Racism is wicked and vile, but every human being is born with the building blocks of racism already in place. What are those building blocks and how do we dismantle them? Today AMBrewster discusses three natural predispositions all children have and how Christian parents can help their kids overcome those sinful characteristics with the mature, humble love of God.
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“TLP 398: What Makes Children Naturally Not Racist”
“TLP 200: Parenting a Zombie, Part 1”
“TLP 126: How to Rear a Hateful Kid”
“TLP 128: The Four Family Loves, Part 1”
“TLP 189: The 10 Things All Parents Should Hate, Part 1”
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Okay, so last time we talked about some reasons that all children are born into this world incapable of being racist.
But we also want to grapple with the realities that can cause these same children to start hating people because of their ethnicity.
As always, free episode notes and transcripts are linked in the description of this show.
Two episodes ago we talked about how children understand justice and injustice and how to teach our kids to think biblically about them.
During that episode we acknowledged that — due to the image of God in our kids — they correctly understand certain elements about justice and injustice. However, we also discovered that — due to their sin natures — children very much misunderstand justice and injustice.
In a similar way, on our last episode we saw that the image of God in our children causes them to be naturally friendly, curious, and able to appreciate beauty. Those character traits — when nurtured and not influenced by sin — make children truly “colorblind.”
However, just like our sin natures cause us to pervert God’s understanding of justice and injustice, our sinful flesh is going to twist and adulterate our ability to be friendly, curious, and appreciate God’s beauty.
So, today we’re going to discuss just three sinful character traits that all children have to one degree or another that — when nurtured and encouraged — can easily turn into that which is commonly known as racism.
And — if you’re wondering when I’m going to finally define racism — because I always define my terms — I will be defining racism culturally and biblically on our next episode when we discuss “Teaching Your Children What the Bible Says about Racism.”
1. Due to their sinful flesh, all children are naturally superficial.
Now, I don’t intend this to come across as some pejorative slight.
On one side, children are superficial in that they don’t have deep knowledge and understanding about any topics.
However, it’s important to note that our sin nature encourages us to be superficial because it’s easier and we can make it line up with out preconceived notions. This is why children are want to make snap judgments based off their very limited information and then act accordingly.
A perfect example is any time a child has told their mom or dad that the parent doesn’t love the child. A moment of reflection would have unearthed countless proofs of parental love, but the child is responding to a moment in time, a consequence, a singular act in which they feel justified to conclude that mom and dad don’t love them.
A good biblical example of this is Joseph’s brothers. You know the story. Joseph’s brothers plan to kill him but end up selling him into slavery instead. According to God’s plan and timing, Joseph goes from a slave to a prisoner to the second in command of Egypt where God miraculously uses him to save the known world from a famine.
Part of that known world was Joseph’s family who eventually moved to Egypt and thrived under the watchful care of Joseph. But then one day Joseph’s dad dies and — in Genesis 50:15 the bothers think to themselves “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.”
These guys were so superficial that they completely missed the fact that Joseph has already poured love and affection on them in cartloads. He had proven over and over that he loved his brothers and wouldn’t do a thing to harm them or their families.
Their superficiality lead them to jump to a very wrong conclusion that made them afraid of Joseph. Now, what if that fear had been allowed to ferment? It may have eventually exhibited itself in anger over what Joseph may do and even hatred for Joseph . . . even though he had done nothing to deserve it.
Superficiality is ignorance, and since it’s ignorant, it can easily oversimplify ideas and jump to extreme conclusions. And our sinful flesh will grab on to anything it can to justify itself.
When a child is allowed to persist in their superficiality, they will become more and more judgmental with less and less evidence to support their conclusions.
Now, this doesn’t immediately make anyone racist, but it definitely sets the stage for it. Coming to ridiculous conclusions about an individual or people group based solely on the behavior of a representative few is a very simple step for the superficial individual too ignorant to exercise theologic in order to work through the diverse and multi-faceted situation in front of him.
Racists are clearly a superficial, ignorant group who choose to discriminate against people based solely on the color of their skin.
It’s as if they wanted the entire world to know just how superficial they are by focusing on the single-most superficial thing about any person . . . their color.
Now, obviously, we’re all born into superficiality, and it’s not inherently sinful because finite beings have to learn things. But it’s always sinful to foolishly use our superficial assumptions to judge and hate people.
This is why it’s the Lord’s will that we grow, mature, learn, and deepen.
I Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”
II Peter 3:18 tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Hebrews 5:12-14 explains, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
And we should all seek to follow the example of Jesus in all things, and Luke 2:40 says that he “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.”
It’s therefore imperative that we help our children move deeper in their understanding. This is one very important facet of teaching them how to think. We encourage them to increase their knowledge and understanding of the subject — and what God has to say about it — so that they can come to a Christ-honoring conclusion.
If we don’t do this, if — instead — we do our children’s thinking for them, they will continue in their superficiality. And it’s very possible that superficiality will cause them to form judgements about people for all the wrong reasons. And I wouldn’t be surprised at all to discover they allowed themselves to start hating people for foolish, skin-level reasons.
2. Due to their sinful flesh, all children are naturally selfish.
II Timothy 3:2 warns us that “men will be lovers of self,” and that selfishness will cause them to be “lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.”
On the flip side, Philippians 2:3 commands us to do nothing from selfishness, but — instead — “with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”
Children are inherently selfish because we’re all born into this world spiritually dead. That means that we do whatever we believe is best.
