Yesterday, I blogged about the following statement by Tim Keller:
If you say to everybody, ‘Anyone who thinks homosexuality is a sin is a bigot,’ . . . you’re going to have to ask them to completely disassemble the way in which they read the Bible, completely disassemble their whole approach to authority. You’re basically going to have to ask them to completely kick their faith out the door.
In that post, I talked about the quote from the perspective of seeing the fear that seemed to motivate and permeate it. Today, I want to talk about it from the perspective of seeing the privilege that seems to motivate and permeate it. Because if I may be honest — and I’ll try to do so as graciously as I know how — I find something deeply ironic about an evangelical minister objecting to the fact that other people might be asking him to change the way he thinks or even “kick his faith out the door.”
Dear readers, that’s exactly what every single evangelical Christian is asking of every single person who follows a different religion or no religion at all: “Give up your faith and what you believe and believe what I think is right instead.” So effectively, Tim Keller is objecting to other people (allegedly) asking him to do exactly what he calls upon every Jew, Wiccan, atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Hindu, and Santerian to do without giving it a second thought. That’s boilerplate unexamined privilege right there.
It also underlines to me the biggest problem with unexamined privilege: It’s often the enemy of empathy. Here’s an opportunity for Tim Keller to consider how (feeling like he’s) being asked to give up something so important to him feels to him and try to imagine how those he evangelizes to might often feel the same way. And yet, because I suspect he doesn’t even make that connection (or avoids it by insisting it’s somehow different), he’s missing out on an opportunity to (1) empathize with those he’s trying to evangelize to and (2) think about how that empathy might influence how he handles his attempts to do so.
I don’t necessarily want Tim Keller or others like him to quit sharing his beliefs or inviting others to join his faith. However, now that he and those like him have experienced being on “the other side” of the conversation, I’d like them to let that experience and their capacity for empathy to inform their mission.
Also, it would also be nice if their empathy would help them to understand that yes, if they really want others to be open to their message, they’re almost certainly going to have to be likewise open to others’ messages. Otherwise, they’re expecting something from others that they are unwilling to offer up to others. And one thing I that think is near-universal if not truly universal among humans is that we tend not to like double standards.
 Not an exhaustive list, I assure you. But hopefully I’ve named enough religions and non-religious people to make the point that it’s a lot of people he’s asking this of.
 Or maybe the lack of empathy contributes to one’s failure to examine privilege. Personally, I suspect it may be a bit of both, not to mention a self-reinforcing cycle.