In typical sedated American culture fashion, important issues aren’t discussed until necessary. And by necessary, I mean until tragedy strikes. We don’t discuss policy reforms, until well into a recession. We don’t wrestle with food standards until our half of our country’s children are obese and we certainly don’t readdress issues such as race in this supposedly post-racial culture until someone is killed.
For many of us in 2012, the concept of racism in America is one of distant memories and faded black and white pictures. Images of civil rights marches and film clips from The Help may be a blip on the radar of our subconscious, but for the most part we live and interact with other races as though racism, for all intents and purposes has run it’s course. For others they live with the ever present reality that the tone of their skin constitutes unwarranted suspicion and unfair stereotypes that will be with them, in some ways even if it’s minor, for decades to come. Then for a woman like Trayvon’s mom, she faces the moment-by-moment reality that the color of her son’s skin was most likely an instigating antagonist in her son’s death. Speculation is spiraling right now, sure. But for all the facts we know and for those we don’t, I can’t help but wrestle with this question:
If Trayvon was white, would he be alive this Easter?
So, naturally my heart is heavy this week. Yes, I’m white as sliced bread but I have a stake in this fight. I have a life-long stake in this fight because in less than 12 months my family will forever be bi-racial when our beautiful baby Coalson arrives home from Ethiopia. My wife and I are regularly asked this question: Why did you adopt outside of the country? While this is a very valid and important question, I often feel an underlining question being asked: Why did you not adopt an American child? and oftentimes, what’s settles beneath that question is this: Why did you adopt a black child?
This is why we chose to adopt a non-white, non-American child:
- Because of our redemption: God has redeemed us into the Body of Christ. As John Piper points out “Not a white body. Not a black body. Just a human body. This is a cry for Christian whites and blacks and Asians and Latinos to feel the human flesh on their faith in Jesus.” Since I have come to faith in Christ through the same means as my ethnically diverse brothers, I have an innate kinship with them because of Christ, and so my responsibility to fight injustice and racism will never end. I will fight this fight until I die, because my life and my family should represent the pure, sacrificial and unrelenting love of Christ on the cross.
- Family-structure: Because the Gospel should be the center of our lives and the glory of God the goal of our lives , we desired our family be structured in such a way that would pose questions and provide opportunities to share the truth of the Gospel: We who were spiritually orphaned, recklessly lost in our sin were adopted into the family of God by the grace of God, through the sacrifice of God. We knew that a black child in a white family would forever pose opportunities to express to the lost the goodness of our God’s grace through the cross.
- To fight racism: Racism runs through the veins of our family tree as it does most, but I have a particularly dark spot in my family history. You see, my great grandfather was once a member of one of the most racist organizations over the past hundred years. He was a proud member and advocate of the KKK, and while I use to hide this sad, destructive truth I now see God’s hand and his ironic grace that continues to flood through the Coalson family. A grace that has the ability, within three generations, to transform violent, racist hearts into hearts that desire to fight injustice for the sake of the Gospel.
- Future Hope: In Romans 8, Paul reminds us that this present age has much suffering and injustice in it. Having spent the first 7 chapters fleshing out man’s depravity, God’s grace and the beauty of the Gospel, he sets his sights on something he knows is on the horizon of the cosmic story of Redemption but has yet to see it. He writes in verse 20 – 25: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from is bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been growing together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” What we as believers and God’s very creation, is hoping for, groaning for is this: the consummation of Redemption when God purifies and restores this creation to it’s intended, original, pre-Fall state.
In that day, we hope. In that day, there will be no pain, no suffering, no hurting mothers who sensleslly lost their child. In that day, there will be no injustice, no hunger, no poverty, no illness, no racism, no orphans. In that day, when Christ has fully enacted his Kingdom over this creation racism will no longer dwell in the hearts of men. Until that day, I will fight. I will stand against injustice and defend those who are defenseless. I and my family will strive to intentionally live in such a way that points our hearts and those in our lives to that day where Christ will undo all that sin has marred. This is why we’re adopting a black child. For this hope we will hold him close and remind him of the Gospel truth that Paul refers to: We were once enslaved, orphaned, hopeless. Because of Christ we are redeemed and adopted into the family of God as sons and heirs. (Gal 4:3-7) Our earthly families reflect an eternal Fatherhood (Eph. 3:14-15) and when the world functionally lives as though differences in race, culture, disabilities or unknown conditions are reasons not to adopt and rescue a life, the Body of Christ who lives every day covered in the precious blood of Christ should scream “NO! This one’s mine, because I am His.” As much as I see myself in the plight of those mistreated will be the extent that I go to love, protect and point them to the One who longs to be their forever Father.