The word idol comes from a Greek word meaning “image”. An idol, in the most literal sense, is a physical image of a god used in worship. The word idol is also used to refer to any deity worshipped by man other than the true and living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Who became incarnate as Man in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. This meaning of the word idol is derived from the first, and there is yet another meaning which is derived from the second one. In the third sense of the word, an idol is anything which is given the honour, worship, praise, faith and obedience that is due to God alone, regardless of whether that thing is literally conceived of as a god or not. We sometimes speak of fanatical believers in economic liberalism, for example, as “marketolators”, because the faith they place in the free market often seems to be the kind which would be more appropriately placed in God, although they obviously do not believe the forces of supply and demand to be a living, sentient being that can answer their prayers.
The wickedness of idolatry is a major theme of the Old Testament. The Ten Commandments declare that the Israelites are to have no other god than The LORD and that they are not to make or bow down to idols. The Book of Genesis takes the things worshipped as deities in pagan religions and systematically declares them to be part of the creation of the one true God. In the plagues sent against Pharaoh and Egypt in the Book of Exodus, the God of Israel is revealed to be sovereign over the deities of Egypt. The Israelites are frequently warned against participating in the idolatrous worship of the peoples in the lands surrounding them. Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were miraculously saved from the furnace by God when they faithfully refused to bow down to the image Nebuchadnezzar had made of himself. When God’s judgement fell upon Israel it was frequently due to their turning to idols.
Some gruesome practices were associated with literal idol worship, including human sacrifice. Ordinarily this involved the sacrifice of enemies captured in war, which was horrible enough, but in some cases it went a step further. The heathen deity Moloch, worshipped by several people groups in the Near East, demanded that his worshippers sacrifice their own children to him. The Bible contrasts Moloch with the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Only once did the Lord demand such a sacrifice, to test the faith and obedience of Abraham, and He prevented Abraham from actually carrying out the sacrifice. In the New Testament, in the light of which the Old Testament must be understood, God gives His own Son to be the final, sufficient, and efficient sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world and propitiates divine wrath.
While all idol worship was forbidden to the Israelites, the worship of Moloch was singled out for specific condemnation in Leviticus. Disregard for these warnings brought quick and severe judgement upon Israel, and the sacrifice of children to Moloch so defiled the spot where it took place that a curse was pronounced upon it (2 Kings 23:10) and its name Tophet, and indeed the name of the valley in which it was located, Hinnom, became symbols of being utterly and absolutely cursed and under God’s wrath.
The most literal kind of idol worship is not very common these days, although idolatry, in the sense of placing ones faith in, worshipping, and serving something other than the true and living God, remains widespread and one of the root causes of other sins. Presbyterian pastor Timothy Keller, in his book Counterfeit Gods, (1) discusses some of the more popular forms of idolatry out there today. One idol that he does not discuss however, is the Moloch of modern times, the contemporary false god who requires that his worshippers sacrifice their children. That idol is a devil indeed – the demon idol of equality.
A tremendous amount of blood has been shed in the worship of this false god since the beginning of the modern age. Equality was one of the counterfeit trinity to whom the French Revolutionaries offered up their libations of blood – fraternity and liberty being the other two. It was in the name of social, political, and economic equality that most revolutions of the 19th Century were carried out. In the 20th Century, attempts to build an egalitarian society brought about such horrors as Lenin’s, Stalin’s and Mao’s state-induced famines, the prison camps of the GULAG, and Pol Pot’s systematic slaughter of the educated, religious, and middle classes of Cambodia.
Now some idols are inherently evil whereas others are things which are good in their proper place but become idols and evil by being made to be more important than they really are. Which kind is equality?
It would be unfair to condemn equality as being inherently evil just because evil, even evil of the sort mentioned above, has been committed in its name. Evil has been done in the name of virtually every good cause that has ever existed. To demonstrate that there is something inherently wrong with equality we would have to demonstrate that the evil committed in its name was a natural and necessary consequence of the idea of equality itself.
That such a relationship exists between equality and certain kinds of evil is a theme that has long existed in traditional folklore. In ancient Greece, for example, the legend of the hero Theseus, tells of how his mother sent him to his father’s kingdom in Athens, and on the way he entered into a number of adventures. In one of those adventures, he encountered the giant Procrustes, who offered hospitality to travelers, but insisted that they be made to fit the bed he had constructed. If they were too short, he stretched them. If they were too tall, he cut something off. Several lessons are contained in this legend, including a warning against the folly of trying to force people to fit a model they do not naturally conform to. That egalitarianism is an attempt to do just that was made clear by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., in his short story “Harrison Bergeron”, a modern day retelling of the Procrustean legend. The story is set in a futuristic version of the United States, where a bureaucracy makes sure all the citizens are fully equal, by handicapping anyone who possesses an advantage which others do not have. (2)
What is recognized in this tradition of story-telling is that people are not naturally equal and that attempts to make them equal against their nature, do violence to them.
