You’ve likely noticed a couple of things: Many Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in your life are hurting, and there is power in the way you love. Because of this, your love, in all relationships, will require nuance. “I love everyone the same” or “I don’t see color” are words expressed as peace offerings. The question is, are we experiencing unity in our relationships? It seems we’re not, but we can work to get there. We often seek to avoid double standards within family and relational dynamics; however, this may keep us from considering the reality of disadvantaged systems. If our desire is fairness, it is the equity we need, not equality. If every member is uniquely different, why would we seek to treat them the same?
A healthy family interaction may show us what true equity requires.
When my 5-year-old son gets hurt, he runs aimlessly, screaming in a panic. I have to catch him, hold him, and comfort him with clear, calm, logical statements — “You’re not dying. Dad can handle this. Let’s take care of it.” He usually wants to get back to playing after a hug, a kiss, and maybe some ice (he thinks that helps every injury). When my 2-year-old daughter is hurt, she runs straight to me. I kiss it and hold her. Usually, no words are needed, but I’ll still tell her how sad I am that she got hurt. After she calms down, I assure her she’s okay, but she usually wants me to hold her longer even though she’s okay. They’re both resilient kids, so before long, they’re back to life with some new scars and maybe a little more caution. They’re both so valuable to me. They’re both so loved by me. There’s nuance in their experiences, though. Their struggles and needs are unique. So to give them dignity as individuals and love them well, my response is based on what I know about them. They have the exact basic needs, but they require slightly different treatment. I fail at this sometimes, and I can tell by their dissatisfaction.
Racism is an evil eating away at family unity.
It may seem that the solution to the racism that divides us would be to ignore race and treat everyone the same — be color-blind. However, in no other category do we, believers, find it appropriate or acceptable to ignore or deny the causes of our sin. Colorblindness seems right, but it’s a counterfeit peace produced by fake love.
We cannot have a solution that denies the reality of societal tensions and disparities. We cannot love people if we deny or ignore their experiences. We cannot address the sin if we are blind to it. This mode of pretending like the problems aren’t there — because we know they shouldn’t be — is precisely what makes us a dysfunctional family. The remedy is the gospel, not denial, because Jesus loved us how he knew we needed it.
When we love with nuance, we change our communication style, love language, and body language depending on the individual we engage. We even make necessary adjustments contingent upon the circumstances of an interaction.
If this is true, how will our family find healing?
Jesus, being in the very form of God, humbled Himself and became a man and a servant of humanity. He considered the joy that would come while He endured the cross. He freely gave Himself up as a sacrifice. Embodying sin, He put sin to death.
Following the example of Christ, we give ourselves up to pursue joy in Him, and we gain a blood-bought identity, no longer identifying with sin. We embody Jesus as the Church and take on his righteousness. He rose from the dead accomplishing the work to restore personal, relational, and societal brokenness. Having been reconciled to the Father, we become ministers of reconciliation in the world as ambassadors for Christ. The gospel that accomplishes this also unites and reconciles us with one another, and that’s Kingdom work; by love and sacrifice, diverse people are united.
Our salvation has gained our righteousness in Christ. There is no doubt we are all equal in the eyes of our Father; however, in the eyes and by the rules of this society, our bodies determine our experiences. Therefore, we must navigate with nuance. We must combat the lies of the world with the Truth applied individually and corporately according to need. The Truth liberates both the oppressed and the oppressor. In Truth, we find love and unity.