Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Unequal In Valuableness; Equally Loved By God

(Bambi Meets Godzilla)

C.S. Lewis writes: "It is idle to say that men are of equal value. If value is taken in a worldly sense - if we mean that all men are equally useful or beautiful or good or entertaining - then it is nonsense. If it means that all are of equal value as immortal souls, then I think it conceals a dangerous error. The infinite value of each human soul is not a Christian doctrine. God did not die for man because of some value He perceived in him. The value of each human soul considered simply in itself, out of relation to God, is zero. As St. Paul writes, to have died for valuable men would have been not divine but merely heroic; but God died for sinners. He loved us not because we were lovable, but because He is Love. It may be that He loves all equally - He certainly loved all to the death - and I am not certain what the expression means. If there is equality, it is in His love, not in us." (From "Membership," in The Weight of Glory)

God loves us all equally, but we are not, in our humanity, equal. Some are better at math than others. Some people can fix things, other people cannot. I am not equal in running ability to Usain Bolt. Usain Bolt is not equal to me in guitar-playing ability (I feel certain of this). I am not the basketball player LeBron James is and could never be no matter how much I practiced. I am simply unequal to him physically. I am Bambi, he is Godzilla.

This truth leads to the following conclusion: In the game of basketball, LeBron James is more valuable than I am. If LeBron and I were lined up in a pickup game, and you were choosing players, you would choose LeBron before me. Such is the reality of human inquality.

What does Lewis mean when he writes, "The value of each human soul considered simply in itself, out of relation to God, is zero." The following, I think:
  • It is only in relation to God that our lives have value.
  • Without being in relation to God, our tiny souls add nothing to the greatness of God. If our value is numerically '1' or '1 billion,' the result is still zero when placed against 'infinity.'
The equality lies in this: God loves me and you and Usain Bolt and LeBron James equally. God does not favor the more gifted over your own self. God did not only die for those who have the greater talent, but for all. Because in our shared sinfulness the infinite qualitative distinction between us and God is the same.