Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Diversity versus Equality

Diversity and equality are buzz words that are being lifted up as virtue by “the world.” However, the way they apply them seem to put them at odds with one another. Yet, nobody seems to notice this inconsistency.

What do I mean? In our current PC culture, it is somehow wrong to point out any difference. It doesn't matter if the intent is good, bad, or indifferent; you are automatically deemed racist, sexist, elitist, or some other inflammatory term that applies to the issue by doing so. But, if diversity is supposed to be a good and positive thing, why is it bad to highlight details of it? Granted, our world may only be applying diversity in a very narrow and fixed way, but I think it goes deeper than that. It likely comes from the belief that the only way to make everyone equal, is to make everybody the same. So pointing out how we are in reality diverse, is somehow promoting inequality in some people's eyes.

One must realize this incongruence fits right into a rather strong element of human nature that is very easy to follow blindly. If equality and diversity are ever to live in harmony in a Biblical way, we must be aware of and seek to overcome this tendency, not give into it.

Let me put it this way, they say kids are cruel, and why is this? Children naturally notice differences and make judgments on them. It starts as soon as they can talk, nobody has to teach them this. It only progresses as middle and high school comes rolling around. Where they break off into cliques; mini sub-cultures that grants them the acceptance we desire, but requires us to fit into a pre-determined mold, as well as expect us to declare yourselves superior to the people outside it. Yet, we wonder why diversity is often seen as a bad thing, when our introduction to it involves being picked on and bullied.

While we may learn some tact when we get out of college. The scars of the past remain, and we often end up looking at the world through the eyes of the broken children we once were. Leading us to live out a one size fits all path. To afraid to rock the proverbial boat, and never honoring the unique creation God made us to be. A built in diversity we are often tragically unaware of because we wasted our youth seeking approval of the masses that are just as lost as we are.

When you get down to it, God chose to make us diverse so that we would need each other, with the hope we would help one another with our gifts. So that, we would be stronger as a community than as individuals. Not an excuse to exalt self, dismiss others, or imitate one another. In the unlikely event that people manage to recreate ourselves as uniform drones, you wouldn't need anybody since you would be no more able than anyone else; and nobody would need you either. There would be nothing special about you, and average would be the new perfect.

Saying this, I'm sure there are those who think an absolute equality that leaves no room for diversity sounds great. But, I am sure that is their emotional scars and insecurity talking. I will be the first to admit that Pharisee like church people can be perpetrators of this abuse as well. But let me point out, they are likely projecting their emotional wounds and inadequacy as well. They are just wrongly using the pretense of God to rationalize it.

Yet, I am here to tell you there is healing for all this. But, it has no chance of happening if you do not embrace God's true will and model for community, which is unity in diversity AKA "the body of Christ." (1 Corinthians 12) It will not happen if you insist that everyone around you think, feel, and value what you do. It won't happen if you seek the approval and acceptance of the world above self discovery. Let's face it, all the people you are at odds with over your mere comfort and preferences are likely doing the exact same thing as you are. They just feel different from you, and their definition of comfort is quite diverse of yours.

Biblical diversity goes deeper than skin, and even emotions, it goes to the core of whom we are. So the church must learn to uplift and celebrate all our God given talents, and not just the few we currently made sacred cows of. If we don't, It just makes it easier for the world to sell this shallow brand of diversity that's all about self and not community. 

an individual ripping off the thin veneer that make him like all the other drones.
click to enlarge

It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. -Jude 1:19

“Coming together is a beginning, working together is a process, staying together is a success.” - Henry Ford

"Cultural differences in the body of Christ enable different types of people to draw near to the heart of Jesus. . . . Jesus did a fantastic job of knowing His audience and speaking directly to their hearts. For example, Jesus talked sheep to shepherds, fish to fishermen, and bookish theology to bookish theologians. He was all things to all people. I think that our differences enable us to speak richly and directly to the hearts of all types of people. . . .
   Culturally homogeneous churches are adept at targeting and attracting a certain type of person and creating a strong group identity. However, attendees at such churches are at a higher risk for creating the overly simplistic and divisive . . . labels that dangerously lead to inaccurate perceptions . . . as well as hostility and conflict. What often begins as an effective and culturally specific way to reach people for Christ ends up stifling their growth as disciples. Perhaps this is because we often fail to make a distinction between evangelism and discipleship. People can meet God within their cultural context but in order to follow God they must cross into other cultures because that’s what Jesus did in the incarnation and on the cross.
   Discipleship is cross-cultural. When we meet Jesus around people who are just like us and then continue to follow Jesus with people who are just like us, we stifle our growth in Christ and open ourselves up to a world of division. However, when we’re rubbing elbows in Christian fellowship with people who are different from us, we can learn from each other and grow more like Christ. . .
   For this reason, I believe that churches and Christian organizations should strive for cultural diversity. Regardless of ethnic demographics, every community is multicultural when one considers the various cultures of age, gender, economic status, education level, political orientation and so on. Further, every church should fully utilize the multifaceted cultural diversity within itself, express the diversity of its local community, expertly welcome the other, embrace all who are members of the body of Christ [which is everyone] and intentionally collaborate with different churches or organizations in order to impact the kingdom. And churches situated in multi-ethnic communities—I’m not letting you off the hook—you should absolutely be ethnically diverse . . . seeing culturally different others as God’s gift to us." -Christena Cleveland, social psychologist, theologian, and professor at Duke Divinity School