"Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions." - G.K. Chesterton
Discrimination. Tolerance. Diversity. One's bad and two are good, right?
Absolutely! Sort of. Maybe, because it kinda depends. And stuff.
I recently read on the Christian Science Monitor (not a site I frequent often) about how "[c]enturies of British royal discrimination came to an end... after Commonwealth leaders agreed to drop rules that give sons precedence as heir to the throne and bar anyone in line for the crown from marrying a Roman Catholic."
That word, that d-word, "discrimination", is so powerfully loaded in today's culture. Any time discrimination is ended, we should be glad.
In other news, I was reading through "Teaching Tolerance" magazine a few weeks ago. What a read! Every once and a while I even found things that I agreed with!
But what is the Christian perspective on "tolerance" and "diversity"? Jesus said "love your enemies." God has chosen and redeemed sinners from all walks of life and all depths of sin. So we should just accept everyone as they are.
And here's where it gets tricky, and the deceitful and un-taken-captive thoughts of this world will pull the wool over our eyes, if we aren't careful.
What's wrong with this sentence?
"We're working towards a world that is full of peace and tolerance for people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and religions."
How about this one?
"We are proud to announce that the discriminatory policies of the military against blacks and women have been repealed, and that now both African-Americans and the daughters of our country are free to join our nation's armed forces."
I'll give you a sec to take those sentences captive before I point out what one of my big problems with them is.
"He who defines the terms, wins."
Tolerance, diversity, and discrimination can all be good things OR bad things depending on how they are defined.
But it gets even more tricky when the definitions given mix apples and oranges.
Race, Religion, Gender, Sexual Orientation. These four so often are said in the same breath.
But they are totally different.
Race: A matter of birth.
- Something you have no say in.
- Something you are born into.
- Something that does not change your status towards God in that you are still made in His Image (though there will be plenty of spiritual inheritance from your forefathers which will either help or hinder your growth in The Grace and Knowledge of God).
- Something that gives no Biblical justification for discrimination (that is, discrimination against a certain race as being inherently less valuable. This kind of discrimination is not Biblically acceptable. Gen. 1+2)
- Something that you must choose.
- Something that, while you might be "born into" or "raised into" it, is not an unchangeable part of you.
- Something that very much changes your status towards God in that you are either believing His Truth or believing a lie and walking in rebellion to Him.
- Something that does give Biblical justification for discrimination- in fact, Scripture commands us to discriminate against false teaching, to preach The Gospel, to proclaim that God is the only God and Christ is The Only Way and Truth and Life. (Jn. 14:6)
- Again, something you have no choice in.
- You cannot change it (well, technically you can- kind of- today, but you shouldn't change it, at any rate.)
- This also does not change your status toward God. He created male and female in His Glorious Image.
- But this category is different from race in that there is Biblical justification for good discrimination. What does this look like? It looks like difference in roles- not difference in value. The husband lays down his life for his wife- the wife lays down her will for her husband. The men fight. The women keep the home. The man is the head of the home, the wife is his helper. So on. (Gen. 3)
- Something you have a choice in. And if you're going to argue that you were born a homosexual, I must reply that God does not make provisions for that in His Word.
- You can change your "sexual orientation"- for better or for worse, it is a choice you make.
- This does change your status toward God in that it is an area of obedience (just like any other area of moral decision that He has addressed in His Law).
- This is an area which is Biblically discriminated against in that homosexuality is Biblically condemned. It's a crime on the level of murder or adultery. So sexual orientation isn't just a choice like red socks or blue socks- it's a choice like whether or not to murder someone. That's how Scripture presents it. (Lev. 18:22)
So to go back to the sentences above:
"We're working towards a world that is full of peace and tolerance for people of all races (non-moral issue- we should be tolerant of other races), genders (non-moral issue- we should be tolerant of the opposite sex), sexual orientations (moral issue- you will either obey God or you will rebel against Him), and religions (moral issue- you will either obey God or you will rebel against Him)."
"We are proud to announce that the discriminatory policies of the military against blacks (no Biblical difference of role between black man and white man) and women (plenty of Biblical difference between the roles of women and men) have been repealed, and that now both African-Americans and the daughters of our country are free to join our nation's armed forces."
See how this mixes categories? See how it compares apples to oranges? Hopefully this will better arm you to take those thoughts captive as you read the next liberal tolerance magazine promoting such hoggidy-washidy.
What about racial profiling?
Well, there's a difference between saying "You're black therefore you are inherently less valuable than me" and "You're black, we're inner-city and I've seen a lot of inner-city crime being committed by black people so I'm going to be careful until I get to know you."
There's a difference between "All Arabians are bad" and "Most terrorists are Muslims, most Muslims are from the middle-east, so if I see a guy with a turban and big black beard boarding my plane I might switch flights."
There's a difference between "Mexicans are unworthy to come to America" and "Most Mexican drug cartel members are... um... Mexican."
The first example in each case is a wrong thought process. Someone's race doesn't change their inherent value before God, so it shouldn't change their inherent value before us.
But in the second case it is simply a examination of the "fruits" of a certain race- watching the patterns and simply being wise and using common sense. If I'm looking for good Mexican food odds are I'll look for a Mexican chef. If I'm looking for illegal immigrants from Mexico- odds are I'll be looking for Mexican people! (Which isn't to say that I agree with our current immigration policies- far from it!- but another topic for another time.)
Martin Luther King Jr. gave his dream speech, hoping for the day when his kids would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
I still don't think that dream has been realized. What a group of people does will be used- should be used!- to evaluate individual members. Maybe the individual is better or worse than the reputation of those with whom he lives, in which case he can prove himself and be respected- or despised- for it.
But, today, when we do judge people (or a people group) by the content of their character we are criticized for being discriminatory.
Homeschoolers: Smart and respectful but dress funny
Tea Partiers: American flags and small government
Tennesseans: Confederate flags and banjos
Texans: Sweet tea. Like, really sweet tea.
New Yorkers: Wild accent
Blacks: Very athletic; also prone to crime
Whites: Can't dance or jump
Mexicans: Probably illegal
(Side note: Isn't it interesting that I can insult whites all I want and it never feels weird, but the moment that I say that blacks as a class are prone to crime I feel like an edgy hater?)
Are there legal Mexicans? Absolutely. Are there athletic whites? Sure. Smart, upstanding blacks? Most definitely. My "economics professor" is one of them.
But the stereotypes are there for a reason. Instead of bemoaning the stereotypes and trying to duct tape every mouth that might speak according to those societal prejudices, perhaps we should focus on fixing the root issues that led to the stereotypes. Things like insanely high fatherlessness in black communities. You take the fathers away from white families and watch the crime skyrocket. These things have causes. But instead of trying to stop everyone from noticing the fruit, someone ought to fix the tree.
Back to the initial concept of slippery terms. I have one for y'all to try.
I'll leave you with this gem- you can tear this one apart yourself, and let me know how the thought-capturing goes in the comments:
"They should also know how symbols like swastikas, nooses and Confederate battle flags can offend and anger other students." - Teaching Tolerance article
(Oh, by the way, I feel very discriminated against by the Teaching Tolerance magazine. The amount of white males shown in the pictures in the magazine is nowhere near proportionate to the actual percentage of the population which we make up. It's almost like they're judging us or something.)