Why the Race Conversation Is So Hard
This race conversation in America today is hard. So hard. This is not only true outside the church, but inside the church.
The conversation is hard because it is a deeply and inevitably political one. By this I mean it involves the structure and shape of our relationships inside the American body politic, and these structures define our identities and our opportunities in relation to one another. The conversation is hard because it touches on people’s understanding of justice, and our ideas about justice differ. And it is hard because it is filled with emotionally-freighted and hard-to-pin-down terms like “narrative of oppression” and “white privilege” and “micro-aggressions.”
Yet the contemporary American conversation about race is especially perplexing for us as Christians, whether we’re Black, White, Asian, or Hispanic, because it is motivated by one of two brands of politics: identity politics or a gospel politics.
The first is a politics of power. The second is a politics of love. The first is a worldly ideology, which careens back and forth between utopian and nihilistic. The second is not of this world, rooting instead in the vicarious righteousness of Christ. It leaves no room for boasting. You might find shadows and simulacrums of it outside the church, but it belongs especially to the church.
What’s perplexing is, identity politics and gospel politics will sometimes say the same things, like a false friend who mimics a true friend often enough that you begin to mistake the false friend for the true. Identity politics will say right things. But it is a false savior. Or rather, it is no savior. It offers no salvation, no redemption. If anything, it can exacerbate the divisions between groups of people.
But in gospel politics—oh, here we find hope!
Identity politics defines peoples’ identities according to the groups they occupy, whether those groups are based on gender, race, class, religion, sexual orientation, or something else. It is a way of thinking which the democratic West learned at least in part through the twentieth-century women’s rights and civil right’s movements. At the level of public conversation, identity politics aims to give a voice to the oppressed and to raise the public’s consciousness of that oppression. This is what we hear in campaign speeches, television talk shows, and workplace speech codes. And to a Christian way of thinking, all this can sound reasonable. How many times do we hear the God of the Prophets inveigh, “Woe to him who judges unjustly!”
At a deeper, more philosophical level, however, identity politics is one of the few species of belief left on the desolate and post-apocalyptic landscape of postmodernism. Truth has died. The individual self is extinct. All that’s left is tribal power. People live and identify with their tribes, which themselves persist in a perpetual state of war, like a Mad Max movie. In the more radical, post-structuralist view, our very sense of self is the ephemeral cold-morning breath of our conversations and language groups. There is no “I.” What we think of as “I” or “myself” is a composite of all the tribes we inhabit: the values and words we learned from this family, that ethnic identity, that nation, that high school, that professional group, and so forth. Just as you are physically what you eat, so your social and psychological “self” is nothing more than the words you have heard and swallowed.
To be invited into a “conversation,” in this way of thinking, is to be invited into re-forming the self, since language completely defines our tribes and ourselves.
For instance, think of how evangelicals get breathy when they pray and overuse the word “just.” “Lord, we just ask that…” What might that breathy earnestness reveal about our concept of God and ourselves? The structuralist and post-structuralist would explore these kinds of clues to find the evangelical community’s sense of identity, power, and source of personal inner coherence for all its members.
Or think of all the attention given to “sounding Black” or “sounding White” in America today. On one occasion in an upper-level English class in college (circa 1993), I remember the lone African-American in the classroom said the word “ask,” and then corrected himself: “. . . ask, I mean, aks . . .” At the time, I probably quietly condemned his self-correction. But what was he doing? I assume he was asserting his independence and identity over and against the White majority, and such assertions are not always a bad thing.
So in the world of identity politics, inviting someone into a conversation is often a political maneuver: I’m not happy about the status quo, and so I want to speak to you about who you think “you” are as well as who “I” am. Behind that language, remember, is nothing else—no shared essence, no absolute substance. Or so would say a fully secular identity politics. Our entire social and psychological lives are socially constructed: our selves, our laws, our whole social and moral universe.
WHY WHITES BALK
Whites tend to divide over America’s race conversation. In my very limited view of things, Whites in the political center and on the left will acknowledge the phenomenon of “White privilege” and the larger structural injustices from which they benefit. When news events like the episode in Ferguson, Missouri, occur, the progressive blogger enjoins, “Now is a time for us Whites not to speak, but to listen.”
