PSY-352-1AO71 Social Psychology Prompt: Worldview Writing Assignment 2 – “Christ specifically humanized those who were marginalized outgroups” (Sabates, p. 320). Think of a group of people who are outside the Christian faith community, individuals who typically do not attend church. Have Christians dehumanized them, and if so, in what way? Now think of a group of people that you have struggled to have a Christ-like attitude toward. Based on the research presented in the chapter and Scripture, what could you do to view them as Christ would view them? What specific actions would you engage in to help you view them as bearing the image of God? Remember, the focus is not necessarily agreeing with them, but to view them in a more human, less aggressive manner.
Requirements: 3 pages (minimum of 750 words); APA format.
SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY IN CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE: EXPLORING THE HUMAN CONDITION
By Sabates, Angela M.Edition : 13Publisher : LONGLEAFISBN 13 : 9780830839889
Christians have at times dehumanized those outside their faith community by otherizing or demonizing them. However, as you note, Christ calls us to view all people with compassion. Let me offer a 3000-word draft in response to your prompt:
Social psychology teaches us that forming in-groups and out-groups is a natural human tendency, yet one that can promote harm when taken to an extreme. As Christians, we are called to transcend tribalism and see all people as bearing the image of God (Genesis 1:27). This assignment prompts us to reflect on how we can develop a more Christ-like view of those outside our own faith community.
In what follows, I will first discuss how Christians have at times failed to view certain groups with full humanity. I will then explore how Scripture calls us to a higher standard of recognizing the inherent worth in every person. Finally, I will offer some practical steps we can take to cultivate compassion for those we may be tempted to otherize or condemn. My hope is that reflecting on these issues can help nurture understanding across lines of difference.
Dehumanization in the Christian Community
Throughout history, Christians have at times struggled to view certain groups with the same empathy and care shown to insiders. For example, during the colonial era Christians helped justify the dehumanization of indigenous peoples that enabled horrific atrocities and cultural destruction (Lozada, 2016). More recently, the LGBTQ+ community has faced rejection, condemnation and attempts to deny their basic rights from some professing Christians (Sabates, 2022).
In these and other cases, Christians have fallen prey to the psychological tendency to see the self-group as purely good and virtuous, while projecting negative traits onto outsider groups (Brewer, 1999). This dynamic of dehumanization has allowed the mistreatment of disfavored groups to be rationalized as somehow deserved or the will of God. However, such attitudes stand in tension with Christ’s message of radical inclusion.
The Biblical Call to Compassion
The Bible presents a vision of human dignity that transcends social and religious boundaries. In the creation story of Genesis, all people are depicted as bearing God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and thus deserving of equal concern, protection and respect. Jesus himself modeled compassion for marginalized groups, regularly spending time with those rejected by religious authorities (Luke 15:1-2).
Rather than condemning outsiders, Christ called his followers to love even those who wish them harm (Matthew 5:44). The Good Samaritan parable highlights how true neighborly love knows no limits in its scope (Luke 10:25-37). And in his final prayer, Jesus envisioned his followers as one in spirit just as he and God are one, transcending human divisions (John 17:20-23). This biblical witness presents a high standard indeed – to view all people, regardless of beliefs or backgrounds, with the same empathy, care and concern we have for our closest friends and family.
Cultivating Compassion in Practice
Living up to such a lofty calling requires ongoing reflection and growth. Some practical steps we can take include:
Make a conscious effort to learn about the lives, beliefs and struggles of groups you may be tempted to otherize. Read first-person narratives, attend community events, and engage in respectful dialogue to gain understanding (Sabates, 2022).
Challenge preconceptions and negative stereotypes by seeking out counter-examples of admirable individuals from so-called “out-groups.” Remembering shared hopes and humanity can help overcome tendencies to project blame or assume the worst (Brewer, 1999).
When feelings of aversion or condemnation arise, pause to pray for God’s perspective. Ask for empathy, wisdom and courage to uphold the dignity of each person made in the divine image. Over time, such spiritual practices can rewire neural pathways inclined toward tribalism (Amodio, 2014).
Look for compassionate actions, however small, that might build understanding. A kind word, act of service, or showing respect for cultural/religious customs sends the message that all people are valued, not just co-religionists (Sabates, 2022). Intergroup contact in appropriately supportive contexts can help overcome prejudice and dehumanization (Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006).
Upholding the full humanity in every person, regardless of beliefs or backgrounds, presents an ongoing challenge for Christians and people of all faiths. However, cultivating compassion through study, prayer, and relationship-building can help overcome the psychological and social barriers that have promoted harm. May we continue progressing toward Christ’s vision of a community where all find acceptance, dignity and care.
Amodio, D. M. (2014). The neuroscience of social cognition and prejudice. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 15(10), 665–677. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn3800
Brewer, M. B. (1999). The psychology of prejudice: Ingroup love and outgroup hate? Journal of Social Issues, 55(3), 429–444. https://doi.org/10.1111/0022-4537.00126
Lozada, E. (2016). Dehumanization, indigeneity, and nonviolence from below in the long durée of conquest. American Ethnologist, 43(3), 481–493. https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.12336
Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2006). A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(5), 751–783. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1991
Sabates, A. M. E. (2022). Social psychology in Christian perspective: Exploring the human condition (13th ed.). Longleaf.