The Equality of Love

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A central feature of Kierkegaard's understanding of Christian love is its emphasis on our common humanity and universal equality as human beings. In contrast to paganism, in which, according to Kierkegaard, 'people are inhumanly separated one from another by the dissimilarities of earthly life' and individuals are taught to disclaim kinship with one another, Christianity affirms the eternal equality and kinship of all human beings before God (WL 69; cf. EUD 141-5). It teaches us to shut our eyes to or to look away from the dissimilarities of earthly life, to lift ourselves above them and let them 'hang loosely' so as to allow the essential likeness or 'eternal resemblance' common to all individuals to show through (68, 72, 88). At the same time, however, Christianity does not seek to do away with dissimilarities, which in Kierkegaard's view are inherent to earthly existence:

No person has ever lived in Christendom, any more than in paganism, who is not dressed or cloaked in the dissimilarity of earthly life. Just as little as the Christian lives or can live without his body, so little can he live without the dissimilarity of earthly life that belongs to every human being in particular by birth, by position, by circumstances, by education, etc.—none of us is pure humanity. (70)

Nor does Christianity seek to establish temporal similarity or one temporal condition among all people, which in Kierkegaard's view is the preoccupation and goal of a pious, well-intentioned worldliness but not of Christianity, which maintains strict neutrality towards all earthly dissimilarities (71). In Kierkegaard's estimation, the achievement of 'worldly similarity' (verdslige Lighed) is impossible, but even if it were possible, it would not be the same as 'Christian equality' (christelige Ligelighed), which is essentially an inward, spiritual qualification of human beings that is possessed eternally, not an external social condition, although in his view spiritual equality can be preserved 'in any externality whatever' (WL 72; EUD 143).

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