“The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings.” ~ Kate Chopin, The Awakening
“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.” ~ Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
One of the hardest things to fight against are the prejudices that have been imbedded in our minds, that arrive on our lips as conclusions unchecked. They need no introduction because we know them and we know why we know them. These prejudices have been around so long, it would seem like getting rid of a family member or a close friend if we ended our relationship with them. They are a part of a story, real or imagined, that we have been told or that we tell ourselves.
Prejudices can serve as one of the ways that we define and distinguish ourselves from others. The differences that we see or have been taught to see in others are a way that we tell ourselves a part from others. Who we are is defined by who they are not and vice versa. This can be a problem when someone does not fit the mold or breaks away from it as our identity may become threatened. These prejudices then begin to hold our world and sense of self together.
These prejudices might seem harmless or perhaps serve as the means by which we protect ourselves. If the latter is true then, we’re not about to let our defenses down. Our prejudices make the world and its inhabitants seem less mysterious and consequently, less threatening. They are what we know, often introduced to us by those we love or have come to respect, through personal stories that might involve experiences with a person from the cultural group being prejudged. There is an intimate connection to them and no longer holding the prejudice would feel like ending a relationship, breaking a trust or questioning the wisdom of someone we love or admire.
But, how do our prejudices impact our relationship with God and God’s creation? How do our prejudices influence our identity as Christians? How do we make sense of God’s unconditional love while maintaining these beliefs? How does our allegiance to social prejudices change the story of our faith? Certainly, God is able to prejudge us and has as sinners but this prior knowledge did not prevent God from offering His Son, Jesus Christ, as the sacrificial lamb for our sins. How would you judge that?