Christian Biblical Counsel: PREJUDICE

Prejudice

Pulling Up the Roots of Pride

by June Hunt

“Many people tailor their religion to fit the pattern of their prejudice.”

—E. C. McKenzie

i.     definitions

A. What Is Prejudice?

•     The word prejudice comes from the Latin word praejudicium, which means to “prejudge” (prae, “before”; judicium, “judgment”).

•     Prejudice is a preconceived opinion, usually unfavorable, formed without sufficient knowledge or just grounds.

•     Prejudice is an irrational attitude based on an overgeneralized belief and is directed toward an individual, group or race.

•     Prejudice is the illegitimate offspring of ignorance and/or arrogance.

•     Prejudice is a mental slant that comes from your culture and makes up your mind before you think.

•     Prejudice is a mental blind spot that shuts you off from viewing the facts in a given situation.

•     Prejudice is a psychological fence that keeps you from healthy friendships and confines you to your own “back yard.”

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.”

(Proverbs 18:2)

B. What Are Synonyms for Prejudice?

•     Bigotry—intolerant attitudes or actions directed toward anyone or anything that differs from your own opinion

•     Discrimination—a prejudicial attitude expressed in an unfavorable action or treatment directed toward a specific category of people

“Have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

(James 2:4)

Anger and hatred are two emotions that are often confused. Anger generally is a response to behavior, while hatred is a response to persons. Prejudice is a form of hatred focusing on the personhood rather than on the behavior of an individual.

Hatred manifested in prejudice …

•     does not concern itself with what a person does, but with who the person is as a member of a particular class or group

•     is characterized by an attitude of indifference toward the pain or pleasure of the targeted group or member

•     desires the extinction or annihilation of the class toward which the prejudice is directed

C. What Are Some Categories of Prejudice?

There are four levels of identity:

•     Human identity—being like all other people

•     Group identity—being like some other people

•     Individual identity—being like no other person

•     Christian identity—being like Jesus Christ (in attitude and action)

We tend to characterize people on the basis of observed differences that place them in certain classes or groups. These characterizations tend to produce unfounded, hostile attitudes toward others based on …

•     race

•     appearance

•     occupation

•     education

•     age

•     personal habits

•     social class

•     nationality

•     intelligence

•     gender

•     group membership

•     religion

•     income

•     disability

•     marital status

•     region

“But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”

(James 2:9)

 

ii.    characteristics of prejudice

A. The Prejudiced Personality is often …

•     Extremely rigid

•     Highly structured

•     Fearful of change

•     Authoritative

•     Self-righteous

•     Controlling

•     Mistrustful

•     Cynical

•     Closed-minded

•     Legalistic

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”

(Titus 3:3)

B. The Progression of Prejudice

Acting Out Attitudes of the Heart

•     Satire

—  sarcastic jokes, slurs and ridicule directed at others

•     Slander

—  hostile criticism of others voiced openly

•     Discrimination

—  direct avoidance of others through segregation and exclusion

•     Open hostility

—  threats of violence and overt physical attacks on others

•     Physical attack or rioting

—  open destruction and rebellion against civil authority

•     Execution

—  systematic killing of specific groups (genocide), lynchings and massacres

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.”

(James 3:9–10)

C. The Compassion Jesus Practiced with Victims of Prejudice

•     the leper of Matthew 8:1–3

•     the centurion foreigner of Luke 7:1–10

•     the tax collector of Matthew 9:9–13 and Luke 19:1–10

•     the demon-possessed man of Mark 5:1–20

•     the Greek woman of Mark 7:24–30

•     the children of Matthew 19:13–14 and of John 4:46–53

•     the Samaritan adulteress of John 4:1–42

•     the paralyzed, the blind and the dumb of Matthew 9:1–2, 27–30, 32–33

 

iii.   causes of prejudice

“Injustice opens the door for demonic oppression, an oppression that people are powerless to deal with outside of the cleansing, healing grace of God.”

A. Philosophy

•     Believing that cultural customs and traditions are sacred … rather than flawed by human weaknesses

•     Believing that one person must make all the adjustments in racial relations … rather than that both be involved

•     Believing that only certain groups of people have prejudices … rather than that everyone everywhere is vulnerable to prejudice

•     Believing that God’s world of people is only a larger version of your “own backyard” … rather than its being inclusive of people from every race, color, language and nation

•     Believing that you can change your attitudes in your own strength … rather than relying on God to work in you to empower you to develop a Christlike attitude toward others

B. Projection

•     You may, without realizing it, attribute your own ideas, feelings or characteristics to other people.

•     You may condemn others because of regarding them as having feelings or characteristics you yourself have neither acknowledged nor resolved.

