We’re not good at speaking about racial divides. By we, I do mean “we,” Emily and me. This is mostly because we’re Canadian. Despite what you might hear, Canada has a pretty shady history when it comes to racism.1 But outside of the mistreatment (to put it mildly) of First Nations peoples, it seems rare to hear anyone talk about the problem at all.2
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the first one we’re observing. As we talked on Sunday, Emily and I agreed we should make sure our kids understood who this man was and why he matters still. In light of that, here are three things I want them to know:
First, I want them to know that this man’s ideal, his dream, was and is right. Regardless of the color of our skin or our ethnic heritage, all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. And man-made social constructs that dehumanize a fellow image bearer are evil no matter how we might attempt to justify them (as has been said elsewhere, even the great theologian Jonathan Edwards was horribly wrong on this issue).3
Second, I want them to know that racism is more than a social issue. It is more than the fruit of errant social constructs. We need to address those, without question. But we need to do more. We need to address the human heart. For just as sin seeks to elevate the self above our Creator, it does the same to our fellow image-bearers.
The sin of racism is only destroyed by the transformative power of the gospel, and its demise has been assured. We have a day to look forward to when the sin of racism will indeed be put to death because Jesus’ kingdom will be incredibly diverse—”a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number” (Revelation 7:9, CSB).
Finally, I want them to know that it’s okay to ask questions. I hate the sin of racism. I hate when I’m guilty of saying something insensitive or stupid in this area, and I hate being afraid of saying something that might seem insensitive. And I really hate that I hesitate to ask questions because of it. And that’s the final thing I want our kids to know: it is always okay to ask questions if you want to understand someone else’s experience.
It’s easier to pretend like a problem doesn’t exist (some might argue that it’s the Canadian way). But that’s the kind of behavior that allows sin to fester and grow. And I can’t, in good conscience, allow that. My kids need to know that the sin of racism is real. They need to know that there is a real definite solution coming. And that as we wait for that day, we can fight against that sin with knowledge and humility.