“God, the Eternal Creator, weeps for the poor, displaced, mistreated, and diseased of the world because of their unnecessary suffering; such conditions are not God’s will. Open your ears to hear the pleading of mothers and fathers in all nations who desperately seek a future of hope for their children. Do not turn away from them. For in their welfare resides your welfare.” —Doctrines of the Saints 2e:25-26 (Community of Christ Doctrine and Covenants 163:4a)
Fear has no place in worship, and only succeeds in expanding the divide between cultures and beliefs. Are there places where Christians could be stoned to death for their beliefs today? Yes. But there are still plenty of places where racism, anti-semitic, anti-Islam, and homophobic thinking is so prevalent that lives have been lost. The only way to improve the status quo is to teach our children to understand the differences we all share, and teach them to love and care for all people, as Christ did.
Dr. Martin Luther King’s message was one of social and economic equality. Today it is easy to underestimate the complexity of this issue. His message, his dream, was one of true equality–not just racial equality. Race and gender are parts of this much larger and very complex puzzle.
The Blind Eye
Unfortunately, today many turn a blind eye to inequality. Some even go so far as to say it no longer exists. Ignoring or trying to pretend that racial and gender inequality doesn’t exist today is a tool used by those attempting to derail these Christian ideals (Galatians 3:36-38). This has led to people building social walls. Refusing to talk about these issues does no one any favors. The issues we face today are once the world has fought for generations. They are the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. As we read in Ezekiel:
“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” -Ezekiel 16:49
Why are so many in one of the richest nations going hungry? According to NoKidsHungry.org, ‘More than 13 million children in the United States live in “food insecure” homes.’ That’s too many children regularly not having enough food to eat. This includes children of all races, not merely minorities of course. In the 2017 US Census, poverty broken down by race, has “White” at 11 percent, but once the Hispanic population is removed we find that the white majority is at 8 percent (pg 12). “Black” Americans are at 22 percent and Asians are at 10 percent. With unemployment at 3.7 percent in one of the wealthiest nations on earth, it is clear wages are not where they should be. Wealth is being hoarded. And, this is just in the United States, not the whole world.
Vilifying the Victims
Some try to flip the conversation, pushing the idea that those oppressing are somehow the oppressors. ‘White-male privilege’ and ‘toxic masculinity’ are terms thrown around by those on both sides of these issues. On one side there is a real fight for Christian equality. On the other, there are those that pretend these terms are meant as an attack on all males and all ‘white’ people.
Being male isn’t the problem, not finding balance and equality is the problem. Being white isn’t the problem, the imbalance between the races is the problem. Those that are oppressed aren’t looking to “take down” those oppressing them, they just want equal footing. Those that cause these problems use terms and skewed reasoning to make the victims look like oppressors, keeping everyone but themselves down.
Know the Difference
Seeing through the deception of Egoism in the guise of Christianity though is easier than one may think. And, Martin Luther King Jr. taught us how:
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
It’s that clear, it’s that simple. Is the idea one of altruism that helps all, or self-serving? Does is build hope for all, or for self? Does it lift up or place blame? Is it a hand up or tearing down?
The World Today
In reality, this is far from all of the social and economic problems in the world today. However, these issues certainly exists and are part of the overall conversation on social equality and justice–whether or not its a cause and/or effect of other forces. Ignoring these social biases will only allow ideas of gender or racial dominance and superiority to continue to fester in the background until someone comes along and is able to pull them back into acceptability and weaponize them.
Talking about bias openly and educating current and future generations how to recognize and combat it, and setting a positive example will protect us and continue to push these things farther and farther into history. This isn’t a fight we can win with anger and violence, but with love and peace. Change must first come from within us.
“Behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.” -Mormon 4:47-50 RAV, 8:35-37 OPV