Our nation is reeling right now. We’ve seen videos that are heartbreaking. We’ve been beset by incidents that remind us that our nation’s racial wounds are still in need of healing. There’s rioting in the streets, and there’s a massive social media backlash against anyone who goes against the more radical protest element.
Drew Brees, QB for the New Orleans Saints, was called a racist for saying he believed kneeling during the National Anthem was disrespectful. Countless articles were written attacking the Fourth of July. President Trump’s pro-America speech in front of Mt. Rushmore was labeled as racist by the left-wing media. There’s now even talk of tearing down statues of American heroes like George Washington – a major shift from the original debate over Confederate statues. It’s difficult to see these fringe reactions by leftists and resist the temptation to run from the cause overall.
Unfortunately, the intense cycle of action and reaction has left many Christians struggling for the right message in these troubling days. EVERY Christian should find racism revolting and seek to be part of the solution. Yet, many are also rightfully concerned by the rhetoric and actions of those most prominently talking about race and our country. In looking at the situation, here are 13 ways we encourage parents and churches to address these current cultural issues with their kids and congregations.
- Do Talk About Race – God’s people should never retreat from the cultural issues of the day simply because they’re difficult. Talk about the evil of racism, address issues past and present in a candid and biblical manner, and remember the value of every human being – all made in the image of God.
- Yes, Use this Moment to Talk About Abortion – The history of abortion is rooted in racism and has devastated the black community. In talking about the value of every human being, you cannot fully address the subject without addressing the greatest civil rights issue of our time as well as the greatest crisis facing the black community, the evil of abortion.
- Don’t Speak to Your Kids/Congregation as Though They’re Racist – No, we aren’t “all just a little bit racist.” Every sermon I’ve ever heard on racial reconciliation speaks to the audience as though we’re all struggling with the sin of racism. Every Christian needs to hear a call to action, and we need to hear the truth. Yet, approaching the issue as though the audience is inherently racist misses the mark and feeds a false narrative.
- Don’t Associate with the “Black Lives Matter Movement” – One of the most devastating outcomes of the racial tension plaguing our nation is the fact that the true and innocuous phrase “black lives matter” has become politicized and associated with Black Lives Matter – an organization with radical objectives, including the destruction of the family. Moreover, the violence and rhetoric encouraged by this and other organizations should be universally condemned. In expressing “black lives matter,” do not allow your engagement to be co-opted by Black Lives Matter or any other political movement that is not rooted in accuracy and in the Gospel. Research any group that you’d associate with.
- Do Lead with Personal Empathy – Everyone has different personal experiences on this issue, and, as Christians, we should engage all those experiences with validity and care. Leading with empathy should be a foremost attribute for every Christian interacting with someone who is hurting. Do not dismiss your brothers and sisters who may have felt or experienced racism that you have not seen. Moreover, do not allow any potential disagreements with the whole of a protest message to either dissuade you from engagement or result in the development of negative sentiments to communities protesting.
- Don’t Accept the Premise of Current American Society as one of White Supremacy – America has a past that includes some real evil, and it’s an evil that has consequences in our present reality. However, accepting the premise of our current American society as one of “White Supremacy” is inaccurate, feeds divide, and undermines efforts to identify and truly root out real racism. While it is fair to point out inherent generational advantages for those whose forefathers were never enslaved nor experienced systematic racism, it dishonors the heroic civil rights efforts when some declare our modern day America as one defined by “White Supremacy.”
- Do Acknowledge there is Current Racism – While I would argue both that most in our society are not racist and that the system is not inherently racist, it is irrefutable that there are racists among our citizenry, there are racist elements in the “system,” and there are those in power who have abused that power against minorities. Even for those of us who do not see the problem as pervasive as others may be articulating, Christians should not be racism-deniers and should be active in rooting out every racist, every act of racism, and every law or system that fails to treat all races as equal.
