But that doesn’t keep people from harboring subtle prejudices in their hearts that may seem innocent enough. Some of the most bigoted things I have ever heard from other peoples’ mouths were often preceded by the phrase, “I’m not a racist, but…”
Many feel that racial reconciliation should be sought — as long as white daughters don’t marry black men, or as long as black daughters don’t marry white men. Of course, this is all couched in the sincerest of concerns, such as, “I’m not a racist, but I just think that this will cause unnecessary problems in your marriage. What will people think?” Or, “I’m not a racist, but what if you have children? Do you really want them to grow up being half-white and half-black?”
When I was working at a Circuit City store once, I had a customer who was buying a computer from me. While asking some questions, he looked past me and saw an inter-racial couple in an adjacent department. He didn’t hesitate to confide in me, “I just think that’s disgusting.” I not only found his remarks offensive, it was also offensive that he thought that he could share them with me, a total stranger!
How, then, can a bi-racial couple navigate the treacherous waters of bigotry in their marriage? These are some of the questions I hope to learn about as I seek to plant a church in Cincinnati. This article from the AP highlights some of the various issues involved in race and religion.
But one thing is certain: true racial unity does not come about by seeking unity as an end in itself; this is only fool’s gold. That is like building a friendship on being friends. Friendship is built on a common interest; a common love. There’s lots of talk in the media about racial reconciliation recently, but the talk has been about racial reconciliation for its own end.
This is idolatry. We cannot expect to see any traction in racial reconciliation until we are willing to unite around something other than race. We can still talk about it and work towards solutions, but unity for its own sake lacks unifying power.
I like A. W. Tozer’s solution:
One hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other… They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified.
For this reason, I am convinced that a racially unified church is not only possible, it is more likely to unify than any government program or a litany of “conversations.”
And I dream of a racially unified church filled with racially unified marriages, too.