What is “Privilege” in our Culture and what Should Christians do About it?

You must have refused water for the thirsty and food for the hungry. You probably think the land belongs to the powerful and only the privileged have a right to it! You must have sent widows away empty-handed and crushed the hopes of orphans~ Job 27:7-9 NLT

 Areva Martin and David Webb had a debate about whether or not race or experience ought to be the deciding factor in whether or not applicants are offered jobs in particular fields.  Mr. Webb argued his experience, not his race had provided opportunities for him in his field. Ms. Martin stated Mr. Webb was oblivious to the plight of minorities since he was a beneficiary of “white privilege”.  Mr. Webb then politely asked Ms. Martin to explain how exactly how he had benefited from “white privilege”.


 She said

That’s a whole, another long conversation about white privilege, the things that you have the privilege of doing, that people of color don’t have the privilege of doing”

 Mr. Webb explained rather gently (I thought) that he was black and therefore it was pretty much impossible for him to benefit from “white privilege”.


 It would be all-too easy to simply pounce on Ms. Martins obvious ignorance. Alas, there are bigger issues at play here than the opportunity to take a few cheap shots. The real issue here is the subject of privilege. 

 There are two sharply divided camps concerning the contentious issue of white privilege. The first believes race determines everything about everything in this life. Those in this camp believe being born white is a golden ticket that magically opens doors and guarantees success in life. The other camp is convinced that the whole issue of privilege is nothing more than the figment of fevered progressive imaginations.  Both views contain elements of truth but both are ultimately flawed.  Following are five common myths regarding “white privilege”:

 The whole concept of privilege is nothing more than a liberal myth-

 It’s not.  Privilege is a real (James 2:9). It would be the height naiveté and absurdity to argue that where one is born and who one is born to has no effect on that person’s future prospects in life.  A child born in the United States to two educated, financially stable parents begins his or her life with many advantages over a child born to a single mother in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Conversely, a child born in America to two economically disadvantaged parents who stay married and work hard will have some distinct advantages over a child born to an unwed fourteen-year-old girl who uses drugs. All this is true regardless of the color of said child (Proverbs 20:7).

 Privilege is exclusively about race and gender-

 It’s not. Only an idiot would argue that there is not a racial component to privilege in our culture. However, privilege is ultimately more about the choices of a child’s parents than race or gender (Proverbs 20:7). A black girl born to poor parents who love her enough to educate and discipline her will likely do better in life than a white boy born to middle-income parents who do not discipline him or take an interest in his education. Ben Carson demonstrates this reality. His mother was a semi-literate African-American teenager when he and his brother were born. She later divorced her husband and worked a series of menial jobs to support her family. She also made education a top priority for her boys, she carefully monitored who they spent time with and how much television they watched. Today both brothers hold advanced degrees and are wildly successful by any measurable standard.  Ben Carson is a former neurosurgeon and the current HUD Secretary; his brother Curtis is an aeronautical engineer (rocket scientist).

 All races and genders think exactly the same way-

 They don’t. Life experience, intelligence level, religious conviction and upbringing do more to determine how a person views life than race or gender do. Assuming otherwise is a very weird and weirdly unhelpful form of racism and/or sexism.  

 The very-real problem of racism will be solved with more racism-

 It won’t. Punishing white people for being born white is a form of racism that will do nothing to right the very real wrongs of the past. Nor will it undo any privilege that currently exists. The most effective way to deal with racism is through the correcting of those who make racist remarks, the spread of Christianity, improving educational opportunities for all children and encouraging people of different races and backgrounds to get to know one another (Colossians 3:11, Galatians 3:28).

 Privilege is simply a matter of dumb luck-

 It’s not.  Perhaps, this was true a century ago, but that ship has sailed. Privilege is about choices. Parents who make bad choices curse their children, parents who make good choices bless their children regardless of their race (Deuteronomy 30:19, Psalm 112:2).

And Finally:

 The Bible has nothing to say about the subject of privilege

The Bible actually has a lot to say about “privilege”. Although, it never uses the word. The Bible talks a lot about justice and the sin of favoritism. The Bible is clear: righteous people avoid showing favoritism to anyone based on any outward characteristics such as race, gender and financial status (Leviticus 19:15, Romans 2:11, 1st Timothy 5:21, James 2:1). Rather, Christians are to love everyone, all the time, giving no thought to a person’s race, gender, or the size of their bank account (Galatians 3:28).


4 thoughts on “What is “Privilege” in our Culture and what Should Christians do About it?

  1. Hi. Did I misread or misunderstand…? This quote…”The most effective way to deal with racism is through the public shaming of racists, the spread of Christianity, improving educational opportunities for all children and encouraging people of different races and backgrounds to get to know one another (Colossians 3:11, Galatians 3:28). “…Are you saying public shaming of anyone is effective and Biblical? Also…I sadly know many who call themselves Christian who are as racist as they come… Loved the rest of your article but this part threw me:<) Thanks for clarifying.

    • Disapproval would have been a better word and more in keeping with what I meant. There are places in Scripture where one Christian showed extreme disapproval over another persons racial discrimination ( Galatians 2:11-14).

      • That’s a little less …abrasive:<) There is a disconnect in many situations and with many people for sure, but…..I think what is currently happening is only going to make it worse. As example, I have always had black friends, and have family members of other nationalities and "colors" and really do not see myself as racist at all. I have always tried to look at the individual and not the color or origin …it is the way I was raised, BUT…I have had people INSIST that I have "white privilege " because I was born white. Is THAT not racist? I think that before all of the white privilege idea started, we were farther along in race relations…just my thinking:<)

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