Racism Is Always Wrong

Racism in America, at one level, is complex. The racial evils that have been committed in this country over the last 300 years are vast, and for a large part of that history, some Christians have been at worst proponents and at least complicit with the racism, whether that meant endorsing chattel slavery in the 1800s, or segregation in the 1950s, or apathy in the present day. Racism in America, at one level, is complex.

And it’s complex because racism is mainly a heart problem — it’s an individual problem — but it gets manifested all kinds of different ways outside the individual that ends up becoming bigger than the individual. And then those things get stuck in the air, as it were, and it becomes the way things are, the air we breathe, and we don’t even realize it. 

Racism is one of the few things in life that is so widely witnessed but so rarely claimed. If you asked most people, Do you to prejudge, discriminate, or feel antagonistic toward people of a different race because you think they’re inferior? Most individuals, I think, would say to that question, no way. Most people don’t claim racism, but then we look around and we know something is not right. And good intentions are not good enough. And before long, we’re back into the complexity, and some scholars believe that complexity is what has silenced many Evangelicals for so long (see Michael Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided by Faith). It’s too complicated. Racism in America, at one level, is complex.

But then, at another level, racism is not complex at all. Because racism, whatever the form, however it’s manifested, is always wrong. And that’s because racism’s problem is first and foremost with God, who never changes. Racism is first and foremost an offense to God, who, as the Father from whom every family is named, created every individual and every ethnicity in his image. 

God is the Maker of all mankind, and the differences that exist among all peoples are good. God made them to be a reflection of his glory, not to divide us, but to unite us in one, glorious chorus of praise to him. And the world is trending toward that chorus. One day Revelation 5 will be reality, and the redeemed from every tribe and tongue and people, and nation will worship Jesus together. That is our straightforward hope. The Bible is clear. And that means, church, we should not be silenced by the so-called complexity. The exhortation is: don’t be. Be clear that God is God over all peoples, and that our worth and dignity as human beings come from him.

Prayer of Confession

Father, have mercy on us, as a church and as a nation. In recent weeks the headlines in our country have reminded us that racism still exists. It is a problem in this present day, and while most would decry its injustice, they lack the foundations as to why and they lack the resources for hope. But Father, you have given us both — and forgive us, please, for the ways that we have failed in our stewardship. Forgive us for bowing to the complexity, for the things we have done and the things we have left undone. And in this moment, as individuals, we confess to you in silence. …

Now, Father, we remember the truth of the gospel. Because of your grace, Jesus died for us. He loves us and he has set us free. We are no longer dead, but alive; no longer lost, but found; no longer your enemies, but now your sons and daughters — all because Jesus lived and died for us in our place, because he is risen from dead, because he is reigning for us now and coming for us soon. And it’s in his name we pray, amen.