Diversity, equity, and inclusion have become polarizing buzzwords that are often associated with radical secular views. The three ideas tend to be tied together and seem to overlap, becoming closely linked and now are known simply as “DEI.” Since the racial justice riots of 2020 following the death of George Floyd, companies worldwide have taken to implementing DEI initiatives and training programs for their employees.1 The concepts of DEI have become extremely politicized; however, this hot topic extends far beyond politics and secular worldviews. Interestingly enough, organizations are beginning to realize that secular DEI training often inflames issues instead of making them better. You can read more about it here.
The controversial nature of DEI programs stems from the use of DEI concepts to embrace sin and tolerate behaviors that are not supported in Scripture, creating a division between Christians and the secular world.
The controversial nature of DEI programs stems from the use of DEI concepts to embrace sin and tolerate behaviors that are not supported in Scripture, creating a division between Christians and the secular world. Secular culture has taken many biblical concepts and twisted them to fit lifestyles or political agendas. Universities across America claim that implementing DEI initiatives protects intersectional groups of people (overlapping characteristics, such as race, class, and gender of a person), and schools such as Harvard University have openly mocked other schools that unapologetically refuse to implement DEI within the institution.2 Universities and organizations who comply with DEI initiatives may implement misguided efforts to create supposed equity for various people groups. In June 2023, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) struck down affirmative action admissions programs, meaning that public universities could no longer admit students based on factors of race as this was deemed unconstitutional by the voting majority.3 The United States government, to some extent, is recognizing that DEI initiatives (such as affirmative action) can result in poor stewardship of students seeking higher education. Even worse, in some cases, these initiatives foster worshipful treatment of lifestyles that are harmful, dangerous, and overtly anti-biblical.
DEI initiatives are under severe scrutiny by lawmakers, and in fact, 22 states have introduced bills that would restrict DEI programs at public colleges to reduce the “woke” attempts to push secular ideologies onto students and faculty members. Some of these initiatives include LGTBQ+ centers that praise those living the anti-biblical sexual lifestyle; the University of Illinois Chicago has an “out list” where faculty and staff advertise their sexuality in an attempt to become “mentors” for students who believe they identify in the same manner.4 Universities are rated on Campus Pride Indexes to identify how LGBTQ-friendly a campus is with things, such as hosting pride events, gender-neutral bathrooms, and campus-sponsored clubs that support a variety of lifestyles that do not align with biblical teachings. DEI has, to some capacity, created reverse discrimination, where other groups are now overlooked and excluded on admissions, promotions, and special organizational groups simply because they do not “check the box” on race, religion, or sexuality. These concepts extend into the workplace where secular DEI experts insist that every workplace is oppressive.5 And all of this is done in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion. And who wouldn’t want those things? However, the concepts of DEI should be understood from a biblical worldview.
A biblical definition of diversity begins with understanding that every person is a fellow image bearer of God despite differences in appearance or background. From the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we see that just two generations from Adam, people were gifted with very specific talents, such as livestock tending, music making, and metal smithing (Genesis 4:20–22). Just a few hundred years after the flood, the Genesis 11 narrative of the tower of Babel explains that people were deliberately disobeying God’s command to “fill the earth” and instead were congregating in one geographical locale. God intervened, confusing their languages as a judgment for their disobedience. However, this ultimately caused the people to spread throughout the earth, leading to the great physical and cultural diversity we see in the human race. Fast-forwarding to the New Testament, we see the great commission in Matthew 28:19–21, where Jesus calls believers to go to all nations to make disciples, again showing the equal nature of all people groups.
As a beautiful bookend to Scripture, John penned Revelation, and in it, we see the consummation of God’s plan of salvation established in Genesis 3:15. The final chapter of Revelation ends with Jesus calling all people to him, an echo of a Matthean discourse, calling all who are weary and tired. Jesus calls all people to both repentance and salvation, meaning our identity in him is not based on sinful inclinations or actions.
Not to be confused with another modern buzzword, equality, equity is a term describing the fairness of different societal groups. Paula Dressel of the Race Matters Institute defined equity as, “Treating everyone justly according to their circumstances.”6 To understand the secular definition, one has to also look at the secular idea of equality.
