THOUGHTS ON GIVING OUR STUDENTS A BIBLICAL APPROACH TO INJUSTICE
Head of School Troy McIntosh shares thoughts on recent events in our country.
The last three months have been wildly disorienting for our nation. Grief, anger, frustration, anxiety, and hardship have become common acquaintances for so many of us. It is enough to make us who are believers call out and say, “Lord, have mercy.”
The killing of George Floyd and the reaction to it has revealed the deepening fissures in our society. It should be no surprise to those familiar with the biblical accounts that we are living in a world shattered by sin. The effects of Genesis 3 run deep, not just through the hearts and minds of individuals, but right through the cultures and societies that we create. Our world needs to be redeemed and restored. What we are experiencing now is not the way it was meant to be.
Our students are growing up and trying to make sense of all that they see. Our school is not immune to the tensions and splinters of the broader society. A major component of what we believe a Christian education is meant to produce is a body of people who are able to thoughtfully apply theological and biblical ideas to our world’s problems, out of love for God and love for our neighbor. Worthington Christian School is committed to playing our role in developing this kind of people. Because of this, I feel compelled to share some thoughts on the current crisis we face. This is not meant to be an official school policy statement on a cultural issue. However, I also have enough sense to know that, as head of school, my ideas will have a significant impact on the school’s collective approach. I hope that I am also humble enough to know that, while many of the ideas I discuss here are simple and absolute, many others are nuanced and complex in a way that makes a reductionist statement about it inherently incomplete. Those nuances and complexities are the areas that I hope engender appropriate discussion and Christian debate among our school community in the future.
- The killing of George Floyd was an incontrovertible act of injustice. The video was shocking and difficult to watch. As Pro-Life Christians we should be quite clear that the methods used by the police officer were unnecessarily violent and resulted in a man’s death that should never have occurred.
- This act is only the latest within the larger context of the unjust African-American experience in America. While our nation was founded on principles of liberty, freedom, and other principles that are the birthright of the Christian faith, we must also face the awful reality that these principles have been routinely denied to the African-American community for centuries. The experience of WC’s African-American students and families has undoubtedly been more challenging and more unjust than my own experience. When I was younger, I would be dismissive of such a claim. But over the last several decades, by listening to respected friends of color tell me heartbreaking stories of injustices done to them – being followed in stores or in their neighborhoods, being questioned over crimes they didn’t commit but because they “looked like” a suspect, being the object of slurs, or holding legitimate fears of much worse happening to them – I realized I was wrong to be dismissive. Our African-American students at WC – our own students and their families that we love – live with a yoke that is too often unjust. As Christians, we cannot be OK with that. We must understand the frustration and anger of our African-American friends when they see another heinous reminder of that racist yoke. We stand with every one of WC’s families of color.
- We also stand with the honorable men and women of law enforcement, who are charged with the divine task of upholding the law and maintaining order. The vast majority of them do their duty faithfully and we are grateful for that. We owe honorable law enforcement members our deep appreciation for serving in what has become a dangerous position for them as well. They are often placed in difficult and untenable places and do so with courage, humility, and justice.
- We stand for biblical civil disobedience in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the early church. We have even declared as a school that we are willing to exercise such civil disobedience if the state were ever to demand we act in violation of God’s law. While Christians should support without equivocation the protests taking place this week, the destruction and violence that have spun off are not acts of rightful civil disobedience. As Christians, we must come to understand the biblical and historical Christian position on this.
- We must resist the false dichotomies that plaque our cultural thinking and tell us, “If you support this, you must oppose this.” All Americans can wholeheartedly call out the injustices against our African-American brothers and sisters while simultaneously supporting the vast majority of honorable law enforcement offices in their attempts to quell unlawful civil violence.
The gospel transcends politics and culture in ways that nothing else does. It is heartbreaking to see the suffering, discord, violence, and injustice sweeping our country. As gospel people, I believe Worthington Christian School can be used by God to bring the shalom that comes with God’s presence. As you pray for our country, please include our school. Even as Christians, we are needy people and no place needs the gospel more than WC.