Someone I've met in real life (tm) made a comment on my last post on WASP male privilege to point out that there are biblical examples of where privilege exists, but that is for a purpose.
I probably need to clear up from the start that while I see parallels between Christian social ethics (the politics of Jesus if you will) and socialism, I'm no Marxist. In wanting those of us with much to care for those with less, I'm not advocating doctors and street cleaners be paid the same. Instead, I want them to be valued as humans, have the same access to essential medical care and so on.
My problem is with the way in which wealth accumulates without a connection to real value; hence CEOs earning hundreds of times more than the bottom employees in an organisation. Sabbath economics and the idea of Jubilee acted a a reset for an economy designed not to dispossess or disadvantage others. How this might work today has been illustrated in debt forgiveness - although issues of irresponsible lending and corruption also need to be addressed.
So then, a couple of examples. Firstly, it seems to me that Israel always was to have a position of privilege. In Genesis 12:1-3 it is clear Israel is privileged but in a way that was meant to bless others. I suspect at times some sections of the Christian church forget that is a core aspect of its mission.
What about the rich then? In some cases, it isn't possible to get rich without it being at the expense of others; certainly someone like Zacchaeus benefited from tax farming, and his response would have included abandoning being part of that system. But for those who honestly gain wealth, Paul's constant plea to the churches to make offerings to the Jerusalem church point to the idea that money is sometime best circulated as much as possible.
Finally, my correspondent raises the idea of the "weak vs the strong". In the New Testament period, meat sacrificed to idols was an issue (see for example 1 Corinthians 8). Those strong in faith and conscience who understood that this was a non-issue were not to use their strength as a stumbling block for the weak. Theirs was a position of privilege, but not for their own sake, and sometimes we limit our freedom for the sake of others.
This last example is universally applicable, for only the extreme libertine would ignore the idea of a social contract. There's much said today about the evils of censorship, but sometimes this is for the welfare of others (and indeed ourselves if we more more internally reflective - do you really think computer games where you can rape and kill prostitutes constitutes a good or a right?)