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January 08, 2024

Ep.1315: Is My Christian Judgment Tainted by Bias? (Part I)

Flushing out the many ways personal bias undermines our faith

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Do I have a self-protecting bias or a personal expectation bias that shuts down listening?

How can we turn our walls into bridges with other Christians?

What does the Jerusalem Conference of Acts 15 teach us about resolving our differences?

Theme Scripture: James 1:19-20

I was recently summoned for jury duty. As I sat in the room at the beginning of the day, the court and its representatives showed some really informative introductory videos on what to expect and look out for when serving on a jury. The main topic they focused on was bias. Their premise was that we ALL have biases and we ALL can be in danger of following them rather than following the simple facts of a case. I was struck by their significant efforts to enlighten and warn about this sometimes subtle but incredibly common enemy of justice. Our claiming to be Christian does NOT somehow magically release us from our previous biases. In fact, our claims to Christianity may even be in jeopardy because of our personal biases. So, how do we learn to recognize this devious and damaging tendency?

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For the most part, we think of bias as not being able to see something without a preconceived notion of what it should look like. Our predetermined conclusions can easily sway what we think about whatever it is we may be dealing with. While this can sometimes be a good layer of protection, it more often than not ends up being a detrimental habit. Bias hinders us from seeing a broader perspective than our own. For this brief discussion we will define bias as: an inclination or outlook that prevents an unprejudiced consideration of a matter. 

Bias hinders us in many ways.

One primary and negative function of bias is that it keeps us from listening. Think about how easily our ability to listen to someone else is dependent on how we feel about that other person. If we like them and agree with their perspective, listening is easy. Our preconceived notion of what should be is being bolstered, and that's comfortable. However, what happens if the person we are supposed to be listening to is presenting a contrary or questionable viewpoint? Are we open - or are we only partially paying attention - because their perspective is simply not acceptable or desirable?

Bias can even make us think and act in an unchristian way.

Unfortunately, our bias against those who hold opinions and even facts we would rather not hear, usually prevails. And the sad thing is, this usually happens without us even realizing it! These habitual responses to those who may ruffle our feathers actually shuts down our ability to potentially hear truth. These responses stifle our growth and worst of all, they are unchristian on every level.

Check out our January 8, 2024 podcast, “Is My Christian Judgment Tainted by Bias? (Part I) for more. We examine several striking biblical examples of bias in action. While focusing in on three specific aspects of the destructive power of bias, we also lay out several steps to counter our biases. Because bias can’t simply be turned off, we need to learn how to calm it down and then redirect its energy. Let’s face it, bias is a problem! Join us to see how personally applying biblical principles can change that!



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