Popular Calvinist Baptist preacher and author John Piper says one of the biggest reasons some preachers avoid preaching racial harmony from the pulpit is the fear of having to deal with black in-laws.
In a recent discussion about racial harmony with Jemar Tisby of RAA Network, Piper noted what he thinks are the four main reasons why preachers avoid preaching racial harmony from the pulpit and singled out the prospect of interracial relationships as one of the "biggest hindrances" to bring people together in not just the church community but communities in general.
"There are people who just don't have it worked out theologically yet," said Piper in discussing the issue of racial harmony in churches.
"Say at the level of interracial marriage. I really believe that in my background, and it's still probably true today, one of the biggest hindrances to pressing toward togetherness … is people wondering 'but if you put people together, the younger ones tend to like each other. They fall in love. They might get married then I've got, 'Oh no' I've got a black son-, daughter-in-law. I think deep down probably some folks are still at least uncertain, if not fearful of that," said Piper.
Other reasons Piper gave for why pastors have avoided the issue of racial harmony at the pulpit are:
1. The fear of looking like they are jumping on the bandwagon
2. Being associated with social gospel – "Once upon a time people associated with this push were liberals … I'm glad that's less the case now but still for a certain generation to get loud about this in their pulpit would sound to their people like 'you're going liberal,'" said Piper.
3. A lot of pastors don't see the need to preach on the subject because they don't have a lot of diversity in their churches.
Despite these points, however, Piper explained that he's encouraged by the strides that have been made in advancing racial harmony in America today.
"I see enough to be encouraged. Way more encouraged than 50 years ago. The old John Piper and what was happening then was going in the wrong direction, whereas today, it seems to me, that anybody who names himself evangelical and almost probably Christian, at least feels guilty if they are not doing something helpful in regard to racial harmony," explained Piper.
"Whereas, once upon a time, you could, without getting shot or without getting laughed at say 'No way would I want to hang out with that kind.' That would come out of people's mouths in church. You're not gonna say that out loud today and get away with it," he added.
"You may think it still. People still are racist, but that's a good thing that we have stigmatized racism in our country. It wasn't stigmatized when I was a kid; it was in for this 15-year-old.
"I'm thankful that at least on the outside, you've got to put on the pretext of caring about racial harmony and diversity and multi-ethnicity," he said.