CONCERNING EQUALITY it seems that many, even those who ought to otherwise know better, have accepted the 'good' of 'human equality'. Unlike the Enlightenment and its revolutionaries, Christianity's relationship with human equality is not simple.
FIRSTLY, Christianity is not an ideology, which is to say, simply a system of ideas. Humans almost always have ideologies, and without fail they will take anything they come into contact with and integrate it into their ideology. Simpletons, while liable to being tricked and walking into danger unawares, rarely have the problem of trying to fit the faith into their preconceived structure. The tradeoff of low intelligence means fewer erroneous constructions.
GIVEN THIS TENDENCY, it is not surprising that humans of a given era might not merely stress aspects of the faith that fit that era's preoccupations, but in fact make assertion that those aspects are the faith, or even worse, are the Gospel itself. In the late 19th century with the rise of scientific socialism, many became obsessed with material welfare, especially of the poor. We could, without knowing any other facts, determine by reason that there must exist Christians - whether we mean errant sects or merely individuals - that made something like what we call 'the Social Gospel'.
EGALITARIANISM is no less a problem in this regard. Concerning the religion of The Cathedral, we would expect a Pope to come along mouthing its platitudes even as the faithful scratch their heads in confusion. This problem affects weak monarchs and any monarchical system will be forced to weather it and MUST be able to survive it if it is truly to be anti-fragile. This Gospel of Human Equality we would expect to have a form such as this "The Christ calls us to love all equally."
SUCH A PERNICIOUS DISTORTION is par for the course (let us recall Anselm's reduxion of all the various types in the crucifixion to merely 'offense of honor') for these form of 'Green Apostasies'. Met. Hilarion has said that like the different Martyrdoms, there are different Apostasies. In this case, we merely mean the gradual, organic adoption of STRANGE GODS which gradually, imperceptibly draw the Christian away from the Church. Usually these gods are mundane things like family, polite society and money, things which are goods in themselves and thus a mildly perverse relationship with them could go unnoticed for a long time.
THE COMPLEXITY HOWEVER, is this. There are ways in which humans ARE equal, but there are ways in which humans ARE NOT equal. Indeed I have said elsewhere that equality is also much simpler than inequality, since determining if things are equal is as simple as quantifying them and seeing if they are level. And then if not, leveling them out. Inequality involves more difficulties and more understanding of nature, both human and otherwise.
THE DIGNITY OF MAN is where man has equality; we understand these things to be 'the image of God' - freedom of will, uniqueness and relation. All human beings possess these properties and are thus 'equal' in their possession. The other way in which men are equal is in that they are all deserving of condemnation. That is another topic, but suffice it to say that death is the most effective equalizer. It is not surprising that egalitarians so often resort to it.
THE COROLLARY to this is that men may demonstrate these three properties in lesser or greater degrees and thus be more or less human. Indeed, we must acknowledge that those who have ceased to have freedom entirely, have ceased to be in any way unique, or have ceased to be capable of relationship (of which the primary expression is love) have at least in part ceased to be human.
WE MAKE FORBEARANCE for those in whom such things are still nascent, namely, children; an immature apple tree is not regarded as unfruitful or false if it bears no apples. We also do likewise for those in whom such properties are temporarily suppressed, namely the sick. But those who demonstrate that they have abandoned these aspects have rejected our natural equality.
IT IS ARGUABLE that second to delivering men from death, Christ came to foster the real virtue (real active goodness) in human beings. Virtue is difficult to quantify and is not the subject of equality, as virtues are several and humans bear them differently and in different degrees, naturally. Women are not naturally courageous, and men are not naturally sympathetic. And while courage certainly is the greater virtue (as the virtues do not have equality among them) it still follows that a particular inequality rules.
ALL INEQUALITY IS PARTICULAR, since while the only number to equal 1 is 1, there are countless numbers that do not equal one. Thus if we are to say 'what is unequal to one?' We must then ask, 'which'? Whereas if we were to ask 'what is equal to one?' there is only a single, universal answer: one. Such is an interesting way to view the difference between a generally universal property (inequality/equality) and a true Universalism (equality.) For the latter there is only one right answer, but for the former, there are BOTH right AND wrong answers. Note this well.
THE ACQUISITION OF VIRTUE necessarily entails inequality, for if one rises and another does not, the one who does not becomes inferior to the one who does. Humility says that we look on the precarious situation even great virtue is in first, before we congratulate ourselves for good habits and superior abilities. And of course none of these differences, no matter how important they may be whether in the world or in the world to come save one from needing to die; the first concern is to ensure that death does not stick.
THUS IN CHRISTIAN TERMS equality seems a rather bestial thing; certainly humans are equal in their ability to absorb nutrition, to grow, and to die. But because men are free, some will refuse to rise up for whatever reason they choose. To realize equality would mean to cut down men of great virtue on account of those who do not have it; and it is hubris to think that the world, though good in itself, is equally and completely safe for all human beings, and that survival is not part by skill, part by the mercy of God.
HUMANS ARE MULTIPLE, as we had learned from our basic texts, and their basic relationship is complementary and not identical. Given this we understand that man's created HUMAN state is in inequality - inequality with God, inequality amongst his brethren. It is when he falls that he comes both under equality (death) and gross inequality (the results of sin.) What we wish for is man's natural equality and natural inequality - his dignity and immortality on the first, and his differing roles, his complementarity and his varying greatness on the last.
IT IS WORTH NOTING that the icon of the Trinity (a representation but not a depiction) by Andrew Rublev shows this odd complexity; all of the members acknowledge one another with a bow, but the bows are not equal; both the middle and right figure are bowing deeply to the figure on the left, who acknowledges their submission. An equality of love and nature, but an inequality of rank and order. (To the members of the table, facing us, the superior figure is to the right.)
HIERARCHY'S ESSENCE is this: a common ground and a rank ordering. In some ways the things must naturally be equal (same) for their inequality to exist; and apple is neither equal nor unequal to a fork, unless they be denatured down to the point of mere mass. Such a thing has been done to men in the modern world.
WE HAVE BOTH LOST our natural equality and our natural inequality; and this is why people clamor for both.