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Double Standards

What I'm Reading Today: Genesis 37-39

While I mean well in many circumstances, there are times in my life when I fail to live up to the standards I espouse for others.

A great example of this comes to issues of leadership. I spend a whole lot of time and energy talking with others about my strongly held conviction that leadership is largely about sharing whatever power and authority one has with others in order to empower them and build a strong, broad-based community. On most occasions, I try to follow that vision.

There are certainly those times, however, when sharing my power and authority seems either inconvenient or inefficient to me – so I revert to traditional ways of leading and unnecessarily assert my own power and authority.

When I slip and this happens, I am usually quick to defend myself by saying, "Empowerment is USUALLY a good thing. However, in this PARTICULAR instance I did not have the luxury of being able to do that."

When other people around me do the same thing – assert their power and authority over others – I am extremely quick to point that out and decry their actions. I rarely slow down and give them the benefit of the doubt – the same benefit of the doubt that I so often ask for. In other words, I act as if it's okay for me to occasionally deviate from that vision, but it's not okay for others to occasionally deviate.

This reminds me that I'm just as prone as the next person to fall prey to the age old thing known as "the double standard".

Today's reading in Genesis gives us a beautiful example of a double standard. In that passage, we hear the story of Tamar – the daughter-in-law of Judah who was widowed. Judah responded to Tamar's loss by promising her his son Shelah's hand in marriage. Judah went back on the deal, however. So in order to produce the child she wanted; Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute, slept with Judah, and became pregnant.

When Judah found out the unmarried Tamar was pregnant, how did he respond? With love and compassion?

No! He responded by saying, "Get her out of here. Burn her up!"

He was so quick to recognize and judge her sexual activity outside of a marital relationship, yet he completed overlooked his own sexual activity outside of a marital relationship. That is a classic example of a double standard. Luckily, Tamar was clever enough to expose that double standard before it cost her her life.

While you may not be practicing/holding on to a double standard in your own life that is quite as dramatic as Judah's, chances are there is one lurking somewhere in your life. Today, I would invite you to spend some time searching out your double standard and then committing yourself to getting rid of it.

Til next time …

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