By Dannah Gresh, Founder of True Girl
Enjoy this curated list of good tools to use as you train your children to love the unique differences in the human race. (Scroll down to find it!) And here are five do's and don'ts to guide your conversation as you talk to your daughter about racism.
Don't ignore this important conversation.
It’s never comfortable to talk to our children about sin. But no matter how much you might think you’re shielding a child by not talking about it, silence only shapes and forms them to ignore an issue that needs our prayers and action. How you respond in this moment will form their thoughts about diversity and ethnic qualities for years to come. Don’t ignore this! Racism is one form of bullying. That’s something I’ve been studying and teaching on for a few decades. One of my favorite memories of our ministry events was when lead teacher Suzy Weibel delivered a message based on James 3:10 which warns us that blessing and cursing must not come from the same mouth. She always ended with a challenge for teen girls to put themselves in one of three groups: the bullied, the bullies, or the bystanders. One of the bravest things I’ve ever seen a teen girl do is walk to the circle marked for the bullies with tears of repentance streaming down her cheeks. One of the kindest things I’ve ever seen a bullied girl do is walk over to that circle of bullies and forgive the ones who wounded her.We often saw sweet movements of revival occur as the bullies and the bullied confessed and forgave each other. But the by-standers group was always the largest group of girls. Every time. God’s Word helped them examine their hearts and discover that they weren’t bystanders at all. Rather, their silence was empowering the bullies. And sadly, those hearts were a lot harder to bring to repentance. In ten years of presenting that message, we saw little revival in that circle. I don’t want to be that woman. I don’t want to empower this. And I want a soft heart that is always responsive to God’s conviction.
Do introduce your daughter to the theological beauty of imago Dei.
Just imagine: if our children learned to live in the power of imago Dei—the Truth that all people are made in the image of God. There really is only one race, and it is the human race.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
The ethnicity given to us by God is a kaleidoscope of beautiful color and must be appreciated, celebrated, and noticed. It must also be acknowledged—not ignored—when the conversation has gone from honoring each other to degrading others. Because that kind of activity is cooperating with Satan. It is sin.
Don’t fail to call racism sin.
Racism—which is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed at an individual or group of people of a different ethnicity based on the belief that your own ethnicity is superior—is sin in light of God’s image being planted in each human being. By definition, sin is missing or defying the intended purpose of God’s design. When we murder, we bring physical death to the image of God—the very thing Satan brought to humanity. When we hate, we breed desire to murder the value of individuals created in the image of God. On top of that, racism is ultimately idolatry of the worst sort. It is a worship of self. Romans 1 which calls us to live in the power of God to achieve divine righteousness through faith, begins with a condemnation of this mentality. (Probably because racism was alive and well thriving between the Jews and Gentiles to whom Paul was writing.) Paul ties our ability to worship God alone, free of self-idolatry, to our ability to proclaim the gospel without shame.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Do use Scripture to form your thoughts . . . and then theirs.
As the sin of racism is illuminated by stories in the new, I’ve taken time to pray and to read my Bible. I am finding that many verses come alive with new meaning pregnant with purpose for this moment in history. Here’s one that’s given me practical marching orders for personal prayer and response.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
The headline over these passages in my Bible reads: Marks of a true believer. What a glorious litmus test this is for us at this time.
- Are my relationships with others of different ethnicities and my response to build a diverse team built on GENUINE love?
- Do I ABHOR—regard with disgust and hatred—EVIL ACTIONS taken against my black brothers and sisters?
- Have I held hard and fast to WHAT IS GOOD during this turbulent time?
- Do I EXPRESS AFFECTION towards others whose skin is a different color?
- How am I outdoing my African American, Asian, Hispanic, and other brothers and sisters with HONOR?
I’ve had a lot of pressure to post something on social media. The intentions were good, but my heart needed to learn and listen to God first. What I have come to is this: I do need to give my voice to this conversation—(See point #1)— but I don’t want to only offer an easy-to-post statement. That would be a cheap sentiment that devalues the lives impacted by racism. It also seems to me that lots of people have the intention of adding fuel to the fire or making a hollow statement, rather than actually fostering healthy relationships that heal what's been wounded. I want to challenge you to do something. Your list will look different than mine, but here’s what God has led me to do:
- Walk with a friend of color whose heart is grieving. Cry with her. Pray with her. Use whatever platform you have to call Christian men and women to a godly response.
- Attend a prayer event specifically devoted to lamenting and interceding about racism.
- Post a thoughtful, wise, engaging thought about this burdensome problem. (We have enough fuel on this fire, so be kind and give girls like me room to grow when we get it wrong…but let’s all try hard not to get it wrong!)
- Really get alone with God and spend some time asking Him to bring supernatural healing to our hearts.
As I spoke with my Nigerian friend this week, she referenced how it’s taken generations for humanity to forgive and embrace the German people after they bullied the world with special racial hatred for God’s people—the nation of Israel. But as generations have gotten to know one another, the racial hatred has been suffocated by kindness and forgiveness. That is how God sometimes quiets the sin of racism. But sometimes we need and He brings a supernatural Holy Spirit change to hearts fueled by hatred. I believe that time is now. Things are out of control. And we need to see hearts supernaturally changed. Only God’s Spirit is capable of what we need right now, which is why we must pray! But God’s Spirit is capable. He’s done it before. Once a man full of hatred for a specific group of people was traveling on a road to Damascus. This hateful man—then named Saul—was on his way empowered with authority from the High Priest to arrest “dissident” Christian Jews. This was par for the course. He’d been having others in this group of Christian Jews murdered. Publicly. In riots. With stones. But, that day…something miraculous happened. Jesus showed himself to the sinner and said this:
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Notice, he did not say, “why are you persecuting the Jewish Christians?” He said, “Why are you persecuting me?” Imago Dei. When we breed hatred against anyone in the human race, we fuel hatred against God Himself. As long as this white woman has breath, I will say something for those who cannot. Will you?
Resources to Help You…and Your Child… In Your Learning Journey
Three Tips on Teaching Your Children About Racism Lifeway Study Curriculum on Talking About Race https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/three-tips-on-teaching-your-children-about-racism
The Image of God John Piper’s Research on Imago Dei & recent Prayer for Minneapolis https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-image-of-god https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-sorrows-of-minneapolis
We are One in Christ Revive Our Hearts podcast • An interview with Dr. Vanessa Ellen https://www.reviveourhearts.com/podcast/revive-our-hearts/we-are-one-christ/
Praying for our Nation Revive our Hearts Grounded livecast • With Erin Davis and Robin & Ray McKelvey https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pABX-RQ0liw
Our True Girl theme verse:
"So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'” John 8:31,32
Mom, the best way to teach your daughter to live like an authentic True Girl is to live like an authentic True Woman. And to do that, you have to get your life lined up with the Truth of the Bible. Listen to Dannah Gresh every weekday on Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth's Revive Our Hearts podcast. The program features biblical teaching, interviews that offer godly advice, and other opportunities to abide in God's Word.