Now, I know how difficult it can be to look at our sweet, adorable little lambs and see them as inherently selfish. And we don’t have the time to prove it today, so I’m going to suggest you listen to our “Parenting a Zombie” series. In that series we cover a bunch of passages that help us see that our children are inherently selfish. And there’s a link in the description so you can easily access Part 1 of that series.
Listen, I know, none of this is pretty, but it’s how we’re all born into this world.
Now, again, selfishness does not make anyone inherently racist. But — left to itself — selfishness grows exponentially.
If I want something, and I’m not getting it, and I superficially see you and people like you as the reason I can’t get what I want, it won’t be long before I start treating you with disdain and contempt. And I don’t even need to prove that selfishness causes those behaviors. Anyone who has ever spent any amount of time around junior high girls has seen this play out.
So, if we want to help our children fight against this natural predisposition that could potentially lead to racist thoughts in the future, we must teach our children what God says about selflessness, Spirit control, love, humility, kindness, and care.
As our children mature into a Christ-focused life, they will start caring more for the needs of others.
We read Philippians 2:3 earlier, and 2:4 reads, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Paul then commands us to have the mind of Christ and follow His perfect example of selfless, loving, humility. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Thinking like Christ is the only way our children will overcome their natural predisposition to superficiality and selfishness because — according to Psalm 51:5 — everyone is conceived in sin as the fleshly nature is passed down to us from Adam, and that sin causes us to want to remain superficial and selfishly use that superficiality against others.
And lastly . . .
3. Due to their sinful flesh, all children are naturally hateful.
Again, I get that if this is your first time with us, it may be hard to swallow that children are inherently hateful.
Most of our listeners have been with us for a while, and many of them have heard the foundational series we did called “The Four Family Loves.” They’ve also likely heard “How to Rear a Hateful Kid” and the two-part series “The 10 Things All Parents Should Hate.”
Each of those episodes unpacks a biblical understanding of love and hate. I would strongly recommend you study the biblical data before jumping to any conclusions.
So, allow me to present the clearest biblical evidence to this point. In John 14:15 Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” The Greek word translated “love” is agapao — often referred to as agape love.
If love is to want and work toward another’s best interest, then the best thing we can do for Jesus is obey His commandments. If we choose not to obey His commands, it’s due to the fact that we don’t love Him. If we don’t love someone, we hate them.
Now, the English definition of hatred requires strong aversion and disgust and hostility, but the biblical understanding of hatred is that we set ourselves against something. This is why not all hatred is inherently sinful. Setting yourself against something wicked is good. But setting yourself against God is sin.
The biblical understanding of hate can also refer to loving something less than something else.
Again, the other episodes I referenced will provide many more Scriptures to help you align your understanding of love and hate with God’s definitions.
The point I’m trying to make today is that since we are born in sin, and since we are incapable of biblical agape love, and since we’re selfish, we care more about what we want than we do what others want. This is why we have to be commanded all throughout the Bible to love . . . because we don’t do it naturally.
Hatred is natural to us.
Now, racism is the definition of hatred. When an individual selfishly sets themselves against a people group simply because of the superficial color of their skin, they are being racist. They are not being loving, they are not humbly seeking other’s best good, they aren’t allowing themselves to see the situation in a mature, theological light.
Just like we just parent our children out of superficiality into deeper, biblical thinking, just like we must parent our children out of selfishness into humility, if we want our kids to reject racism and truly love everyone in his life including his enemies, then we must parent them out of their natural predisposition to hatred.
Of course, when I say parent them “out of,” I’m not suggesting that — like crawling out of a box — our kids will one day no longer struggle with those temptations. That’s not how it works. If we’re alive, we all struggle with superficiality, selfishness, and hatred. Those are the root of every sin we commit.
What I mean is that we continuously parent our children from one degree of maturity to another.
The very first step is to introduce them to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Without spiritual life, our kids will never know what it is to truly, biblically love someone. Without the love of God pouring into their lives, they will never be able to pour it out in other’s live.
And once our kids are born again, we must guide them through their sanctification, discipling them to know God’s Word, understand it, and live it.
Let me be clear, no genuine follower of Christ, no genuine blood-bought child of God will be a racist.
That’s not to say they may not sinfully choose to hate someone from time to time — and then humbly repent when they see their sin. I’m talking about a wholesale racist who decidedly hates a people group because of their ancestry.
How can I say that no Christian can be a racist?
Listen carefully to John’s words in I John 3. “Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.”
Verses 14 through 17 say, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
Verse 23 declares, “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.”
And listen to I John 4, staring in verse 7, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”
And when Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors, He was asked, “Who is our neighbor?” Jesus then highlighted one of the most racially-charged issues of the day by relating the parable of the Good Samaritan.
The answer is clear, no genuine Christian can be a racist. If someone is a true racist, he cannot be a Christian.
Now, we’re going to talk about this in far more detail next time. We’re going to define racism, we’re going to learn much more about what the Bible has to say not the subject, and we’re going to discuss how to teach our children to think biblically about the idea of race.
For now, we must all accept that our children have natural, fleshly predispositions that could turn into racism if we don’t address it.
And, as we’ve been learning, the only way to address them is to introduce our children to God’s Truth and love and disciple them to be mature followers of Christ.
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets and remember that you can always reach out to Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or (828) 423-0894 if you need specific family help.
If we want our children to reject racism and grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love.
To that end, join us next time as we learn to “Teach Our Children What the Bible Says about Racism.”
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