Consistency. It’s very important in any discussion about ethics and morality. If I pick and choose which instances of honesty, for instance, are important to me, I throw out the entire value of personal integrity and am not trustworthy. I’ve learned as a parent, for example, that violations of rules must exact the same punishment today as they did yesterday. If they do not, the power of the punishment is negated along with my child’s trust in me. So it is in race relations. For Christians, consistency is paramount.
The Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12 that enjoins me to treat others as I would like to be treated works, for me, all of the time. I fall short of mastering it, but I intend —I want—to apply it in every situation. Its work, however, for the unity of the body is in direct proportion to the percentage of folks in the body who are personally applying it. When only a few people in a church are living by the Golden Rule, its effectiveness in keeping that church united and happy, is proportionally minimal.
The amazing double standard in the black community at large, is concerning. I mean, out in the world, there are many phrases and names that brown folks commonly use when referring to one another that would be highly offensive were I to use them to refer people of color (and I certainly have no desire to use them). When I sometimes hear rap music blaring over some woofer system when waiting at a red light, it is common to hear black artists referring to one another in vernacular for which a white person, using the same terms, would be in big trouble. That is the world. Inconsistency is a hallmark characteristic of the devil’s deceit and it will occur often in his domain. But it should not happen in the body.
But sometimes it does. Sometimes brothers and sisters can align themselves with what they profess to descry. Publicly advertised black-only events are antithetical to unity in the church. Whatever would happen to our unity if such were done in the reverse? What would occur if an exclusively white prayer breakfast or luncheon of celebration were planned? My opposition to events that are exclusive is not because I am white. I am opposed to them because I am a Christian and consistency is paramount to the survival of our unity. Logic demands that, when we walk under the banner of the Golden Rule, we apply that rule across the board. When we do not apply it equally to all races, we become inconsistent, weaker, and may become racist.
The same is true for congregational organization. Whatever sad histories may be true about the original reasons for the founding of congregations, what is true today is that, in many areas of our country, there are predominantly white churches in the same towns with predominantly black churches. Let’s merge! Let’s unite in worship and work! Let’s serve God side by side. Our outreach would be greater. Our enthusiasm could soar. Our best combined ideas would impact our communities for greater good. But, until that can happen, brown brothers and sisters should be careful not to be unfairly critical of congregations that are predominantly white, assuming the Christians in them are prejudiced against black brethren. That simply may not be the case. It isn’t right for an assumption of racism to be made against the largely white church, simply because it is mostly white. After all, there is often a predominantly black church in the same area. Is it right for folks to assume they are unwelcoming of white Christians? Assumptions of racism because of congregational make-up does not align with “believeth all things”, a defining characteristic of love in I Corinthians 13. Let’s assume the best and enjoy the precious fellowship of sister congregations.