Move around among evangelical circles and it becomes obvious that a silent undertow of racism exists. Most congregations are either “Lilly White” or “Midnight Black.” Yep, growing up in the South has been a sharp learning curve of picking up on the silent innuendos of racist behavior. We may rarely hear slanderous terms as honky, cracker, nigger or monkey to attack different ethnic groups. However, the ungodly and non-christian spirits which promote ethnic supremacy have not pulled an “Elvis” and left the building. Instead, they become politically smooth and careful to protect the musings of the heart. While many use words which are smooth as butter, war is still in their heart. (Psalms 55:21)
All genuine Christians hate and loath racism! I was part of planting an ethnically mixed church in a downtown area across from where the KKK members were put on trial for the murder of the three civil rights workers in 1964. (Depicted in the movie, “Mississippi Burning.”) A lot could be said about this experience and the threats against us, but let me just say, that racism reared its head…from both sides, black and white!
But to the point of this post: I have found there are five questions which will unmask racism among leadership and congregations. Each question builds on the previous one and ultimately forces the issue down to the heart of our definition of Christian unity. Because I am a caucasian, I will ask these from a “white” perspective. For you, simply substitute as needed, as we easily see racism across many ethnic groups: White to Black, Black to White, Mexican to Black, Black to Mexican, Gentile to Jew, Jew to Gentile, White to Indians, Indians to White…..etc.
1) Can a black family join my church?
2) Can a black member hold church office?
3) Can a black couple get married in my church?
4) Can a black man/woman marry a white man/woman in my church?
5) Can a black man/woman marry one of my children?
You would be shocked to know how difficult even the first question is in some fellowships…even mainline churches which “look” successful, but are nothing more than havens of racists masquerading as Christians. And yes, racism goes both ways! The same racism which hates blacks is present in the black community against whites. Let’s not kid ourselves.
It is the responsibility of the leadership of every fellowship to address and deal with any stain of racism in ourselves and in our congregations! The failure to do so will only reveal the lack of genuine Christian faith. Depending upon your geographical location, realness in this area may not create a large church, but it will develop a genuine fellowship which doesn’t play games! The continual failure of our churches to stand for the truth of redemption and acceptance of all ethnic groups remains a blot on our testimony about the grace of God.
These five simple questions will unmask racism in our churches. Personally, I believe our Seminaries should refuse to offer a degree in advanced biblical studies, especially ministry degrees, unless the student can answer the above five questions from a scriptural perspective and agree to practice them! Our churches should refuse to ordain or license anyone person who balks at any of these questions. The testimony of the truth of the power of the gospel is at stake. If we have been set free from sin through faith in our Lord Jesus, then let us live it!!!
“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” (James 2:1)
Because of Grace,