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There’s this funny old word that the Bible uses called “Partiality.” Basically, the word means judging people based on things that don’t matter. Today, we might use terms like “Stereotyping” and “marginalizing” or even “micro-aggressions.” The idea behind the word is that, just because someone is a different socio-economic status, or a different race, or a different gender, or eats different food or shops at different places, they should be denied privileges. In Bible times, the privileges were access to God. In our postmodern day, many privileges at stake have to do with being in community or relationship with other people.

Partiality and stereotyping and judging and like mindsets bring up interesting questions.

Why the rampant tendency to condemn someone?

Is the only way for me to be right for you to be wrong?

Do I make myself feel okay by making you feel “no-kay?”

I perceive that many judgments and “partiality” actions and stereotypes and other micro-aggressions come from our own insecurities. When we are quick to judge another for being different in anyway, this indicates that we are not fully convinced of what we believe or who we are. Most people are very uncomfortable with uncertainty. This means they will try to make themselves feel safe by putting others down.

One thing I appreciate about the LGBTQ community is the potential for no judgment and the ongoing efforts to leave behind labels. Part of this is because our fluid concepts of gender and sexual expression quickly outgrow hard and fast labels. These concepts are continuum based and it’s very rare for an individual to be distinctly one or the other. Part of this is also because we in the Queer community tend to understand that we’re often the minority and have already experienced marginalization. Some to a greater degree than others.

Many times, our conscious effort is to end this trend by allowing the experiences and lives of our brothers and sisters to exist un-judged. We work to create safe spaces around us for others to grow and explore. We celebrate the journey of the individual. I’ve been very privileged lately to work with individuals and organizations committed to this cause.

That said, we in the LGBTQ community still have a long way to go with our unconscious actions. Unconsciously and without thinking, we can still be as judgmental and exclusive to each other as others have been to us. We still judge each other for big things like race and socio-economic status as well as smaller things like fashion and mannerism.

This should not be. We need each other. We can learn from each other! We need to look past differences that don’t matter and seek to build understanding between one another.

Likewise in the church. Our conscious thought is that we are the one beautiful bride of Christ who will together proclaim the gospel to the nations. Unconsciously, we are Lutherans, Baptists, Evangelicals, Pentecostal, Emergent, Non-Denominational and woe to the one who gets them confused! We judge based on music choice, foreign or domestic mission, church size, pastoral model, clothing, race, Bible college education, Bible translation, Hierarchical or Egalitarian marriage, Calvinism and Arminianism, what we think the end of the world will be like and whether or not women can safely be in the pulpit.

This should not be. We need each other. We can learn from each other! We need to look past differences that don’t matter and seek to build understanding between one another!

Brothers and sisters, let us not show partiality in any setting. Let us not judge without first getting understanding and let us never judge without compassion! Let us seek to understand each other and build each other up. Let us speak openly and comfortably with each other that we may speak the truth in love!