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What is the biblical view of white privilege?

From the very beginning, the Bible says that all people were created equal because all people were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). Unfortunately, this does not mean that all people are treated equally. Whether or not people want to admit it, there have been marked mistreatments and prejudices toward people with darker skin in the United States and the Western world—both in modern times and throughout world history.

This is what the term "white privilege" refers to. The term "white privilege" is generally used to describe what is seen to be unearned rights and benefits given to people with white skin simply due to the color of their skin. The idea is that those with white skin are, more often than not, viewed and treated more favorably than those with darker skin. While we don't find the term "white privilege" in the Bible, God’s Word certainly has a lot to say about equality, impartiality, and taking care of those who are in need.

First, the Bible is clear that "God shows no partiality" (Romans 2:11). Jesus came for all people to be saved, and in Christ there is true equality: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:27–28; see also Revelation 7:9–10). The biblical charge has always been fair treatment for all—looking out not just for our own interests but for the interests of others (Deuteronomy 14:28–29; 16:11; 27:19; Ephesians 6:9; Philippians 2:3–4).

Showing partiality toward others is a sin, because it is contrary to God's character. James 2:1–5 speaks against this type of favoritism: "My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, 'You sit here in a good place,' while you say to the poor man, 'You stand over there,' or, 'Sit down at my feet,' have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?"

Treating people as more or less valuable based on their social status, color of their skin, wealth, or any other worldly-based value system is against God. James goes on to say: "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors" (James 2:8–9; see also Proverbs 22:2).

Second, freely we have received, so freely we must give. The Bible teaches that those who are blessed with great material possessions or privilege should not hesitate to use them to bless those who are in need. Any power we may have as a result of possessions or privilege or even our own efforts should be used to serve others, not to make ourselves more powerful by taking advantage of others. Paul wrote: "As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life" (1 Timothy 6:17–19).

Jesus Himself was God incarnate and came for the sake of serving and giving His life for others (Matthew 20:25–28). Philippians 2:3–4 exhorts us to check our own motives: "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3–4). Believers—especially those who benefit from privilege of any kind—should not just sit back and enjoy their blessings; they should use them to look to the interests of others whom they could help.

All people should be humble enough to recognize that they did not earn their racial privilege and that many of the benefits they reap from it are things that could not be earned. Instead they should be thankful for their blessings and use them to be generous toward others.

There is no need for white people to feel guilty for their privilege or for the needs they, too, are bound to have. All people go through struggles and have times when they need extra support. White people are not inherently better than any other people, nor inherently worse. Any privilege any of us has should be stewarded and used to make a positive difference for others however we can: "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more" (Luke 12:48).


Related Truth:

What is a biblical view of prejudice, descrimination, and racism?

Does the Bible say anything about ethnocentrism?

Individualism vs. collectivism—what does the Bible say?

Does the Bible really teach gender equality? Why has gender inequality been the norm?

What does it mean that humanity is created in the image of God?


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