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Kids are sponges. They observe, even when we think they aren’t. They retain, more than we think they do. And they mimic everything: the good, the bad, and the embarrassing.
My oldest calls his sister “sweet girl”…because I do.
He also sighs loudly when he is exasperated…because I do.
He squeals and screams as loud as he possibly can…because his sister does.
He started calling people “doo doo butt”…because his friend does.
No doubt about it, our kids are impressionable. And it’s our job to bring them up in the way of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6). That means we need to direct them towards the Word of God to know and understand what constitutes as sin in God’s eyes, the punishment for sin (death and eternal separation from God), and the sacrifice Jesus made so that we can be saved from that punishment. The gospel needs to be the red thread through all of the life lessons we teach our children.
How Does God View Racism?
Racism is one such lesson that has recently become front and center in the media. What does God think about racism and how should we be instructing our kids in this topic?
Racism is prejudice against someone of another race, believing that one is superior to another. Racism has always been an issue in the world, from ancient times until now. Thousands of years ago, Paul writes in the book of Galatians about God’s stance on racism:
Galatians 3:26-29 (emphasis mine)
“26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
God sees us all the same. Through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, God views every single person – black, brown, white, red, yellow – as his children. God doesn’t differentiate between race, occupation, or sex. In fact, the Bible is very clear that racism is sin.
“8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself, ”you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.”
Put simply, God doesn’t show favoritism. He is not racist. If we do/are, it’s sin.
One of the most important lessons we can teach our children is that each and every person has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). You are no better in God’s eyes than your child. Your child is no better in God’s eyes than anyone else. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. We are human and we have sinned.
Now, that isn’t to say that we aren’t special, unique, and loved greatly (Psalm 139:13-16). God has made each of us exactly how he wants us to be. The color of our skin, the texture of our hair, the pitch of our voice, the skills we possess, our interests – these are all brought together by God to create you. On purpose. How amazing!
As moms that are fulfilling our jobs to bring up our children in Christ, we need to teach and model these two concepts well. To summarize:
- When it comes to sin, we are all equal in God’s eyes. No one better than anyone else. If you sin in one area, it’s like you’ve sinned in all areas. (James 2:8-11)
- When it comes to who we are, we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. (Psalm 139: 13-16) He made no accidents or mistakes when he made us in our mother’s womb. We are special and loved deeply by our creator.
This lesson applies to many areas of life and we should be intentional about coming back to these two truths when teaching opportunities open up in our children’s lives. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, old or young, man or woman, beautiful or plain, minimalist or hoarder, fashionable or nerdy, popular or a loner, pale or dark. I don’t know about you, but the comfort that comes from knowing this is one of the greatest gifts I could be given.
When To Teach Your Children About Racism
The timing and the way that you teach your children about racism is between your family and God. In light of the horrific events in Charlottesville, my husband and I talked about it and agree that racism isn’t something we should directly teach our 3-year-old about right now. We live in a diverse city where he plays with children from many races, cultures, and who speak many different languages. He sees mommy and daddy doing the same. To him, this is a normal, everyday occurrence. If we were to bring up the fact that people have different skin colors, different hair, different accents, he would start pointing it out ALL THE TIME. Not out of a mean spirit, but it is how he processes things and shows mommy and daddy that he was listening. Other people don’t know that, so it’s definitely not something we want our kid doing at the grocery store!
For now, we will continue to live out God’s word by not showing favoritism to anyone, loving on each and every person that God brings into our life. We’ll continue to check out books that show people of different races and cultures, and continue to expose him to a variety of experiences that lives out God’s command that all are equal. One day, our son will be old enough to have questions about our differences or hear about world events fueled by racism. We’ll bring out the Bible and simply tell him what God says and commands of us. It’s as simple as that.
What’s appropriate for your family? Decide on what is appropriate for your children’s age and developmental maturity. Pray about it and make a plan. It might be waiting, or it might be to open the Bible over dinner tonight to start the discussion. Whatever it is, make sure that God and his Word is the center.
If you are interested in a resource to help you discussion racism and cultural diversity, the God Loves You Bible Storybook is a great one. Between each Bible story are real life stories of struggle and triumph from around the world. The image at the top of this post is taken from this book.