•     You may have inner conflicts that are rooted in …

—  a need for significance (pride or arrogance)

—  a need for security (fear)

a. Projecting inferior status onto others because of low personal self-worth

b. Projecting selfish motives onto others because of impure personal motives

c. Projecting inappropriate behavior onto others because of personal inner rebellion

d. Projecting sexist attitudes onto others because of personal identity conflict

e. Projecting blame onto others because of a personal need for a scapegoat

f. Projecting unjust punishment onto others because of personal inner anger

g. Projecting boundaries onto others because of personal loneliness and isolation

“As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”

(Proverbs 27:19)

C. Perception

•     A bad experience with one person … may lead you to become prejudiced against an entire group of people.

•     Stereotypes of a certain group … can lead to prejudice against that entire group.

•     Media reports that show a consistently negative image of a particular group … may influence your opinion of that group.

•     Peer pressure … may persuade you to adopt a prejudice toward select individuals or groups.

•     Misunderstanding the cultural values of a particular group … can lead to prejudice toward that group.

•     Believing that humanity evolved … may lead you to believe that one race is superior to another.

D. Root Cause

Wrong Belief:

“Some of us are created better than others. It is natural for me to feel superior.”

Right Belief:

Since God does not show favoritism toward anyone, if I have a heart of prejudice toward others, I place myself as a judge higher than God. My need for significance and for security is met through a personal relationship and reliance on Christ, who loves me, died for me and, if I am a Christian, abides within me forever.

“God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:11)

 

iv.  steps to solution

“If we have broken our covenants with God and violated our relationships with others, the path to reconciliation must begin with the act of confession.”

“God wants to give us deep and lasting gifts of friendship with people of other cultures. God’s standard for relationships is pure, fervent love, and that takes time.”

A. Key Verse to Memorize

“He himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”

(Ephesians 2:14)

B. Key Passage to Read and Reread

“From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

(2 Corinthians 5:16–19)

Ministry of Acceptance

•     You no longer view others on the basis of your own understanding.

•     You are a new person in Christ.

•     You are completely accepted by God through Christ.

•     You are given the ministry of extending acceptance to others.

C. Do’s and Don’ts of Acceptance

Don’t judge the heart of another.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

Do … Ask God to search your own heart.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23–24)

Don’t judge by outward appearances.

“The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height.… The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’ ” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Do … See and seek to meet the needs of others.

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)

Don’t assume you can’t change your attitudes.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Do … Assume the responsibility to change your thinking.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

Don’t use derogatory names or terms.

“Remind the people … to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” (Titus 3:1–2)

Do … Ask God to season your speech with His love.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Don’t discriminate just because “everybody does it.”

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

Do … Treat others as you want others to treat you.

“In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

Don’t laugh at the differences in others.

“A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.” (Proverbs 11:12)

Do … Value the differences that create the rich tapestry of God’s creation.

“Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another?” (Malachi 2:10)

Don’t react when others are prejudiced against you.

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8–9)

Do … Be prepared to suffer the painful effects of prejudice for the cause of Christ.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11–12)

D. Have a Heart of Equality

Equality

Express God’s perspective on the equality of all people.

•     Ask God to love others through you.

•     Reach out with compassion for others.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Quit the tendency to stereotype any persons different from yourself.

•     Be willing to set aside your preconceived notions.

•     Learn to appreciate and enjoy cultural differences.

“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.” (James 2:1)

Understand the God-given worth of all human beings.

•     Look at every person as being created in God’s image.

•     Realize that it is God’s desire for every person to be accepted into God’s family.

“God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Accept your personal God-given worth based on your position in Christ.

•     Realize the total forgiveness that is yours in Christ.

•     Acceptance of God’s grace enables you to give grace to others.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:7–8)

Learn that prejudice is a product of irrational stereotypes and emotionalism, not a result of rational reasoning.

•     Be willing to admit that you may not know all the facts.

•     Study Scripture in order to develop discernment between good and evil.

“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” (1 John 2:9)

Invest in others by having a servant’s heart toward everyone.

•     Get involved in helping people you wouldn’t normally help.

•     Get to know someone who is the object of your prejudice.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

Turn from judging others to self-examination.

•     Pray for God to reveal your blind spots.

•     When tempted to judge others, focus on your own sin.

“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:4)

Yield in obedience to the nature of Christ living within you.

•     With Christ in you, you can respond to everyone with His love.

•     With Christ in you, you can live a godly life.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3–4)

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

(Galatians 3:28)

The Propositions of Paul’s Pronouncement

•     In Christ is the principle of equality—everyone deserves fair treatment.

•     In Christ is the principle of significance—no group is inferior or superior to another.

