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Confronting Bias in a Divided Nation: 8 Helpful Bible-based Tips

  • Pastor Ric Fritz President and Director, Center for Christian Civic Engagement
Confronting Bias in a Divided Nation: 8 Helpful Bible-based Tips
It seems impossible to go through a day without reading a headline regarding racial tensions in this nation. This post started out addressing the pervasiveness of racism and how people, of all colors, are very adept in exercising it. However, racism cannot be addressed without first addressing the source of racism, bias. We live in a world full of bias. Recently Starbucks closed down all of its stores to conduct bias training in response to a race-based incident that generated a lot of negative press for the company. Like most secular organizations Starbucks while being on to something is also woefully missing the full Truth of the matter.

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A world of bias

A world of bias

A review of Starbucks advisers demonstrates a clear bias in their effort to address bias. Their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) “experts” include members from the Equity Justice Initiative, NAACP, and Demos (not a very diverse collection of expertise). Starbucks says their expanded efforts will include “The Anti-Defamation League, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, UnidosUS, Muslim Advocates, and representatives of LGBTQ groups, religious groups, people with disabilities, and other."

If true to worldly form, their representation of “religious groups” will likely consist of liberal theology Christian groups who will fail to accurately represent Godly truth. It is also noteworthy that Muslim Advocates rate a special category outside of religious groups.

The inevitable result is a Christian, Biblical stance on the issue of universal bias, which is absolutely essential in addressing the issue, will be missing, drowned out, or even shouted down in this “diverse” “inclusive” group of activist organizations—most of which profit from the continued existence of bias.

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Putting on Our Biblical Worldview- Acknowledging Bias

Putting on Our Biblical Worldview- Acknowledging Bias

Bias is a result of our separation from God. Our fallen nature combined with rebellion against God at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 1-9) resulted in a divided world where bias came into being.

“At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there.

They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”

But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”

In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.”

Due to the language differences people were scattered across the world resulting in different races, cultures, and customs. These groups developed a bias favorable towards people like themselves and developed an inherent distrust of outsiders. The affects of this world event continues to this day.

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Everyone Has Biases

Everyone Has Biases

No one is bias-free. Bias exists in everyone; even the most multicultural, tolerant, diversity-focused person has a bias. At minimum they have a bias against those who are not multicultural, tolerant, or diverse.

When the secular world tackles bias issues it is rarely done from a universal bias point of view. Most often bias is targeted at one specific population group. This is disingenuous and misleading because everyone has bias issues.

Whites have an inherent bias to whites; blacks have an inherent bias to blacks; Hispanics to Hispanics; Native Americans to Native Americans; Christians to Christians (including bias within denominations); Muslims to Muslims; atheists to atheists; Republicans to Republicans; Democrats to Democrats; rich to rich; poor to poor; urban to urban; LGBTQ to LGBTQ; old to old; young to young; and the list goes on and on with sports teams, geographic regions, university alliances, corporate affiliations, etc.

No one is bias-free.

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Weapon of choice of the Enemy

Weapon of choice of the Enemy

Bias is a weapon of choice for Satan. In his effort to cause division bias is one of his most devastating weapons. He started by dividing God and his creation through sin introduced in Genesis 5: 1-5. His division effort is now aimed within the Church.

Indeed, one of the first problems in the earliest years of the Church was a result of bias. It is captured in Acts 6:1, “But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.” Remember, the church in Acts was as unified as the church has ever been. However, language and cultural bias invaded resulting in unequal treatment of widows.

There are any number of Proverbs on the issue, but Proverbs 28:21 shows how easily people will yield to Satan’s use of bias. It says, “Showing partiality is never good, yet some will do wrong for a mere piece of bread.”

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Overcoming Bias—Proper Source of Identity

Overcoming Bias—Proper Source of Identity

Bias is a result of mistaken identity. As we base our identity upon superficial traits such as color, national origin, school attendance, sports enthusiasm, etc. we lose proper perspective of God creating everyone equal in value.

For instance, when we choose to take pride in our race we open ourselves to all the sins associated to pride. Let me explain.

As I base some of my identity and value in being white I automatically degrade the value of others who are different from me. If race has value, then anyone without my racial characteristic is proportionally less valuable. This may sound simplistic, but it bears truth in the fruit of everyday living. Wherever racial pride exists so does racial tension. Hence, every race that finds value and meaning within its race automatically creates the conditions for racism to manifest. Racism and bias effects every race.

There is one race, the human race. Many scoff and roll their eyes at this statement, but it does not make it any less true. The sooner we become race blind–focusing on the unifying power of one race, one blood, one people–the better off we will be.

Our identity is found in God and God alone. However, a fallen world causes people to look everywhere other than God for their value. This hurts us is so many ways.

 

God's call

God's call

God provides us the remedy to bias in Galatians 3:27-28, “And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” When we properly find our identity and unity in Jesus Christ, we are then empowered to be impartial and unbiased.

If this single call to unity is not enough I will let God’s Word, in both the Old and New Testament, provide further clarity on the issue.

“Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly.” Leviticus 19:15

“…It is wrong to show favoritism when passing judgment.” Proverbs 24:23

“Then Peter replied, ‘I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.’”  Acts 10: 34-35

“My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, ‘You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor’—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?” James 2: 1-4

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.” 1 Timothy 5:21, NASB

“For there is no partiality with God.” Romans 2:11, NASB

Just as there is no partiality with God so too should there be no partiality in us.

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Bias vs. Preference

Bias vs. Preference

There are complicating factors to this conversation. For one, how should we address the idea of “preference”? We all have preferences. We prefer certain types of music, food, entertainment, worship styles, Bible translations, etc. Sometimes acting upon our preference creates the appearance of bias.

Nowhere is this more apparent than on Sunday morning, a day where Christians are more divided than on any other day of the week. To an unfortunate degree, out of a sense of preference, whites tend to attend certain types of church services and blacks attend other services. A whole host of churches, including Slavic, Polynesian, Hispanic, etc. replicate this trend. Preferences exist and often cause people with like preferences to come together.

Does this preference of church service, often falling along skin color, mean the church is segregated? Only to the point where a white person walking into a black service might be or genuinely feel unwelcome and vice versa. Preference is not bias; poor and unwelcome treatment of visitors reveals bias. Never let your preferences become an excuse to act in a bias manner.

Photo courtesy: Unsplash/Sarah Noltner

Bias vs. Truth

Bias vs. Truth

The second complicating factor in the conversation of bias deals with speaking and standing upon God’s Truth. The world interprets Christians speaking the Biblical truth on issues such as abortion, marriage, or sexual issues as being bias. This is wrong and untrue.

Paradoxically the opposite is actually being exercised, it is the attacker who is demonstrating active bias. When Christians, speaking and standing upon God’s truth are responded to with terms such as bigoted, homophobic, sexist, misogynist, and the most ironic slur of all, hateful they are the ones under biased attack.

Standing for God’s truth appears biased and bigoted in this world only because the world’s stances on these issues are so anti-God. We must NEVER yield or apologize for siding with God. However we must try to speak God’s truth in a way that demonstrates God’s grace.

To be certain, there are some who use God’s truth as a bias weapon and use God’s Word in a manner to only cause hurt. The mature, genuine Christian uses God’s Words in a manner that may cause hurt but ALWAYS points to the healing that comes from Jesus Christ.

Based on the Center for Christian Civic Engagement article "Universal Nature of Bias." Used with permission.

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Publication date: June 27, 2018





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