There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. –Galatians 3:28
In today’s day and age we might add “black or white” or “gay or straight” to Paul’s profound theological statement because the meaning would remain the same—in Christ all people, no matter their race or social status or gender or sexual preference or anything else that humans use to distinguish some from others, are equal. To deny this truth is to deny God’s sovereignty, as it seeks to invalidate a fundamental truth about God’s creation—that God created humankind in his image. We cannot claim that some were born without this image, or with a somehow imperfect image. God created all of humankind, none were created inherently lesser, and through Christ all of humankind is redeemed, none can claim to be more deserving.
Yet in spite of these fundamental truths of Christianity, there are those (Christian and otherwise) who seek to deny or lessen the humanity of others. This does not come down to a difference in interpretation of scripture, or a difference in theology, or a difference of opinion. This comes down to right and wrong. It is wrong for white people to claim to be superior to people who are not white. It is wrong for white people to deny the inherent wickedness of racism. It is wrong for white people to use violence in an attempt to silence those who would dare stand against their hateful views. All of these actions stem from the same root problem—these people have anger and hatred in their hearts. And rather than recognizing this in themselves and seeking to turn away from these evil feelings, they instead embrace them and act them out.
Jesus knew the insidious nature of anger, how it can grow and fester and lead people into committing appalling sins. This is why he compares it with murder in his teachings: “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:21-22a). It is this kind of anger that leads to white people seeking to oppress others. It is this kind of anger that leads a white man to ram his car into a crowd, injuring those who were speaking out against the hateful actions they were witnessing and killing Heather Heyer, a young woman peacefully protesting racism. It is this kind of anger that leads to unspeakable evil. And make no mistake—the actions of those white nationalist “protesters” in Charlottesville were evil.
As Christians, there are two ways we must respond when we encounter evil in the world. One of these responses is to name and condemn it. The other is to seek to fight against this evil with good. As Christians we do not repay evil for evil—we do not sin in response to sin. In the face of anger, we must demonstrate calm. In the face of sin, we must demonstrate righteousness. In the face of evil, we must demonstrate love. We do these things not because they are deserved, but because we seek to follow the commandments of Christ, and to go against these commands only help fuel the circle of violence.
In the face of anger and hate, let us seek to love one another as Christ loved us, and gave himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God.