There will probably always be much debate and controversy when discussing the term discrimination. This may be due to the dual meaning of the word. The first dictionary definition is: The action or policies based on prejudice or partiality (towards people). The second is: The power of making fine distinction (discriminating judgment). Depending upon which definition we use, there must be an acceptable as well as an unacceptable time to discriminate.

In my opinion one can discriminate (fine distinction or judgment) with regards to inanimate objects or animals. A discriminating diner will choose the restaurant with the best food and service, in his judgment. Obviously others will disagree. Much the same discrimination occurs in the choice of autos, clothing, houses, etc, etc. The occupant of a very small apartment would wisely choose a lap dog rather than a Great Dane. One would surely prefer to allow the dog in his bed over a rattlesnake. All of these actions are a matter of distinguishing accurately, differentiating and making a distinction—in a word, discriminating.

In the Lord’s church, however, we cannot discriminate against people simply due to the class or race in which they belong. The book of James covers the favoritism of rich over poor by calling it, “judging with evil thoughts.” (Js 2:4) Jesus chose mostly fishermen, zealots, and tax collectors as his closest friends and helpers who would spend 3 years traveling and learning from him. (Lk 6: 13-16) He also had several women from Galilee who followed him. (Lk 23:49, 55) Joanna (from Herod’s household), Susanna and others helped support the cause with their own means. (Lk 8:3) The Apostle Paul often spoke admiringly of the women who helped him in the preaching of the gospel. (Php 4:3) Neither did Jesus discriminate against the rich and powerful such as Joseph of Arimathea (Lk 23:50-53) and Nicodemus. (Jo 3: 1-3) He did judge other religious leaders due to their hypocrisy, not their status.

Logic alone will tell us that we cannot discriminate against people or groups because heaven will be full of all types, nations, tribes and languages. (Rev 7:9) (Rev 14:6) God Himself says, “whoever wishes (and obeys) let him take of the free gift of the water of life.” (Rev 22:17) He also says, “not wanting anyone to perish.” (2 Pe 3:9)

Jim Bailey