This is the opposite, of the sentiment Thomas Jefferson famously expressed in the preamble to the American Declaration of Independence “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” If we reflect upon it, however, it is not difficult to see that reality is better reflected in the tradition warning us against the egalitarian ideal than in Jefferson’s wartime propaganda. It is not at all self-evident that all men are created equal, indeed, it is self-evident that they are not.
Some men are tall others are short, and while it is possible to find two or more men of equal height, it would not be true to say that all men in general are “equal” in terms of height. What is true of height is also true of weight, and of strength, intelligence, beauty, talent, and all other such measurable traits. In none of them is there a general equality and when two people can be found to be equal in any one trait, it is very unlikely that they will be equal in many of the other traits as well.
Now some might come to Jefferson’s defense by saying “that isn’t what he meant, he wasn’t talking about equality with regards to measurable qualities, but equality with regards to intrinsic worth or value and possession of natural rights”. The problem is, that while it is undoubtedly true that Jefferson had some such concept in mind, it is also true that this concept of equality is in no way “self-evident”, but can only be arrived at through revelation, philosophical deduction, or speculation.
As a matter of fact, this concept of equality is not true at all but is a perversion of the concept of justice. To be just to people, to treat them right, is to give them that which is due them. If justice, a virtue which men are supposed to practice, is giving each person their due, it necessarily follows that there are things which people are due, or entitled to. Those things are what we refer to when we speak of somebody’s “rights”. The idea that people have rights is therefore a necessary part of the concept of justice. What is not a necessary part of the concept of justice is the idea that what Person A is entitled to is identical or equal to what Person B is entitled to. Indeed, the idea which equates justice and equality and declares that what one person is entitled to, the next person must be entitled to as well, makes no sense. If two people enter into an enterprise together, in which one person contributes 80% of the investment and his partner contributes 20%, justice requires, not that they split the profits equally, but that they divide them in proportion to their investment. If peoples’ rights, in accordance with justice, can be said to be equal, they are equal only in the sense that no person is any more or any less entitled to what is his own than any other person, not in the sense that any one person is entitled to the same status, wealth, and power as every other person. As Edmund Burke put it “In this partnership [of civil society] all men have equal rights, but not to equal things”.
One form of justice is legal justice, in which a judge settles disputes between two or more parties or hears accusations of criminal wrongdoing and passes judgement on the basis of the evidence. This kind of justice is traditionally depicted as being blind. This is to indicate that in the administration of this kind of justice, only the facts of the case should be considered, and not the rank or wealth of the parties. The idea that justice should be impartial has been around since ancient times and it can also be expressed as an ideal of equality – the ideal that all people be equal in the eyes of the law. It may be best not to express the ancient concept of impartial justice in this way, however. The administration of legal justice is imperfect because it must be administered by human beings who are imperfect. When the ideal of justice is expressed in terms of equality this creates a temptation for people to blame the imperfections in human justice, not on the imperfection of the human heart, but on differences of rank and wealth between people in a society, and to demand that these differences be eliminated.
Attempts to level society in this way, however, can never bring about the perfect justice hoped for, because they misdiagnose the cause of injustice for which there is no human cure. Attempts to create a just society by artificially engineering equality are themselves acts of injustice, often injustice on a large scale. Hence the warnings against the egalitarian ideal in traditional folklore.
The ideal of equality is a favorite tool of revolutionaries. A revolution is an attempt to alter the order of society by force. Revolutionaries may be sincere in their belief that they can bring about a better world, although more often than not they are just interested in seizing power for themselves. If they are sincere, they are deluded, because evil and suffering are part of the human estate which they are powerless to change, which is why revolutions typically produce nothing but massive amounts of violence and misery.
Revolutions typically draw their supporters from the young and naïve. The idea of equality lends itself to fomenting revolutions because it presents as ideal a condition which is completely foreign to human nature and which is therefore tailor made to generate discontent.
Equality is not something like which is good in itself, but which becomes bad when we make an idol out of it. It was itself a perversion of something good, justice, before we ever made it into an idol. After we made it into an idol, it quickly became the new Moloch.
Consider the doctrine of racial equality, which has become official dogma in the Western world in the decades following World War II. In those decades white liberals in Western governments have introduced liberal immigration policies encouraging mass immigration from non-white countries, laws against racial discrimination which are selectively enforced against whites alone, and de jure discrimination policies in favour of non-whites which are euphemistically called “affirmative action”. They also began a major propaganda campaign in the media (news and entertainment) and the public education system designed to teach people that the greatest evil in the world is “racism” and that “racism” is committed solely or primarily by white people. Opposition to all of this was discouraged by quick accusations of “racism” against anyone who dared open their mouth, and in some cases by laws against “hate speech” which are never enforced against violently anti-white language but only against white people.
During that same period the fertility rates of white people groups dropped below the level needed to sustain their populations and have remained that low ever since.
What all of this amounts to is the collective sacrifice of their children on the part of white people. White people are not having the children they should be having to sustain their population. They have introduced policies that artificially handicap what children they do have to benefit other peoples’ children. They are indoctrinating their children with an ideology that renders them helpless against the hatred of other people by instilling in them a sense of collective guilt for the “racism” of their ancestors.
