The Bible shows the difference between unjustified judgment and true discernment.
Western media frequently throws out the words prejudice and partisanship. The word prejudice describes a biased and negative attitude toward another person or group of people, the usual result of which is intolerance and open hostility towards them. Most commonly, prejudice is a strong dislike of someone solely based on preconceived notions or assumptions about race, ethnicity, age, sex, religion, or other factors. Related to prejudice is the word partiality—often used to describe a strong, unjustified preference or favoritism unfairly showed to someone over someone else. Partisanship refers to one-sided sectarianism or factionalism—attitudes that often drive the participants in the political theater.
Social media is rife with the rancor and knee-jerk reactions of partisanship, as well as prejudicial invective, name-calling, and accusations of various “-isms” such as racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, and chauvinism. All of this emotionally charged rhetoric fuels the fires of hatred, which seem to burn hotter by the day. And in the news, allegations of partiality among politicians are rampant.
It seems to be human nature to prejudge and then show bias or favoritism based on those prejudgments.
The Bible certainly teaches followers of Jesus Christ to make judgments, to discern differences, and to prefer some things while rejecting others. Such Christian discernment is often mistakenly lumped in with these sinful practices—prejudice, partiality, and partisanship—while embracing sin and failing to practice discernment is now considered the height of enlightenment and unbiased thinking. Sincere followers of Christ must reject such notions!
The Almighty God’s judgments are good. He is not prejudiced, partial, or partisan. Through the Apostle Paul, He tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Clearly, being of a particular race, ethnicity, economic status, or biological gender—male or female—is not sin, and therefore should not be a basis for prejudice or partiality.
But a Christian is required to make a distinction between sin and righteousness as they are defined by the Bible. Likewise, Christians must withdraw from those who obsess over disputing and arguing, and who revile and have evil suspicions (1 Timothy 6:3–5). Christians are also instructed, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19). The Creator God decides what is iniquity or lawlessness. Doing what God says is Christianity, not partiality. Identifying sin and choosing to separate oneself from it is not prejudice. To be a true follower of Christ is not partisanship.
God instructed ancient Israel to not show partiality in judgment (Exodus 23:2–9; Leviticus 19:15), but He also commanded Israel not to behave like the nations around them (Leviticus 18:3, 24; Deuteronomy 18:9). By Jesus Christ’s time, religious Jews essentially shunned the Gentiles, having little or nothing to do with them. But in a vision to the Apostle Peter, God revealed that salvation was also being offered to the Gentiles. This was, in fact, the purpose of Peter’s vision—it was not to indicate that unclean meats were now approved to eat, but rather showed that no man is to be regarded as common or unclean (Acts 10:28) and that God shows no partiality (v. 34). (See our July-August 2019 article “Do You Really Want to Eat That?” for more information.)
James also taught against prejudice and partiality. In fact, they are sinful (James 2:1, 8–10). But no one should conclude that avoiding prejudice, partisanship, or partiality means that a Christian must approve of anything that God, in His word, labels as sin. Being “politically correct” is not God’s approach, nor should it be the approach of those who follow Christ. The Father and Son call any transgression of God’s holy law what it is: sin (1 John 3:4, King James Version).