The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Four Reasons Why We Discriminate

Posted on: July 19, 2016

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Why do people discriminate against others? What is the motive? What do they hope to gain?

If we understand the answers to those questions, it can help us stop discriminating against others, and enable us to understand and help those who discriminate against us.

Last week, in the aftermath of the Dallas police shootings, we looked at four reasons why Christians should not discriminate. That was in the context of racial discrimination.

This week, we want to include racial discrimination, but go beyond race. People of all races discriminate against those within their own race.   So it is important for us all to understand where discrimination comes from, and how we can open ourselves to the Holy Spirit to cleanse it from our hearts.

There are at least four reasons why we discriminate, whether it is against another race, or another person within our race.

  1. Insecurity

Subconsciously, we may be insecure and feel a need to tear others down as a way of raising ourselves up. We are all vulnerable to feelings of inferiority, insecurity and inadequacy. Satan and the fallen world in which we live make sure of that.

Just let someone point out an unflattering physical feature, or incompetence, or deficiency, and the flush of embarrassment or anger that follows is a sure-fire sign of our vulnerability to insecurities.

In situations such as these, we usually either retreat or attack, and discrimination is a tool we may use to attack.

  1. Ignorance

Last week, we looked at reasons why we should not discriminate. They included the fact that we are created in the image of God, that God views us as equal in His eyes, that we should “do unto others as we would have others do unto us,” and that God created diversity throughout His creation, and He intends us to experience unity in the midst of diversity.

If we don’t know these things, were never taught these things, or were taught the opposite, we may be more vulnerable to the temptations brought on by insecurity.

  1. Weakness

We may have grown up in a culture of discrimination. Our family, our school, our town/city may have had discrimination as a value, and though we may have known or sensed that it was wrong, we did not have the personal strength to stand against it. Peer pressure is a powerful thing.

  1. Pride

We may find some who are different from us genuinely off-putting, and out of a sense of superiority, we look down on them.

Again, this goes way beyond race. It may involve those who are mentally or physically handicapped, those who are “odd-looking”, those who are above or below us in the socio-economic ladder, those who are culturally different. And because there is a genuine aversion, we indulge our aversion and discriminate against others.

There are surely other reasons why we discriminate, but we don’t need to look at all the reasons why. We just need to see a representative sample to conclude that it is wrong, and we need to forsake it.

Growing up, I was socially ambidextrous. I both experienced and exhibited discrimination. I grew up in borderline poverty, and I keenly felt the condescension of those better off financially. Instead of inoculating me against discrimination, this insecurity only fed my tendency to raise myself up by tearing others down when the situation seemed to call for it.

Insecurity, ignorance, weakness and pride were all part of my “zoo” of foibles that I have had to give to the Lord for His cleansing action.

We are called upon, not to discriminate, but to love (Romans 13:8). Whether it is race, socio-economics, disabilities, cultural values, or any other difference, we are to honor others as those created in the image of God, with inherent and infinite value, just as we are. Recognizing and accepting this, as I said last week, elevates us without inflating us, and humbles us without debasing us.

Christians need to get this right. If we do not, who will? The truth compels us, and the Holy Spirit strengthens us (Galatians 5:16). As we love our neighbors as ourselves, let us do unto them as we would have them to unto us. (Luke 6:31)

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