In the name of what god is this sacrifice of the future well-being of the children of an entire race taking place?
It is taking place in the name of racial equality. The anti-racist movement has had “racial equality” as its ideal from the beginning. Just as equality is not the same thing as justice, but is a perversion of the concept, so racial equality is not the same thing as racial justice, the idea that different races should treat each other fairly, justly, and well, but is a perversion of that concept and one which, as we have just seen, is itself the source of a major injustice against future generations of white people. (3)
Another example of how the idol of equality demands the sacrifice of children can be found in the feminist movement. The feminist movement counts as its first wave the suffragist movement which sought the vote for women. The second wave began in the 1960’s as a demand for full social and economic equality between men and women. Second-wave feminism had two wings – a radical wing, which was formed by women who had joined other radical left-wing movements and were unhappy with the way the male radicals treated them, and a more mainstream liberal wing. The demands of the two wings of feminism were often quite different, but one area where they overlapped, was in the demand for legal, unrestricted, and free and easy access to abortion. This has remained a central demand of feminism in all of its subsequent waves, albeit one which the movement has long achieved as the Supreme Courts of the United States and Canada gave in to this demand decades ago.
Abortion is the deliberate termination of pregnancy resulting in death to the unborn fetus. While ethicists debate the personhood of the fetus, by splitting hairs over the definition of “person”, it is undeniable that the fetus is a) living and b) human – it possesses a full set of human chromosomes from the moment the sperm fertilizes the egg. Abortion is therefore the termination of a human life. Since it does not fall into any justifiable category of homicide it clearly belongs in the category of murder. Why is the demand for something this awful so central to the feminist cause?
It is central to the feminist cause, because feminism’s ideal is “equality of the sexes”. This ideal is contrary to human nature, however. Human beings are a sexual species – we are divided into two sexes, and it is through the union of the two sexes that we reproduce. The burden of reproduction does not fall upon both sexes equally, however. Pregnancy occurs within a woman’s body and lasts for nine months. After birth, a human child is helpless to fend for itself and must be looked after for years. The mother’s body is designed to produce milk to nourish the child in its initial state of helplessness before it can be weaned and move on to solid food.
Human societies have traditionally insisted that men share this burden with women, by marrying the women who bear their children and providing for them. Feminism, however, demands a different solution. Feminism demands that women be fully independent of men in a society in which they are fully equal with men politically, socially, and economically. Such a society cannot exist so long as women bear the burden of pregnancy and childbirth as a consequence of sexual activity. Thus the central place abortion has held in feminism’s demands.
Progressives today, treat the victories of the feminist and anti-racist movements in the last six decades as if they were the greatest human achievements of all time, upon which the future happiness of humanity depends. The reality is that both movements, by demanding equality rather than true justice and making equality into an ultimate good, have set up the worst kind of idol possible, the kind which demands the sacrifice of its worshippers’ children.
The Letter of Jeremiah warned the inhabitants of Jersusalem who were about to be taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon, against the idols they will find there. These idols should not be feared because they are not true gods, the letter explains, they cannot raise up a king, or send rain upon men, or redress a wrong. The letter ends by saying that these idols “shall be a reproach in the country” and that:
“Better therefore is the just man that hath none idols: for he shall be far from reproach.” (verse 73, Authorized Version)
The idol of equality is our reproach in the modern Western world.
(1) Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (New York: Dutton Adult, 2009)
(2) The first paragraph reads “The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.” The title character has the misfortune to be born with all of these advantages. The short story was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science in October 1961, and was later republished in the Vonnegut anthology Welcome to the Monkey House.
(3) Racial equality is also a nonsensical concept. No two individuals are absolutely equal, i.e., equal in every respect. If two individuals are equal in height, they will be unequal in some other area such as weight. The same thing is true of groups as well, racial and otherwise. In the comparison of groups it is averages which matter and the averages of different groups vary. This does not mean that one group is absolutely superior to any or all others. There are areas in which one group is stronger and another weaker and areas in which it is the other way around. The dogma of racial equality hinders intelligent discussion of this matter. In 1989, J. Philippe Rushton, a psychology professor at the University of Western Ontario, presented a paper to the American Association for the Advancement of Science entitled “Evolutionary Biology and Heritable Traits (With Reference to Oriental-White-Black Differences)”. In this paper, and in his later book Race, Evolution and Behavior: A Life History Perspective, originally published by Transaction Publishers in 1995, subsequently expanded and republished by the Charles Darwin Research Institute, Rushton argued that racial differences could be explained by the r/k selection theory. He was demonized by the press, denounced by the government of Ontario, and even investigated by the Ontario police. The anger his paper, address, and book generated, was not due to his theory, which was, after all, only an explanatory hypothesis, but rather due to the facts that theory purported to explain, i.e., the existence of racial differences. Lost in the controversy was the simple truth that whether or not his theory was right or wrong, the differences it attempted to explain are real and well-documented, and that vilifying Rushton would do absolutely nothing to change that fact.