Christians’ attitude towards gender, while having some ambiguities, is on the whole pretty straightforward. Churches often state whether leadership positions are open to women or only to men. In relationships between men and women, people usually either believe that the Bible teaches mutual submission or distinct roles.
The church’s attitude toward race, however, is hard to nail down. Most Christians would assert that people are equal regardless of race, and few would openly discriminate against people of color. Yet this spoken equity and unity isn’t always visible on Sunday mornings: Our churches are often painfully homogenous.
This contradiction makes the issue difficult to address. How do we talk about the reality of racial discrimination when Christians appear to be unified against it? How do we address the chasm that exists between people of different races when many outward signs suggest that everything’s okay? And how do we work for change, when we can’t clearly see the problem?
In “Red and Yellow, Black and White: Racial Inequality in the Church,” Julia Bloom brings some clarity to the issue. She defines what it means to live in a “racialized” society, where people may contribute to racial division and inequality without having that intent. She also offers suggestions about how to create greater unity in the church.
The Bible also has much to say about reconciliation, which readers sometimes miss because they don’t understand the cultural forces at work in the ancient world. In “Biblical Reconciliation 101,” Victoria Peterson-Hilleque opens our eyes to these forces, and points out parallels that exist between gender and race in the Bible. Finally, in “Living Into the Hard Choices,” Dee Dee Risher asks how each of us can put racial and gender equality into practice in our lives, while still being honest about our limitations, gifts and the challenges of our unique circumstances.
You may also notice that this issue offers changes in the Prayer Update and The Chapters Corner, with the goal of making the sections more interesting and relevant. These changes were initiated because of the responses we received from our online survey, which was distributed randomly. We’re grateful for your encouraging comments as well as ideas for improvement. Please know that your ideas are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year is also an important milestone, as it marks CBE’s 15th anniversary of being incorporated as a non-profit organization. You may be surprised that its membership began with a recipe box on a TV tray. Visit page 23 to find out more about CBE’s origins, as well as its plans for the future!