Understanding how rejecting the lens of color & ethnicity is harmful & contrary to the Gospel.
“Girl passes out after doing one too many leg press reps.”
That was almost the headline of a story recently because I overdid it on the reps AND the weight in my workout.
I had such good intentions to make my legs stronger, but I managed to take those intentions and turn them into something that badly missed the mark. Thankfully, I didn’t pass out, but I learned my lesson about good intentions being harmful if they aren’t built on a solid framework (aka knowing that you should probably work up to more weight over time).
Being “colorblind” is another one of those areas where our good intentions end up harming what’s important, and it has much bigger consequences than passing out in a gym.
At first glance, when people say they are “colorblind” or “don’t see color”, it appears to be with good intentions.
It seems to promote viewing all people as equal by throwing away the lens of seeing color/ethnicity (admittedly, a lens long clouded by prejudice). But, a closer look at the “colorblind” view shows it actually has a destructive framework that runs contrary to the Gospel.
Let’s look at some of the things “colorblindness” actually communicates.
Your Uniqueness Doesn’t Matter
In the colorblind framework, when we say that we don’t see or evaluate ethnic differences, part of what we’re saying is that those differences don’t actually matter.
In trying to show equal value to all people, we actually reduce the value of each person’s uniqueness.
Each human’s value is found in being made in the image of God. This means every person is of equal value as determined by the King of Kings. In addition to equality with our fellow image-bearers, God also gives each of us unique traits, abilities and gifts. Those traits of ours reflect His nature in ways that the traits of others do not (and vice versa).
Each people group was created with nuances and traits that reflect the beauty of the Father in ways other groups do not — whether it’s through music, dance, art, traditions or family dynamics. So, if we are “colorblind”, we diminish how different people groups reflect God’s image uniquely (including our own people group).
For example, imagine a scenario where I meet Abraham Lincoln (it’s a bit unlikely, I know, but just run with me here).
He introduces himself to me. Instead of calling him by his name, I tell him, “I don’t see names or discriminate based on people’s names. I’ll just call you George Washington.”
I’d imagine Abe would be upset, and rightfully so. In trying to make everyone equal by calling him George Washington, I reduced a big part of his identity (his name!) to something with no meaning. I communicated that the uniqueness of who he is has little value to me.
This is how colorblindness communicates that the unique differences in ethnicities and cultures don’t matter.
No True Unity
When we view people through a colorblind lens, everyone is the same. This means the only unity that could be possible is in sameness.
The Bible, however, paints a starkly different view of unity.
In Romans 12, Paul illustrates biblical unity with a metaphor of the human body. He asserts that the parts have varying functions, all equally important. The body cannot function without the hands or the ears, though hands are distinctly different from ears.
We are different from others in the body of Christ, and those differences make the body more beautiful and functional. You can’t have a complete body if the functions of some parts are dismissed. In this way, the Gospel celebrates our uniqueness.
In addition to celebrating our differences, the Gospel also transcends those differences. It unites us because though we are different from each other, we are nothing without Jesus. We were broken and sinful people until Jesus transformed us. The Gospel is the bond that transcends our differences and makes us into family.
Biblical unity is not sameness but celebrating and transcending our differences for the glory of God.
Don’t See Race, Can’t See Racism
If we don’t see color or race, we can’t see racism and other ethnic injustices that exist in our world today.
The Gospel instead points us to take an assessment of how we live, including how our society functions.
When we look through the Gospel lens of celebrating different races and ethnicities, we can see clearly where there are injustices of racism that persist in our society. We can begin to have honest conversations about our actions or behaviors that have contributed to the situation, begin reconciliation and actively partner with others to step in and create change.
As followers of Jesus, part of pursuing the welfare of our cities and nation is understanding how sin has taken what was good and right about ethnic differences and warped it into racism.
If we are blind to color, we will be blind to racism.
Being colorblind is dangerous because it goes against the Gospel by communicating lies like uniqueness doesn’t matter, that unity exists only in sameness, and that racism is dead.
The Gospel provides a much better framework for understanding ethnic and racial differences.
The Gospel does not call us to throw away the lens of seeing color & ethnicity.
It calls us to redeem it.
We are called to partner with the Spirit to redeem the lens of color and ethnicity we hold. We start by understanding that our differences are both celebrated and transcended by the grace of the Father. It’s in Him that unity and justice and life are found.
May we live with eyes wide open, full of humility and hope.
Thank you for reading!
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