtue but was always driven by a baser motive. 

No one wants to say, “I envy people who have what I don’t have, or who can go where I’m not allowed to go, or who can do what I’m not allowed to do.” They say instead, “I think everyone should be equal.” 

Hell’s ravenous lust for equality is echoed in the unslakable thirst for kings’ blood in the French Revolution.

The first recorded story of mankind revolved around the equality issue: Eve grasped at equality with God, producing epically disastrous results. Interestingly, “grasping at equality” is precisely what the incarnate Lord was lauded for not doing (Philippians 2:5-6).

There exists a place where everyone is equal, and it is hell. “Sheol beneath is stirred up to meet you when you come …, all who were leaders of the earth; it raises from their thrones all who were kings of the nations. All of them will answer and say to you: ‘You too have become as weak as we! You have become like us!’ Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, … maggots are laid as a bed beneath you, and worms are your covers” (Isaiah 14:9-11).

Hell’s ravenous lust for equality is echoed in the unslakable thirst for kings’ blood in the French Revolution’s égalité of results, in contrast to the more felicitous fruit of the American Revolution’s equality of the pursuit of happiness. The virtuous man’s focus is vertical, “between yourself and God” (Romans 14:22). The covetous man is forever looking at the other guy, the horizontal, a bottomless pit of envy. “When they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding” (2 Corinthians 10:12). 

Turns out that even after you have wrung the last drop of perceived unfair advantage out of the “haves” and handed it over to the “have nots” to quench the voracious god of Equality, there is always someone left in the room with a scintilla more than you to envy, a situation that cannot be tolerated.

C.S. Lewis predicts the Anschluss of the Boy Scouts by the 21st-century feminist Equality blitzkrieg when describing the domestic activism of discontented women in his own day, who had no peace as long as there may be a man out there somewhere enjoying the society of other men in a place where she is not particularly wanted.

“A woman of that sort has a hundred arts to break up her husband’s Friendships. …  Whenever the men meet, the women must come too. … They banish male companionship … from whole neighborhoods. … This victory … is often unconscious. There is, however, a more militant type of woman who plans it. I have heard one say, ‘Never let two men sit together or they’ll get talking about some subject …’” (The Four Loves).

I myself graduated from an all-girls’ high school in the 1960s. I cannot say whether on balance that was a good thing or a bad thing, but one positive aspect was how it promoted focus on our schoolwork. 

Jesus had a lot of women in His coterie (Luke 8:1-3), but only men were allowed inside the club He chose to train as leaders of His church. He evidently thought they needed that.

(Cake riddle answer: Find the centers of both the cake and the rectangular missing piece, respectively, at the intersection of diagonals from the corners of the rectangles. Cut a straight line across the two center points, and voila, equal halves of cake. Or simply slice the cake horizontally across the middle.) 


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  • E Cole
    Posted: Sat, 07/14/2018 12:06 am

    Interesting historical perspective but I don't think the given answer (envy) can or should stand alone. The writer is an intelligent woman and I would love to see a serious article that questions the searches for equality in our society and provides more answers than just the convenient one that provides justification for ignoring the cries we hear around us. Envy is a part of the equation of course, but we should be humble in our attempts to name the things that motivate other people. So often I am reminded of the Pharisees who believed sincerely but loved the law better than their fellow man.




  • LW
    Posted: Sat, 07/14/2018 08:22 pm

    I have no idea what the essay about 'envy' is about. Is a vague reference to the republican stand against social safety nets for the poor? Is it another slam against the evils of socialism, of which 'all good christians are to hate'? Or, perhaps the one verse, "He who does no work sjhall not eat"?  Why are christians so in love with capitalism? Or, am I missing the message of this vague essay is trying to dance around?