- Don’t Associate Protecting Christendom with Protecting All Statues/Names – I often see Christians among the most ardent defenders of every statue and every name. There’s nothing biblical about ensuring that every statue remains erect and every name remains intact. Is it fair to be cautious about removing statues or a massive effort to rename any namesake of someone with questionable actions or beliefs? Yes. Yet, is it fair to critically remove some statues or rename some schools, buildings or installations that may be genuinely offensive? I believe so. As we strive for empathy, don’t allow this divisive issue to become one where you harm your witness to those who are genuinely distressed. Wherever you are on the statue removal spectrum, approach the issue with empathy and seek to understand those who disagree with you.
- Do Speak of How Heroes can be Sinners yet Celebrated – David committed adultery and murder, Abraham “loaned” out his wife, Judah solicited his daughter-in-law, and we could go on with countless heroes of the faith and those who were blessed to be in the line of Christ who committed heinous acts. Christians should address those acts when talking about those biblical figures, and we can still celebrate the people and how they were used. Similarly, we have a similar educational opportunity to address Founding Fathers like George Washington who made history better yet was a participant in a great human atrocity. None, including “great” men and women, are without sin, and it is God-glorifying to celebrate how He used them – in spite of their flaws – to accomplish His purposes. There’s validity – both in encouraging sinners who still seek God’s glory and in reminding all that none are flawless – in remembering and even celebrating those who are primarily remembered for accomplishment yet leave a legacy that contains stain.
- Do Talk About America as an Imperfect Nation (And the Role of Christians in Making it More Perfect) – Too often, we are satisfied to say “we live in the greatest nation in the world” and let that be the end of the statement. Yet, we were far from perfect at our founding – when leaders compromised on the issue of slavery in order to forge a nation. We’ve had wickedness present in varying degrees throughout our history, and, even today, we allow 9 unelected judges to allow genocide and the redefining of biology. We are an imperfect and fundamentally flawed country, yet, throughout our history, faith has been a catalyst for change. And, it should be. Address the imperfections of our country and how God calls us to be a light in our land. Any time there has been change for the better, faith has been at the heart of it. May the Lord deem to use us in such a way again!
- Do Encourage Patriotism – Traditionally, the Fourth of July has been a unifying holiday, yet, this weekend, the Left looked upon its celebration with hostility. While acknowledging our imperfections, it’s good for Christians to be proud of the ideas that form the foundation of our nation, be grateful to live in the most free nation in the history of the world, and celebrate its preservation – a preservation made possible by tremendous sacrifice.
- Don’t Encourage Expressions of Patriotism on Equal Footing as One’s Faith – Christians are certainly guilty of the mistake of elevating their identity as an “American” to an equal footing as their identity as a “Christian.” As a believer, your identity cannot be compartmentalized – it is solely defined by your relationship with Christ. There are elements of our government that fundamentally conflict with our faith and even more that do not fully reflect it. We should never work to change our faith (though we certainly work to reform its practice), but we should work to change our nation to more closely reflect the faith.
- Do Teach that Christianity was not, is not, and never will be Dependent on the United States of America – Where in the Bible does it say that there shall be a United States of America and it shall be constituted of 50 states? While the Bible speaks of submitting to authorities, where do we glean that we should allow 9 unelected judges to dictate whether the killing of the innocent is an acceptable practice or not? Christians should be willing to seek major transformation – as they did in the Revolution – in order to eradicate evil. While I know this runs counter to many our nature as “conservatives,” preserving the strength and peace within the United States of America should never take precedence over biblical truth and justice.
These are difficult topics, and I see so much online – coming from both sides of the political spectrum – that I disagree with. Hopefully, these 13 ways to address the cultural issues we’re seeing today are helpful as you speak to and within your church and/or to your kids. If it helped you, please feel free to share and pass on.
Praying for our nation, for healing, and for Christians to be a great catalyst in positive change – pointing others to the Gospel.
President and Executive Director