Christian Bakers, florists, wedding planners, photographers. All of them are discriminators, can you believe it!?
Well, You discriminate everyday, all the time, too. Yes, you!
We all do. You can’t order at a restaurant, watch the news, discipline your child, grade a research paper, or have a worldview or moral system, without discriminating.
You see, to discriminate means:
A) To make a distinction; B) to use good judgment (Source)
This is the primary definition and the secondary is:
To make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit
What is Discrimination?
The word “discrimination” has been corrupted in recent years. No one wants to be caught anywhere near discrimination, even though it used to mean you were just making a distinction, or even exercising good judgment!
If discrimination, on its own, just involves making a distinction, then discrimination on its own, isn’t wrong. There can be good and bad forms of discrimination. For example, if you put “discriminating” in front of “eater”, you’ve got something good there! Or if you treat child molesters differently than those who aren’t, you’re probably on the right track too.
Moreover, government discriminates, and in fact all laws discriminate — they make distinctions. “Person 1 can drive, because their vision is sufficiently good. Person 2 cannot.” That’s discrimination.
We lock people up in prison, not because of who they are, but because of the actions they take. That’s making a distinction between people — it’s discrimination.
The non-Christian who wants to punish and fine Christians who are guilty of “discrimination”, is, himself, discriminating by his very act! But “discrimination” is wrong we’re told. People are either confused, or just plain hypocrites when they try to enforce this “you shouldn’t discriminate” discrimination.
So, it isn’t just Christians bakers or florists who do it, everyone discriminates.
How To Do It Appropriately And Better
I want to help you to discriminate better. It is a sign of personal and intellectual maturity to be able to make refined distinctions — to discriminate, and to discriminate well.
1. Use An Objective Standard
What separates appropriate discrimination from inappropriate discrimination is the standard on which the discrimination is made.
There are two types of standards: subjective and objective standards.
A subjective standard would just be my personal preferences, desires, and opinions. There are some areas in life where subjective standards are appropriate. These would be areas where there is no objective standard. For example:
- The best flavor of ice cream
- Whether or not you should wear a suit on Sunday
- The best looking car
All of these are matters of personal preference. There is no [objectively] right or wrong answer there.
On the other side, we have objective standards. These are based on something outside of ourselves — something unchanging. As God’s revelation to us, the Bible is an objective standard. Governmental laws are somewhat objective, but they are the creation of men, so they are mostly subjective.
When it comes to discrimination, the Bible is the best source of standards. Here are just a few sample, biblical, discriminations:
- Man is fundamentally bad, not good. (Romans 3:10)
- Jesus is the only means of salvation, all others are wrong. (John 14:6)
- Homosexuality is wrong — all actions are not the same. (1 Corinthians 6:9)
- Marriage is for only one man and one woman — not just two people. (Matthew 19:5)
- Verbal abuse is wrong, not right. (1 Corinthians 6:10)
Why the Bible as a standard? The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is excellent. He claimed to be God before his death, and then he rose from the dead, thus authenticating his claim. (For more on the Bible, Read this, this or this.)
So, to make better discriminations, you need to use an objective standard. Which is the stronger position: “Rape is wrong because I feel it is wrong” or “Rape is wrong because the law and Bible say so.”? Clearly, the second is the stronger position, because it is based on an objective, not subjective, standard.
2. Think Critically
The second step to improving your discriminating abilities is to think critically, to examine things closer and more consistently.
For a case study, let’s look at wedding professionals who don’t want to participate in same-sex marriage celebrations. The unanimous chorus from the media (and the court) claims that this is discrimination based on sexual-orientation, that these business owners are refusing to do business with people because they are homosexuals. Is this correct?
Any reasonably educated, clear-thinking, individual should be able to determine that this is not correct. These people aren’t refusing to “bake the cake” because the two people getting “married” are gay, they’re refusing to participate in a same-sex celebration. This is a large distinction.
Their religious convictions say that such a celebration is inherently sinful, and so these people don’t want to celebrate such a thing. Here’s where critical thinking needs to make an entrance. There are some key points that clearly demonstrate that they aren’t refusing to serve people based on sexual orientation.
- They have consistently served LGBT individuals, while knowing they were LGBT individuals for birthdays and other special occasions. This should end the discussion, since it shows the discrimination isn’t based on sexual orientation.
- They would also refuse to serve two straight men who wanted to “marry” each other. Once again, this shows the discrimination isn’t based on sexual orientation. Yes, this happens. (Just like gay people have often married people of the opposite sex, straight people sometimes want to “marry” someone of the same sex.)
So, a complete survey of the situation leads to the conclusion that the discrimination is based on the behavior of the people (the “marriage”), not their individual characteristics. Or, you could say, their actions instead of their attractions.
This is why the denial of service in the case of same-sex marriage is TOTALLY different than a denial of service based on race. Race is not an action, or type of event, but a same-sex “wedding” is.
Refusing to serve someone because they are black is wrong. Refusing to serve someone because they’re gay is wrong. Refusing to participate in an event based on the inherent celebratory nature of the event is not wrong.
A Biblical, gospel-centered, worldview should lead us to treat all people with love and compassion. And a Biblical, gospel-centered, worldview will also demand that we make refined distinctions — that we discriminate — just like Jesus, and Paul did. We must treat different actions differently. We must call, and treat, sin as sin.
But when you discriminate, do it based on an objective standard, and do it after a critical examination of the facts.