Scripture clearly states that the Jews are God’s chosen people. This took place when God called Abraham to be the patriarch of Israel. (Genesis 17:5-8) Is favoring one people group over another wrong? Does this make God a bigot?
Needless to say, the term “bigot” is being thrown around today like playing catch with a baseball. Accusations of favoritism and discrimination have become synonymous with being a bigot. It’s a negative term and insinuates a lack of compassion or intolerance. That being said, was God a bigot when He chose the Jews to be His people? After all, He did favor and discriminate against other people groups. Hmm, what do you think?
To help with the discussion, it’s important to first define the term “bigot”. Webster defines it as, “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.”
Based on this definition, it appears that bigotry is often misapplied today. When someone favors one people group over another, it doesn’t make that person a bigot. When someone favors an opinion over another, it doesn’t make that person a bigot. The definition clearly states that favoritism isn’t the issue. It’s when favoritism leads to hatred and intolerance that bigotry becomes an issue. In other words, it is one thing to favor or discriminate and quite another to hate and be intolerant. The prior is normal, appropriate, and something we do in everyday life. The latter is sinful and wrong.
To illustrate this point, let’s look at our own relationships. We all have people who play a priority in our lives, which implies we favor them more than others. I value and treat my wife differently than I do your wife. I do the same with my children compared to your children. You do the same. This is not only normal, it’s appropriate. There is nothing wrong with this as long as I don’t hate your wife or become intolerant toward your children. In fact, scripture admonishes Christians to never hate or become intolerant toward others. (Ephesians 4:2)
But it is also important to note that Christians are called to hate and be intolerant toward certain types of behavior, which is called sin. (Romans 12:9) This type of hatred and intolerance is protective in nature and is very different than how we are to treat each other. This is making that important distinction between hating the sin and loving the sinner. It’s a principle we see taught throughout scripture and one that Jesus often addressed. (Matthew 22:34-40)
So was God a bigot when He chose the Jews over all the other people groups? No! Just because He favored the Jews, doesn’t mean He was hateful or intolerant toward other people groups. Don’t forget, God created the other people groups and made them in His image with dignity value and worth. (see my blog post, How to Love Non-Christian Family Members) God also chose Jesus (a Jewish carpenter) to fulfill His redemptive plan to save ALL mankind. (John 3:16)
So the next time you are tempted to categorize someone as a bigot, double-check your definition and make sure you aren’t also calling God a bigot. There is a lot of noise and rhetoric on today’s divided landscape and it’s important that Christians are being careful to not add to the confusion. Amen?
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