How many times should I apologize for something my great-great grandfather did? Humans do bad things. Sometimes even our religions justify evil.
Christians have done this. Catholics killed protestants. Protestants burned witches. Christians owned slaves and supported segregation for decades after slavery was abolished. Mind you, Christians are not the only offenders. Indeed some other religions make Christians look like saints.
Animists in what is today Zaire attacked, beat, and raped a nurse missionary. https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2016/12/07/a-woman-of-whom-the-world-was-not-worthy-helen-roseveare-1925-2016
Atheist cultures have killed millions. http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_Mass_Murder
Hindus have gone after Christians. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/oct/19/orissa-violence-india-christianity-hinduism
Buddhists have killed Muslims in Myanmar even though the Dalai Lama decrees this. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/07/dalai-lama-decries-buddhist-attacks-on-muslims-in-myanmar_n_3231140.html
ISIS Muslims continue to kill thousands. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/07/isis-s-gruesome-muslim-death-toll.html
Muslims in Maritania still own slaves even though slavery was outlawed there in 2007.
Christians, how do we repair the offenses we have committed? Some get trapped in shame and keep apologizing over and over. Others think to themselves, “I have never done this. Why should I apologize?” Remember the old saying, “You are either a part of the problem or a part of the solution.” But the solution involves two steps – not just apologizing over and over.
STEP 1 TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
NO, this does not mean you murdered witches or put Jews in concentration camps. It means that you stand by apologies made for past offenses. Here is a link to the Roman Catholic pope’s apology in 2000 – an apology mentioning several church offenses. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/674246.stm
Is there a risk in apologizing over and over? Here is a similar reaction. You are raising a bratty two year old, and you keep spanking and spanking. This is not working. Then you realize that you are hurting and hurting the child. You feel so guilty and bad. You say over and over, “Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry.” The smart kid figures out that he is now entitled to restitution. Next time you want him to eat his spinach he will demand french fries. How do you fix this mess you created?
STEP 2 MAKE AMENDS
Instead of spanking your kid, tell him he gets fries after he eats his spinach. Once he eats the spinach, tell him you are glad he ate spinach and will get to help you make cookies for dessert. It is time for Christians to stop apologizing for slavery and racial prejudice. It is time to make amends. Integrate your churches. Do neighborhood visitation in areas where the ethnic groups are different from the core members of your church. Start youth activities where all are welcome. White folks, you can join a black church in your area.
Do the police in your city selectively target blacks versus whites? If so, this must be addressed. But talking about police brutality before the investigation of facts is done may result in bias against the police that is undeserved. Fix what is broken, do not break what is working.
I read of a black man who kept getting stopped over and over by the police. He put a child’s toy in the back window of his car, and the police quit stopping him. This was NOT THE SOLUTION. This man should have gone to the police and politely registered a complaint. Think smart about how to fix things – solving the bigger problem, not just your case.
We can all reach out in friendship and respect to those who differ from us in race, religion, or nationality. It is time to quit apologizing over and over, and start reaching out.
“Reach out and touch somebody’s hand. Make this world a better place, if you can.”