  • AlanE
    Posted: Mon, 07/16/2018 08:34 am

    Louis, I don't think II Thessalonians 3:10 is at all an isolated passage of Scripture (nor is it unclear). The book of Proverbs is full of the same sort of wisdom. Note that Proverbs 6:9-11 says, "How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man." Isn't that very much the same idea as II Thess 3:10? Interestingly, consider also Jesus' parable of the prodigal son. When the prodigal son comes to his senses, he realizes he can do real work for his father and thereby have something to eat. His realization is not, "Hey, I can just sit around here in my debauchery and the world owes me a subsistence income." It is true the Bible is very clear about the expectation for believers to exercise charity toward the needy, and especially to the household of faith, but the Bible doesn't view the indolent as a subset of the needy (at least not of the kind of needy we speak of here).

  • Just Me 999
    Posted: Sun, 07/15/2018 07:11 am

    Actually, and despite the previous comments, the article is right on track. Envy is a base desire and result of our sin infection. Think of the last commandment - thou shalt not covet. How about Heb 13:5 where we Christians are told to be content with such things as we have... In fact one could go so far to say that the original sin was one of envy vs. pride. In our increadingly consumerism driven society the one thing that is used to motivate us to spend money is in fact envy. I believe that we are called, as Christians, to be satisfied with heavenly things, just as Heb 13:5 commands and not earthly things. And in fact our Lord gives us this very command in Matt 6:19-20. Our investments in heaven are eternal. Thanks author!

  • Just Me 999
    Posted: Sun, 07/15/2018 07:55 am

    Just think about the Boy Scouts - two groups led to the demise of this fine traditional all male, masculine values group - just think about what other group promotes Christian, God-centered values like the Boy Scouts? The feminists and the homosexuals went after them and destroyed this organization and then people have the audacity to ask "what happened to the men?" There was no finer, respectful men's group anywhere and now, from its original essence, those masculine values are gone. This simply due to envy by two radical groups. It's a tragedy. I pray for this country and the course that radical groups are taking us. As others have said - our country is immersed in radicalism. God help us.

  • WORLD User 181562
    Posted: Sun, 07/15/2018 11:44 am

    In 'The Quest for Cosmic Justice' Thomas Sowell states that envy is now called by the name Social Justice. A very interesting read.

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Sun, 07/15/2018 01:30 pm

    The polarization of modern politics is all about equality.  It is equality of opportunity vs. equality of outcome.  This reveals itself as capitalism vs. socialism, liberty vs. totalitarianism, individualism vs. collectivism.  Socialism institutionalizes coveteousness.  Under the guise of equality success is punished and failure is rewarded.  The most devestating movement of all is an equality of ideas where evil is said to be equal with good.  Anyone who disagrees is called an intolerant bigot.

  • Leeper
    Posted: Sun, 07/15/2018 01:59 pm

    I love the article on envy.

  • DWBrown
    Posted: Mon, 07/16/2018 12:00 pm

    You did good Andree. I enjoyed reading you description and analysis for one of our flaws that we are daily faced with. I have always been amazied at the lazy Americans that will not for an honest wage, but will covet and envy the things of those that do work. Besides Hell, our prison are equal, both rich and poor are there.

  • Narissara
    Posted: Mon, 07/16/2018 12:19 pm

    With the exception of the cake example, I didn't get the sense Mrs. Peterson is talking about economic equality only.  There’s a book called The Circle by Dave Eggers I’d like to read. Apparently it’s about a utopian society that has as one of its tenets, “Privacy is theft, and secrets are lies.”  We may concede we’ll never be omniscient but that won't stop us from demanding absolute transparency.  I would imagine that if members of this fictitious society aren’t entitled to private thoughts, they’re not entitled to any kind of closed relationship either — no marriage covenants, no parent-child bonds, no BFF’s, and no personal relationship with the God of the Bible — that is, after all, what private lives are about (and never mind about owning any maerial goods).  But that, too, is envy, and not just of one another, but of God.  I think that’s where the equality movement is headed.  

  • 2Tired
    Posted: Sun, 07/22/2018 04:49 pm

    I am sure you had a reason to use "envy" rather than "covet."