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.”
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.
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 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.|