Sin causes racial tension

by Kyle
published December 26, 2015


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One year and one month ago, rioting broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, after a grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager.

The news media began to highlight similar cases from around the nation. Police violence crossing racial lines has saturated both conventional and social media.

A movement, #blacklivesmatter, has grown out of this increasing turmoil. Racial clashes spilled over from the criminal justice world into other areas, exacerbating the tension felt by the rest of the nation. Last month, students from the Legion of Black Collegians at the University of Missouri forced the President, a campus chancellor and — as of the end of this year's football season — the head football coach through protests because they charged the university failed to respond properly to racism on campus.

Some have responded to this movement with rallying cries like "Police lives matter" and "all lives matter." In our nation's complicated racial milieu, one contingent has claimed that there is no systemic racial problem, but rather that people who don't break the law have no reason to fear the police. Others post articles about white men being killed by black police officers asking, "Why doesn't the media report this?"

Even without talking about the mass shootings this year, the continued legal slaughter of unborn children and the controversy surrounding it, the reconfiguration of marriage, and the escalation of war in Syria, this one area of life in the United States has proved in the last year that there is something deeply wrong with us.

We cannot deny that there is a problem. Even if the several police killings were "clean," the fact that the community surrounding those killings see it as a racial killing speaks to deep problems. If all, or even most, white people treated black people well in those communities, would they still think police use of force was racially motivated? When a patient comes to the hospital, it is incumbent upon the hospital to heal them, not the patient. The patient doesn't have to prove his injury. Issues of social justice are similar.

We cannot act like only one side of the issue is causing the problem. White people aren't the only race infected with racism. As long as our problems are evaluated as race problems, members of all groups will continue to mistreat each other. Humans are experts at looking at another side and seeing all its problems without seeing their own. Everyone has had wrong attitudes and done wrong things to people of a different race. Similarly, people of all races feel they are entitled to more than they really are and attempt to lay claim to same. There are not innocent parties. Grace is needed on all fronts.

In Genesis 3:16, God declares the consequences of sin to Adam, Eve and the serpent. One of the things he says to Eve is, "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he will rule over you." The Hebrew word for "desire" here is, more explicitly, a "desire" to control. Additionally, God didn't say "he should rule over you." He stated it as an inevitable consequence of sin. Sin guarantees dysfunction in our relationships with each other. Conversely, 1 John 1:7 claims, "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another." Absence of sin means absence of conflict.

It seems like the problem is not racial. Racial tension is a symptom, and it is real, and it causes real pain, but the real problem is a defect in our nature which prevents us from doing what's right, namely sin.

The only system of thought that addresses humanity's deepest defects is the gospel: Only Jesus can solve the sin problem, and he does it freely for all who allow him to. While I would not claim that we are a "Christian nation," I think a nation of people following Jesus based on God's word would treat each other much better because in Christ, "there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all" (Colossians 3:11).

What do you think?

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