Such counsel is well-meaning and probably pastorally astute, but Whites further to the political right interpret such invitations as a power move. The political subtext is, “Here, in this major area of social struggle and upheaval, where profound questions of justice are at play, our skin color makes our thinking on this matter suspect. Instead, we must be told what to think!” And so arises on the political right dismissive complaints about “White guilt.”
Faced with what feel like a levitical administration of political correctness and all the rules of race speech, these Whites back away from the conversation and refuse to acknowledge what they really think for fear of being called a racist and cast outside the sacred public square. Ultimately, the final state of the race conversation just might be more divided than its beginning. The majority suspects the minority of trying to control the conversation and them; the minority deepens in suspicion toward the majority for avoiding the conversation. And so the culture war deepens, each side trusting the other slightly less than before.
WHY MINORITIES ARE FRUSTRATED
In response to all this, minorities and progressive Whites observe that White America’s refusal to join the conversation, even if it is only to listen, is itself a power move. Note especially: a White can walk away from the conversation and ignore it because—on the whole—power still rests in White hands, if nothing else by virtue of being in the statistical majority but also because historical patterns of structural inequities (like, what neighborhood do you live in and how are the schools there?) possess significant inertia. Minorities cannot walk away from the conversation. They live in it. To step outside of their house every day is to sign up for yet another race seminar.
It appears then that a White’s refusal to listen to what the other side has to say is less about justice than it is about self-interest. Whites don’t want to renegotiate the power structures because they presently work in their favor. They are like the parent who, instead of negotiating with a petitioning child, simply shuts down the conversation because he or she can.
BACK AND FORTH
But the argument hardly ends there. Back and forth it goes. The White claims the whole conversation relies on an injustice of its own, a kind of reverse racial profiling, or reverse racism. The argument of the last paragraph, for instance, presumes a kind of White privilege. It assumes that because one’s skin is White, one possesses various economic and social advantages over and against those who are not White. Some minorities argue that all Whites are “guilty” for the disadvantages and injustices experienced by minorities, even the four-year-old uninitiated White. Why? Because that four-year-old enjoys the privileges that come with being White, and unless she grows up and actively works against it, she becomes personally culpable. The concept of sin and guilt here are almost covenantal, the White father’s guilt being imputed to the son by birth, who we know will repeat the Father’s sin as soon as he is capable.
But notice, observes the White critic, such structurally-based judgments require their own typecasting and stereotyping—their own racial profiling. The White is pre-judged because of the color of his or her skin: “privileged and guilty,” says the judge as the gavel slams down. Never mind the individual’s name. Never mind the individual circumstances of their lives. Never mind the manner in which they have or have not conducted themselves with respect to minorities.
Furthermore, says the White critic, there are double standards at play. Identity politics sanction a kind of separatism among minorities that would never be allowed among majorities. The public accepts the “Congressional Black Caucus” or a “Hispanic university group” or an “Asian-American church.” Would today’s public be willing to accept a “White” version of such institutions? Presumably not.
Once again, however, the minority is not without a reasonable response to this suspicion of minority separatism and reverse racial profiling. Look again, says the minority rejoinder, at the historical disparities of power between ethnic groups. Black churches exist precisely because Blacks were forced by Whites to gather separately. White supremacy created the Black church! And how well do White corporations and churches do at promoting Asians Americans into leadership positions? Not well at all, say the comparative statistics. There’s a bamboo ceiling. If justice indeed requires parity and fairness, we must address historical inequalities based on race because their effects continue into the present. And sometimes this requires minority voices and institutional resources to consolidate in a way that would be unjust for majority voices and resources to reciprocate.
Back and forth the conversation goes, each side presenting a logic and justice and power of its own. Whites possess the power to walk away and ignore. Minorities possess the power of righteous indignation because—right now at least—their cause is publicly perceived as just. (Harvard political scientist Harvey Mansfield writes, “You can tell who is in charge of a society by noticing who is allowed to get angry and for what cause. . . . The civil rights movement and the women’s movement are obvious recent examples.”) Both sides, in other words, leverage whatever they can to negotiate their position. At one time, Whites required minorities to live in White world, and conform to White rules, and say only the things that Whites wanted them to say, as DuBois observed. But now the rules for America’s race conversation push in the opposite direction. It turns the tables. Whites feel imposed upon to enter America’s race conversation saying only what minorities would have them say.
FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE ONLY CREATES MORE FIRE
To reveal my own feelings regarding the conversation, there does seem to be a kind of justice in this turning of the tables. It brings—to speak analogously—the justice of Moses and the Law. The reversal is a kind of retribution, and it demands that forgiveness be earned through contrition and merit. It’s true that White sons and daughters are to some measure prosecuted for the sins of their White fathers, which may sound unjust to an individualistic American; but I dare say it coheres with a biblical worldview wherein children inevitably and invariably repeat the sins of their parents apart from a supernatural intervention (e.g., Ex. 34:7).
But whatever one might think of corporate guilt and judgment, my larger concern is, doesn’t fighting fire with fire only create more fire? The whole conversation thus far has been about power and disputes over power, which can only be resolved through more assertions of power.
I can understand why minorities and progressive Whites want to assert some measure of control over today’s race conversation through a stringent set of conversational rules; the race conversation has worked against minorities for centuries. The minority’s conversational rules therefore seem just and fair. The majority cannot be trusted. Every member of the majority I have ever known is self-justifying and quietly power-hungry. At the same time, I can understand why White majorities would be suspicious of the minority’s assertion of control, seeming asymmetrical standards of justice, and the kind of reverse racial profiling that’s intrinsic to the very concept of White privilege or the corporate guilt of Whites. After all, minorities cannot be trusted. Every member of the minority I have ever known is self-justifying and power-hungry. Speaking in context of both Jews and Gentiles, Paul’s summary is best:
None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God. (Rom. 3:10b-11)
By saying that fighting fire with fire only creates more fire, I mean we will never establish true reconciliation by working within the tit-for-tat of a power struggle. There can only be a forced peace. Perhaps, just perhaps, we can institutionally enforce a just distribution of resources and opportunities between the Majority and Minority, however one might define a just distribution. But if we trade only in the language of power, both sides will continue to look with suspicion on the other side, always waiting for the other side to grab back whatever territory it can.
In that sense, the history of race in America, including the race conversation of today, is not all that different than any historical rivalry between two kingdoms that border one another. Imagine one kingdom dominating the other for centuries, stealing land and goods from the other. Then imagine history changing course and offering the second kingdom a chance to gain the upper hand. Supposing it does, do you really think the second kingdom will stop once it achieves equality? Will it not begin to encroach upon the first kingdom in the name of justice? Just think of what the Versailles Treaty required of Wiemar Germany.
The disanalogy with two side-by-side kingdoms, of course, is that political rivalry between the American Majority and Minority occurs within one nation, which means the nation cannot be at peace with itself.
THE DEAD-END REDEMPTION OF IDENTITY POLITICS
Here, the long history of White supremacy bears primary responsibility, but it’s at this point we find what I believe is the grand paradox of America’s racial conversation. Identity politics descends upon White Supremacy as a Moses-like Law Giver threatening a rightful justice and retribution. But it can only do so by adopting and abiding within the same divided categories of race, reifying the original divide. And so like Moses, identity politics brings a proper condemnation, but it’s incapable of offering redemption.
To put it another way, White supremacy begets identity politics, just as racism begets the concept of race, as a number of people have observed. The more thoroughgoing forms of identity politics, like White supremacy, treat each one of us according to our skin and sex. I’m White. I’m male. And those things define me all the way down, all the way in. So if you are Black, or female, I can never really “get” you, and I can never really “get” this conversation, because of the asymmetries of power that pit my labels against yours. We are irrevocably divided. Identity politics means you’re going to interpret everything I say through the grid of the fact that I’m White, as in, “You just think that way because you’re White!” I cannot say anything as an individual. I can only speak as White. Or Man. So don’t call me by my name. Call me White. Or Man.
As such, identity politics, like White supremacy before it, always risk robbing you and me not just of our individuality, but of any point of connection and commonality between us. When it sees people, it only sees race, or gender, or some such grouping. Remember, it sees nothing of significance behind the labels, no essence of humanity that unites Minority You and Majority Me. Of course, we might pay lip service to our common humanity: “Yes, of course I know we’re all human!” But when I as a White man walk away from the conversation because I don’t like its terms, or when you effectively shut me out of the conversation by saying, “You just think that way because you’re White,” we’re both succumbing to identity politics, and we are treating the divide as irrevocable.
