The Broad Brush: Why must we stereotype?

The Broad Brush: Why must we stereotype? July 20, 2016

He’s in a union? Certainly he’s a Democrat!

“Don’t Tread on Me” bumper sticker? Yup, libertarian.

Subaru driver?  She’s feeling the Bern.

Sandals, beard, sunglasses and a Jesus sticker? Megachurch goer.

<Add your own stereotype here ___________>

It seems that we are too quick to take sides these days, categorizing people like bins in a hardware store. The screws go in this bin. The nuts in this. The washers over here.

It’s like we an obsessive compulsive societal condition where everything has a place – everybody has a tag.

Photo by Malena Crae
Photo by Malena Crae

The burden of assumption

We use plenty of other Broad Strokes – let your mind drift for a few minutes and you’ll come up with your own.

Racial stereotypes never seem to go away. It goes all ways and they are all equally wrong.

I assumed Middle Easterners were Muslim. That is until I went to the Middle East and found a rich and vibrant Christian community. That broad brush was wrong.

I also, like many of you, have a certain assumption of Islam. And I know there are those who use the Koran to prove their point. But most Muslims simply want to raise their family in peace. I won’t broad brush them.

We were able to separate the Nazi’s from the Germans and I think we can do the same thing now.

It’s not my job to defend every stereotype, or to dispel every assumption. I can’t speak out against every injustice by someone who looks like me or has something in common with me.

Painting the Evangelical

Photo Lauri Mahonen
Photo Lauri Mahonen

People use broad brushes to paint Christians. It seems the worst label you can put on a person these days is “evangelical.” I used to call myself one, that is until the pollsters got ahold of the term.  They want to broad brush us into ‘rushing to the right,” “supporting Trump in huge numbers, and “calling for vast social changes.”

We all cringe when someone says something stupid about homosexuals, or President Obama, or Muslims. Facebook posters just love to cite those situations and broad brush us into those buckets. No, David Koresh nor Westboro Baptist Church are Evangelical Christians. And neither is Donald Trump for that matter.

The “Evangelicals” I know are people who trust God and want to influence their circle of friends and family with the good news of Jesus.

Catholics, Pentecostals, Baptist and a host of others seem to be lumped in a big bags of expectations that they can’t escape.

Jesus didn’t fit the stereotype

Jesus dealt with his own stereotypes. He didn’t fit the ideal Messiah according to the masses. He wasn’t a great Jew according to the Pharisees. In fact, by today’s standards, He wasn’t all that great of a Christian.

One of the most liberating verses in the Bible is when Samuel was choosing the next King. Jessie trotted out all the qualified, good-looking brothers. And God rejected all of them, holding out for David.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’”


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