•     In Christ is the principle of respect—differences are acceptable to the extent that they do not violate the principles of the Word of God.

E. Help Others Move toward Healing

•     Help others to pattern their emotional responses in accordance with God’s character.

—  Surrendering their mind, emotions and will to the Lordship (rule) of Christ

—  Purposing to view and love others as God sees and loves them

—  Imitating Jesus’ example of humility, forgiveness and acceptance toward others

•     Help others to examine themselves.

—  Coming to terms with personal, inner hurts

—  Identifying targets of deep-seated emotions

—  Choosing to live responsibly

•     Help others to build self-esteem.

—  Resolving to end their victimization—“I will not be a victim any longer!”

—  Pursuing bicultural competence—“I will learn to live in both worlds!”

—  Making an antiracism assertion—“I will protect my rights without violating the rights of others.”

•     Help others to forgive.

—  At some point … victims of prejudice must come to terms with the issue of forgiveness in order to fully heal from the hurts of their past.

—  Unless they extend forgiveness, hurt and hatred will continue.

•     Help others to repent.

—  At some point … perpetrators of prejudice must come to terms with the issue of repentance in order to be restored to spiritual and emotional wholeness.

—  To repent of prejudice is to give up your right to judge others because of their being in a particular group.

F.  Promote Biblical Theology to Prevent Prejudice

•     To believe I’m finite … just like everyone else—takes away any pretense of infallibility.

•     To believe I’m fallen … just like everyone else—allows you to make allowances for the failures of others.

•     To believe I’m of value … just like everyone else—takes away a deflated or inflated view of yourself and of others.

—  We are all “designer brands” … uniquely created by God.

—  We all have a high “sticker price” … bought with the blood of Christ.

—  We all have unique destinies … planned specifically by God.

—  We are all members of “royalty” … adopted into the family of God

•     I believe in God—His character, His purposes, His love and His acceptance for all.

•     I believe in love—the most powerful force in the universe.

•     I believe in grace—my sins forgiven by the sacrifice of Christ.

•     I believe in victory—empowered by God’s strength.

The   problem of prejudice is, in reality, the sin of superiority.

—June   Hunt

 

“When every tribe, kindred and tongue is united around the throne of God, we will see the answer to all the yearnings of the human heart down through the ages.”

 

Pulling Up the Roots of Prejudice

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men   and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no   one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble   and defile many.”

(Hebrews 12:14–15)

Pray for the   Holy Spirit to convict the heart of your prejudiced friend or loved one.

Prepare to   challenge prejudice when it occurs.

Persist in   correcting false generalities made about others.

Purpose to keep   the conversation based on facts rather than on emotions.

Point out only   factual information.

Profess the   fact that you are not knowledgeable in certain areas and be willing to be   vulnerable.

Present God’s   perspective on the intrinsic value of all people.

Promote   fellowship with others who are not prejudiced.

Perceive the   unmet needs that prejudicial attitudes are feeding.

Plant the seeds   of Christ’s love and His ability to meet all our needs.

 

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brogan, Dick. Not Our Kind of Folks? Nashville: Broadman, 1978.

Conway, Jim. Making Real Friends in a Phony World. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989.

Dawson, John. Healing America’s Wounds. Ventura, CA: Regal, 1994.

Dittes, James E. “Prejudice.” In Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling, edited by Rodney J. Hunter, H. Newton Malony, Liston O. Mills and John Patton, 946–47. Nashville: Abingdon, 1990.

Evans, Tony. Let’s Get To Know Each Other: What White Christians Should Know About Black Christians, Nashville: Tomas Nelson, 1995.

Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008

McQuilkin, Robertson. “Therapeutic Theology for Hurting People.” Christian Counseling Today 7, no. 2 (1999): 20–25.

Perkins, Spencer, and Chris Rice. More than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993.

Ridley, Charles R. “Building Self-Esteem in Racially Diverse Populations.” Christian Counseling Today 9, no. 1 (2001): 46–49.

Ridley, Charles R., and Jeffrey Charles White. “Hatred: The Inner Side of Anger.” Christian Counseling Today 8, no. 2 (2000): 34–37.

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. Biblical Answers to Contemporary Issues. Chicago: Moody, 1991.

Timpe, Randi L. “Prejudice.” In Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology, edited by David G. Benner, 859–61. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985.

Washington, Raleigh, and Glen Kehrein. Breaking Down Walls: A Model for Reconciliation in an Age of Racial Strife. Chicago: Moody, 1993.

Weary, Dolphus, and William Hendricks. “I Ain’t Comin’ Back.” Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1990.[1]

 


[1] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Prejudice: Pulling Up the Roots of Pride (1–14). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s