Do You Discriminate?

Just over five months ago my favorite football team’s city made the national news. And this time is wasn’t for winning the Superbowl. This time it was because the local Starbucks was involved in an incident of racial discrimination that sparked protests across the United States and even led Starbucks to close 8,000 of their stores for a day of “anti-bias training.”[1]

Discrimination. I must confess, something in me balks at this article. Our country is divided. It seems that every week there’s a new viral video, a new Twitter post, a fresh news story, and another outrage over some form of discrimination or another. Why should I add my voice to this overwhelming commotion?

It seems that the more we talk about things like racism, religion, gender identity, and other platforms of discrimination, the more divided we become. Is it even worth it?

Personally, I would prefer to ignore the news, live my life, and try my hardest to treat everybody as Christ would. But on the other hand, I believe that there are a lot of very real issues in our culture today and refusing to discuss them is not the proper reaction. And so with this in mind, I shall thus proceed on with my two cents about discrimination.

Scriptural basis

As Christians, we must denounce all forms of prejudice and partiality. The apostle James condemns showing favoritism in the second chapter of his letter. In Galatians, we read of Paul’s condemnation of partiality and how he confronted Peter with this issue. Jesus Christ himself was known to show no favoritism in the people that he hung out with.

There are more Scriptures that we could look at, but I think that we know these things. In fact, I’ve never heard an Anabaptist openly condone racism or discrimination. But often when I think of discrimination, I picture NFL players kneeling, a baker somewhere out west, or some other national event. What if other forms of discrimination and partiality are happening a lot closer to home and we just fail to recognize them?

Areas of concern

Jokes. “A lesbian, a Mexican, and Donald Trump walk into a bar…” My friends, if a joke is demeaning to a certain group of people, it should not be in the Christian’s bag, no matter how many laughs it gets.

Wealth or social status. Do we as thrifty Anabaptists subconsciously have more respect for the person who has started a successful business and can donate a hundred grand towards our church renovations? Do we tend to gravitate towards and admire the beautiful, athletic, and popular? Are there people from “the other side of route 30” (yes, that’s a real saying) that we’d just rather not hang out with?

LGBTQ movement. I can remember some of the responses to the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize same sex marriage. Though pornography and abortion are equally horrendous, the outrage over this decision surpassed anything that I have ever seen. Somehow, we as Anabaptists seem to have an extra aversion to the sin of homosexuality. While all Christians must indeed hate all sin, we also need to avoid the pitfall ostracizing certain people because of their sexual orientation.

Those with differing views. Do our personal beliefs about things such as standards of dress, jewelry, or tattoos cause us to pass immediate judgment upon those with obviously differing views? Do we avoid certain people just because of the way that they look? What about those from our own churches who question the standards. Do we immediately condemn them, or do we try to understand their viewpoint?

Two attitudes to pursue

Seek to understand. I don’t think that I can emphasize this point too much. Seek to understand. Avoid stereotyping people according to what the media or culture says about them. Follow the example of Christ and intentionally reach out to people who have different views than you. Ask questions. Stand firmly on the Word of God, but be open-minded.

Humility. As the song says, “the ground is level at the foot of the cross.” In light of what Christ has done for us, how can any Christian rightfully feel superior to any other human? A correct understanding of the Gospel and our place in the grand scheme of the universe will always bring humility when dealing with those around us.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. While we may not be committing acts of blatant racism or participating in genocide, the subtler forms of discrimination can sometimes creep into our lives as we put people into boxes and stamp a judgment onto them.

What are your thoughts? How can conservative Anabaptists improve in the area of showing partiality towards our fellow man?

 

Troy Troy Stauffer’s home lies just north of Hershey, PA (the sweetest place on earth). A member of the class of 2011 at Faith Mennonite High School, he has now returned to his alma mater as Mr. Stauffer and teaches some math, science, and phys ed classes. When not grading papers or doing lesson prep, he enjoys sports, videography, strategy games, spending time with friends, singing, and playing piano.

 

 

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/17/business/starbucks-arrests-racial-bias.html

4 thoughts on “Do You Discriminate?

  1. Good thoughts here, Troy. I appreciate your emphasis on examining our own lives. One area that Anabaptists in general and I in particular can be weak on is not talking bad about others. This often takes the form of exploiting their “weakness” which basically means ridicule any way in which they are different from us.
    I’m concerned that the liberal left has taken over the call to equality for two reasons. 1. Christians should be so busy promoting kingdom values that there would be no need for other social justice campaigns. 2. I don’t think they have an ideal world in mind, or no over-arching goal or principle by which to determine when we’ve arrived at our destination. In other words, I think they will be like so many other organizations-churches, labor unions, governments, etc and tend to become top-heavy and fight problems long after they cease to exist and are superseded by other problems. Again, thanks for writing.

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  2. Good Article Troy! With the homosexual, we can still find common ground in our need of Christ. I remember a conversation I had a number of years ago with a homosexual friend. He questioned why God would give him those desires at such a young age and justified that God would not have given him those desires without permission to live it out. Later, I wish I would have asked if he thinks I could live out my sexual desires before marriage since those desires are also God given. Both of us are subject to the same God and what He asks of us in obedience.

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  3. Thanks for sharing! I’m encouraged to keep letting God’s grace and impartial love flow through me.
    And I agree… It’d be somewhat nice to bury my head in the sand when it comes to all these race and gender identify confusions the world seems to be in. So much of the current issues seem very grey. Until I ask myself, “How would Jesus respond to this? Would Jesus laugh at this joke? Would Jesus ignore this person just cause of his race / sexuality /social status etc?” then suddenly things clear up back to black and white.
    Blessings!

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  4. Thank you for the really good article! You showed me different areas in my life that I discriminate with out even realizing it. It is sobering…

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