Once again, I don’t know exactly how to approach this blog, but feel I must say something. George Floyd’s murder has, once again, stirred up the dust on our country’s racial tensions. I feel like I must say something about this. For any of my black friends who are hurting, let me freely confess that I may say some things in the wrong way out of ignorance. I am sorry for that and will gladly receive correction. Please understand that my goal is to honor George Floyd and stand against the evils that led to his murder, however imperfectly I may do this.
I am thankful to see a great people from very different backgrounds and opinions call out Mr. Floyd’s murder as just that, murder. I have heard less justifications for this act than one usually finds, and I am thankful for that. As has happened so often in our nation, this injustice has stirred up a response that has left many feeling frightened. As many are speaking about this in various ways, I want to say a few things about George Floyd, about my Christian beliefs, and about listening.
George Floyd’s story was the kind of story we conservative Christian’s delight in. A man with a past (like all of us) who had his life turned around by Jesus Christ. A man who was a success story about the power of the cross. A man who was following Jesus Christ faithfully. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I don’t believe Christians have more of a right to safety and justice than non-Christians. No, I just want to honor George’s faith and his Savior. Those who knew George spoke highly of him. He was not a dangerous man. He was a kind and godly Christian example.
I do not believe that George would be dead if he were not black. I do believe this is an example of systemic racism. I should probably say that I am expressing my personal views, but I believe this is the reality. Most of the handful of people who would read a blog from me are Christians. So let me say a few relevant things about my Christian beliefs.
I do not usually identify as a fundamentalist. Whether I truly am one depends on how one defines this term. I believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and I believe the world was created in six literal days less than ten thousand years ago. I believe a global flood happened and Noah, his family, and a bunch of animals survived the flood in a big wooden box. On the other hand, I don’t advocate reading only the King James Version, though I do have a strong sentimental affinity for it.
Some of you think I am an ignorant fool who just won’t listen to science. Fair enough, but I suspect I may have read more Hawking and Dawkins than you have. Some of you will say “preach it, brother!” For you, let me connect some dots.
I believe that every human being alive today is descended from two men, Adam and Noah. The flood factor means that every human being alive today is descended from a man that lived about 4,500 years ago. Many of us sweaty toothed religious nuts believe this rather strongly. If you are with us, this means that we have the strongest argument of anyone that the human race is all one family. The color spectrum of our skin pigmentation is a testimony to the wonderful skill of God as a master artist, writing this into the genetic blueprints of those He created in His image. Given this spectrum, I suspect that Adam and Noah were both some lovely shade of brown, like most humans.
How ludicrous is it to believe that one racial group could be inherently better or worse than another? Such a thing could certainly not arise from a fundamentalist approach to the holy scriptures. If you harbor any feelings of racial superiority, or have any negative reactions of any kind to another human being based on their visual differences than you, you need to realize that this arises from something else we fundamentalists believe in – Your sin nature! It does not come from anywhere else. Nowhere at all! Conquering sin is not easy, but the power of Christ enables the true believer to crucify such thoughts. Ask God to nail them to the cross, my friends, it’s high time!
We fundamentalist types also believe that Jesus died on the cross to call out a people for Himself from every tribe, language, people and nation (Rev 5:9). Every human being stands equal before God as sinners, and all who trust in Christ as Savior stand equal before him as the redeemed. We fundies believe that every Christian is a saint. No popes, no cardinals, no special categories. Just the priesthood of all believers who stand equal before God. A person who shows racial discrimination of any kind, under any circumstance, shows that they don’t really believe this. If you really believe a brown-skinned Galilean peasant is God incarnate, it is time to beg God to renew your mind from worldly things and purify you of any remaining racial prejudice.
I know that many of us think we have already been totally purified of such thoughts. But let me suggest one clear evidence that you have not. If you hear about the murder of someone of a different color than yourself, and you immediately begin looking for reasons why it happened such as a criminal record or resisting arrest, you are still stuck in this sin. For those of us old enough to remember the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, I am betting that not one of us said “Well, if she hadn’t been cheating on her husband, she wouldn’t be dead.” Why? You know why!
If you really believe the biblical stories of Creation, Noah’s Ark and the Cross are literally true, live like it! Put aside anything in your mind, heart or life that does not support the notion that all human beings are one family. Now’s the time.
For many or us, the issue is not malevolence, but ignorance. We have not all walked in one another’s shoes, so there is a lot that we don’t know. So, how can we love one another as brothers and sisters of the same blood (Acts 17:26)? I would suggest that it begins with a simple thing. Listen!
Of late, social media has been filled with Martin Luther King Jr’s quote “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Now, I don’t want to be misunderstood. I do not advocate riots. I don’t think they are a productive solution. I think peaceful protests are fantastic, but not riots. However, I think our focus in this quote should shift from the word “riot” to the word “unheard.” If the quote makes a true point, and I think it does, then this means that riots can be avoided by people listening. I am going to ask for a good deal of humility from anyone reading this blog. Will you consider the possibility that, just maybe, you haven’t been listening? If your auto-reaction to Dr. King’s quote is “Oh, they’re not unheard,” then you are not listening.
In my counseling education and my counseling experience, both as a counselee and counselor, I have found that listening is usually what is missing in communication. People always feel like they are not being listened to, but it is so hard for a person (myself included, if not especially), to realize that they are not listening. Not hating, or even disliking someone from a different color than you does not mean that you are hearing them. This has been a hard lesson for me. One I am probably still learning. And I challenge you to allow it to become a hard lesson for you.
You may feel like, by and large, racial inequality is a thing of the past in the United States. If most black people don’t feel like that, then you are missing something. It is time to ask why they feel like that. But beware of the auto-defenses. One of the things my counselor friends have explained to me is the principle of planning a reply while the other person is still talking. We do this with articles and speeches, as well as in conversations. This means planning a rebuttal while a person is still explaining. Having a ready set of reasons why another person is wrong to feel the way they feel. You’re auto-response might be “Well they don’t listen to me either.” Perhaps not. But whether you listen is something you can control. Whether they listen is not.
My friends, particularly my white friends
in this instance, whatever you are thinking or feeling right now, I beg you to
listen. If you feel that things like George Floyd’s murder are isolated
incidents rather than symptoms of a systemic problem. Please, listen to the
perspectives of the many black people, including conservative Christians, who disagree
with you. And I ask that you don’t immediately respond. In words or in
thoughts. Take some time to listen. Take several days, perhaps weeks, to
consider what they are saying. And, most importantly, pray that God will help
you see anything you are not seeing, and understand anything you are not
understanding. Before simply dismissing the idea of systemic racism, pray
fervently that God will not let you ignore something that really is there. If
you do this, honestly, I genuinely believe that God will show you things you
did not previously see. This can be painful, but the result will be a better relationship
with God and a more full and robust love for all members of the human family.
Let us echo the word’s of Bob Cull’s famous hymn: “Open our ears, Lord, help us
 One need not endorse rioting to recognize one of their causes.