Prejudice and (Pre) Judgment
I would like to propose that another word for prejudice is to pre-judge. Prejudice is not founded on facts. There is one who is qualified to judge and that is God. As humans we all pass judgment on many things, many people, many times a day. God created us with the ability to think and to make judgment as to how we will live our lives. Thus, it is normal to have thoughts about most things that affect our lives. We teach our children about “stranger danger.” We teach them that a dog can be dangerous, and they should not play with a dog they do not know. We teach them that it is wrong to take anything that does not belong to them. We may teach them that a certain part of town is unsafe for them to be in. In short, we pass our values on to our children.
It is from what we experience as we are growing up that we develop a judgment about many situations we may face later on in life. Because of what I read about and learned about how gangs function in Chicago and New York, I developed a prejudice (Prejudgment) about how dangerous people on the streets of Chicago and New York might be. I had read stories about Pacific Garden Mission - how God took men and women off the streets and away from crime, how he gave them a new hope. I really wanted to see this for myself. Fast forward a few years:
- My husband and I with our two almost teenage children are driving through Chicago
- We decide we want to visit the Pacific Garden Mission
- The only parking we find is almost a mile away from the Mission
- That’s ok – we will enjoy walking the streets. It will be a good experience for the children.
- Before taking off, we warn them of the dangerous people out there and let them know how important it is that they stay with us
- Because of all I have read and heard, I have a prejudice. Probably at least 90% of the people we see on the streets are not safe.
- As we walk along, our daughter is so busy gazing into the store-front windows that she is paying little attention to anything else.
- I am walking beside her and suddenly see her fall into the arms of a BIG black man.
- Because I have a prejudice for the people of Chicago, I know he had only evil intentions and that he was trying to kidnap her.
- My next reaction is to yell: “You leave my daughter alone.”
- He began trying to apologize – I kept yelling at him to leave my daughter alone.
- What I didn’t see and my husband did see is what really happened:
- Tami did not see him because she was so busy looking in the shop windows.
- He did not see her in time to avoid a collision
- She ran straight into him and he instinctively caught her in his arms so that she would not fall. He was SCARED. I was SCARED!!!
- Because of my prejudice, I knew that he was up to no good. Thankfully, we were able to apologize and part on good terms because someone saw the whole story.
So much of life is just like my experience. I really don’t think it was a sin to try to protect my daughter. The real sin would be allowing my prejudicial fear of the people of Chicago to turn into discrimination and then acting on that discrimination with hatred.
We need to always remember that God is the righteous judge and leave that judgment to Him. We cannot afford to justify our feelings of prejudice. By spending time with and building relationships with groups of people with whom we may feel a prejudice against, we will learn the whole story. We will learn to love as Jesus loved.
Looking at the other side, perhaps not all pre-judgment (prejudice) is negative. I happen to believe that I have the best husband in the world. I have the best son and daughter, the best son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and the best grandkids. . . I’m proud of my family.
Dear Father in Heaven,
Thank you for being our righteous judge. It is safe to leave my feelings of prejudice in your hands because YOU know the whole story. Help me to love others as you love. Help me not to allow my feelings of prejudice to turn into feelings and actions of discrimination and hate. In Jesus Name, Amen.