New research published in the Academy of Management Journal purports to show that religion perpetuates the gender wage gap. This article claims that men tend to earn significantly more than women in societies with “heightened religiosity.” This worldwide survey found that nations where more than 95% of the people said religion was important in their daily lives, had a situation where women earned around 46% as much as men. Additionally, countries where fewer than 20% of people said religion was important averaged earning around 75% of men’s wages. Based on the research findings, this held true for all major world religions throughout the world.
Now taken at face value, the message of this research is that religion is bad and secularism is good. While the authors didn’t quite put it in those terms, the message is quite clear.
But In order to understand what is really going on here, we need to explore something that goes well beyond the specific data that these researchers compiled. It is also important to grasp that this “something” that we need to explore is not limited to matters related to gender. There are other factors involved in this phenomenon that cannot be accounted for by analyzing wages based on gender – factors that the researchers not only did not take into account, but that their very foundational worldview beliefs don’t even acknowledge.
One of the major unstated assumptions of this research is that the level of a person’s wages determines their worth to society. Another assumed presupposition is that women are discriminated against in society when their wages are not equal to those of men.
The problem with this kind of research, though, is that these assumptions are not made based on any kind of objective criteria, but on the personal beliefs and preferences of the particular individuals making the evaluation. A couple of questions that are never answered (or even asked) are, “Why should wage levels be the criteria for determining human worth, and how can one know that wage discrepancy equals discrimination?” The researchers’ assumptions presuppose a certain set of objective values that have not actually been determined to be true.
What if the biblical point of view is true; that the worth of human beings is innate rather than derived from what they do, or earn, in the world? What if it is also true that different roles in society for men and women do reflect the reality of human nature in society, as opposed to the secularist view of gender equity? Without some objective reason for looking at it one way rather than another, why should the secular values of collectivism and works based value judgments concerning human beings be considered right?
The fact is, those who follow a secularist philosophy do not have an objective answer for these questions. As Atheists, they do not believe in God, nor any kind of transcendent reality, so there is no possibility that an objective moral standard even exists. Moral values, for them, can only come from those human beings who have the power to enforce their personal points of view. Thus, the very idea of wage equality is nothing more then a personal preference.
Now to be clear, there is certainly nothing wrong with attempting to promote greater equity regarding wage levels between men and women – particularly when both are doing the same job and other mitigating factors are not in play. That said, wages are not what is determine the worth of an individual. What if, as has been true in most societies for most of human history, the role women play in society by focusing on home and family is best promoted by women not working outside the home. What if filling lower paying jobs that give them more flexibility to take care of their children and families promotes a more stable society? Where is the law that says wage equality has to be the factor that determines the value of a person’s contribution to society? There is just more at issue than the secularists are willing to acknowledge.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.
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