Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington
Colorblind sin
Colorblind sin

 

Sin is ugly. Horrific. Heartbreaking. And colorblind. It’s not white. It’s not black.

The murder of George Floyd by an abusive authority figure is sin. Ugly, gruesome sin. The perpetrator—as well as those who stood by and watched—must be charged, tried, and punished for their crime.

The looting and burning of property, as well as beating and killing of innocent people by unrestrained, violent mobs is also sin. The murders of David Dorn and Dave Patrick Underwood by mobs are just as ugly and horrific. Such lawlessness must also face the consequences.

So where does that leave us?

I can remember being taught in school that the answer to racism is to be colorblind. Don’t look at the color of the other person’s skin. Instead, remember we’re all the same under our skin. We all bleed red.

But is that the answer? Because we’re not all the same. Every person is a unique creation of God. From our DNA to our fingerprints, no one else is exactly like us. And that diversity is what enables us to complement each other. Admire each other. And support each other.

Still, there are traits we all do share.

For one thing, we’re not made up of different races. We all belong to one race: the human race. A race composed of a beautiful mosaic of various ethnic groups. A mosaic that has been celebrated as diversity guarded by equal rights and protection under the law.

But is this accurate? Are our differences really celebrated and protected? Someone has described Martin Luther King, Jr. this way:

“Looted nothing. Burned nothing. Attacked no one. . . Changed the world.”

But the world hasn’t changed as much as we’d like to think. And those changes that have occurred are often more superficial than substantive in too many areas. Scratch the surface and frustration will explode like a pressure cooker with a faulty vent. And it has.

We can argue for weeks about whether or not racism is systemic. But the reality is that it doesn’t have to be systemic for people to fear for their safety and their livelihood. For example, two people I know were denied a rental apartment because they’re a mixed-race couple. And another friend was pulled over by a police officer simply because she’s a woman of color who was out late at night alone.

Of course, a violent response is wrong. But so is abuse by authority figures who are tasked with protecting the entire community, regardless of skin pigmentation. Or a derogatory comment made by a stranger on the street to another person just because they have more—or less—melanin.

I will never truly understand the experience of discrimination others have lived with. I will never know what it is to fear a law enforcement officer’s approach. But I will also never know what a law enforcement officer experiences when he kisses his family goodbye in the morning, wondering if he’ll return to them that evening.

Sin inhabits every human being, regardless of color.

Jesus Christ died for every human being because of that sin, regardless of color.

I’ve lost count of the number of times people have said, “If God really is a God of love, He would never send anyone to hell.” Or, “Why would God send His Son to the most torturous death possible—crucifixion—if He is a loving God?” But we forget God takes sin seriously.

We fail to grasp the ugliness of sin, so we fail to grasp the necessity of the Cross.

We don’t understand the severity of sin, so we don’t understand the severity of judgment.

And we don’t recognize our own sin, because we’re too busy proclaiming the sin of others.

Before we completely lose what’s left of our humanity, the human race—many colors, but one race—must stop judging others just because they look different.

Our culture has already sacrificed millions of babies on the altar of convenience.

We’ve sacrificed the sacred covenant of marriage on the altar of transient emotions.

And now we’ve come dangerously close to sacrificing what’s left of our humanity on the altar of our own insecurity. We assuage that insecurity to feel better about ourselves by putting others down.

Instead of demeaning anyone who appears different from us, we need to celebrate those differences. We need each other.

And that need requires us to stand up and speak up. Speak up when we see injustice. Speak up when those in authority abuse that authority. Failure to do so is also sin—a sin of omission just as serious as any sin of commission. In Luke 6:27-32, the gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to love. Love our enemies. Treat them the same way we want them to treat us.

Don’t tear down entire groups of people because of a few rotten apples, whether white or black, law enforcement or protester. Let each person be evaluated by his or her own actions rather than the actions of others who look like them or wear the same uniform.

Appreciate the mosaic that is the human race.

Acknowledge the sin that taints every member of our human race.

And remember that, apart from the gracious salvation of a holy God, we are all deserving of judgment for our own ugly, horrific sin.

 

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12 Comments

  1. Dave

    Thank you for this, Ana!

  2. Maria Hanson

    AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! Thank you for speaking out. I keep pondering the heart of God for His people and Revelation 7 comes to mind. Believers from every tribe, tongue and nation will stand before the throne of God and the Lamb. All Christian leaders have a unique opportunity right now to teach, train and lead people toward correct thinking about sin and true identity in Christ as His image bearers.

  3. Stephen De La Vega

    I’m glad you mentioned the mosaic of ethnicity in a single human race because what is happening is much deeper than color. Ethnicity brings with it the diversity of people groups and cultures and it is part of the biblical design. And it is sin that causes us to look down on those who are different than us. This sin gives us the feeling of superiority or favor, and it does result in systemic problems. Redlining is one example, and it has not gone away. Redlining is still very much a part of formulas used by insurance or lender companies. But issues with a system do not determine our feelings towards one another. That problem is the ugliness of sin, as you have described, and it is the problem that matters most. It’s a problem Jesus fixed.

  4. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Stephen. Yes, this sin of superiority leads to so much injustice!

  5. Candice Brown

    “And we don’t recognize our own sin, because we’re too busy proclaiming the sin of others” Powerful. I agree that the answer to racism is embracing the beauty in our varieties ethnicities, not being colorblind and your main point: sin is colorblind.

  6. Melissa Henderson

    Excellent message. God made us all unique and wonderful. I pray we will begin to love each other as God wants us to love each other.

  7. Melinda Viergever Inman

    This is an excellent examination of the highly politicized and deeply fraught circumstances our nation is currently traversing. You handled this topic very well, bringing balance into the conversation while affirming the brotherhood of Adam’s race, the human race, one human race comprised of many ethnicities.

  8. Jessica Brodie

    I, too, was raised/taught we should be colorblind, but I’m not sure that’s the full answer for me anymore. I strive now to see the BEAUTY in all the difference. I think everyone is unique yet the same inside. We all have the Holy Spirit coursing through us. I see more in common in each of us than I see difference. But the beauty in difference in nature, from different colored flowers to different-shaped trees, to glorious new buds and aging, wilting trees, is catching my heart right now. It’s inspiring me to appreciate the difference in each of us as people, too.

  9. Yvonne Morgan

    I am praying for our world.

  10. Karen Friday

    Such a fresh way to look at this issue, Ava. Especially like your point that sin is colorblind. Thankful we have an advocate, Jesus Christ, who died for every man, woman, boy, and girl, regardless of color.

  11. Jessie

    More than ever, we need to be the love in the world like Jesus was!

  12. Anne Mackie Morelli

    Love this Ava: “And that need requires us to stand up and speak up. Speak up when we see injustice. Speak up when those in authority abuse that authority. Failure to do so is also sin—a sin of omission just as serious as any sin of commission. In Luke 6:27-32, the gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to love.” This means to love everyone, including our enemies.

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