Our culture has a growing penchant for treating every issue as a moral issue. Start a discussion on environmental protection, gun-control, or gender reassignment surgery and it won’t take long for someone to seize the moral high ground, identify their position as the only “just” position, and decry all dissenters accordingly. The problem with such a world is that every issue is not a moral issue.
Most social issues are wisdom issues. A wisdom issue is a topic where God gives us principles to apply but stops short of an explicit prohibition or command. For example, should Dominion Energy build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline? That’s a wisdom issue where the powers that be honor God by wrestling with how to carefully steward his God’s creation and respect personal property (Genesis 1:28, Leviticus 25).
But some social issues are moral issues. A moral issue is a topic where Scripture speaks with explicit clarity. God does more than give us a general principle to apply. He gives us a black-and-white command or prohibition such that what is right or wrong is crystal clear. When it comes to moral issues, the question at hand is not, “What is wise?” but rather, “Will I obey?”
Racism is one of those moral issues. Scripture adamantly charges us to refuse to love people more or less because of the color of their skin (Genesis 1:27, Colossians 3:11). As Christians, we know two critical things about the evil of racism. First, it’s a heart issue. We don’t fight racism simply by giving more money to inner-city schools, though that could be part of the strategy. We fight racism first and foremost by repenting of our failure to love our neighbor as ourselves, both in our personal decisions and in our public policies, and asking God to give us a new heart that treats every human being with equal dignity as fellow image-bearers of God (Galatians 5:14).
Second, it’s a gospel issue. The only power strong enough to unite different ethnic groups is the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection (Ephesians 2:14). The cross of Christ humbles every race and offers all of us a new, shared identity as blood-bought children of God. However, our new identity in Christ does not erase ethnic distinctions. God created ethnic diversity and heaven itself will be filled with ethnic diversity (Revelation 7:9). Loving people for who they are in Christ means loving them in light of who God has created and redeemed them to be.
Therefore, we refuse to do two things as Christians: (1) we refuse to love someone more or less because of the color of their skin, and (2) we refuse to ignore the color of someone’s skin in deciding the best way to love them. You can’t love someone you don’t understand. And understanding who someone really is includes understanding the way their ethnicity shapes and affects their life experience.
That’s the goal behind the two Every Tribe & Tongue Roundtable events we’re hosting as a church this year. The format is simple. I will take an hour to interview a panel of church members who are part of an ethnic minority in RVA. Then we’ll take a half-hour to answer live questions from the congregation, including a text-message option for those who may be uncomfortable speaking up in a large group setting. The Spring event will focus on our African American brothers and sisters, and our Fall event will highlight our Hispanic brothers and sisters.
The Spring Roundtable will take place on Sunday, April 28th from 7:30-9:00pm in the Seminar Room. The Lord commands all of us as members of his body to have the “same care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:25). That’s a lot easier to do for people who are like us than people who are different than us, so if you’re part of the majority culture, please make this event a priority. Race isn’t something politicians created. It’s something God created. It’s something God loves. Which means it’s both an important and exciting issue for us to discuss as a church family.