Weeks after a white nationalist rally erupted in violence in Virginia, a panel of experts and pastors spoke at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's national conference on the topic of how parents can teach their children to hold biblical views on racial unity.
To be parents who can raise children who believe in racial unity, we need to "educate ourselves biblically" and then also in all history, not just our history, so that we can talk to our children intelligently, said Byron Day, pastor of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Maryland.
We have all come from Adam, and there's only one race, he added. But we have racism because of our sin nature, which will always be there, Day added. This is why "the only cure" is the Gospel, because we need a change in the inner person.
Keeping recent events in mind, the Church still "has a lot of work to do," the pastor went on to say.
Racism reveals a "divide in our hearts," and it's a Church issue because we live in a fallen world, said Trillia Newbell, the ERLC's director of community outreach, referring to Genesis 3.
"It's something the Church needs to be ahead of," and not let culture inform people's choices, added Newbell, an African-American woman who's married to a white man.
Christ-centered parenting is the theme of the 2017 conference of the Southern Baptist Convention's ERLC conference in Nashville, Tennessee, which concludes Saturday. It included a 45-minute breakout session titled, "Growing Kids Who Embrace a Biblical View of Racial Unity," moderated by Steven Harris, policy director at ERLC, on Friday.
The other panelists included Rachel Metzger, an educator for 18 years; Afshin Ziafat, pastor of Providence Church in Frisco, Texas; and Pastor Jason Paredes of Fielder Church in Texas.
Americans need to celebrate their differences, which we don't find in culture, said Newbell, adding that people must not let racial differences be politicized.
We should talk about race with our children as soon as possible, and not wait, said Metzger.
Newbell stressed that Christians should talk to their children about racial diversity now, if they haven't done so thus far. It's never too late.
The diverse space parents create for their children mirrors the journey that the Church has to go on from being homogeneous to racially diverse and multi-ethnic, said Pastor Paredes.
Day noted that Christians also need to model what they tell their children about race. Children are good at noticing hypocrisy, he warned.
We need to work on both sides, he added, explaining that many may have experienced racial attacks and could still have bitterness in their hearts. As God has forgiven us of our sins, we should be able to forgive others by extending that grace to others, he stressed. "God desires all men to be saved."
Pastor Ziafat, a former Muslim, said it appears white nationalists perceive themselves to be victims of reverse discrimination and want to protect themselves. But life is not just about ourselves, he added. We need to count others more significant than ourselves, and think of others' interests before our own, he said.
The ERLC, the policy arm of the SBC, has created a parenting curriculum with LifeWay designed to help parents navigate the tough questions appearing in culture. Its Christ-centered parenting conference is being streamed live on Facebook and its website.