To the right is one of my favorite pictures. Here is a Georgia State Trooper in riot gear at a KKK protest in a north Georgia city back in the 80s. The Trooper is black. Standing in front of him and touching his shield is a curious little boy dressed in a Klan hood and robe. I have stared at this picture and wondered what must have been going through that Trooper’s mind. Before the Trooper is an innocent child who is being taught to hate him because of the color of his skin. The child doesn’t understand what he is being taught, and at this point he doesn’t seem to care. Like any other child his curiosity takes hold and he wants to explore this new thing that this man is holding probably because he can see his reflection in it and that’s a neat thing and he wants to check it out. In this picture I see innocence mixed with hate, the irony of a black man protecting the right of white people to assemble in protest against him, temperance in the face of ignorance, and hope that racism can be broken because this young boy may remember that a black man smiled at him once and he didn’t seem so bad after all.
What does this have to do with anything and why am I bringing it up? Isn’t it obvious? We are a white family with roots in Georgia in the process of adopting a black child from Ethiopia. If it isn’t obvious now it will be once our child is home with us. How can we do this? Is it even biblical? How will we explain the “color difference” to our child? Are we aware of the struggles our family might have because of this? Sharon and I have thought through all of these questions and more. It is an obvious issue and so I am going to address it here on my blog over multiple entries. My goal is to paint a biblical picture of race, biracial adoption, and multi-racial/cultural families. So, where do we start? Well, let’s start with racism itself.
First, let’s call it what it is at its core and that is prejudice; the dislike, distain, and disfavor for anyone that is different from us be that because of skin color, nationality, religion, language, etc. It is a position that is feed by ignorance, fear, anger, and hate that is ultimately directed toward God. Here’s why…
In the creation story of Genesis there is a clear suggestion of dignity and significance in God’s act of creating man. Man was created in the image of God and is the climax of all God created. To show dislike or prejudice toward any human being is to scorn the image of God and the Creator’s most precious creation. This is why God told Noah that whoever sheds the blood of another man will pay with his own life (Genesis 9:6). To take this a step further, Jesus taught that being angry with and insulting (or being abusive toward) another person was equivalent to murder. Those who practice anger, hatred, murder, and prejudices have a cheap view of mankind and communicate that God’s image is not of any value to them. In the end, they place themselves in opposition to the Creator and will reap the fruits of Genesis 9:6 unless they repent and begin to see mankind through the eyes of God.
The Christ follower has no room for such a position in his life since he is putting on a “new self” which is being “renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10). The process of sanctification is our journey to be made anew into the image of God that was corrupted by our sin. The degree to which we have progressed in that process is marked by the distinctions and discrimination we impose upon our fellow man. Furthermore, the way we view others impacts our service for God. To see people through the eyes of God is to love them and respect them simply because they are people, bearers of the image of the Most High, our Lord’s most precious creation. People are God’s treasure and to love them is to love God. To hate or devalue even one person for any reason is to embrace a low significance for the image of God. God sees that as nothing less than hatred for Him and diminishing of His significance in your life. One of our Southern Baptist forefathers, T. B. Maston, was right when he said, “We cannot love any as we should, in the deepest and fullest sense, unless we love all people as we should, regardless of race or class.”
Sharon and I have both explained our reasons for adopting. The color of a child’s skin does not change the fact that God showed his love for us through adoption and we feel called to live out that example in our lives through our family and our adoption journey. While the biracial setting of our family will be obvious (more on that in a later post), we pray that the love of Christ for all people will be just as obvious in our lives. It all starts with seeing people as God sees them, by acknowledging the dignity and significance of all men as the bearers of the image of God.
“Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Acts 10:34-35