My Thoughts. . .
Slavery did not start in the 19th century. Remember Joseph (Genesis 37:28)? Humans from Africa were not the first to be sold as such. Although slavery was late in being abolished by law in the United States, there are modern countries and near East religions that continue the practice. Although there are regulations outlawing different practices, that does not guarantee the citizens under those laws will abide by them. How many go thirty or less in a thirty-mph zone? Laws may be passed in Washington, D.C., but until hearts are changed, the abuses will continue.
Jesus taught that we are to love one another (John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17). He said that if someone slapped you on one cheek, turn the other (Luke 6:29). If someone forces you to carry his load one mile, carry it two (Matthew 5:41). However, man is a walking contradiction. James asked if sweet and bitter water flows out of the same source (James 3:11). The correct answer is “No.” But, in reality most are guilty of that dispensary.
We are creatures influenced by habit, culture, fear, and traditions. I was not raised in the South. But I knew there were certain unwritten boundaries which my culture restricted me to. I knew I must drink from a fountain that was for “white’s only.” I knew what schools I could attend. I knew the church where I attended was for people whose skin was like mine. I knew there were places which were off limits to those whose skin color was different. I knew the town where my grandparents lived, worked, and died in that it was for white people only. In larger towns there was a section where whites did not live, only those who were black. I could go into those sections and play ball with kids my age, but they could not come into my section of town and do the same thing.
Jobs available to me were not open to them. I could go to a movie and sit where I pleased. In places where blacks were allowed to attend a movie, they were restricted to a certain section and required to “stay in their place.” I did not understand some of those rules or expectations, but I knew if I violated them, I would be verbally and physically hurt for breaching those boundaries. My violation would bring isolation from my peers.
I knew that black people who came too close to those boundaries, could have a visit by “the law” reminding them where those lines were. Some churches had a specific seating area for blacks, but there was little or no fellowship between white and black members. In 1942 a Christian college administrator and another who was a well-known editor, refused to shake hands with black preachers and published that fact. In Oklahoma there was more fellowship between whites and Indians than with blacks. In my senior year in high school, there was an extremely popular Indian boy in the senior class. George was a fine basketball player. Sixty years before that, some of the older generation would have thought a good Indian was a dead one.
Man is a living contradiction. It is easier to quote scripture than to practice it. Preachers quoted John 3:16 and audiences replied “Amen,” but the “whosoever” was mentally limited. Time has healed some of those wounds, but not all. Old habits, culture, traditions, and fear do not exit a society quickly. The United States and its Allies fought against Nazi Germany in the forties. Nazis thought they were the super race and murdered about twenty-one million citizens which they classified as inferior. The Japanese war crimes were more. Feelings of superiority are a cancer that negates Jesus teachings on love. That hate manifested by Germans and Japanese during WWII did not die out in 1945. It continues to exist in all countries because of that superior/inferior attitude. Hearts must change before societies can enjoy the kind of fellowship God desires for His creation. That movement toward fellowship ought to start first with the church!