Double standards have been around since – forever. We live in a world of double standards in which a particular group is allowed greater freedoms, less restrictions, or relaxed rules for one group (or person) over another. And when we experience these double standards, we cry out “it’s not fair.” Take the corporate world (of which I worked in for over 25 years), when a man barks out an order he is seen as being a “go-getter” and one who is charge; however let a woman bark out the same order and she is seen as pushy, overbearing, dominating, bossy, and sometimes referred to as the “b” word. I have personally experienced sitting around the conference table and pitching out ideas that are handily rejected or glossed over; yet another person, of more “favored” status pitches the very same idea then everyone is totally supportive and enamored with this wonderful idea. And, here’s one of my favorites in the workplace, men who had grey hair were wise, distinguished, and experienced; women were old, and not up-to-date on work practices.
In 2 Samuel 6, a man by the name of Uzzah was held to a double standard when moving the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark at one time was taken by Israel’s rivals, the Philistines. And, when the Philistines handled the Ark of the Covenant, they were not immediately struck dead. They did however, suffer serious enough consequences from taking God’s Ark, that they returned it to the Israelites (see 1 Samuel chapters 4-6 for this story). But why did Uzzah die for attempting to steady the Ark? Well here’s my thoughts, gleaned from a little research. First, David did not consult God about moving the Ark, nor did he do his due diligence to find out exactly how to move it properly. And, God was very specific about how the Ark was to be moved. Second, the Ark had been at Abinadab’s house, then an obvious conclusion is that Uzzah (Abinadab’s son) would be used to the presence of the Ark, and perhaps was underestimating it’s value and thinking about it as a thing, and therefore forgot about it’s holiness. Finally, the oxen merely stumbled, they did not fall, nor did the cart topple over. Uzzah might have had good intentions in trying to secure the Ark, but in doing so, he forgot that this was God’s Ark, and God dwells within the presence of the Ark. God doesn’t need anyone to steady His presence. After all, since God does thing such as part the Red Sea so that the Israelites could cross on completely dry land, I don’t think that God would have let the Ark of the Covenant, a representation on Him, be damaged in any manner.
As Christians we too live in a world of double standards, and those double standards are heartily endorsed in the Bible. We are called to act to a different, higher standard than the world as general, because we are to reflect God in our thoughts, words, and deeds. God intends for us to be in the world as witnesses, and to be an effective witness, we need to know what God’s rules are, we must be in the Word, and in constant communication with God. We need to utilize the Holy Spirit to guide our lives so that we can be a right reflection of God’s love.
And, there’s another part of that double standard for us Christians. It’s one where we get so caught up in representing God, that we begin to behave like God. What do I mean by that? We cannot expect non-believers to adhere to the standards by which God commands us to adhere. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, in here Paul admonishes that God judges those who are outside of the church. Specifically, we should never, ever sit in judgment over the lives of non-believers. For those non-believers we are to love and accept them just the way that they are; we are to show non-believers the very same unconditional love that God shows to us. It is up to God to change a non-believer’s heart, and once they become a follower, God will mold them into the kind of Christian that He wants them to be, and they too will be held to the same standards.
And until today, after reflecting upon wise words from Fr. Anthony, a Coptic Orthodox Priest, I didn’t realize that I was practicing a double standard that was in direct conflict with how God wants me to behave, and what God wants me to do. So now I understand that I have an additional standard to adhere, as it was best put by Fr. Anthony Messah (http://www.franthony.com/blog/the-double-standard-of-christianity)
“If you’re on the inside (of the church or a believer):
STOP judging people on the outside and START judging yourself.
STOP holding non-believers to the higher standard and START holding yourself to that standard.
STOP yelling about the sins of the world and START speaking to the sinners who are in the world.
That is what Jesus did. And if we are His followers, that is what we should do too.”
Thank you Lord for your unfailing love, and may I always have a humble, teachable, non-judgmental spirit.