Letters December 2020

‘Privilege’ Tells Too Small a Story

by Nathan Plett, Landmark, Man.

The article, “Examining My Privilege,” asks the question, “How do we love our neighbours—all our neighbours—in a way that elevates their dignity as image-bearers of God? Great question.

The answer given is that we are to look to Jesus’ example and treat all people with dignity, listen to others, stand with marginalized people and declare God’s love for all people. Fantastic; I hope we can all get on board with that.

What I found concerning is how we got from the question to the answer. We are told that society is divided into a variety of identity groups (based on age, gender, religion, etc.) and that based on these groups people are either privileged or oppressed. While this may be partially true, it is far too black and white. It is too simplistic an answer.

Let’s use the example of an 18-year-old. While turning 18 brings with it many unearned advantages it also brings with it many responsibilities and challenges. Just the other day my daughter was bemoaning the difficulties of being an adult. So, to say that an 18-year-old is privileged is true, but it tells too small a story.

When we categorize people like this, we end up doing the very thing that we are trying to avoid. We don’t see the person in their complexity. We don’t see an individual created in the image of God. We see a stereotype, a caricature.

The biggest problem is where this line of thought leads. Critical theory looks at the world this same way and pronounces guilt on those in the privileged/oppressor identity groups and virtue on those in the oppressed/victim groups. This is clearly not a biblical worldview.

We have all been blessed by God. Let us thank him for our blessings and then put those blessings to work in our care for others and service to Christ’s church.

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