Identity politics quarantines me inside of White. And you inside of Black. Or Asian. Or Female. Or whatever. And we can never reallycommune, or overcome our differences.
Identity politics rightly addresses the imbalances and injustices of power between different groups created by White Supremacy and male chauvinism. That’s good. But insofar as it insists we continue to view ourselves fundamentally according to those group memberships, it concretizes the divisions between us. It solves one problem only to create another. And inside of identity politics, I will be less likely to fully trust you, and you will be less likely to fully trust me, because we will always be more different than the same.
ANOTHER WAY: GOSPEL POLITICS
One way to solve the intractability of broken trust and the perpetual racial war is to explode all group memberships and radically assimilate. Suppose, for instance, that we collectively decide that there is no such thing as “White” and “Black” and “Asian.” We insist instead that there are only light-skinned and dark-skinned people, and those differences amount to nothing more than eye-color.
This utopian and diversity-crushing solution is presently the favored societal approach to the imbalance of power between the genders. From elementary schools that give children the ability to choose their own pronouns (he, she, ze, mir, etc.) to Target’s decision to do away with the “boys” and “girls” section and replace it with a “children’s” section, our society is boldly crusading to eradicate the war between the genders by eradicating the all distinctions between the genders.
Assuming, however, that we wish to remain within the boundaries of God’s Word, to say nothing of remaining fastened to reality, there is another way to establish true peace between different ethnicities: a gospel politics, which is a politics of love.
I don't know the solutions for all our neighborhoods and all our politics and all our police departments. What answer can you give to Moses? He comes with justice to punish the fathers and the children. I’m not sure what to say to him.
But I also know there is love. Love has a way of untangling knots, neutralizing acids, and dissolving the most intractable clogs. God’s love worked out through his people, somehow, achieves justice when all our best political thinking gives up and declares a situation hopeless.
TWO INGREDIENTS: DOCTRINE AND A PEOPLE
Gospel politics requires two basic ingredients: gospel doctrine and a gospel people.
Gospel doctrine begins with a common creation narrative. It does not view people fundamentally as European-American or African-American or Asian-American. Each of these labels amounts to a different Genesis narrative, after all. Instead, it insists we all descend from the race of Adam, which was created good.
Gospel doctrine indicts us with a common fall narrative. Each of us has rejected God and sought to put ourselves over others, using whatever worldly category we can: strength, beauty, riches, ethnicity, gender, religion, and so forth. We are all guilty.
Gospel doctrine offers a common salvation, whereby the solution is not anything inside of us, but something that is external to us: the vicarious righteousness of Christ. It leaves no room for boasting. No one can point to something internal by which to place him or herself over another. Not only that, union with Christ means that everyone united to Christ is united to one another (Eph. 2:11-22).
And gospel doctrine promises a common glorification.
Within the context of gospel doctrine, in other words, space exists for diversity and multiple groups because we share one narrative of creation, condemnation, redemption, and glorification. Our differences are real, but they don’t go nearly as deep as what we share.
A GOSPEL PEOPLE
Yet most Christians, I assume, know that gospel doctrine is crucial for racial reconciliation. What they too often miss, I fear, is the necessity of a gospel people bound together by covenant in a local church. It’s no good to point to the glories of gospel doctrine and say, “I am reconciled with Christians of all ethnicities!” if nothing in my life demonstrates that reconciliation.
Which is to say, we fool ourselves if we are incapable of leaving the realm of doctrinal theory and getting into the real.
Let me therefore speak about Jeremy. Jeremy and I were elders together until he left to help plant another church. I love Jeremy. Jeremy once brought a fellow African American to church with him, and the White person sitting next to the two of them, trying really hard to be welcoming, said something like, “I’m surprised you liked it here. You know, with the really long sermon, and all.” Oh, goodness. Jeremy, please tell me that Whitey didn’t really say that. “Hello, Mr. Newcomer. You have black skin and you like long, intelligent sermons. How unexpected! How delightful!” Would someone please hand me a protest sign? Or better, how about I speak in love to that member!
