No one is born racist.  They learn it.  What are you teaching your children about God’s beautiful kaleidoscope of creation and His design of diversity?

by Chad Allen, Cuyahoga Valley Church Lead Pastor

I’m white.  Scottish/Irish/Italian white to be specific.  I have a white wife. I also have a bi-racial African-American daughter, a Chinese daughter, and technically a bi-racial son who is ¼ Mexican, although you would never know it by appearance.  I absolutely LOVE the diversity in my family.  It is a beautiful kaleidoscope gifted to us by the hand of God.  I also love the growing diversity I’m seeing in our church.  This year we had the largest percentage of diversity at our annual sports camp in all its history.  I love looking out and seeing the kaleidoscope in our church body too.  I love having the awareness that I worship with people who come from European roots, Jewish roots, African roots, Asian roots, Latino Roots and the like. That is one of the reasons that I am absolutely sickened by what happened in Charlottesville, VA last weekend.

Racism is ugly.  Racism is ludicrous.  Racism is ungodly.  Racism is unbiblical.  Racism is evil.  Racism is hate.  Anyone who believes in, participates in, or teaches racism is a proponent for hate.  Racism is “hate-ism.”  Racism isn’t new. And contrary to what it may feel like, it isn’t necessarily worse than previous eras.  In our insta-post culture today, we are just made more aware of it when it happens.  I agree with the actor Will Smith when he said, “Racism isn’t getting worse, it’s getting filmed.”

What’s tragic is that racism is now being veiled as patriotism by those who are champions of such hate.  It was surreal to watch KKK, Neo-Nazi, and other white supremacists have the freedom to provoke and carry out the rampage that floods our screens.  Freedom of speech is one thing, but freedom of violence?  And white supremacy? Really?  The only “white” we should celebrate is the white-as-snow cleansing of our filthy souls through faith in Christ (Is. 1:18; Ps. 51:7; 1 John 1:7-9) and the only supremacy we should celebrate is the supremacy of God over all of creation (1 Chron. 29:11-12; Ps. 103:19; Col. 1:17).  And yes, there is only one race… the human race (Acts 17:26).

If racism isn’t bad enough, hearing white supremacists twisting God’s Word to fit into their mold of hate is repulsive!  I watched portions of an interview with one of the white supremacists who proudly proclaimed that he is a racist and said that he is doing the Lord’s work.  Really? Which work?  Loving one another as Christ commanded (John 13:34-35)?  Serving one another in love (Gal. 5:13)?  Making disciples for Christ (Matt. 28:19-20)?

Regardless of your faith background, I hope you are discerning enough to reject the “Christianizing” of hate.  Wrapping hateful words and actions in a Bible verse will never justify it.  Racism is clearly in opposition to the God who made all men in His image (Gen. 1:27).  It is beyond bizarre that white racist people seem to forget that God sent His Son, a brown Middle-Eastern man, to die on the cross!  If I wanted to isolate one verse that directly addresses racism from Scripture it would be:

1 John 2:11 – But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Racism is darkness.  It is blindness.  It is hate.  And it isn’t just in Charlottesville, or the South.  It’s everywhere.  Even in our communities.  Denise, our Children’s Minister, shared a sad story from our own church sports camp of a first-grade girl turning to another first-grade girl and saying, “My mommy told me I can’t play with kids with dark skin like yours.”  I don’t know if this child goes here or was a guest, but what I do know is that there was evidence in that moment of an attempt to teach her to hate.  No one is born racist.  They learn it.  What are you teaching your children about God’s beautiful kaleidoscope of creation and His design of diversity?

There is hope in the midst of the hate.  As Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said in his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

As followers of Jesus, part of being a Christ-glorifying, Gospel-sharing and Bible-believing person is to stand with and for those who are being victimized by racism.  Jesus told us to go and make disciples of all nations.  Embedded in the Great Commandment is an affirmation of diversity.  So, what can we do to help counter racism?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Purge yourself of any racism. There may racism blatantly or subtly lurking around in your own heart. Ask God to show you it if it’s there. And then lay it before God in prayer and ask Him to take it away and replace it with a love for others who are different than you.
  • Cultivate friendships with people of a different ethnicity. Do you have diversity in your friendships? We benefit greatly from expanding our friendships to people of different ethnicity. Part of being a relational risk-taker is getting to know people who may not be exactly like you.  Listen to them and learn from them.  Share perspectives and stories.
  • Speak up. We cannot be silent nor still when physical, mental, and emotional violence is being carried out upon people God loves.  We are to neutralize racism in peaceful, prayerful, and proactive ways as we see it.  We can speak against it, write against it, post against it, vote against it and teach against it, especially in our homes. In fact, the picture that comes with this post is from a family in our church. The mom was trying to explain what had happened in Charlottesville when her 9-year-old African-American son took it upon himself to place his hand with his white sister’s hand to form a heart. He then told his mom to take a picture of it and post it to “show everyone that love not hate wins.”  There is light in the midst of the darkness and there is hope in the midst of hate!
  • God can do more than man ever will.  Pray for those who have been hurt by racism.  Pray for their families.  Pray for those who have been ensnared in racism—perhaps even discipled in hate—that God would push away the darkness and blindness and shine the light of His love into their hearts. Pray for our churches to be safe and diverse.  Pray for Christians to be the salt and light in their homes, neighborhoods, and communities to help make a difference.