After stumbling into sin several times and getting stung, I was convinced to try Christ, again. The compassionate altar workers explained this was my rededication toward salvation in Christ. Determined to be a good Christian, I dove in head first, nose wide open. In that 13-year timespan, the pulpit sound bytes that I repeated, yet was often conflicted by were
- I’m a Christian first.
- I’m a Christian before I am black.
- I’m a Christian that happens to be a black.
- I’m a Christian that happens to be a black woman.
- Your color (or race) does not matter when you are a Christian.
At first, those messages seemed legit. Clergy and Bible teachers attached to them a statement in Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
These messages purported that there is a hierarchy to my identity. That to be Christian meant to decrease, dismiss, diminish other characteristics of myself. My ethnicity, gender, and economic status are not significant because I am a Christian. Well, I call bullshit, hogwash, erroneous.
Some Christians weaponized the statement against nonwhite persons and allies to coerce submission to a corrupted evangelical church. They used the statement to muzzle anyone who dares to amplify their whole self. Who are you to attempt psychological amputation on the “very good” creation of the Most High God? You know not what spirit you are of and mercy upon your souls!
The letter to the Galatians was not to depreciate the nationality or ethnicity of them. It was to remind them of the good news: You! Yes, you, too, along with the Jews are included in the promise of God. You are also a child of God and share in that promise regardless of your demographics. The Galatians thought they were less than the Jews because they did not practice the Mosaic laws. Paul was reassuring them that Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection was enough for them to be a child of God. And righteously so!
I have yet to find within the scripture that God requires us to back burner how they created us. Even God does not depreciate nor rank their characteristics. Their name is “I AM THAT I AM.” They are beginning and end; ruler of heaven and earth; the way, the truth, and life; the resurrection and the life; the many-breasted one, and the avenger. At no point, do they cancel out one characteristic for another. In divine fashion, they add and multiply.
It is the same with us. In the womb, we were designed “fearfully, wonderfully” to be a “marvelous work” (Psalm 139). David in his praise to the Creator exclaimed that his soul vehemently acknowledged this. One understanding is that his soul amplified that acknowledgement louder and louder. Important to note, God did not rebuke David for this; God received it as praise toward themselves. And righteously so!
The embracing and exclaiming of my whole self is praise to God. Moreover, the opposite of praising is condemning. Commendation is not the way. Thus, repentance is the beginning. I repent for the moments when I amputated parts of my being that God formed. As I turn away from this evil mindset and action, I choose the righteous joy of how God has handcrafted me. Because of their love, I am made whole. I am a disciple of Christ AND a black woman.