A popular example uses milk crates to show the difference. Imagine two individuals standing behind a wall and trying to look over. One person is short, and the other person is tall. Equality would mean that the same opportunity is provided to both individuals, such as both people being given a milk crate to stand on. Equity, on the other hand, would mean we give the tall person a milk crate since he doesn’t need as much height to look over the wall, while we give our short person a ladder to use. The outcomes become similar: both people can see over the wall, but they weren’t treated equally. One gets a milk crate, while the other, a ladder. Equity means the outcome has been equalized, not the opportunity.
So, does Scripture address this concept? We must first identify it by a more biblical definition, not secular teachings. Psalm 9:8 (NIV) states that “he [God] rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity.” When looking at the original Hebrew word mêšār and its use in Scripture, we see that it is consistently used with this idea of levelness, fairness, and uprightness. Essentially, biblical equity is more qualitative in nature. This term is used to describe people, such as King David and his just reign, but Psalms 9:8 is describing a characteristic of God, suggesting that we too should act with biblical equity.
One example of biblical equity stems from the sacrificial laws seen in Leviticus. The law is laid out, explicitly stating that the penalty for sin is a lamb or goat. However, this law is amended immediately after to address people groups who could not bring a sheep. Leviticus 5:7 says, “If he cannot afford a lamb, then he shall bring to the Lord as his compensation for the sin that he has committed two turtledoves or two young pigeons.” If equality were in place, a poor person would not be able to bring an offering at all because they could not afford it, but the biblical equity in place allows for those in different situations to be treated with uprightness and fairness. Secular equity, unfortunately, equates to biblical inequity as it enforces equal outcome, but not equal opportunity. Using the passage from Leviticus, secular equity might suggest that a poor person who could not afford a lamb or goat would be offered one by the priests so their offering could be in accordance with the law. (This example opens up a wormhole regarding the argument of “who pays for the goat or lamb,” but the idea is that the outcome is equalized and the opportunity is not.) Biblical equity revolves around a core concept of fairness and righteousness, while secular equity focuses on having the same outcome for everyone.
Inclusion is the final component of DEI, and its meaning is perhaps the least complicated. In Diversity at Work, a secular work on DEI in the workplace, the authors define inclusion as “creating, fostering, and sustaining practices and conditions that encourage and allow each of us to be fully ourselves—with our differences from and similarities to those around us—as we work together.”7 The societal version of inclusion is a blind acceptance of all lifestyles, behaviors, and backgrounds for the purpose of unity.
For the believer—and one could argue for the good of society regardless—this idea of inclusion must rest on scriptural authority and not on changing and sometimes arbitrary sociocultural trends. Inclusion, as seen in Scripture, means upholding biblical truths and standards and treating all people with dignity and respect. Believers and unbelievers will certainly behave differently, but all are fellow image bearers of the Creator. But light does not have fellowship with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14), and so within the church, we must draw the line where inclusion would allow people to remain in sin and influence others to sin.
Sadly, the modern social definitions of DEI are, in many parts, in opposition to the truth found in Scripture and involve celebrating sinful behavior, even within the church.
Sadly, the modern social definitions of DEI are, in many parts, in opposition to the truth found in Scripture and involve celebrating sinful behavior, even within the church. When looking for an authority in your life, Scripture offers the very words of God, our Creator, intended for the good of humanity. What does God have to say on the topic? In the case of DEI, there’s quite a lot that could be said, but it boils down to this: love God and love people (Matthew 22:36–40). If we are loving God, then we strive to be like him, which means refraining from our sinful inclinations and treating other people as fellow image bearers of the Creator. If we love people, we would also encourage them to have a personal relationship with Christ that includes honoring and obeying him, which may include repentance and radical lifestyle changes. This is considered by DEI advocates as antithetical to all of their tenets. But, God, as Creator, knows what is best for us, and if everyone did that, there would not be the supposed need for DEI books, mandates, and arbitrary definitions.
Dean, Hope. “Atlanta mayor unveils new inclusive language guide.” Atlanta News First. Last modified September 8, 2023. https://www.atlantanewsfirst.com/2023/09/08/atlanta-mayor-unveils-new-inclusive-language-guide/