I want to talk about Steven. Steven attended the mostly White seminary I attended. Then he did an internship at my majority White church. I love Steven. One time I asked Steven what it was like for him to be Black among White Christians in our theological tribe. Steven paused, and then said, “You know, J, I’m not sure how to answer that.” He always calls me J. He went on: “It’s like, everyone is really friendly, and they are glad you are there, but then . . . I don’t know how to say it, J, but this.” And when he said “this,” he waved his hand, open-palmed, in front of his Black face. His point was, it felt like the Whites don’t always really see him. Sure, they are glad he is there. They invite him into conversations about race, like the rules say you have to. But after a friendly pat on the back, they walk away without him, off to their own all-White dinners and birthday parties. He’s not really one of them. An insider, but an outsider. I wish you knew Steven. You would love him. My heart broke when he waved his hand like that.
I want to talk about Paul, a dreadlocks-wearing, patchouli-oil smelling, dyed-in-the-wool Democrat if there ever was one. The brother has an instinctual disdain for political conservatives, even though he denies it. He and I are working on that. Paul and I have been meeting once or twice a month for almost a decade. The brother loves Jesus and fights to be like Jesus. And I love Paul for the example of the fight he is to me. He perseveres through the ups and downs of life. I can talk to Paul. I can explain my difficulties and frustrations to Paul. Paul is patient with me. I hope I’m patient with him. I love Paul.
I want to talk about Joe. Joe came late to lunch one day. He had been pulled over. Nothing bad happened, but he explained to me how, when he is pulled over, he is careful to roll the windows down, put his hands on the steering wheel as the officer approaches the car, and then tell the officer exactly what he’s going to do before he does it, and all that with a smile: “I’m going to unbuckle and get my registration out of the glove box now.” I have never thought about any of that stuff. I’ve never had to. And Joe has a cousin who was pulled over and had his car seats slashed by police officers looking for drugs. They said he “looked like” someone. Have you ever heard a White tell that kind of story? I haven’t.
I was pulled over recently. It was 1 a.m. and I was driving from Philadelphia back to DC, going way over the speed limit, pepped up on caffeine drinks and Doritos so that I wouldn’t fall asleep. The officer told me to slow down, and to make sure I got home safe. I drove away wondering what he would have said if I was Black.
I want to talk about Jason and Kendrick. They talk to me about what it’s like to be Asian-Americans in our church. Jason was the first to raise it with me. I think it took courage for him to do it, given my status in the church as an elder and long-time member. He seemed nervous. He talked about feeling overlooked and stereotyped. It’s not that people had been mean to him or excluded him. It’s more that they hadn’t exactly included him. Is Jason just being paranoid and insecure? Maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe that has been his experience.
I want to talk about all of these friends with their real names and their real experiences and our real relationships because that is where the race conversation needs to occur: inside of a church among people who love and cherish and know one another in the gospel.
Public and impersonal conversations about race are fine, for their part, but they are forced almost by necessity to remain politically correct. Which means, people cannot admit to how deeply their trust has been broken in the other “side.” They can never admit, “I don’t trust you.” And where there cannot be a frank admission of broken trust, there can be no healing. So we resort to mouthing politically correct phrases, while hiding this thought deep in our hearts: “I trust people who look more like me.” Indeed, we scarcely admit this thought to ourselves. Yet at the heart of racial strife in America today, at least where racism itself is no longer active, is the residue of racism, which is broken trust.
The best place to begin the so-called race conversation, then, is in private among godly brothers and sisters united in the love and trust of the gospel. Step one in the race conversation, we might say, is making gospel friendships across racial lines—not token friendships, but invite-you-to-my-birthday-party, go-on-vacation, confess-my-sins, and encourage-you-in-the-gospel friendships. Trust, after all, is built into the gospel, and so it is built into every friendship founded upon the gospel.
Apart from love, justice becomes a means to power just as much as injustice, and even if justice is won, a rivalry remains and there will be no relationship. Love, unbelievably, sometimes calls us to give up power, which leads to vulnerability, which allows for trust. If the breakdown of trust is indeed at the heart of so much of our ethnic rivalry today, how then will trust be restored unless the power-holders begin to relinquish some of their power for the sake of love?
WHY WE WHITES NEED THE RACE CONVERSATION
Once the gospel friendships afforded by a local church are established, the difficult conversations can begin.
