Diversity, equity, and inclusion should be second to biblical unity, equality, and truth
Last week in this column, I wrote about DEI and argued that the political agenda of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” is broken, inconsistent, and self-refuting. My premise was that while these words may sound good, they lead to their polar opposites in the hands of today’s progressive demagogues and pedagogues.
More to the point: On the Animal Farm of contemporary politics, diversity now means division, equity means “some are more equal than others,” and inclusion demands that if you don’t parrot what’s popular, you will be excluded. How did we get here? How have we come to embrace such obvious lies? The answer is simple. We have our priorities backwards.
In his book, “God in the Dock,” C. S. Lewis said, “You can’t get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first.” He went on, “In this context, [it is impossible] not to inquire what our own civilization has been putting first for the last thirty years. And the answer is plain. It has been putting itself first.” Lewis concluded, “Put first things first, and second things are thrown in. Put second things first, and you lose both first and second things.”
In talking about priorities, Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” And therein, the message of Christ is the same as that of Lewis: If we make God’s way, truth, and life our first thing, then all of the rest – the second things – will fall in place and “be given to us as well.”
Context expands on this truth even more. In the preceding verse to the one I just quoted, Jesus speaks very clearly about the importance of “storing up treasures in Heaven.” It seems quite clear that Christ is saying that when we get our priorities straight, we get not just the reward of the eternal life to come, but we enjoy the best of the temporal life too. In other words, place all the secondary things in life in the context of what is most important, and you get the first and the second to boot. But reverse the order, and it all comes tumbling down. Again, priorities matter!
Now, it is clear that Christ is not diminishing our secondary needs. Many of his miracles are examples of him providing them. He feeds people, turns water into wine, heals the blind and the lame, and so on. Jesus is not telling us to ignore these needs. What he is telling us is to put them in the proper perspective. He is addressing priorities.
He is telling us, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?” First things first! “For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life, for my sake, will find it.” Godly first things will bring the temporal second things along with them. Second things, however, never lead us to those that are first.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not bad things when properly defined. But putting them first rather than second – making them a higher priority than biblical unity, equality, and an open pursuit of truth – only results in totem poles and idols. When that happens, freedom is always sacrificed on the altar of such false gods. The only path to human dignity and personal worth is putting the triune God first rather than our grievances. Reversing the order always leads to disorder, dysfunction, fragmentation, and chaos.
When we prioritize ourselves over our Savior, our foundation is weak. It will not sustain us or our culture, and the more weight self-interest brings to bear on the cracked foundation of DEI, the more certain it is to fail. The fractures of identity politics only serve to guarantee the house will fall.
Some have said that our priorities reflect our character. If this is true, it might be wise for America to stop and ask: If we have the wrong priorities, is it possible we have the wrong character too?
If I learned anything from being a university president for two decades, it is this principle of first things. It’s called a “uni-versity” and not a “di-versity” for a reason, after all. The ash heap of history is littered with once-great colleges and even entire civilizations that reversed the order of first and second things and, thereby, placed their self-righteousness over the righteousness of God.
Prioritizing second things always results in exclusion rather than inclusion, segregation rather than integration. Second things always divide; they never unite.
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host.