Choose to See
“I don’t see color.” I’ve heard it all my life. In case you don’t know me, I am white. My husband is a black man. The frequency of this “reassuring” statement being recited to me increased 10-fold after we said our vows…by white people. It’s usually offered to me when a conversation lands on discussing race, racism, or bias. Sometimes they say it randomly.
However, as a female, I’ve never had someone say to me, “I don’t see gender.” Perhaps it could convince me a person is not sexist? Nonsensical. As a personal trainer, NO ONE has EVER reassured me they “don’t see obesity.” It is what it is.
Let’s Be Real
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or his height…The Lord does not see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
God was calling Samuel out thousands of years ago for looking at outward appearance and making judgments. The Lord my God - creator of the universe - said it: People. Look. At. The. Outward. Appearance. Mic drop. Take it or leave it.
Beginning in 1998, an Implicit Association Test debuted to allow people to discover potential prejudices that lurk within them subconsciously. Project Implicit provides several tests to help an individual recognize they have preferences. I challenge you to take a few of them. They have found MOST Americans have an instinctive subconscious preference for one skin tone relative to another. The test often reveals an automatic partiality for thin people relative to big people; young over old; straight versus gay.
Ouch. The results of all these tests sound so offensive. How dare anyone have preferences? I have them. You have them. It’s called sin and IT IS OFFENSIVE. We are offensive.
What do I do with it?
“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9
Today was my daughter’s next-to-last soccer game of the season. I was walking with a 7-year old girl on her team across the park and thought I would be a little straightforward with her about the gospel since who knows if I will ever see her again or get the chance once season’s over.
“K, what you know about Jesus?” I said.
“He died on the cross,” was her response.
“You’re right, you’re right…do you know why?”
“Yep! For my sins. He died for my sins.”
As we continued chatting, I asked her if she knew what sin was and if she had ever done that.
“Nope, I always do everything right. I’m good. My parents have tried to tell me I do stuff bad but they’re wrong. I have never did a sin.”
Life is simple in her eyes and she thinks she is being honest. She doesn’t even know that she doesn’t even know. I’m afraid we are more like her than we realize about the sin of judging others. This girl can’t confess her sin if she doesn’t recognize it is there.
The word promises that God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us IF WE CONFESS OUR SIN. You can’t confess your racism, bias, or partiality if you don’t know it’s there. I can’t convince you it’s there. The implicit bias test may or may not convince you it’s there. Jesus have mercy on us.
Pray, Confess, Repent
Simply praying the scriptures is a great place to start a journey toward discerning hidden bias:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” -Psalm 139:23-24
Will you pray and ask God to point out what is in you that offends Him? If you pray, and He shows you…will you see it and confess? If you confess…will you repent? He knows our hearts better than we do and He wants us to have freedom in this area.
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” -James 5:16
The most vulnerable part of this whole process involves confessing to an actual person. I do not recommend posting on social media your implicit bias results or the details of what God reveals to you about your own partiality then ending with “pray for me ya’ll.” That would be interesting. However, we are promised to be healed when we confess to a sister or brother in Christ AND PRAY FOR EACH OTHER. Earnest prayer will produce wonderful results. Will you confess to someone so they can pray?
I’m going to land this with a prayer:
Lord, I thank you that you pointed out to Samuel that he – and we – look at outward appearance. You look at our hearts. Jesus, search us and know our hearts! Test us! In your mercy, please point out in us what offends You regarding our instinctive biases and prejudice. We confess thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought and thinking incorrectly about others based on how they look. Thank you for being faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from this wickedness. You say if anyone lacks wisdom we should ask You, and you will give it to us generously. So we beg for wisdom about who to confess to and pray with and what you call us to do moving forward in being healed. You are good and what You do is good. In Jesus name, Amen.