These excerpts from an article by Russell Moore are worth taking time to read and reflect on.
Many white evangelicals will point to specific cases, and argue the particulars are more complex in those situations than initial news reports might show. But how can anyone deny, after seeing the sheer number of cases and after seeing those in which the situation is all too clear, that there is a problem in terms of the safety of African Americans before the law? That’s especially true when one considers the history of a country in which African Americans have lived with trauma from the very beginning, the initial trauma being the kidnapping and forced enslavement of an entire people with no standing whatsoever before the law. For the black community, these present situations often reverberate with a history of state-sanctioned violence, in a way that many white Americans—including white evangelicals—often don’t understand.
These situations ought to cause us, as Christians, to understand our own doctrine of sin. The Bible speaks of sin both in terms of how we relate to others personally and how we relate to one another corporately. Sometimes we speak of issues that are “political” as though they have no bearing on issues of gospel and discipleship. It’s telling that we tend to be quite selective in what issues we deem too “political” to speak about with a word from God. It’s also telling that we often don’t consider what it even means to be “political.” The “political” is not merely the partisan. “Politics” describes what we act together to do corporately in the public arena. Joseph’s brothers are acting “politically” when they throw him into the pit and sell him into Egyptian slavery. The fact that they are acting corporately doesn’t absolve each of them for responsibility personally. Scripture speaks of sin in strikingly personal terms. The one who is sexually immoral sins against his own body (1 Cor. 6:18). Scripture also speaks of sin in terms of the way we organize structures—whether that’s unjust courts or the oppression of laborers in fields (James 5:4–6).
The situation is complex precisely because such injustices are so longstanding and are often hidden from majority populations, who don’t pay attention to such questions, since they rarely have to think about them. My oldest two sons are learning to drive. I have many fears, but I’ve never worried about one of my sons being shot after being pulled over. My perspective is thus radically different from my African-American neighbor or colleague or fellow church member. Notice the differences even on social media over the past couple of days. An African-American colleague of mine noted that the divide is glaring, with black evangelicals interacting with this set of news while many white evangelicals continue discussing the presidential race or the upcoming Olympics, with no reference to these shootings. That divide ought to cause us to reflect on how we’re experiencing the culture differently, and what implications that has for our unity and our witness.
It’s true these issues are more than just personal, but they are not less than personal. We can only address these questions if we care about them in the first place. That means these questions cannot only be addressed by those in fear of unjust systems and thereby not addressed by those who benefit from them. We must bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), which means those in majority cultures listening to our brothers and sisters who are directly in harm’s way.
The path ahead will be difficult, but it will require the body of Christ—the whole body of Christ—to call one another to moral awareness and action. That starts with acknowledging we have a problem.
Read the whole article here.