A great strength of Australian society is egalitarianism, the culture of equal opportunities and equal treatment. Working in the educational sector there is constant promotion of equal opportunity.
Gender, ethnicity, and sexuality shouldn’t impede your progress in the workplace, simply because they don’t influence performance. Discrimination shouldn’t occur in the workplace because of what you believe or do, as long as you keep the law and do your work.
As a whole the egalitarian ideal matches well with Christian theology; we are all equal in the sight of the Lord; Galatians chapter 3, verse 28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” and we are all called to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew chapter 22, verses 36-40).
Regardless of who people are, or what they do, Christians are commanded to treat everyone with love and respect. An important part of egalitarianism is that despite differences we value each other. However, this ideal is increasingly challenged by a cultural age where personal beliefs are the source of public discourse and ridicule, if they do not fit within a narrow cultural stereotype.
The discriminating Christian
We are entering an era that personally held moral and religious beliefs may be probed and prodded by our employers and government. The most prominent examples are big businesses, city councils, and educational institutions, who are weighing in on the marriage vote. What underlies this attitude is pragmatic marketing (companies using the vote to promote a company brand), and an insistence on a value-free world view.
The word “discrimination” has become a culturally cringe-worthy word, because in order to discriminate we need apply value to a thing, concept or person.
However, discrimination also means “understanding the difference between one thing and another”. Therefore, “anti-discrimination” means treating everything the same, regardless of value. Total anti-discrimination means that nothing has inherent value, and goes against the core of being Christian.
Discrimination against sin, not people
Foundational to being Christian is believing in God, and the existence of good and evil. In the eyes of God, every thought and action has value: believing in the Gospel means that certain activities and other types of beliefs are wrong. To be faithful we need to discriminate against and be “intolerant” of sin.
Discriminating against sin is not the same as discriminating against people: Romans chapter 3, verse 9 “What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.”
Jesus loved everyone, even outcasts, but encouraged them not to sin. We are all sinners, and it is sin that we should be trying to address. Because of this we should hold our ground on what we believe is true and just. We must always “love our neighbours” even if we see their sins, just as we are sinners ourselves needing forgiveness.
Nathanael Yates is a Neuroscience Researcher from Perth, Western Australia. He is constantly inspired by his astonishingly wise and beautiful wife and his adorable daughters.
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