Blinded by my own biases | Worship

By Pastor David W. Parks, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church | Feb 05, 2014

I am biased. I admit it. Every day there are things that I do, things that I say and things that I think that all come from a prejudice that has developed in me over the years.

It’s a prejudice that arises out of my own experience (or better, lack of experience).

I am biased. I admit it. My life, my theology, and my relationships are all influenced by my experience of having lived a privileged life. My speech, my choices, my votes and even my pastoral leadership are all shaped by the enormous privilege I have enjoyed.

By “privilege,” I mean the advantages I have as I make my way in the world; advantages that I did not choose, that I did not earn and that I do not even fully understand.

I am biased. I admit it. You see, I am male. I am white. I speak English. I am heterosexual. I am educated. I grew up in the church. I have a job. I have the respect and the affection of those I serve. I own a home. I have health insurance and a pension.

All these things are wonderful. All these things are powerful. All these things are a gift. However, it is precisely these same things that often blind me to the experience of others.

Sometimes these advantages are the very same things that make it more difficult for me to perceive the challenges and disadvantages that others face every day.

For instance, I too often fail to appreciate the feelings and scars of those who have been stung by the lingering social bigotry against gay and lesbian people.

Since I’m caucasian, I don’t know what it’s like to be a black man and see the fear on the faces of white people at night deep in the urban centers of our cities. My wallet is full of cash and credit cards, and I don’t get it when I see single moms on food stamps and wonder to myself, “why don’t you get a job?”

Even though I know better, I get stuck in my own frame of reference. It takes me too long to remember that my life has always been marked by the benefits of my race, gender, status and social capital.

I have it pretty good. I have never missed a meal, never worried about having access to a doctor, never felt like I had to hide my sexual identity and never been passed over for a promotion that went to a more privileged person.

My life’s been easy. Sometimes that easier road has blinded me to the rougher paths of those who have had no such advantage.

I am biased. I admit it. There is a growing struggle within me to keep watch over my own sense of entitlement and reign in my own assertion of privilege. It’s a spiritual battle that I’m only beginning to understand.

There’s a strange anatomy in the Pauline letter to ancient Ephesus. The Apostle offers a blessing to his beloved congregation.

Perhaps he saw a similar dynamic in that early faith community. He knew that God’s work persists in us all – wherever we are on the scale of “privilege.”

He wrote, “with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints.”

We pray for the eyes of our hearts to see both the privilege and the pain in all of us. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord! I want to see you.

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