By Edwin Crayton/Opinion
I don’t think there is an African American on the planet who hasn’t suffered the devastating humiliation of having been denied an opportunity simply because of the fact that they were born black. Unfortunately, in America, being born two shades darker than the general population still matters. However, unlike mankind, God is just. He knows what every injustice feels like and he always causes the long moral arch of the universe to eventually “bend toward justice”, as Dr. Martin Luther King once said. What is also helpful, is remembering that God Almighty usually makes this righteous change happen in mysterious ways, using odd instruments— meaning faithful people who do his will and whose actions have a lasting, positive effect on history. In every generation, these individuals give over their will to his and he works through them. He wants to do the same through us. The Scriptures themselves advise us to “Let this mind be in you that is in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). In other words, attempt to see the world through the eyes of Jesus and think aided by his brilliant mind. This is not achieved through intelligence. It is achieved only by sincerely surrendering to God’s will.
To do so means giving up worldly notions about self: race, gender and anything that would cause us to be in conflict with the will of Jesus. For example, when someone calls me the “N” word, I have two options. I can either respond as an African American. Or I can respond as a Christian. It is not an easy choice. But it is an effective one, When I heard that President Biden had announced his nominee for the vacant Supreme Court seat needed to be a black woman, I realized I had such a choice. I could respond as a black man and be happy that a black person would get the seat. Or I could put on my Jesus lens and respond as Christian. Believe me it makes a huge difference. I have tried the second option and have searched the Scriptures for answers on Biden’s insistence that the nominee be a black woman. Here is what I have learned from studying the Bible:
1)Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12). This verse sums up the situation for me. Remember the first statement I made about how devastating it feels to be denied an opportunity simply because of your race? That is exactly what I think is happening in this case. In order to agree with Biden’s decision to pick only a black woman to become a justice on the high court, I would have to violate this treasured biblical principle. In other words, I would have to be willing to say it is alright to deny every judge out there an opportunity to serve simply because they were born with the “wrong race or gender.” If you are not born a black female, no matter how qualified and talented you are, sorry, you are out. In case you are wondering, yes, I think it would be good to see a black woman achieve the honor of becoming a justice on the Supreme Court, but not this way. Why must we commit the very sin we fought so hard against—discrimination— to achieve that goal? Jesus was right. How can I do to someone else what I would not want done to myself?
2) You shall have no other Gods before me (Exodus, 20:3). Many biblical scholars and pastors define an idol as anything or person that we humans place before God on the priority list. Most of us know that money can be an idol. But so can racial pride. If you are a Christian, you are called to place your faith at the top of the priority list. That means, nothing– even your race or any kind of other identity— should be more important than God. We are Christians first. That requires us to view the world through a Christian lens. Prayer helps us humbly surrender to Christ and allow him to decide what our proper response should be.
3)Do not give your alms before men (Matthew 6:1) This verse tells us not to perform our good deeds before other people (in order to receive praise). Of course, politics works in the opposite way doesn’t it? Politicians do good deeds so they can impress people enough to win their vote. I am not sure, but I would not be surprised if politics played a role in Biden’s very public announcement that he would pick a black woman for the vacancy on the court. Did that really need to be broadcast? The trouble with Biden making race the top priority in qualifications, is that it endorsed discrimination against anyone who is not a black female—and that’s a lot of people. What for instance, about the many talented and qualified legal minds in America who don’t happened to be black and female? By the way, that would even include black men. Are we entirely comfortable attempting to eliminate discrimination by practicing it in another form? Isn’t it kind of weird and a little scary when we use the methods of racists to fight racism? And when we go as far as to announce our preference, are we creating a dangerous precedent by promoting the idea that although we have said in the past that hiring based on race is wrong, we now seem to be willing to practice it ourselves? What would have worked better? Actually, I believe it would have been better to handle this the way you would handle any regular, fair job opening: Simply open the job up to all qualified, talented candidates, regardless of race or gender. Isn’t that what we fought the Civil Rights Movement for in the first place? Weren’t we striving for a day when race would not win over character and talent? Why abandon that moral concept now? I believe we have so many talented African Americans in the legal system that if Mr. Biden had just opened the door to all talented legal minds, several of these best and brightest would naturally be black and possibly black female. But by announcing that race was the top consideration, Biden made it appear that his choice was picked for her race first and talent second. Not fair to the nominee. In many minds, that puts an asterisk by her name in history which may read: “this justice was picked to be a black female justice*. By the way, let me pause to say, I am not criticizing the nominee Ketanje Brown Jackson (or endorsing her). I am criticizing the process used to pick her.
4)In the end, the “ultimate” Supreme Court is not on earth. If you are a Christian, I am almost sure you will agree that the greatest judge is God. He is the Supreme Court and final decider on all matters. His standard of righteousness will last for an eternity. If you are a Christian, therefore, isn’t it more vital to be Biblically Correct than politically correct? “Let this mind be in you that is in Christ Jesus.” That’s good advice for picking a Supreme Court Justice and for daily living.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” -Psalm 127:1