My friend Isaac tells me there are subtle racial insensitivities in our church. I’ll be honest, apart from the testimony of brothers like him, I have a hard time seeing them. But I’m not him. I have never been Black. Maybe I need to ask him to help me understand what he sees. Maybe I need him to help me walk in his shoes. He’s a member of the body, after all. Where he suffers, I suffer. We’re members of one another. If there is discrimination in my church, Isaac and I need to work against it. Talk to me, Isaac, tell me what you see.
I need Jeremy to tell me how he had to die to his preferences to join my church. I never thought about that until he told me, but it’s obvious now that he mentioned it. Am I willing to die to my preferences?
I need Steven to let me explain myself, explain my frustrations, and help me understand better. And he does. Steven is so godly that he, like each of these others, lets me speak to him as if he is White. Meaning: he assures me we are more united than divided.
He and Paul and Isaac and Jeremy and Joe all let me say, “Brother, can I be honest with you?” And then they let me say a lot of foolish stuff because I’m ignorant and I have never walked in their shoes, and they know that, but they love and forgive me and help me to understand and grow and stumble and get up and keep walking.
Oh, these, my friends and my brothers! How I need them and their grace and their patience and their conversation. How many times have I stepped on their toes by saying something insensitive or unknowing, and they smiled and said nothing, but forgave me and kept being my friend! No defensiveness toward these brothers. Only tears and love as I think about them.
We as Whites especially need the race conversation. Or at least, we need real relationships with minority brothers and sisters in our churches, and we need their conversations. The intractable impasse of our conflicting political logics will only dissolve through the politics of interpersonal love.
And, make no mistake, the White majority needs this conversation more than the minority needs it. The minority’s eyes have been opened for years. We need minority brothers and sisters to help us be conscious of a world outside of our own little sheltered experience. Isn’t that what Paul basically says in 1 Corinthians 12 when he calls us to identify with other parts of the body? None of us is the whole body.
And isn’t that what Paul continues saying in 1 Corinthians 13?
Love is patient and kind. My minority friends have been patient with me, just like Christ has been patient and kind with me in my sin. Shouldn’t I be patient and kind as we have this conversation? Yes, this conversation is hard, so hard. But does patience and kindness ever walk away?
Love does not envy or boast. Isaac and Jeremy and Steven and Jason and Paul have stopped and listened carefully to me. They don’t boast, as if they have all the answers. Shall I boast, as if I have all the answers? Shall I envy their opportunity to say something that teaches me?
Love is not proud, rude, or self-seeking. “Racism” is not a biblical word. But if I were to use biblical language to describe what racism is, those three words offer a good starting point: proud, rude, self-seeking. And I have certainly been those things. I have wanted to protect and justify myself (“I’m not a racist!”) more than I have wanted to love the brother (“Tell me how you’ve been hurt, and how I can help”).
Love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. Suppose the other side of this conversation does make a mistake. Am I going to be angry? Am I going to hold it over their head? My brothers have not done that with me. I guarantee you that I’ve said insensitive things along the way. But these brothers have not gotten angry. They have not held my sins against me. (Goodness, doesn’t that remind you of Jesus!) Am I willing to eschew anger and keep no record of the other side’s wrongs? To keep trying to have this conversation?
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. If there have been injustices and discriminations and racisms in my church, I should delight to search those out and work against them. I should delight in seeing the truth of these situations brought into the light and addressed.
Love always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. To be forthright, I don't have a lot of trust or hope in America’s “race conversation.” I don't think America has the right resources for solving its problems. But I do have hope and trust in the work of Christ and his Spirit in the church. We have the solution. We have the gospel, which breaks down the barrier between us and God, and then the barrier between us and one another. Christ accomplished both by dying on the cross as a payment for sin and then rising from the dead.
I misspoke earlier when I said the first step in the race conversion is building relations in the context of your church. The first step is to be reconciled to God. When you realize that the divide between you and another human, no matter how wide it is, is comparatively small to the divide between sinful you and a holy God, only then will you discover the power to overcome that human divide: be reconciled to God.
God alone is the source of love, true love, 1 Corinthians 13 love. God alone is the source of redemption and forgiveness and justification and justice. And knowing God’s love for us, the Spirit quickens our hearts to love one another. Love alone resolves the tit-for-tat of power grabbing. Love alone will cause us to beat our swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Love alone turns the other cheek and walks the extra mile.
Shouldn’t our churches be the first places on the planet where we talk about these things, and listen to one another?