How do I, as a Christian parent, talk to my child about race? It’s a question that I have asked and have heard many other parents ask. As I have navigated this with my own children, I’ve learned the importance of approaching the subject with humility and confession.
Looking back at history in general, it is easy for us to point out others’ blind spots—injustices we clearly see that other people overlooked. David Platt reflects on this in his sermon series, The Story of Scripture. He says we often look back at accounts in Scripture and wonder “what were they thinking?!” And in recent history, it’s still hard to believe that respected pastors—people who claimed to follow God’s Word—rationalized discrimination and ownership of an entire “race.”
Yet, humility allows me to see that I am prone to blind spots in my own life. Thus, my husband and I must talk to our children with humility. If we genuinely desire that they have a heart for gospel reconciliation, we must be willing to, (1) recognize that we may have blind spots and, (2) be willing to confess our blind spots when the Holy Spirit graciously reveals them to us.
As a member of the majority culture, it is tempting at times to be defensive as issues of racial discrimination are discussed. I’ve been in conversations with friends in the minority culture and must confess that at times my first instinct is to defend, justify, and even downplay my friends’ feelings on issues of discrimination. Eric Mason in his book, Woke Church, emphasizes that we are “expending our energies arguing about things instead of empathizing with one another.” He also says, “we can have empathy for one another even if we disagree, because love comes before agreement.” So, I must enter conversations about race with love and humility and with a willingness to listen more than I speak.
In his book, One Blood, John Perkins summed it up well when he wrote, “Brokenness is the opposite of pride. It is the willingness to admit our faults without concern for our reputation. It is the willingness to lay down our own rights and do whatever benefits the other. It is putting the needs of the other above our own. It lays the groundwork for reconciliation to occur.” Oh, how my husband and I pray that we will help lay the groundwork for our children to desire to step into the tension and pursue gospel reconciliation as they grow!
So, we refuse to sit back and be silent. My kids’ view of the world will be shaped either by our proactive approach to ethnic reconciliation or by our apathy. We don’t want our silence on the issue due to fear of saying the wrong thing to communicate a lack of care. So, my husband and I proceed into the murky waters of gospel reconciliation with prayer and humility–praying that our children will follow our lead.
We want our kids to follow hard after Christ, to seek his face above all else, and to have a heart that longs to personally fulfill the Great Commission. But it doesn’t stop there. We want our kids to recognize that being born into the majority culture means they have a personal responsibility to humbly pursue gospel reconciliation in the classroom, in the cafeteria, in the grocery line, and everywhere in between.