(Quick warning before we get started: there are a lot of tense topics I’m about to get into including race, gender, sexism, rape, and class.)
I have been blessed to travel around the world. I have lived in three countries (including the US) and have visited six others. Through my travels, I have met a lot of people from a lot of places. Coming back to America, while there is a lot which makes me feel like an outsider now.
As we head into the midterm elections and beyond, I want to remind readers of certain truths and disillusion them from others. While this post could be used for Christians or Americans in general, it is ideally aimed at those who have both of those identities. However, if you find it helpful— that’s great!
We are called to be in community with one another and part of that can include having difficult discussions. If you find this post helpful, either because it helped you think about something differently or helped you come up with some ways to talk to others during this difficult political time, please like and share this post and support me on Patreon.
With all that out of the way, here are five things which (American) Christians should reconsider:
Racism still exists. Roughly half of you instantly said “Duh” and the other half thought either some kind of denial or “it’s not as bad as it was.”
The statement that it is not as bad as it was is, arguably, true. Chattel slavery in America, the slavery which considers people as less than people, has ended.
However, there are many practices which have been put in place since slavery which have targeted minority communities with predatory loans and has allowed for police brutality to go unnoticed. (For the purposes of this blog, this is SUPER simplified, but I highly recommend looking into a lot of these issues.)
It is only within the last several years that we have gotten the chance to learn about some of these practices because of the internet and social media. While you are free to consider the degree of racism still in existence in America (or your own country), something all Christians should believe: black lives matter.
There is no need to correct this statement. No one needs the statement to be “All lives matter” because we don’t need that reminder in particular right now. (We also don’t need to be reminded that blue lives (being police) matter because, again, we know that they do.) What we do need to remember is that black people ARE PEOPLE and that their lives matter, the current systems have allowed policemen and others to kill black men without justice given in courts after.
While this post could be all about this subject in particular, I highly recommend watching the XIII documentary on Netflix for a further perspective. I personally believe that most people are not racist (including police officers), but that there are systems beyond our individual control which we ought to come together to change for the better.
The second (and arguably third) -ism to look at is sexism. I personally am okay with biblically grounded female pastors as evidenced in the early church (shout out to the Junia Project) and I personally have an egalitarian marriage, but also see healthy complementarian marriages. Not all feminists hate men or are founded on un-Christian principals, especially since even the women are considered to be equal heirs to Christ. I personally do not promote the Billy Graham/Mike Pence Rule in which men are not allowed to be alone with women for fear of some kind of sexual interaction. This comes from the fact I have strong friendships with women; following a legalistic rule like this would demote these friendships and is likely to hinder professional progression for women.
Even if you don’t promote women in the pulpit, you should absolutely not be okay with sexual assault. What I find interesting in the current political climate is that the same pastors who have told generations that if they have sex outside of marriage AT ALL seem completely fine with men who have multiple sexual allegations thrown at them. (I hope and pray that this becomes a dated section in this blog soon.) This really shouldn’t be a revelation, but: if someone is raped, you ought to blame the rapist. There are really no other details which matter. A person decided to force themselves on another.
An odd fixation in the American Church is the belief in capitalism as an economic system. You can see this especially when you encounter other churches in other countries who are proud of what the Americans would call “socialist.” The American Church sometimes appears to consider following capitalism as an unwritten 11th commandment, even though the Bible gives little information on how economic systems can be of benefit. What it does say, time and again: the pursuit of amassing of wealth is an evil idol.
We are called on to love God and love others and, while capitalism has the ability to do that, the worst aspects of the system promote manipulation of the lack of regulation to create the worst, cheapest products which still beats the competition while paying employees as little as possible. (This does not, obviously, speak to all capitalism, but does speak to how the system can be and is broken.)
As a counter-point, Christians is other societies may be particularly proud of certain social safety nets which the US is reluctant to adopt. In the UK, they are proud of their socialized healthcare and consider healthcare a basic human right which ought to be protected and promoted. While those in the States want to promote the evils of socialism, many of our European allies and Canada have at least somewhat socialist systems. The best aspects of socialism can be a federal way of protecting people from falling into poverty, taking care of those who have fallen into poverty, and, ideally, giving those who have fallen into poverty a way out of it. This would mean that, as a society, we have agreed that taking care of others (loving others, if you will), is an important enough aspect to be legislated and to dedicate tax to. This is the system I would personally prescribe to, especially in looking at the beginning of the early church in the book of Acts in which the church gave up excess wealth to take care of others.
The US does not and has not had as clear a class structure as most of the world, but that does not mean it does not exist. If anything, the class system is getting MORE solid as the top 1% of the economic ladder gains an increasing percentage of wealth. (For more information on this, re-read #3 and do some quick google searching on the wealth gap in America.)
A particularly non-biblical view of wealth is that God only gives wealth to the good people of the world (which ignores not only reality, but a variety of characters from the actual Bible). This “prosperity gospel” is a complete false promise and sets wealth as a reward as opposed to what it is meant to be: a responsibility. The point of wealth is not to be the end-game reward. The point of all power, including the power from wealth, is to take care of others on a greater scale. Because those with more money and power have a greater sphere of influence, they have a greater ability to make the world a better or worse place. Christians who manage to gain wealth are called to help others in need and not look down on those who are impoverished. (The worst of this rhetoric blames people for “secret sin” which is why they have been “cursed” with poverty or illness or some other trauma.)
Thank you for reading! These are five HUGE topics and, while each could get their own blog post, this is a VERY quick overview of some ideas which American Christians need to reconsider. While you may (and probably will) come to different conclusions than me, I hope you’ve found this post helpful as you’ve thought (or re-thought) about your positions on these subjects. Please like, subscribe, and support me on Patreon! Doing that can really help spread this blog and keep it running.
If you didn’t find this blog helpful, I hope you at least have a better understanding of a different view point and have thought thoroughly about where you stand and why. Also, you can always consider the fact that I am a lay person in the church, not a leader in any way (though I have at this point completed an MA course studying American culture).
This is my last post for the year as I will take November off for National Novel Writing Month and December off as a Christmas break. Best wishes through the rest of the year!
The cover photo for this post was taken by me in Lugo, Galicia, Spain.